Butter Rum Cartoon

Butter Rum Cartoon

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Sunday, April 10, 2011


It was a mistake, going to Libby, Montana, two states away from home, for my first real job after high school. The St. Regis Lumber Company had promised to hire me, but I was given a “maintenance” position, which meant that I had to fill in wherever needed. One day I’d be sweeping a floor. When two men had quit, I suddenly had to take their place by myself, stacking heavy pallets as they rolled off a large belt, trying to keep up, and working so hard that I expected to end up somewhere at the bottom of a pile of pallets. One day I worked with a saw, having to listen to its screaming sound for hours with no ear protection. The next day I was a carpenter’s assistant, but when the carpenter told me what to do, I couldn’t hear him because of the loud ringing in my ears from the previous day, and all the while he was frustrated with his apparently deaf helper.

I had just moved to Libby so had no friends there, and I could never be with anyone at the lumber company long enough to make a friend. The work was erratic and often unbearable, and I was miserable. I would telephone home occasionally, feeling awfully lonesome, but that took what seemed to me a lot of money I had to slide into the slots of those phone booths. One wonderful thing of the Sixties, though, is that there were still real, live, telephone operators. And more than once I went into a payphone late at night and struck up a conversation with the operator, always a very pleasant woman who had the insight of recognizing the voice of a lonesome young man. I wish I had a recording of those conversations to cheer up people today. As busy as these operators must have been, they took time for me and encouraged me and eased my loneliness.

After a month, I quit my job, and bought a train ticket back home to western Washington. I sat there on the train, feeling like a failure and still very alone. I had no idea what to do after giving up on my first real job. Right then I needed a friend.

Before leaving Libby, I had bought some treats for my dog at home--a box of Lolli Pups. As the train rattled its way into the night, I became bored enough, and hungry enough, finally to open the box of Lolli Pups and try one. Suddenly a young, attractive and very pleasant woman came from somewhere across the aisle and sat down next to me. “Did you just eat one of those?” she asked, surprised.

“Yeah,” I said, “they’re for my dog back home. They’re really not too bad.”

And the two of us were carried into a fascinating conversation that cheered me up incredibly. This angel from somewhere across the aisle was the friend I needed. I never learned her address or even her name, but she made my whole future look bright. By the time she got off the train in Spokane, she herself had eaten a Lolli Pup. And I continued on, contented and smiling.

There are countless angels bringing us comfort and help in our lives. This is not news to you. Above are just a couple examples of the ones who have helped me.

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1 comment:

  1. Y'know, you remind me of me when I was just a young pup. "I didn't eat any lolli-pups though"

    Life is really hard for some of us when we're first starting out. I think it we learn to appreciate life;and later on down the road we're better for it. I do believe it beats having everything handed to you on a silver platter, so to speak.

    I'm liking your stories more all the time. GOOD THING YOU RETIRED.lol