I knew my grandfather Carl, whom we called Papa, to be a serious and
honorable man, and I think he truly was. Self-sacrifice was his way.
Diligence was his middle name. So it was particularly delightful to
learn that he was not a perfect angel his entire life. From my
grandmother's stories, here is this little story about Papa. I have
changed only the way Mormor referred to Papa -- from Papa to Carl.
Because while her grandchildren had no problem with it, it's a little
weird for you folks to read about a pre-teen called "Papa."
When your grandfather, Carl, was a young boy, he and his brother Harley got jobs weeding carrots for Mr. Costa who lived out on Arcata Bottom. They were paid 10¢ for each long row.
One day, when it was quite warm, Carl got tired of working, and anyway he had heard that there was an abandoned rowboat somewhere along a dike that he would like to find, fix up, and use. So he left in spite of Harley's protestations.
Carl walked and walked and walked along the dike for nearly two miles, but nowhere did he find a boat. However, when he was about to turn back in disgust he saw what looked to him like a scarecrow floating among the reeds and trash. For some reason he poked the thing with a stick and, to his horror, discovered that it was a man's body. You can imagine how fast Carl got out of there. He raced to the nearest farmhouse where the people phoned the sheriff. Finally the sheriff arrived, the farmer's pickup* was hired and they set off.
After a bit they had to walk down the dike with the sheriff continually asking "how much farther?" and Carl just guessing "another hundred yards."
Well, they walked and walked and walked until the law man was certain he was on a wild goose chase. But Carl kept insisting it was just a bit farther which, coupled with his vivid description, kept the sheriff walking until, at last, they came to the place. I'll spare you the details of how they got the body out and into a box and then into the pickup* for the trip to the mortuary.
For finding the body of Timothy O'Leary Carl was paid ten dollars -- more than he would have earned in two weeks at weeding carrots. Harley always felt there was something very unfair about the whole business; after all, he had stayed on the job!
*Remember that this story took place in about 1915 or so, and so I don't know exactly what a farmer's pickup might have looked like in that year, but it certainly wasn't a Ford F250.