by Roy Mackey
1929 - 2012
STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION....
The guy here in the pic, a long time friend of mine just left town.... actually his body died to get specific, on Saturday Sept 8, 2012. He left in the early morning in order to avoid the line-ups I guess. He never did like walking, waiting or line-ups. We had been friends for years. In fact he was the longest friend I have had next to my Mom. Most people just thought he was my Dad. Which was true but lucky for me he was more than that. By societal standards he may not have even been the best Dad but by mine he was the greatest. Why because he always taught me to do what I wanted to do and if I did everyone would win. I never had to endure him dragging me all over the place to do things he wanted me to do. He let me be which was pure paradise to me. I wanted to run around in the bush, dig through his junk, throw rocks at squirrels, go fishing up the creek, ride my mini bike and other fun things. My Dad let me do that because he was my friend and not some anal teacher trying to con me into living a life he expected or wanted me to live. He let me be and do what I wanted. He was smart enough to know that you can drag a preacher to the bar but it was harder to make him drink. He was also smart enough to know that we all make our own choices and the only thing we have to offer others is examples we set. Most words are meaningless. I am not sure if he actually told me to live the life I wanted or not. We talked so much it is hard to remember everything he told me. Either way it did not matter since he set the example and that was more important.
I have to say my friend was a real nut-bar. It is hard to believe that I turned out so normal after all his influence!! : ) This guy did everything his way with no thought to what others thought. As long as he was not harming or hurting anyone in the process then that was his only rule. (hurt feelings excluded) He knew that if you were smart enough then you did not need to hurt anyone to get what you want in life. Morons often end up as bullies since that's the only way they can figure out to get what they want.
One of my favorite examples of his uniqueness was the cowboy boots he wore. He would go out and spend a hundred and fifty dollars or more on the best boots he could buy. Then after getting them home he would take the tin snips he had and cut the tall part that goes up your leg down to about half. Then in what was left he would cut two holes for handles!!! So much for taking them back the next day. They did not make boots like this so he made them himself. He was the only one who knew the difference unless you were there and saw him take them off. His attitude was his pant leg covers the part he cut off anyway. At least this way he could get the bloody things on easier. This was a prime example of how he thought. Outside the box before thinking outside the box was trendy.
He liked things that worked, who cares if they were fancy as long as they worked. Since that was so hard to find he often innovated things himself. Another prime example of this is the fact he did not like the curve that visors on baseball caps had so he solved the problem by rigging up a piece of wire to straighten the visor out. It was simple but worked how he wanted it to.
Another time I remember was when he built his new garage. He was so fed up with always looking for extension cords that he decided to solve the problem once and for all. He knew that trying to get Ivan ... ok maybe me too... to put them back when we were done was completely fruitless. So instead of trying to drive soft thoughts into our hard skulls he opted for the easy path. What he did was got some heavy duty cord, put a plug-in box on one end and then wired the other end right into the electrical plug in box on the wall. He then put a large nail in the wall by the plug-in to coil the cord up on. It was problem solved once and for all. No matter when after that you could always find an extension cord as no one could take it away. His plan was to never fight a problem over and over instead solve it once and be done with it.
Another problem he solved involved us kids not cutting enough kindling. Once again he knew what went in one of our ears just popped out the other. That's partially why he always said that Ivan had to plug his ears if he wanted to blow his nose. So instead of spending hours fruitlessly trying to talk some sense into us he came up with a better solution. He got a plastic gallon anti-freeze jug. He drilled a small hole in the lid and then filled the jug with diesel fuel. He would then pop a couple of sticks of kindling into the stove under to larger pieces of log. Then he would squeeze the jug to spray diesel fuel onto the wood and light it with some paper. This worked like a dam and cut back on the demand for kindling by at least three quarters. If the larger chunks of wood did not take right away then he just gave the fire another squirt of diesel and away she went. We used that method for a few years until I blew up the wood stove one night with it. After that Mom highly disapproved of the idea. For the years we used the idea though is sure saved work at fire lighting time. The story about blowing up the stove by the way is in one of my two books.
He basically figured out that is easier to fix a problem once than is is to walk around it every day for the rest of your life.
Oh Yea... he was crazy alright!
Now I am not too sure if I clarified the part about him being a bit of a nut bar. Well if not let me explain. He definitely was not one to follow the normal path by any means. This photo of him here on the top of Mount Swansea is a prime example. You see he was not up here sight seeing like the other tourists. Nope, he was getting ready to run off the mountain top with that old Atlas hanglider in front of him. Now for a man who is sixty, twenty some years ago, it was a big enough feat in itself. Sure big talking bar room cowboys might not think so but if they or anyone else ever stood up there on the edge of the cliff their story would change pretty fast. Most would not walk near the edge let alone fly off of it in about a hundred pounds of aluminum and plastic. Now what made this even worse is the fact he was terrified of heights! Like I don't mean scared of heights but actually terrified of them. I saw him on the roof of our shop once and he was hugging the gravel on all fours before he even got near the edge. Oh and did I mention... no back up parachute in case of bad judgement or mechanical failure!! There was no second chance here. One bad move and he was kissing rocks big time.
This whole story began years ago when I was a lot smarter. I had scraped up a little cash somewhere and found this great deal on an old Eagle Cloud. They were actually made right there in the valley a few years earlier but eventually closed down. The glider was in quite good shape and were known for handling quite well. The owner of it, Harley Portman, was going to do everyone a favor and chop it up into pieces. Instead though I managed to talk him into selling it to me. He agreed as long as I promised to take proper training. This glider sat somewhere between the earlier "death traps" and the newer more advance gliders of the time. I had wanted to take up hang gliding for years but it was not coming together. I had bought a glider a year or two previous to this one but it got stolen just after my first couple of training flights. That was probably good luck on my part as it was one of the early death traps that were known for stalling and then side diving out of the sky like a rocket.
Anyway after paying him and dragging it home I booked in some lessons as promised with a local instructor. Well the second Dad heard about it he was in like a kid in a candy store. I could not say no since that was not the way he taught me to be. Well after we had both finished taking the ground school he was hooked worse than I was. I told him I was going to start training at the practice hill right away. The trouble was all my friends were normal and had jobs. To get them to help me and be back-up for calling the ambulance etc would mean I could only train on the weekends. Of course if you know mountain weather nice days never happen on weekends. Thus Dad said he would be my back up if he could train too. I told him Mom would kill him and me if she... found out.... He smiled... I smiled and the deal was set and lips were sealed! If the weather was nice I would call Dad to see if he was game. He told Mom he was going with me just in case I hurt myself I would have someone there.
The training hill was only a hundred or so feet high. We had both done some training on a very small hill during the ground school part of the course. There we may have got five feet or so in the air for a couple of seconds at best. Our instructor, Andrew, then set us up on this larger hill, showed us what was needed and told us to call him back once we had made a hundred flights each off that hill. Off he went and we were set.
What we would do is I would carry the glider up the hill and Dad would fly it down. About a ten to twenty second flight. Then he would carry it up and I would fly it down. This gave person a chance to rest before they had to fly again. We would do that until the weather faded or we faded and then call it a day. By the time fall got there we had made our hundred flights but it was too late for flying off Swansea. Thus it would have to wait until spring. It was a long winter for both of us.
Eventually spring came and it was back to the training hill to refresh. We were well over a hundred training flights each when we finally called in Andrew our instructor. He checked us out and said we were both more than ready. The next weekend it was up to the top of Swansea!!
You know life is a really strange thing. It is all fun and games until those certain times when you are up to bat. Then the story changes. That is when you start praying that all your training was enough. Even worse in my case as I was praying Dad's training was enough!!! If Dad crashed Mom would have killed me!! If I crashed I would have been killed!!! My chances for failure were double.
Here's Dad with his helmet on... a few minutes before flight time... not talking as much as he was earlier on. After all he was "up to bat" next. That's me in the blue shirt trying to think up what I was going to tell Mom... It was a perfect day to say the least. Actually this was before they built the wooden ramp up there. The ramp made it a lot easier and safer for take off since you did not have to worry about slipping on rocks or tripping just as you got going. I was holding the camera and was planning to take some good shots but I guess froze or something since I never did get a shot until he was well on his way. It was pretty tough watching your Dad running off the mountain top in an old garage sale hang glider with no back up parachute. One of those deaf leading the blind kind of situations I guess.
Needless to say he made it and had a great flight. For me it was the longest ten minutes of my life watching him make that flight. Since this was pre-cell phone era I did not know how he was until I got down there. I knew he was alive though as he did move the glider after landing which was the tell tale. The next day I did the same performance. First flight off Swansea scares the bloody hell right out of you. Sure dare devils and braggarts would never admit it but It is bloody scary. Dad never did bother to take any more flights off the mountain but the fact he took the one more than proved he could live and think outside his own box... the hardest thing of all! and in fact a feat few dare to even try.
You know one of the really cool things about him was the fact if I or anyone needed help he would be there. Not just a quick hand but would really get involved. Sure he always did let me do what I wanted but that did not mean that he was just avoiding me like most could have thought. An example of this was back before I had too many concussions and was about ten or twelve. I was a bit of a bush man back then. Self trained in survival and back to the land stuff back when the hippies were just getting into it as an excuse not to work. I had been tanning all sorts of animal hides from squirrels up to beavers, linx, bobcats and other dead things I skinned. This time though I had gotten into the really big stuff, deer and moose hides. Now that was a whole new ball game. After the tanning I needed to figure out how to soften the hides which was a ton of work by hand even on smaller hides. Well soon as I told him my problem there he was full attention and all. He always figured every problem could be solved with enough thinking. One of the first things he helped me rig up was an old clothes dryer that I would throw the tanned hides into with a few of Mom's baseballs. That thing banged away for two or three days, day in and day out. Clunk, bang, thunk, clunk bang, bang, thunk bang..... It was crazy. The plan failed though so he got all excited about another invention using two 4 by 4's hooked up to a motor with pulley's and belts etc. It was a real work of art but once again never worked also. Then he got the idea for a shaft with all these chains on it that beat the hide... another failure. I would get up every morning and over breakfast he would start obsessing about another great idea he had last night that might work. That evening off we would go again. Eventually after a few more tries we both decided it would be cheaper to get a job and buy factory made leather. In the end we never get it working but boy did we give it a shot and had a ball in the process.
My School buddy Murry sitting on my Honda 70
I think my favorite time growing up was when he bought me a brand new Honda 70 trail bike. Somewhere in one of his old Popular Mechanic books I saw a mini bike and wanted one in the worst way. I wanted a cheap Keystone one like a friend of mine had but Dad had learned from a very rich and smart business man once that you have to be rich to afford cheap stuff. Cheap stuff is the same as throwing money way since it never lasts. Thus he did not buy me that cheap Keystone. The following spring though I came home from school and there it was. A brand new Honda 70!! At first I thought he bought for Mom or someone but sure enough it was for me. Dad figured it would be great for all sorts of stuff around the place so he could probably even write off part of it as a business expense. Well what a thing of beauty. It was my freedom machine and I rode that bike everywhere almost non stop for years. During one summer holidays I kept track of the miles I put on that bike and during the two months I put just over three thousand miles on it!! That was more than a lot of guys with big road bikes used to put on theirs all year back then. Plus I only had access to old dirt roads and back trails.
You know a lot of parents do good things for their kids but not near as many do things that the kid wants. They believe kids are stupid and should do every thing they did or that they say. As if they know whats best for the kid. It has gotten so cliche that they even make movies about it now all the time. Successful kids biggest challenge in life was the limited or controlling thinking of the parents. It is not like parents don't have good intentions its just they don't realize that kids are smarter than they are. It is how life works. The older we get the dumber we get. Most don't notice that. The reason being is that they get stuck in their ways and beliefs they have had for years. It's like their brains stall out and they stop learning. Not all older people but a lot do. My vibrant mother is eighty and learning to use her computer quite well. Hell I know a ton of guys my age who still say they are not into all this new fangled computer stuff??? When I hear that the first thing I think is a "stalled or lazy brain" ... ok sometimes I think "genius" knowing the guy is not selling his soul to the beast but a lot of the time it is just lazy.
I am pretty sure Dad may have questioned a lot of the things I wanted in his mind but he never made it known. He would question the reasoning behind my wants but never what I wanted.
Dad taught me some great stuff like how to live dangerously even when you can't afford the fancy things like sky diving, stunt driving or cigarettes. This was a real beauty that he rigged up years ago. He brought this one into my second hand store when I had it to show me. Ten thousand rpm grinder with a saw blade. I knew a sky diver who would not have touched this thing with a ten foot pole!!! What made it even better was the position of your fingers when you were holding it. Just looking at it you could feel the little bits of flesh and bone spraying about the room. I actually saw where he used this... innovation. I tell you if this thing ever slipped out of your hand it would not have been pretty!! You would have rather been dipped in gravy and thrown in a pen full of starving grizzlies. I insisted that I keep this at the store for display for awhile. Eventually after enough protests from traumatized customers I gave it back to him. Dad was great for "making due" but somethings a little thin on risk assessment!!! Many a brave man had nightmares for weeks after seeing this beast.
Dad the Beekeeper
You know there was one thing that Dad was good at and that was talking! Man could he talk. He would get onto a new idea and then just couldn't put it down. When it came to his beekeeping though I have to say it was the strangest thing. Whenever there were two or more gathered in his presence and someone mentioned honey or bees off he would go. It was incredible hearing him go on and on about bees and all the fascinating things he knew about them. I remember times when I was sixteen or so and hanging out with some friends. We were about to head out to find some junk cars to burn when up walks Dad. He started into talking bees and in minutes he had all my friends hanging on every word!! Even asking him questions and keenly wanting the answers. It was the strangest thing to observe and to me was a pure miracle. How the hell do you get a gang of sixteen year old's to be glued to some old foggie talking about bees?? The reason was he knew so much about them and was somehow knew how to make that knowledge very interesting. If he was a school teacher they would have fired him on a dime!!
Of all the things he taught me about bees the one thing that really paid off... ok the second thing that really paid off was the trick of using honey on burns to immediately stop the pain that results from burns. In fact he always told me that I should take a bottle with me when I die as it would come in real handy. Well I was not sure about that but I tell you there is nothing better for stopping burn pain. Now I know there are a ton of old wives tales out there about putting butter or this or that on your burn but honey is a whole new game. One of the biggest reasons for that is the fact honey never goes bad. Have you ever seen moldy honey? Well unless it was mixed with water it never will. In fact they found honey that was still edible in the Egyptian tombs!! Two thousand years old and still good!! The reason for this is bacteria cannot live in honey. Now if you know anything about burns they need to keep clean so that infection does not set in. Apparently that is what makes burn clinics such a horrible place to be if you have sensitive ears.... all the screaming from the burns getting scrubbed. Now even though I have known about honey on burns for almost forty years now and how amazing it is doctors are just starting to find the same. I read online somewhere that they have been experimenting with it in certain burn clinics with amazing results. Twenty years from now, once some place figures out how to add enough ingredients to it in order for it to be patentable, it will probably be in common us. Of course the over the shelf stuff will not work near as well and cost ten times as much. In the meantime though for your next burn just spread a little unpasteurized honey on it and viola!!! Pain gone!! Now if you think about this for a second if bacteria cannot live in honey and you put it on a burn that seems to make sense. Now think about butter or mayonnaise. How much bacteria do you think breeds in that? Sorta like stopping at Sam and Ell'a's Roadside Diner for week old egg salad sandwiches!
In case you are curious as to why I did not go to his funeral click this link below. It's a long story but you may get something of value out if. Especially if you can read between the lines that is.