It was in the hot summer time and I was out of school for the summer. I was about 14 or 15 years old and working for my Dad, Cecil Lewis. We were building a road down by Turkey Bend. Just country roads are all we built back then, hauling and spreading out caliche for new subdivision roads. I always ran the loader, loading the five or six dump trucks that hauled the caliche. The trucks were driven mostly by our school age friends, the ones at least sixteen and could get a commercial license. Socks Jackson was the mechanic and the foreman. It was his job to keep everyone and everything moving. He and Cec had grown up together. He was always around. A big part of my life. His favorite past time was picking on me.
We always brought our lunch and had it under a big tree, next to the caliche pit. There wasn’t a store for 20 miles. As we were eating one day, all gather together Socks asked, “What is that sore on your arm, boy”? I didn’t know, but my right arm, just above the elbow had a small red irritated place on it. The next day the sore had grown. Socks once again inquired. He surmised that it was some disease, probably incurable and would only get worse with time. Day after day the place continued to grow with Socks keeping a close watch on it for me.
Within a couple of weeks, my whole upper arm was covered with this horrible sore. I was lying awake each night worrying. I couldn’t think of anything else. I was sure Socks was right, that the next thing all of my other extremities would start getting it to and would start falling off one by one. Even my privates could be effected, he would say.
The neighbor lady, Big Hanna, was my friend. She was a nurse and Big Jimmy Palmer’s momma. She was always there to take up for me, since I was real small and Kenny, Jimmy, Socks and just about the rest of the world picked on me. I finally got nerve enough to go get a second opinion from her. Immediately she told me that I had a burn on my arm. “No way could that be right” I said. It kept getting a little worse each day and besides Sox had told me what was going to happen. She assured me that it wasn’t nearly as bad as Socks made it sound.
The next morning, as I got on the loader, I noticed an oily film on the right arm rest. A hydraulic relief valve was leaking and spraying a fine mist of oil and was coating my arm. The hot Texas sun was slowly baking my arm to well done. I probably would have noticed the oil on the armrest days earlier, if Socks had not occupied my mind so heavily with his prognosis. I simply laid a rag over the valve and it collected the oil. Within a few days my arm was well and my mind was more at ease.
Socks was always the kindest and most considerate person you ever met. He loved me dearly I know. I just don’t think he realized the torment he put me through with his joking. Oh well, it taught me that there is a reason for everything.