As I Remember, Chapter 5

This entry is part 5 of 39 in the series Ted Bio

CHAPTER 5

      Everything wasn’t always a bed of roses for me. It seemed like I was always getting sick. Bringing home something to the rest of the family. Like in Boise, when I had come down with the measles. Yes, there were other times, and I will tell about a few.

      I was just fifteen when I bought my first car. A 1923 Baby Overland Roadster. THE PUDDLE JUMPER, I called it. About that time, I started courting some of the young girls. I always had plenty of money to spend, also a good car to drive. I guess I was quite popular. Every year in Emmett, during the peak of the harvest, they have what is known as THE CHERRY FESTIVAL. Emmett is known for it’s cherries. Also it’s beautiful girls. Every year the cream of the crop runs for ‘Miss Cherry Queen.’ One of the girls, her name I will not mention, was running for this honored title. She was very popular and later became the winner. She had been going with one of the high school Seniors. He was a star football player and very popular. Something happened to break them up and I moved in. Then come the night of the crowning of the queen. I was very proud to be her escort. Her former boyfriend was also a good friend of mine. Also, I will not mention his name. Anyhow, after the crowning was a big dance. One that I will never forget.

      I had just got through dancing with the pretty, little Queen. Someone else had just taken her away and I was just standing there watching. Then, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was the Queen’s ex-boyfriend. He stood there staring at me. “Hi.” I said, “How are you tonight?” The trace of a grin passed over his face. “Alright, I guess.” Then he walked over close to me and put his arm on my shoulder. “Ted.” he whispered. “You and I have been friends for a long time, right?” I nodded. I wondered what was coming next. He motioned toward the girl with the crown on her head. “We went together for quite awhile. I guess you know that.” I nodded. “And Ted, there is something you should know.” I was all ears. But I sure wasn’t ready for what was coming next. “And what is that?” His voice was low. “The whole damn family.” he whispered. “Has the seven year itch!” I was speechless, to say the least. I couldn’t say a word. But I couldn’t help but notice as he walked away, he reached down with his right hand and scratched where the legs come together. It was my last date with this little chick. A few days later, I was scratching all over. In about a weeks time, everyone in the family was scratching. It took gallons of sulfur and lard before we were cured.

      I guess I caught everything that come along. In those days small pox was a very dreaded disease. And of course, I was the one to get it and bring it home to the rest of the family. At first I had terrible head aches and a high fever. For several days I almost died. Then one morning, Mother come into my bedside to take a look. One was enough. She let out a scream and ran for Dad. I guess I must of been a terrible looking sight. I was broke out in big blisters from head to toe. Mother and Dad rounded up the rest of the family and headed for Emmett. There, all of them were vaccinated.

      I made it through this ordeal alright but I still bear many scars. And there were more. The chicken pox, mumps, I had them all. But there is one more that I would like to tell about. As I recall, it was in the fall of 1926. I was sixteen. After the fruit harvest, I began to feel lousy. Every afternoon, I got a headache. I lost my appetite. I was sick to my stomach. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I just laid around the bunk house. Finally one day Dad come in and looked me over. “Get up.” he said. “I am going to take you in to the doctor.” Old Doc Reynolds was the family doctor.” That afternoon, Dad took me up to his office, which was in the old Russell hotel. He was a rough, plain spoken guy. But I guess he was a pretty fair doctor. Dad told him. “Something is the matter with this kid. Can’t get any work out of him at all.” The Doc stared at me for a minute, then grunted. “Disrobe.” “What?” I didn’t understand. “Take off your clothes.” he said roughly. “And lie down there on that couch!” There was just the three of us there. I guess he didn’t have a nurse. I took off my clothes and hung them over a chair and laid down. He got out his stethoscope and listened to my heart. He thumped on my ribs and my stomach. Then he took my temperature. I didn’t like the way he kept shaking his head. I was scared. Then he said. “Get up.” I stood up and just stood there, waiting. He walked over to the cupboard and pulled out a small bottle about the size of a salt shaker and handed it to me. He then pointed to a door and said. “Go in there and bring me back a specimen.” “What?” I didn’t understand what he meant. I just stood there. Then Dad spoke up. “Do as he says!” I was sick and nervous. I walked over to the door, opened it and stepped inside. I was in a toilet. I still didn’t know what the Doc wanted me to do. But, I thought. “Being as how I am in here, I might just as well take a leak.” I did, then stepped back into the room. The empty bottle still in my hand. The Doc stared at it for a moment, then snarled. “Where is my specimen?” I looked down at the thing in my hand. “I don’t know what you want me to do.” The Doc didn’t hesitate. “Piss in it!” he shouted. Dad guffawed. I felt mighty embarrassed. But thank God I still had enough left for a sample. Soon we were out of there.

      A couple of days later, the telephone rang. It was the Doc. Both Mother and Dad talked to him. When they were finished, I got the verdict. I had typhoid fever. There were a couple of different types the doc explained. And the one that I had was the bad one. The killer. Under doctor’s orders, I was immediately put to bed. And until my fever broke, if it ever did, I could eat nothing but liquids. For over a month, I lie there in bed. Every afternoon, my fever would rise well up above the one hundred mark. Each day, I grew weaker. I could hardly turn over in bed. But my mind was busy. All kinds of animals come to visit and entertain me. Giant spiders were crawling all over. The doc come by a couple of times and looked me over. He would always warn mother. “What ever you do, don’t feed him anything solid. His stomach is practically eaten up by the bug. It would kill him for sure.”

      Every day, Mother would give me a sponge bath, brush my teeth and comb my hair. And speaking of hair. And speaking of hair, mine was coming out every day by the handful. Soon I would be as bald as a doorknob. I thought. Then one morning I woke up. For the first time since I had got sick, I had enjoyed a good night’s sleep. No animals and no spiders. My fever had broken. My head was as clear as a bell. But I was a long ways from being well. It would take months for my stomach to heal. It took a couple of weeks for me to learn to walk again. I was little more that a skeleton. My body was shrunken and withered. But every day I got a little stronger. A couple of weeks passed and I could get around by myself. Then along came Thanksgiving. As usual, we went to visit Grandpa and Grandma Dewey in Emmett. I will never forget that day. I was still on a soft diet. But my appetite had sure returned. I stood there drooling, as I watched Grandmother and Mother set the table. It had been months since I had sunk my teeth into anything harder than a bowl full of Jell-O. Mother walked over and put an arm around my shoulders. “Are you hungry, dear?” she asked. I nodded. “Starved is the word.” I answered. Mother walked over to the phone and called Doc. Reynolds. “Is it alright if Ted eats a regular dinner today?” she asked. And Doc’s answer? “Sure, sure, give him all he wants. If you want to kill him!”

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