Mr. Hamp, Thanks for the Jesse James Impression
Time is Still Moving
for me since the summer of 1967. I have heard that old saying of time came to a stand still, when an event was so chilling that people testified of watching their lives go past their eyes, but that is not the case with me—because the time in my life Post-Mr. Hamp, is still moving at a snail’s pace and here it is 2019 and I still hold on to how this older gentleman not only hurt me, but robbed me right in front of my eyes.
I said gentleman in the (above) paragraph and that was ONLY because I did not want to tell you the ugly truth about how low any human could stoop. Not even the iconic bandit, Jesse James would stoop lower than Mr. Hamp. Why? I wish that I had that brand of wisdom so I wouldn’t be writing this piece to you.
To be fair, Mr. Hamp was NOT a fictional character that I conjured up. He existed in Real Time--all six-foot, three-inches of him. And he had slightly gray hair. He was not a stupid man, but very wise—not in lecturing the less-learned (like myself), but very shrewd in the areas of life that (at that time) I did not know anything about. Who could?
I Remember (That)
early summer morning like I remember yesterday. I wonder why (it is) that painful experiences always are remembered more clearly than those of a happier time? Does the pain go deeper or show-up in a meaner time? I cannot answer either question, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering.
I ask your patience for trailing off in the first of the above paragraph. That is just one of my failings. I can tell you that I was visiting with Mr. Hamp who he led me to believe that he was friendly—and while I do admit that was a sucker in thinking that his friendly nature wouldn’t hurt a fly, I never did believe that it would be me whom it hurt. Now is the place for me to interject (one of those) wise axiom’s--”Life is the best teacher if you are paying attention,” nice, huh?
Mr. Hamp and I were standing in his yard and I understood him to say that he needed the grass to be mowed and when you are a kid in search of scratch, I made it to his push lawnmower, one of those that was easily-pushed. And just as I started to pull the cord to start the motor, Dick Stidham walked up and started talking to Mr. Hamp. Even at an early age, I sensed that something was up, and that something was not fun.
What Transpired From Mr. Hamp
and Dick, stayed with me from that hot summer morning as I was told by Mr. Hamp, that Dick and I could mow the grass and he, Mr. Hamp, would give us both the same amount of pay. And when you are a kid and her the word, pay, your listening is sharper than any sonar or radar ever designed.
Truth was, Dick and I did mow the same amount of grass—and I can share that we both sweated the equal amount. My tee-shirt was soaked with sweat while Dick’s shirt was not that wet. Maybe he was a Creature From Beyond or someone born with no sweat glands. I didn’t know. Still don’t know. All I knew that in the flash of an eye twinkling, Mr. Hamp, who would have made an expert Riverboat Gambler, or Confidence Man, made his play with Dick and when I saw his action in play, I was hurt clear to the bone. And never recovered.
The Evil, Hurtful Event That
went down like this: Mr. Hamp handed Dick a one-dollar bill and two quarters. His face lit up like a cheap roman candle in the Fourth of July while all that Mr. Hamp handed me was ONE quarter and a dime—and before I could call his hand, said, you can take the dime to the store and buy yourself a Coke.
So the final tally ended up with Dick making out like a bandit shoveling $1.50 and me, .35. You do not need the mind of a mathematical genius like the late Albert Einstein to know that I was screwed. To the bone. And the shock of that evil deed (by Mr. Hamp) was so clear that I was shocked. Deeper than a bolt of lighting in a summer storm had hit my heart. And this scoundrel, Mr. Hamp knew what he was doing as he only winked at me while he handed me the pitiful “pay,” (as it were) for the time (helping Dick) cut his grass.
If you are an Economical Genius, you can tally that Cokes in 1967 did NOT cost a dollar and fifty-cents, but a dime. Dick walked away with sixty-cents-- while I only took twenty-five cents to the good. Over the years I have tried (in vain) to crunch these numbers and have never made them come out equal.
I have wondered if Mr. Hamp was related to Jesse James?
February 5, 2019_______________________________________
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© 2019 Kenneth Avery