I was in Wyoming recently to “help” the extended family brand their spring calves. Being at the ranch reminded me of an experience that happened years ago. My cousin, whom I’ll call “Glade” (because that’s what his parents named him), and I were riding in the back of my Uncle’s Cecil’s truck. Cecil was driving from his new home site on the southeast bench of the ranch to his temporary home on the north side of the ranch. Glade lived in-between the two locations. Since it was nearly lunchtime Glade and I decided that we wanted to go to his place for lunch. If we rode with Cecil all the way to his house we would have to walk back to Glade’s.
Since we were about eight-years-old our brains were only the size of turnips. We could have tapped on the back window of the truck and said “hey, we want to get out here.” Cecil would have stopped and we would have walked to Glade’s house for cow-tongue sandwiches. Now tongue sandwiches may or may not have been on the menu that particular day, but they often were. I remember taking tongue sandwiches to school in Salt Lake and showing the little taste-buds off to the other kids. There’s nothing like eating something that can taste you back. With enough mustard, cheese and milk I could choke one down.
Instead of asking Cecil to stop, the little turnips in our head decided to come up with another plan that was far more clever—jump! With this plan we wouldn’t have to bother Cecil at all. We would just leap onto the highway, walk uninjured into the house and say; “I’ll have a tongue sandwich—extra taste buds please.”
Now at that time the highway speed limit was 60 or 70 mph. Even our underdeveloped turnip-brains knew we couldn’t jump from a truck going that fast without at least a cut or a bruise and so we decided to check the speedometer before committing to the jump. I remember looking through the back window and thinking that something in the neighborhood of 25 mph was barely faster than crawling. The dare was on. Glade said that if I went first he would follow.
The decision had to be made quickly as we were passing Gade's house and so I jumped. I don’t remember all the pain but I remember being surprised that I couldn’t keep my balance when I hit the asphalt. I also remember falling to my knees, elbows and finally face. As soon as I stopped sliding across the asphalt I looked up in time to watch Glade keep his word (I’ve always admired him for that). Glade did pretty much what I did except the cut on his knee was much deeper than my widespread road-rash.
Cecil immediately noticed that his truck was much lighter. Looking in the mirror, he saw his nephews sprawled across the highway so he stopped to ask if we were OK. Glade, who hadn’t started to cry yet, answered that we were fine and so Cecil drove home.
Picking ourselves up, we limped toward the house. Glade’s knee was bleeding profusely and he was afraid that we’d get into trouble and so he decided we’d hide in the granary (my plan was to cry louder). Glade enlisted his younger siblings to go to the house and sneak out some toilet paper and bandages. Aunt Margaret found us, either because the other kids spilled the beans about the two turnip heads hiding in the granary or she saw little kids sneaking TP and bandages out of the house.
I don’t remember getting into trouble because I think the adults felt badly that their offspring were stupid enough to jump from a moving truck onto the highway. Glade had to go to the doctors to have his knee stitched up. I think I just walked around with road-rash on my face until it healed. Luckily, there are no photos confirming this incident but if you look closely you can still see the scar on Glade’s knee.