Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ice Inspection At Perk’s Slough

Ice Inspection At Perk’s Slough

The most exciting word in high school was “party”.  Yes, this word would send a buzz like a lose bee down the halls of our school. The excitement built as it traveled in a humming hush which the adults must not overhear.  “Where will it be, who will be there, how can I get there,  what will I wear?”  Now, two of the biggest
Sue & Danny Acting Out
party animals I knew were my younger brother, Danny, and my best friend, Sue “Hot Lips” Hatton.  So at noon time one February 1965 day, just as I was hanging up my waitress apron at John’s Cafe (where I worked during lunch hour) in preparation of returning to school, Danny came to me.  He was all excited and demanded, “Chere, take me out to Perk’s Slough.”  Why?”  I inquired. “I need to inspect the ice to see if it is hard enough to have an ice skating party tonight”  Oops, there was that word “party”!  Sue who had been waiting to walk with me back to school was all over it now.  “Yeah, Chere, take him.  I want to go with you guys.”

I did not have a car in high school, but I would often “steal” my mother’s Chrysler
Newport station wagon when she was out of town on business.  This happened to be one of those times and Danny knew it.  If I didn’t do as he asked, he could tell on me when she got back.  I questioned further.  “We’ll miss class.  What will we tell them?”  Danny rationalized, “We’ll just be a little late, Chere.  It’s only fifteen minutes out and fifteen minutes back.  We’ll only be late for one class.”  “Yeah, come on Chere, let’s go!” Sue pipes in.

So we pile into the wagon, Sue and I in the front seat and Danny in the back.
 There was no room in the front seat for Danny because the middle was taken up our purses and by my rolls of toilet paper.  I had a terrible cold.  I had never been to Perk’s Slough, but my brother obviously had.  He knew exactly where we were going. (the little party animal that he was).  Mom’s blue battleship floated down the highway, sailing along to discover new lands.  Sue was singing the latest hit to the radio, Dan was pointing out directions and I was blowing my nose almost non-stop.

Perk’s slough was out on the Mason Valley Wildlife Refuge.  In other words out in
the sticks.  As we approached the slough from the back seat, Danny yelled “Stop!”.  “”Why, I don’t see the slough.” I questioned as I pulled to a stop at the top of a little knoll.  Danny flings open the back door and commanded me.  “Stay here, I want to make sure the ground is hard enough for the car.” Sue and I watch him walk quite a ways towards the slough.  Then we looked at each other and I said, “I’m not walking that far to see the slough are you?”  “Hell no!” she exclaimed.

With that, I revved up the wagon and gunned it.  At the sound of the car reve, Danny turned around and like an airplane flagman began waving his arms frantically and yelling, “NO, NO, NOOOOO!” Too late, the car sunk into the mud spinning wheels and all.  Danny came running back to the car in a rage. He
rounded the car in an Indian war dance, yelling and cursing me out.  Finally, he decided to try and push us out.  No luck.  I decided I would try and help him push.  I could barely get the door open we had sunk so far in the mud.  When I stepped out, I sunk down to my knees.  The mud oozed into my pantyhose (we wore dresses to school back then).  Sue sat with pursed up lips and refused my pleas to help push.  She wasn’t going to get dirty and besides it was too cold.

When Dan and my energy was well spent to no avail, Danny decided he would be the hero of the situation and run back to town to get some help.  I was worried about him as the afternoon wind was getting colder and he only had a light jacket on.  His hands were freezing from trying to push the car.  I decided that I would wrap his hands in toilet paper to try and keep them warm.  And so off he ran in his TP mittens.  I figured it would take him a few hours to get to help if a bobcat or wolf pack didn’t eat him.

It was freezing, so I would turn the heater on for a few minutes at a time to conserve gas as it was getting low.  My muddy nylons dried and caked to my legs as my nose continued to run which I wiped on my coat sleeve.  I looked like hell, but my “best” friend did not have a hair out of place.  She sat like a princess on her thrown commanding when to turn the heat back on.  My resentments were growing with each sniffle.  After about 20 minutes, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a jeep coming.  I jumped out to try and flag it down.  To my surprise and relief Danny jumped out with discarded toilet paper mittens.  He had run into the game warden.  Fortunately, his jeep had a hoist and was able to pull us out of the mud.

We hurried back to Yerington, washed the car down and rushed back to school just in time for last period. I forget what excuse we gave for our tardiness because
I had another crisis.  I needed to raise some money for gas as the car was almost empty and when Mom go home she would surely notice.  I decided to panhandle my classmates for “a worthy cause.”  I did not dare tell them why as in a small town word spreads like wildfire and my mom could know before she even got back home.  When I finally reached $2.50, I put ten gallons of gas in Mom’s car and parked it in her driveway.  My mother was none the wiser and I felt I had gotten away with murder.

Thirty years later while Dan & I were reminiscing with my mother about Yerington days.  I decided to come clean on this story and tell her.  “Oh, you stinkers,” she exclaimed.  “I chewed the mechanic out for always blaming you kids for all my car problems.  I had to have the power steering repaired and he said, ‘But Mrs. Barnett the whole under carriage is encrusted in mud.’  I just figured he didn’t want to do the repair.”

(Note:  I never did party at Perk’s Slough or see Perk’s Sough.  Now I hear that Perk’s Slough is no longer there.  I do have it on the greatest authority of YHS partiers that Perk’s Slough did exist and was a great party spot.)

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