Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River. It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.
Ben Boggs was a nice guy, but had a lot of problems. He lived in the rock house that Granddad built in the early 1950s whilst Granddad lived in the bus. Ben had a very nice and understand wife, Johnnie, and two kids who are likely still living, so I will not say anything about them. You know that I do not write about living folks from My Little Town without their express permission most of the time.
Ben was a World War II veteran, and had a leg shot off almost at the hip. He did not have enough bone left for the technology at the time to offer him a prosthetic leg, so he used crutches, and those were made of aluminum when my memory began in 1962. these memories are mostly from 1966 and later.
Ben was a hopeless alcoholic. I do not know when he started drinking to excess, but by the time that I met him, I never remember seeing him sober. He, as far as I know, was not a "mean" drunk, but of course I was not there with his family. Johnnie stayed with him until he died, but I do not know whether out of love, devotion, or the Stockholm Syndrome.
Anyway, Ben was always nice to me and I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. I remember meeting him when I was only about seven or so, but most likely had met him several years earlier. In any event, I remember him on his aluminum crutches with the white rubber caps on the bottoms of them, and he was actually very adept at getting around, even when he was extremely intoxicated. Ben was a professional alcoholic, and could respond with what I think was a blood alcohol level around 0.30% without anyone thinking that he was impaired. Serious alcoholics can do that.
Ben did not drive much, but did drive a bit, mostly on the private property. Since he was essentially always drunk, driving on the road was out of the question for the most part. Missing a right leg also made it difficult, since in 1966 not many cars were fitted with items to help the disabled. Now, Ben COULD have driven a car with an automatic transmission easily. I just think that he chose not to do so. He had Johnnie do the driving for him.
Many of you know that I learnt to drive on a 1919 Model "T" Ford, and that I would drive it the the farm now and then. I used to be a collector of glass bottles, and once found a gallon one under a tree. I was only about 13 or so, and did not pay any attention to the fact that it had a bit of reddish liquid in the bottom of it. It was his gallon of wine under a shade tree, and I picked it up to take home.
Ben met me before the gate and asked me to give it back. I had no idea that his "medicine", as he called it, was inside. I gladly gave it back, and he promised to give me the empty one. That is all that I wanted, so it was a deal.
Another time I went there, and Ben was drinking wine in his car, under the same tree. He was likely near a toxic level at the time, and could only sort of wave with two hands, sort of in unison, and say something that sounded like "Woooo". Ben drank himself to death.
I know that all of this is depressing, but there is a funny story about Ben, but of course he was drunk at the time. Here it goes.
Dad had bought a bull for the heard, and we ran the cattle on the property near Ben's house. Granddad was in the "rest home", so was not a factor. Anyway, that bull loved to jump fences and otherwise get out of the lot. Dad and I set up an electric fence to keep the bull in the lot, and spent a LOT of time making it so that the bull could not jump it. The lot was about 100 meters south and 50 meters east of Ben's house, the only source of electricity to power the charger.
We ran the hot wire from the charger from Ben's house to the pen, just one line. Those of you who know about electric fences will understand. That wire was around six feet off of the ground until it was connected with the pen, the wire there only around five feet off of the ground, give or take. We turned it on, and the bull was confined and never got out again. Electric fences are not hurtful to large animals, and do a good job of confining them.
One day Dad and I were working around the bullpen and Ben saw us and wanted to say hello. As I said, Ben was a very nice person and liked us very much. That day was very hot, likely July or August. In west central Arkansas, that means over 90 degrees F and over 80% relative humidity. You sweat, and sweat lots! Since it does not evaporate, you get wet with salty water, all over your body.
Ben had a nice head of hair, although it was grey. That day, he was sweaty. He came down to talk with us, and his rubber tips from his aluminum crutches had been cut through by the shafts of the main members of the aluminum pipes, so that the aluminum was in contact with the earth.
Ben had something important to tell us, and came very quickly to meet us. I saw it coming!
Ben did not see the hot wire for the electric fence! He walked directly into it, at a height that just brushed his sweaty head! The wire caught his head, and the crutches grounded him. Dad and I both saw him getting hit by it.
Ben collapsed to the ground! We heard a sort of "zzzzzzzz" when his sweaty head hit the wire. We went over to pick him up, and he was OK. He just did not want us to pick him up near that wire!
He got OK, but NEVER would walk near that wire again! He hated it, and Johnnie told us later that he would not even go out the back door where the charger was located.
Ben was really a nice guy, but extremely damaged goods. I remember him fondly.
Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith
Crossposted at The Stars Hollow Gazette,