Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fall on a Spring Day

This is a story from many years ago, concerning a fall on a spring morning. It's told from three different points of view. First my own voice, remembering, then what I recall from my father's memory, and finally, my mother's own voice.

One spring day, my father woke me up early, and asked me if I would climb up a telephone pole near our house (seven miles out of town) and do a repair. Most likely I complained because sleeping in was my preference. I remember it being a beautiful spring morning, just before sunrise, but already quite light outside. There was plenty of time to do the repair, then get ready for school and catch the number six school bus into town.

Dad drove a three ton truck beside the pole, set up a ladder, in the truck bed, leaning up towards the top of the pole. I strapped some spikes* onto my legs. This was pretty exciting, as I had wanted to use these before, but had never been allowed.

I climbed to the top of the ladder, then put a strap around me and the pole, dug in the first spike and climbed to the top**. It was quite heady to have two spikes holding my weight while I leaned back into the belt. And pretty exciting too, to be 30 feet above the ground. The last thing that I remembered was pounding on the nails in a wooden bracket at the top of the pole with a hammer.

I awoke in a hospital bed, and the first thing I told the nurse was that I had done it to get out of going to school. I remember some friends from school visiting me during my hospital stay. In the end, all that was wrong was a few cracked ribs.

Talking it over with Dad later, he said he was working across the road and heard the distinctive squeak of a barbed wire fence being stretched. He looked up and the pole was gone!

After running across the road, he found me, still strapped to the pole, which was on top of me, but with my back bent over backwards on a ditch bank. He thought that I was dead and held me in his arms. Since I was still breathing, I was taken to the hospital.

Talking it through, we decided that I must have fallen down on top of the pole, because it fell away from the side that I was facing. The pole must have bounced, possibly from hitting the barbed wire, and paused long enough for my body to slide around to the bottom side of the pole, which then landed again on top of me. It would be hard to imagine surviving a more direct fall.

My mother wrote the story herself, this way:

My husband "was the trouble shooter for our local telephone line but because his leg was in a cast, he was not able to climb the telephone poles to repair the lines. The next spring ... the line was down at our own house, south of our yard. [He] asked our son Bruce if he would climb the pole and do the fixing. Bruce was reluctant because he had never done it before, and I thought, 'There he goes like a lamb to the slaughter!' He had to put on some heavy metal climbers and a heavy leather belt to fasten himself to the pole."
"We didn’t know at that time, that in the spring time, poles are unstable under the ground. As I watched from the window, when Bruce got to the top of the pole, I noticed that the pole was starting to fall sideways. Bruce was strapped on but his weight made it so that the pole would come down on top of him."
"We had a tradition in our family that whenever there was some special need, someone would say 'family prayer' and we would kneel on the floor together wherever we were and have a family prayer. And I think in the kitchen that day, we were on our knees before the pole hit the ground."
"I thought surely he would be terribly hurt or killed but miraculously he wasn’t. He was taken to the hospital and was told that he would be in bed for a few months. Instead it was just a few weeks and he was recovered and back to school. I know it was through prayer and priesthood blessings that Bruce recovered so quickly and I’m so thankful for the blessings of our Heavenly Father."

*Something like these:

**If you haven't ever seen this done, there are some images on the Internet of others climbing in this way: cody climbing the same tree, but he has done this a lot more than I have


Nancy said...

That's such a crazy story! I'm so glad that you weren't terribly hurt.

You should share the story of why Grandpa's leg was in a cast...

David said...

Wow! I didn't know this story. That's crazy. And I agree with Nancy about that second story.

Myrna said...

I stil remember that morning so vividly. I was eight. It had been a trouble-filled few months! From Dad's accident to Bruce's, and me getting baptized by John in March.

I can tell Dad's story from my POV...

Bruce Conrad said...

I'll write a post on Dad's injury too, along with Myrna's.

The interesting thing to me, re-reading the three points of view is how my mom thought I was reluctant to put on the climbers, when I was actually eager to do so. Hm. I don't think my dad even thought about what I was feeling about that. He would have just said, "It has to be done." Which was one of his favorite sayings.