Papa Bear's Tale: The Interview - Part II

Continued from Papa Bear's Tale: The Interview - Part I

1.  You grew to be nearly a foot and a half  taller than your mother. Was it hard being a big kid growing up?   Yes, I was picked  on and made fun of, and called fatso, tubby, Baby Hughey, names like that - it hurt. Until I stood up to one of the bullies and punched him. Word got around fast in our small town and they left me alone after that!

2.  Can you tell us about a time when that size and strength was put to good use?  When I was fourteen and living in Memphis, my mom had a heart attack and stroke at home while my step-father was out somewhere with the car on a drunk. We didn't have a phone to call an ambulance so I more or less carried my mom the eight blocks to the hospital. I was scared to death, her speech was slurred and she could hardly breathe.  I just knew I had to get her there, and I did. She recovered, but went on to have several more heart attacks in her lifetime.  She died at 64, following stomach surgery, with me holding her hand.  Her heart wasn't strong enough and she never came out of the anesthesia following surgery. That was the most painful day of my life.

3. You worked at several jobs between the ages of 16 and 27 when you started your current job at the truck accessories store.  What kinds of things did you do?  I bussed tables and washed dishes at a steak house, pulled 300 pound blocks of ice at an ice house, cut wood in a furniture factory, worked as a carpenter's helper, a service station attendant, and a roughneck on a drilling rig.  I sold vacuum cleaners door-to-door, and I drove a tow-truck where I saw terrible things at accident scenes that still haunt my memories.

4. What was the most unusual job you've ever had?  The most interesting job I ever held was working on a drilling rig at a nuclear test site in Nevada, drilling holes that were 100 inches wide and 4,500 feet deep. They were used for underground testing of nuclear bombs.  I got to witness some of the explosions by closed circuit tv.  You could see the ground rise up several hundred feet in the air and then collapse, leaving huge craters that looked like a moonscape.  I did that job for six months, and even though the pay was good, I decided to return to West Texas.  I missed my wife and children, and I didn't want to relocate them and have my daughters growing up in the Las Vegas environment.

5. You had a near-death experience when you were in your 40's, tell us about that.  Some friends and I were camping at sand dunes near here in the winter, and were out riding four-wheeled ATVs.  We headed back to our campsite as it was getting dark.  It was cold out - in the 20's, raining and sleeting.  I was wearing insulated coveralls and boots for warmth.  The other riders were more experienced than me. I  was at the rear having a hard time keeping up.  I lost sight of them in the dark, and as I topped a dune and started over, the ATV started sliding down toward a large pool of water at the bottom.  I applied the brakes but continued to slide.  The ATV flipped forward into the pool of water, which was about eight feet deep, throwing me over the handlebars.  It landed on top of me pinning me under water at the bottom of the pool.  It happened so fast I didn't even have time to hold my breath as I went under.

An ATV weighs over 600 pounds, but some how, by the grace of God, I found the strength to push it off of me so I could rise to the surface.  One of my friends had turned around to come back and find me, and he saw my headlight go over the dune and disappear.  By the time he got there I was clawing my way up the steep bank, soaking wet, and freezing cold. 

I went back down in to the water to upright the ATV and my friend and I managed to push it out of the pool and drag it up the slippery bank.  We towed it back to the campsite behind his ATV using my belt for a tow rope. Nearly two hours passed from the time I fell in the water until we arrived back at the campsite.  I was frozen through and shaking uncontrollably. My friends helped me change into dry clothes, gave me coffee, and warmed me up by the campfire. That's the only time I've ever had death staring me in the face, I was lucky to get out of the water alive. It was not nearly as much fun as skinny dipping when I was a kid!

Continued in Papa Bear's Tale: The Interview - Part III


  1. Once again an interesting post! The answer he gave about carrying his mother to the hospital - and then later how she passed away made me ache.

    I'm so happy that both of you found each other and can now spend your time with cute cats holding onto your hands as they sleep! :-)

    Also, just wanted to mention that this post showed on my blog list earlier - but when I clicked on it there was a message saying that it didn't exist (or something like that). When I came to read your most recent post I saw this one was actually up... so other people might have missed it as well.

    1. John's love for his mother runs far deeper than words can convey, Lady in Red. He saw what she had to go through in life to take care of him and his sister. Before she died, she told him how proud she was of the man he had become. That is the best gift any parent can give their child!

      I believe we are together because God wants us to be! The house full of furkids (and fur) is just icing on the cake! It would melt your heart to see how Papa Bear cares for these kittys and how they adore him!

      I reset the post time, so hopefully it's showing up in readers now, thanks for letting me know about the glitch!

  2. Aww, I was just getting ready to read part 3, only to discover it isn't there. The introduction post to Papa Bear, didn't show up at all.

    Anyway, enjoying finding out more about John.

    1. It's up now Lily! I accidentally posted it prematurely while it was still in draft stage. Hope you like it!

  3. So sorry to hear about John's mother. That is really sad. He obviously loved her a great deal. The near death experience was just terrifying. I would have been shaking like a leaf....

    1. They were very close, Selma. She took care of him and then he took care of her, right to the end. It is amazing John got thru that near-drowning experience, it would be haunting my dreams forever!

  4. Too bad his mother died so young. Mine passed at 60 from ALS. It was the saddest day of my life.

    Yikes on the near death. That was scary. :(


Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)