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As Paul Harvey Would Say....the Rest Of The Story


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#76 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted February 07, 2013 - 09:48 PM

Now, I wouldn't want anyone to get jealous, but I hold a very important document, that many have sought and not everyone found.  In addition to the all important passport, immunization records, visas, and other important paperwork from my days as a world traveler, I ALSO became one of the youngest people to obtain,,,,(drumroll please)  a Zambian DRIVER"S LICENSE!!!  Now, a Zambian driver's license was a prize that was fervently sought by all the missionaries who went to Zambia.  There was a reciprocal agreement that a US driver's license was good enough to drive for two years, but after that, if you wanted to drive in the country, you had to have a ZAMBIAN driver's license.  I heard many tales from other missionaries about their driving tests and how picky the instructors could be. For instance:  if you stopped at a red light, you should engage your parking brake.  Sounds crazy, right?  It wasn't enough to put on your turn signal, you had to remember to use hand signals too.  Any failure to "Hold your mouth just so" during the driving test meant that you failed and would have to schedule a retest.

     Now, I lived in Zambia from 72 to 76, then 77 to 81, didn't return until 1983 for the summer break from college.  During that summer (winter in Zambia) I began a pattern of helping Dad out by driving the truck into town for deliveries of this and that.  Among other things, we supplied the local hospital with vegetables and eggs, the local teacher training college, and had ties with several of the local shopkeepers.  We also hauled our corn into the local NamBoard (National Farmer's Co-op? I'm not sure there is an equivalent here in the states.)   I went back to college in the fall semester, then returned to Zambia in 1984 and repeated the process.  In 1985, I was at a loss for what I wanted to do.  College didn't seem to be leading anywhere I wanted to go, and I was homesick.  So I went back to Zambia in the summer (winter) of 1985 and stayed as long as I could, didn't leave till around March of 1986.  During this time Dad told me I needed to start trying to get my driver's license, as he didn't want me getting into some sort of legal trouble.  Technically, no one was paying me, even though I was working like a son-of-a-gun and enjoying every minute of it, so I didn't need a work visa, another fervently sought piece of paperwork.  

     So, I went into town and met with the driving instructor.  He was quite pleasant when he found out who I was, and indicated that he had seen me driving the truck around town.  After this acknowledgement  he began talking about.....SUSPENDERS!.. and how much he would really appreciate a fine pair of suspenders, and how America must be home to many fine pairs of suspenders.  I replied that there probably were quite a few, but I wasn't sure when I would be returning to America, and the mail was very uncertain between our two countries.  He responded by saying he was sure I would do my best.  I walked out of that office with a Driver's license in one hand and bewilderment in my head.  He did eventually get his suspenders from me, so I suppose everyone got what they wanted.


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#77 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted February 07, 2013 - 10:38 PM

More truck driving:

 

I may have mentioned that we planted corn just after the rainy season started, usually a week or so before Christmas in December. The corn grew and matured during the rainy season, which ended around the end of April, then it would die and dry in the field.  I forget exactly when, but probably sometime around June, the corn would be dry enough to harvest.  We didn't have a combine in the early years, so we had to do much of the harvesting by hand.  What we did was send two men ahead of the tractor.  Their job was to pull the corn and use a sharpened wooden dowel to rip the shuck open, then pile the corn in the center of the two rows.  Then, the tractor drove slowly down the row pulling a trailer, with four men on either side, each responsible for pulling the ears and shucking them, then tossing them into the trailer.  Then one more man in the center would gather the corn  from the middle rows and load it into the trailer.  Once the trailer was full of "corn on the cob" we took it to our "threshing floor", which was a large concrete tennis court.  There, the men took turns running a hand operated sheller, and the corn would be unloaded from the trailer into the sheller, which graded the corn into two sizes.  I don't remember the two sizes being of any significance to us, just that was the way that machine was set up.  The corn kernels then had to be poured into burlap sacks that needed to weigh EXACTLY 90 kilos (200 lbs) and then the open end had to be sewn shut.  The bags were stacked in the open on one end of the tennis court while the shelling activity took place on the other end.  For anyone wondering, again, this was the DRY season.  It did NOT rain during this time of year.

So, as the harvesting progressed, we had less and less standing corn, and more and more corn stacked in burlap bags weighting to be sold.  The only market for corn was the local NamBoard dealer, and they were the ones who insisted on the delivery method, ie, 90 Kg bags, delivered by us to their conveyor  belt.  So, a full load for the truck was 30 bags, loaded by hand.  There was a knack to working as a two man team and swinging those bags nearly chest high into the truck.  So, once we had enough bags, we set aside a day to do nothing but load, drive, and unload all day.  It usually took about 75 to 90 minutes to complete a cycle, depending a bit on how well we were unloaded at the depot.  So that was a full and tiring day of driving and loading there.  As the empty truck would round the last turn heading home, we would start laying on the horn so everyone would come running and we could load up and go again.  During the last years I participated in all this truck driving , Dad and I would split it up or stagger it so one could stay home and eat lunch while the other was driving.  I think our 'Holy Grail" of corn production per acre was 30 bags, but it was usually somewhere less than that.  I suspect we had between 50 and 100 acres of corn during the later years at the farm, but of course we started very small and worked our way up.  


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#78 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted February 07, 2013 - 10:45 PM

Just as a bit of a follow-up, sometime right around the 1985 time period, Dad purchase an older tractor drawn combine for our farm. The corn still had to be in burlap bags, and it still had to weigh 90 Kg, but the large team of people was no longer needed, and the harvest could proceed a little faster.  Also, Dad began to rotate soybean into his crop mix, and that was a very labor intensive crop as well.  I remember perhaps a score of women working, hammering away at the seed pods once they had been separated from the plant, in order to split the pod and harvest the bean---Which of course ALSO had to be delivered to Namboard in a burlap sack, probably weighing 90 Kg. as well.


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#79 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted February 08, 2013 - 06:31 AM

Great story you have going here! Sounds like a lot of hard work, but great memories!


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#80 daytime dave ONLINE  

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Posted February 08, 2013 - 09:16 AM

Great stories Howard, thank you.


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#81 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted February 08, 2013 - 10:56 AM

Great story you have going here! Sounds like a lot of hard work, but great memories!

Thanks Kenny.  I will say, Dad was born in 1934, so by the time he was 11, the country was only just coming out of the war and prosperity was still to come.  Until Granddaddy bought a Ford Jubilee in 1953, they used mules to farm tobacco and harvest.  So Dad was very much a farm kid.  When we went overseas in 1972, he was back in his childhood mode, worked hard and did what needed to be done.  I could also see a direct relationship between the amenities we did have and the work he did.  I can't remember if I've already posted this here, but Dad did a LOT of the work of modernizing the house we lived in during the time we were there.  When we first visited that house, the only running water was the irrigation ditch running down past the house.  Our first visits there, the toilet was an outhouse out back behind the house.  During a 6 month period while Dad was in language school, he would go every other week to the farm, 6 hrs away from where the family was living, and work on modernizing the house.  When I wasn't in school (4th grade) I would go with him.  

 

Modernizing meant using a hammer and a star drill to put holes into exterior walls that were about 12 inches thick of solid brick to run plumbing from inside to outside.  

 

Modernizing meant pouring a new concrete slab over the existing floor because the old floor was damaged.

 

 Modernizing meant chiseling a channel out of the brick wall deep enough to hide electrical conduit and electrical boxes because Dad didn't want that sort of clutter on the surface of the walls.   That had to be done anywhere we needed a light switch or an electrical outlet.

 

Modernizing meant removing the remaining old clay tiles that had been the roof and replacing it with asbestos/cement roofing.   I LOVE having a dry season.  In fact the entire mission went and camped out at the house when Dad and Mom first arrived.  Even though we were in the house, some rooms had enough clay tile missing that you could see the stars that night.  But it was the dry season!

 

Modernizing meant installing a wood stove in the kitchen to cook with.

 

Modernizing meant putting real toilets in the bathrooms and digging pits for the sewage and a soak-away for the bath water.

 

Modernizing meant building the Rhodesian boilers I have referenced earlier in this narrative.

 

Modernizing meant building a combined generator house and workshop with shed for those rainy days.

 

I loved my Dad, and think the world of him.  Please understand, however, that there was plenty of 'strong backs,' people we hired to do a lot of the difficult work that just needed some human muscle, he did not do these things by himself.


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#82 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted February 08, 2013 - 11:23 AM

So, when you're in the fourth grade and you have gone off for a week to help your dad modernize a house, what do you do?

 

First, I was Dad's gopher.  I was the best English speaker there, and it was quite easy for him to have me run get tools and such.  I was his flashlight holder, ladder steadier, tool repository, and occasional slider of pipes from one side of a wall to another.  I could also cut pipe where it was marked, but didn't have the strength to use the pipe threader.  

 

And, I played.  Everything was new and fun.  Scaffolding was better than a tree for climbing, half finished walls were better than a tightrope.  Sand that was to be used for concrete work was the best ever, cause it was in a pile and could be tunneled into, pushed around and flattened.  Dirt from various holes was just the same, another place to play.  

 

We used a kerosene lantern at night for general lighting, during those early visits.  It cast a warm glow on the walls.  I've already mentioned the outhouse toilet.  Bathing was standing in a tin tub and rubbing a wet cloth around to clean up.  Looking back, I am amazed that Dad put these things together and took me along.  

 

And if bathing wasn't challenging enough, we needed food too.  I really can't remember it well, but consider:

1) There was no source of electricity yet, no fridge, no ice, nothing.

2)  The local stores didn't stock a lot, and particularly they didn't stock the sort of food we were accustomed to.

3) He would stay for a week.

4) Couldn't use the local water for fear of disease without boiling it.

 

How did we survive?  I remember opening cans of "cling peaches", sardines on bread, and cans of soup.  What did we drink?  Was it soda? Coke was Dad's preference, though orange Fanta could be found at the house in later years.  He may have stashed some of his drinks in the irrigation ditch running by the house to cool off.

 

Some things occurred during this time that I remember well.  First, there was the week that Dad lost track of time and stayed 8 days instead of 7.  We didn't know we'd missed a day till we got home and mom fussed and fussed, because Dad was a day late and she couldn't reach him to find out if he was ok. 

 

Then, there was the chase I joined in without knowing what was going on.  Turned out everyone was chasing a dog that was thought to be rabid.  I joined in because it looked like fun.  It stopped being fun when the dog turned on it's pursuers, who wisely scattered, and I found myself facing this dog.  I turned and tried to run too, but got bit in the butt, left some scars that linger to this day.  Dad had to bandage me up the best he could.  When we went back to the capital a day or two later, he took me to the doctor and I started getting rabies shots.


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#83 UncleWillie ONLINE  

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Posted February 08, 2013 - 08:36 PM

Sounds like great memories. Thanks for sharing


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#84 caseguy OFFLINE  

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Posted February 09, 2013 - 08:34 AM

I really enjoy reading the stories from your youth Howard. I appreciate that you're willing to share it with all of us here! Thank you.


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#85 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted February 09, 2013 - 09:52 AM

Sounds like great memories. Thanks for sharing

 

 

I really enjoy reading the stories from your youth Howard. I appreciate that you're willing to share it with all of us here! Thank you.

 

 

Can't agree more!  Plus writing it down here saves those memories till the end of time.  A lot of times I will forget something that I know I posted about here on GTT, so a little digging and I can find it to refresh my fading memory bank.  Keep those memories coming Howard!


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#86 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted April 04, 2013 - 10:57 PM

One or two posts today have dealt with music, and it has stirred up some memories.

Before Dad was appointed as a missionary, he was the minister of music/youth group leader for a small church up in  Virginia near the Tennessee border.  He loved music and singing and played both the piano and something called an 'autoharp'.  Before we left the States to go to Zambia, Dad got a new all-in-one record player, radio receiver, and 8-track tape player.  Dad owned a number of records and would play them often during the evening.  The radio receiver was useless, as there were few stations, and none that broadcast anything we wanted to hear.  No TV either, so the music provided a backdrop to the evening.  

 

 

     There were a number of adjustments we had to make, living in a foreign country.  One adjustment was that the standard US voltage of 110 volts was not available in Zambia.  Instead, the standard wall outlet was 220 volt.  So, the adjustment was that every appliance that was purchased in the US had to be plugged into a transformer, which stepped the voltage down.  And the transformer did need to be sized for the job, it was ok to run electronics on a 250 watt transformer, but you better have the big 1500 watt transformer for the clothes iron or for a hair dryer.  BUT, it turns out that there is a frequency difference too, with the US being 60 Hz and Zambian standard being 50 Hz, which would not have been a problem exept that the RECORD PLAYER used frequency to control the record speed.......so all the records played at 5/6ths normal speed!  It made all the music feel slightly "draggy".  We had a Bill Cosby record, and I thought he had the most marvelous bass voice.  When I finally heard him at normal speed, I said " That can't be him, his voice isn't that high!" until I heard some familiar mono-logs.  The other interesting side effect of living on generator power was the lag between load application (pump motor turned on, etc.) and the generator slowing down, then speeding back up to shoulder the load.  So, something from the Sound of Music might be playing and suddenly Freidrich the oldest boy would drop into the bass register, then return to a higher register.

 

 

     Tape recorders worked off actual voltage rather than frequency, so were mostly immune to incorrect playback speed and the sort of frequency drop that played havoc with the tempo of a song, so we recorded  many of the albums onto cassette tape.  This created its own problem.  There are classic songs that to this day, I'll be humming along with and then expect them to 'dip' to a slower speed, then return to the standard speed because that is how the recording was made.


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#87 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted April 04, 2013 - 11:27 PM

What music did I listen to growing up?  Well, there were no peers to influence me, so I tended to go right along with Mom and Dad's taste in music, or at least didn't much know the difference.  And what we had was all there was, so it all got played repeatedly.  Bobby Sherman (anybody?) had a song about a girl standing at a bus stop.  I at least heard Three Dog Night and loved "Momma told me not to come", but I think that record stayed with my brother when he went to boarding school after we moved to the farm.  Darryl and the Raiders ?  Cherokee people ? was another song I heard.  The rest was an eclectic mix of soundtrack musical, Sound of Music, South Pacific, The Pajama Game, and My Fair Lady are ones I recall off the bat.  Quite a bit of gospel and religious music too, Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the like.  I think there was even some Duke Ellington.  We also had records of two musicals Dad led at the church in Virginia, what were they?  Celebrate Life was one.  Funny, I can almost see the jacket design on the other one, but I can't read the label.

 

Can't believe I almost forgot the Christmas music.  If there was a Christmas album, I'm pretty sure we had it.  Gene Autry, Chipmunks, and "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!"


Edited by HowardsMF155, April 04, 2013 - 11:30 PM.

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#88 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted April 05, 2013 - 05:29 AM

Thanks again for sharing these memories. Good reading!


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#89 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted May 04, 2013 - 04:29 PM

Southern Zambia hard hit by drought this year.  Local government not delivering fertilizer didn't help either.


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#90 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted May 04, 2013 - 04:48 PM

Thanks Howard, as that video shows us here how easy we do have it, even in our bad years.  Those people have nothing to fall back on at all.  I feel for them, as they are as much a group of farmers as I am, and a tougher breed of farmer to boot.






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