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Old 12-18-2011, 12:33 PM   #16
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A few people I've met


I was getting to old for hitch hiking and Sunday in Indiana was the pits.

Car loads of church goers wearing flowered dresses and straw bonnets with fake flowers--

The glares I got made me think the sermon that morning must have been that one about the evil traveler.

Finally an old farmer gave me a ride to the park entrance.

The map posted at the gate showed a campground about four miles into the park--I resigned myself to a long walk---when a Volkwagen passed me---slowed down and honked.

I waved my thumb and out popped Dan'l Smiff.

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Old 12-18-2011, 12:57 PM   #17
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Got to go out--see you later---Mike---
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:20 PM   #18
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"Hi,where you goin'? I'm Dan'l Smiff. Hop in!"

The side door opened and a smiling young thing said,"I'm Molly,I'm Daniels girl friend."

Now this was an unusual couple--Dan'l was about 40 wild black hair squished under one of those black leather flat topped hats with the silver conchos all around--and very thick glasses--so dirty that whatever help they were to is vision was lost to the grime.

Molly was young--16 would be generous--

They were warm,friendly types .
I told them I was headed to the camp ground and they invited me to have a cup of tea in their cabin.

Turns out Daniels family had lived in the Hoosier National park since the pioneer days and he was allowed to stay on the old homestead deep in the national park.
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:54 AM   #19
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Daniel and Molly lived in a nice clean simple cabin --Huge kitchen garden and a big corn field on the other side of the house.

We went inside for that cup of tea and Daniel handed me a rifle.

"Do you know what this is?"
Well, I thought this was a county boy verses city boy challenge---

" Yes, I do. It's a British Enfield ."I replied.

'Quick,Molly,Write this down!! What kind of bullet does it take? I tried 30/30 and 30/06 and neither one fit right."

".303" I replied," Very common. Any gun shop will have it."

"Can you write that down? I can't write. What do you think it's worth?"

Uh,oh--The stock was split--barrel guard missing --and a hose clamp was trying to hold the rusty barrel to the stock.

"Uh, Might be worth as much as $75.00." I said.

He grabbed up the rifle and started dancing around. "I knew it,I knew it,I knew it! I only paid twenty five bucks for it! I knew I got a good deal!!"

Oh, God---I grabbed the pad and drew him a picture of the rifle wedged into a tire---a log to hold it down--and a string tied to the trigger---

"Do this the first time you shoot it--In case it blows up."---"Thanks,I have an old tire I'll do just that!."

I got to worrying about that gun--Electrical tape covered the receiver and the place of manufacture.
A bad batch were made in Canada --The bolts could be put in wrong and would blow out when fired.

I made him promise to test that thing with a string---
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Old 12-19-2011, 08:04 AM   #20
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He took me down to the camp grounds a mile to two way--It was empty.
I had supper ,A cold sandwich and chips and set up my pup tent.

This was beginning to look like a boring night--I had a book to read but I forgot to bring a flash light.
The tea at Daniels was working I was wide awake--what a dumb idea,not bringing a car.

It was right about then that I heard the rumble of a VW engine and the wall of the tent lit up.
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Old 12-19-2011, 08:36 AM   #21
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"Mike,You want to go for a drive?"

" Sure do!" I was so glad to have something do do.

Daniel was a chatter box---Might be his nature or might be the smell of grass in the VW -Probably both.

He was excited about this new VW.

" Do you know that you can put big Chevy wheels on these if you mount the rims backward? Do you know how hard it will be to drill the holes ?Do you think a two burner propane stove will keep the car warm in the winter,if I put it on the back seat?
Keep your eyes out for Jessie he hides around here. I'm going to turn off the road if he comes for me.You know these Volkswagons can go anywhere without getting stuck?"

He said all that without taking a breath.I'm sure of that.
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Old 12-19-2011, 08:42 AM   #22
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I slipped in a question as he paused for a breath--"Who is Jessie?"

'Oh, he's the sheriff. I haven't had a drivers license in 16 years and he's always trying to catch me."

"I'm completely blind in one eye and legally blind in the other. Were going to get my brother but I have to tell Molly first."
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Old 12-19-2011, 08:59 AM   #23
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He whipped into his driveway and parked on the grass facing the road--

"I'll be right back!" he said,as he dodged up the porch steps.

I was really hoping that the brake was set--there was a five foot drop down to the road and I just imagined the old VW rolling forward and dropping off the embankment.

It didn't take long to find out exactly what that would feel like----
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:32 AM   #24
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That's right---He hopped back into the seat an launched the car straight over the embankment and onto the road!

Knocked out both headlights and I heard a loud clatter of iron rattling around under the hood.(that turned out to be a two burner stove)

He must have done that once before because he quickly jammed the headlights back into the fenders and we headed for town.

His brother seemed normal enough--We went back to the cabin to check in with Molly before our cruise.

Molly just had to show me something special she had purchased at the county fair.

"Have you ever seen anything so beautiful.?" she asked,as she placed a Barbe Doll lamp on the table.
"The skirt lights up and changes colors all by itself!"

I was speechless--the things that can be done with fiber optic strands these days.
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:13 AM   #25
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I climbed into the back of the Bug--Daniel and his brother in front---

At least w weren't facing the road this time.

Daniel jammed the car into gear and headed straight into the corn field.

That was some ride---the corn was taller than the car---I was laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes.

Then--Wham. The car was jerked to a dead stop by a steel guy wire from a phone pole.

"What was that?" asked Daniel. "Guy wire." we both chimed.

"I don't know where we are." I figured we must be near a road for there to be a phone pole.

Sure enough---the next minute we were air borne and landed in the road.

The ride was great after that---Both guys were raised in the park and knew all the history--where the ginseng grew -what time of the year to pick morel mushrooms---

He did pretty well for a blind guy---They dropped me off at the campgrounds and picked me up the next morning--

-Molly gave me a jar of sourgum molasses she had made-

I mailed Daniel a big box full of .303 ammo along with another drawing of a gun with a string tied to the trigger.

I never made it back to the Hoosier National park I hope Daniel and Molly have had a good life together.

And I also hope Daniel never used that two burner stove to heat the car.---Mike---
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:06 PM   #26
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Excellent stories Mike! I love how you drew him a picture of how to shoot the gun the first time. Then sent another picture along with the ammo.

Working with Berta and hearing about her life must have been amazing. People like her are one in a million. I wonder how many lives she and her husband saved in that 2+ years.

Do you remember or use the recipes you learned from her?
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Old 12-20-2011, 06:33 AM   #27
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I have all the old recipes and many more--For over 20 years I collected and refined a collection of old time German, American and Japaneses favorites----Most are for large batches broken down for 25-50 and 100 servings.

I used to know how to cook--

Berta was special----many years later I met John and Kitty Kohout--Google them.

They met in Czechoslovakia as members of the resistance---They were special people,too.
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Old 12-20-2011, 11:09 AM   #28
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I've been on a nostalgia trip lately--thanks for putting up with it---Mike----
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:42 PM   #29
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I've been on a nostalgia trip lately--thanks for putting up with it---Mike----
Buddy, we enjoyed it a lot. Hopefully you will have a few more up your sleeve.
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:17 PM   #30
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Also, we want some of those recipes!!
Don't hold back on us!
Or........... whatever!!
(They might be nice, though!!)

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