The large mulberry tree covering the well house is loaded down with mulberries. Purple splatters all around. Who even knows what has touched them, I just remember they were delicious. Our water well house set back about 300 yards from the house and today it has suffered a break in one of the sucker rods, so there is no water at the house or for the animals. I can see my oldest brother taking the lid off the top of the well house and begin the drudgery to pull the sucker rods and replace them. “If one is broken, the others are probably just as bad”, he would say. These rods were probably 25 feet long or so, probably in about a two-inch casing, threaded on the ends so they could be tightened together. The old well house operated like a wind mill, pulling water from down deep in the ground, except it had a motor. I can see the pump raising the sucker rods and lowering them, up and down, over and over until the gauge said full on the holding tank and the pump would stop, all would be quite for a little while. The belt on the pump fit around the motor and onto another larger wheel that lifted the rods. Well, today the gauge read empty and Johnny and one of his friends were working as hard as they could to get the sucker rods out. Johnny always had a friend or two at the farm, I think that’s why the twins were always coo-coo. Looking from above, because I am now on top of the well house, I can see his blonde, hair over 50 years ago, the beads of sweat collecting at the curls in the front and dripping off, as he wipes his brow with a bare arm and continues work. I’m really not sure what contraption he used to pull the rods out. You have to realize as he is pulling these rods, they are still connected to one another, making it harder to get them out, but one by one he manually pulled and pulled the heavy rods until they would surface, pulling them upward through the hole in the top of the little house where he had removed the lid, knocking mulberries into his small work space, squashing purple juice into the concrete. I can remember him placing something at the bottom of the casing and telling his friend, “put those two pieces of metal together around the pipe threading to keep it from falling back into the well”. He would then begin again, placing the next threaded rod on it, careful not to drop it. Often it was hard to break the threads from the next rod, I can see the monkey wrenches and vice grip pliers he used vividly. After that one was unscrewed he began lifting the next heavy rod, heavy because they were wooden and waterlogged from being submerged for many years, touching them felt kind of mushy in places, but cool to the touch. So, one by one Johnny pulled until the last one was up. After resting a while, he begins to take the new, bright, light wooded sucker rods and screw them together, lowering them one at a time, until they were all replaced. As a child, I remember his arms were big, he was strong, and he could do ALL things, he was my hero and many a shoulder ride did he give me growing up. I also remember if he and my dad couldn’t pull the rods out, they pulled up the casing. I remember this happening twice as a child. As the years passed, the last time it happened, daddy finally upgraded to a submergical pump with PVC pipe. My baby brother Randy, almost grown now, helped my dad put in the new pump. It sure made a lot of difference and gave us a lot more water pressure. It was kind of sad not hearing the strain of the old pump with the belt on it. After many years of hearing it, especially at night, sitting on the large cement porch, it was quiet, no longer could I could hear it kick on and hear the strain and relief of every revolution that old pump made. All of this from a child’s memory and probably none of it correct. Moving on to more farm work, I close my eyes and I see my brothers Johnny and Kenny pacing and placing posts, posts that by the end of the day would be placed in the ground by using metal post hold diggers. With the post hold diggers, they are digging a post hole, moving layers of dirt that probably haven’t seen the sunshine in years. The sandy loam is damp, darker than the topsoil, glistening as if slivers of glass are mixed in. After the posts are set and the larger, double corner post is in, they roll out shiny, barb wire and bring out the fence stretchers. After the fence is stretched they use large fence staples or nail claws (or whatever they were called) to hammer the wire into the posts. It is not uncommon for me, as I am not having to build fences or pull sucker rods to find horny toads and lizards, ask too many questions and probably be in the way, throw clods at Buddy because he thinks he is as big as they are, but he’s not. Soon, Buddy and I find ourselves deep in the shelter-belt, finally leaving the big boys alone. We take a few swings on the old rope in the cotton wood tree and tumble down the sandy incline. It sure takes less time to swing down and let go of the rope than it does to climb back up. What fun! I miss my brothers, I see them now and again, in a different light, with a different sight, older, grayer, slower, but all just as beautiful to me now as they always were.
Copyright @coffeewithcharles.blog (Charles D. Grant)