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Part Two - To Felix Or Not To Felix, That Is The Question

Story ID:10643
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:In Memory
Location:Bly Oregon USA
Year:1948
Person:My Mom
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Part Two - To Felix Or Not To Felix, That Is The Question. And There By Hangs A Tail…

By Chuck Dishno
August 8, 2015


Disaster Strikes…

This was not to be because the next Thursday morning I was making shavings on a jointer in the school woodshop to get the coal stove lit when the board tipped over and took off about half of my ring finger on the spinning blade. When I pulled my hand back I was sprouting a bloody stump. It didn’t hurt a bit so I walked across the lot and showed it to the principal, Earl Graham. Mr. Graham took one look and shoved a wastebasket under to catch to stop the dripping blood from staining the floor. He then called my Mom and told her I had had a small accident and was taking me it the nearest doctor in Klamath Falls about 50 miles away. Mom insisted on going along and when she saw my hand all bundled up n a gym towel she was visibly shaken.
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At the clinic in Klamath Falls, Dr. Adams went right to work and soon had all the bone trimmed away and made a nice looking stub finger complete with my fingerprint on the end. My hand still wasn’t hurting so Mr. Graham made the suggestion that we could make it back to Bly for the afternoon sessions. Mom wasn’t too hot on the idea but it was OK with me.

On arrival back at school the news had preceded me and everyone wanted to see my finger. It had a metal protector over it so there wasn’t much to see but I was promptly given a new moniker, “Stub” that was to stick with me all thru the remainder of my school years..

By the time school let-out I knew I had to make my paper deliveries and my since hand still wasn’t hurting I got the job done. By the time I got through, my hand was beginning to throb so I called Jake and told him that I had a small accident and wouldn’t be in that evening. He said that would be OK as it would be a slow night but Friday there was a couple of tournaments and it would be really hectic.

I skipped school Friday to give my hand a rest and by the time I delivered my papers I was feeling pretty good so I stopped by the bowling alley and told Jake what I had done. He took one look at my hand and wondered if I could do the job. Jake said he didn’t realize it was that it was that serious but if I wanted to try it would be OK with him.

A few bowlers were starting to arrive so I went back to my pit. I did alright the first two lines but then my hand began to throb and when I looked down t it I saw blood dripping around the protector. About that time, Jake came back to check on me, took one look and said I should go home for a few days. I was reluctant to leave but realized how long it was taking me to set a line; I wouldn’t be making much money that evening.

On the way back home, I passed Protsman’s Varity Store and saw a few people milling around. I decided to go in and drown my sorrows with a large Cherry Phosphate and maybe a Cherry-A-Let candy bar. As I sat there contemplating my hand, I summoned up my grit and was determined to not give up and get that clock for Mom. I knew setting pins was out as it would take too long for my hand to heal enough to do the job and I was running out of time.

After indulging myself at Protsman’s, I walked over to the Arch Theater. The owner, George Fullerton, was at the ticket window and told me if hurried I would make it in time for the features since the previews were ending. I thanked George but said I was looking for some type of job. I then showed him my hand and told the story about by stint at the bowling alley.
George said the only job he could give me was to sweep out the theater after each show. George said he would pay me .20 cents for each sweeping plus free admission to the movies. He said I could start that evening. After watching me struggle with that push broom George told me I couldn’t sweep out anymore but he had better idea where I could still make my.20cents and free movies. He said to stop by the theater a little early the next day and he would tell me all about it.

As soon as I had my papers delivered I went to the theater to meet with George. He said he watched me struggle with that push broom and came up with better idea. He wanted me to hang around the projection room and learn to run the projectors. He said he would still pay me the .20 cents and I would get to see the movies free. This sounded great to me so I went upstairs to the projection booth where Benny Moore was preparing the nights movies.

Benny was a black boy and one of the most respected kids in Bly School. He was a junior and excelled on the basketball and baseball teams. Benny was so liked that one time our basket ball team had traveled to Klamath Falls to play against our arch rivals, Sacred Heart Academy. After winning the game the coach decided to stop for dinner at popular restaurant. When the 30 or 40 of us went into the restaurant, the owner came out and said he would be glad to serve us but looked at Benny and said he would have to stay on the bus as he wouldn’t serve a Negro in his place. We all looked at Benny and told the guy that if he wasn’t welcome we weren’t either and promptly walked out.

When I went into the projection booth, Benny was working at the rewind table. I told him what George wanted me to do and this seemed to relieve Benny. He said he would be glad to teach me all he knew and welcomed me. He said he hadn’t told George yet but he found a better job and would be quitting in a few days and if I learned well enough he would recommended me for his replacement. In about 4 days I had learned enough to set up and run enire evening’s movies. Benny then told George he was leaving in a couple of days but he thought I had learned enough to take over as projectionist. That night George watched me set up and run the whole thing. He was impressed and said I could have the job if I wanted. He also told me that my salary would be $2.00 a night, 6 days a week. Wow! As my southern friends would say, “I am really pooping in tall cotton now.” At this salary I will have enough money to buy that clock for my Mom and in a few weeks have enough left over to by all my family presents for Christmas.

The next night I went to work as the full time projectionist. George said I had done a good job and handed me two silver dollars. By the end of the week I had saved enough to order the clock.
The next morning, after Mom left for the post office, a daily ritual where all the ladies would meet and discuss the goings on of the night before. As soon as she left I picked up the telephone and called Sears in Klamath Falls. The lady I talked to worked in the catalogue department and said they still and a few Felix clocks and would be happy to send one to me on the next day’s Red Ball Stage to Bly. She said I should have it by noon. When asked if she shouldn’t wait until I sent the money, she replied that no, that would not be necessary as she trusted me. She said that when I opened the box I would find a bill for the clock plus shipping. I was to take the bill and put it in an envelope with the money and send it back by the post office. These were the days when your word was your bond and a handshake was a sacred trust. Oh, how things have changed!

The next day was a Saturday and I couldn’t wait to meet the Red Ball Stage which came thru Bly making its daily run from Klamath Falls to Lakeview, Oregon, a distance of about 100 miles then making the return trip. It usually arrived about noon and stopped in front of Jack’s Place, a beer joint, to drop off passengers and take on new ones going to Lakeview. I was there every day to pick up my bundle of newspapers to be delivered later that day, but this was a special day for me as I had package to pick up that was most important. As soon as the driver took care of his passengers, he opened one of the bins on the side to take off any parcels for Bly. The first thing he saw was a large package tied up in string. I was standing right beside him when he said, “Hey Charlie, here is one addressed to you.” He handed it to me and sure enough it was addressed to Master Charles Dishno, Bly, Oregon. I grabbed it along with my bundle of papers and headed for home. Mom was still at the post office so I went straight to the garage, tossed aside the bundle of papers and opened up the package. And there he was, Felix, in all his glory on the cover of the box. I was really pumped up because after all the false starts, my hard work and perseverance had paid off. I wasn’t quite thru though and since my Mom hadn’t returned home yet, I wanted to complete the job. I ran into the house and into my Grandmother, Etta’ bedroom, There on a shelf I found a couple large pieces of Christmas paper that Etta had saved from last Christmas with the wrinkles carefully ironed out. Without her seeing me I took them to the garage and as neatly as I could, wrapped up my prize, then took it into the house and placed it on the growing pile of presents under our Christmas tree. I stood for a few minutes until I heard Mom coming up the walk, then went back to the garage to prepare my papers for delivery.

It was still almost three weeks until Christmas and I was one happy boy. I figured that by the time we made our final trip to Klamath Falls for last minute shopping and groceries, I would have enough money to by each my family a special present and maybe even enough to splurge a little on myself.

To be continued