Northern Colorado 1947-1955
Last week I wrote about our neighbors who lived in the dry lands where winter wheat was grown. Helen, her son Bobby Lee and mother Old Lady Forsay, lived in the middle of a fenced in area that was full of animals. So the house they lived in was in the middle of a corral. The house was shingled with tin can lids and the siding on the house was the mashed cans nailed with various recycled rusty, bent nails.
Helen, her son and mother decided to move the chicken coop to the back side of the property. They jacked up one side and then jacked up the other. Helen was about to put blocks down so they could back a trailer under the building, when the jack slipped sideways and the corner of the building came down on Helen's leg.
Old lady Forsay, not knowing what to do and without a phone, jumped into the old beat up car and roared off down the dirt road to get John. My dad's first clue something was wrong was Helen's mother came roaring into the driveway, skidding to a stop, dirt and gravel flying in every direction. She stuck her wrinkled head out the window and screamed, "Helen! Helen! Her leg is caught under the chicken coop! "Come help! Come Help!"
With that, she slammed the car into reverse, roared backward up the driveway, across the dirt road, into the barrow pit, narrowly missing our mailbox. She jammed the car into gear again, spun the tires, throwing dirt and weeds everywhere, swerving sideways to get back up on the road and took off on the wrong side of the road, disappearing in a cloud of dust over the hills.
Dad always cool and calm, started for his pickup shouting to the nearest person, "Tell Mom to call the ambulance!"
Mom called the ambulance located in Fort Collins about 15 miles away. She had a hard time telling them where to go, so she finally said come to the McClure place and I'll show you where to go.
Everyone knew were John and Loretta McClure lived! They were at our house in jig time.
We had never seen such a thing as an ambulance and clustered around Mom as she was telling them the directions to Helen's house. "Over one hill, turn right -- over three hills, and you will see the house in the corral."
It was a very long time before the ambulance came back by our house as we waited and waited on the lawn. After the ambulance went by, Dad came driving down the road in his old pickup, slowly turning into the driveway, completely worn out.
He told us when he got there Old Lady Forsay had already started to jack up the chicken coup, and with my dad's help, and help from other neighbors who followed, seeing the trail of dust in the direction that John was going, jacked and blocked up the building to pull Helen out from under the chicken coop. They were sure she was dead as her leg was completely crushed above the knee. When the ambulance arrived she regained consciousness long enough to put up a big fuss about going to the hospital. She did lose her leg and spent several weeks in the hospital.
After Helen got out of the hospital, Old Lady Forsay replaced the backseat of that old car, that they took out to haul pigs, calves and chickens to the auction barn and she hauled Helen back and forth to the doctors every week. Coming back from the doctor they would stop and thank John for helping, all over again and go into great detail how Helen would be walking with a wooden leg as soon as she healed up. We all would go out and say "hi" to Helen, laying in the backseat with a pillow at her head and a pillow where her leg was not! Then they would go off down the road in a cloud of dust.
My brother Sonny would tease Ginger by saying "UWHH did you see were her leg isn't?" Ginger would reply "Oawwkk, NO! I couldn't look! Poor Helen, that musta-hadda hurt!"
A few years later Dad mentioned that Helen (having recovered from her accident and fitted with a wooden leg) had bought an old pickup with racks on it, to haul pigs, calves and goats to the auction barn, instead of the back of their old worn-out car. "She had better slow down, that pickup and the racks are not safe!"
A few days later she flew by in her newly purchased old worn out pickup, throwing her usually cloud of dust, into the bright blue skies. "She's gonna lose the tail gate on that pickup!" A day later, as she flew by in a cloud of dust, sure enough, unknown to her, she had lost the tailgate and the calf that was going to auction house. She stated that when she got to the auction barn, she had nothing in her pickup and did not make any money that day!!
Every time Dad told the "Old Lady Forsay" story, which was many, many times through the years, he would yodel her name in his flat monotone singing voice and with big wide armed gestures and facial expression, never varied this story. He always held everyone's attention to the very end.