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Fate Steps In or the Short Finger Story

Story ID:6751
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Location:Dillon Montana USA
Year:1934
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Fate Steps In or the Short Finger Story
By Chuck Dishno


A few years after Roz and I were married, my son, Mike came to live with us. He had been living with his mother and wanted to be with his dad and step-mom. Mike was just entering Junior High and spent the next 6 or 7 years with us. We were delighted to have him and he learned many things from Roz such as table manners and how to conduct himself in various situations. Mike and I were always close but those years really cemented our relationship.
We always made it a point to have dinner together and discus what ever came into our minds. One time Mike said, “Dad, what is the best thing that ever happened to you?” I said, “That’s easy, Mike, it’s the time I cut off my finger.” I should explain that when I was about Mike’s age and in the 7th or 8th grade. I was in my first year of woodworking at school. Bly school was a small school and the wood shop was out back in Quonset hut.
It was a cold November morning and the only heat was a coal stove in the center of the shop. The shop teacher was not there so I took it upon myself to make some wood shavings on the jointer to get the coal started. For some reason, the teacher had taken the guard off the machine and after several passes with a small block of wood the block tipped over and my ring finger struck the exposed blade. I took my finger off at the first joint. Now back to the story…
Mike said, “What do you mean, Dad, that cutting your finger off was the best thing that ever happened to you?” Now I had to explain and here is what happened.
At the time of the accident I was sweeping out the theatre every night to save the 11-cent admission 3 days a week. The theatre owner looked at my hand with it’s bandaged finger and said, “Well, it’s obvious that you can’t use a push broom so why don’t you hang around the projection room, maybe you’ll learn to run the projectors.” I did and few days later, when the projectionist quit, I had leaned enough to take his place. This was quite a jump from a sweeper at 11 cents to a projectionist at $2.00 a night. I kept this job all through high school.
After graduation when I went to Reedley, California to attend Reedley College. I didn’t have much money and needed a part time job.
There was a small town, Orange Cove, a few miles away with one movie theatre that only operated on weekends. I drove over there and it just happened the projectionist was about to quit so I stepped right into his job. After several months school was out and the theatre owner, John Terrill, who lived in Fresno, asked me to move to Fresno and live with he and his wife and three children. I could attend Fresno City College and would still work at the theatre, as it was only open on the weekends.
This was a good arrangement but I needed make more money to buy a vehicle. At that time, I had to borrow one of John’s cars in order to attend school or go to Orange Cove to work the weekend.
John traded at a Ed Pearle’s Chevron gas station so he said he would introduce me to the station owner, Ed, and maybe I could get a job there. This worked out well as I soon got my car and even had money to spend.
Across the parking lot from the station, was an ice cream and sandwich shop called the Mellow Ice Cream House. On my lunch break, I would go over there and have a sandwich. There was a waitress working there named Marge and after a few months we started dating, and several months we were married. We had two children and eleven years later Marge divorced me.
Now for the rest of the story: I said, “Mike, if I hadn’t cut off that finger I probably would never have been a projectionist, would never have met John at the theatre in Orange Cove, he would never have asked me to live with he and his wife in Fresno, he would never have helped me get a job at Ed’s Chevron Station. I would never have eaten at the Mellow Ice Cream House, would never have met your mom, never have had you and your sister, Lura. Your mom wouldn’t have divorced me and I would never have met and married my wonderful Roz. So you see, Mike, cutting that finger off was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Mike said, “Your crazy, Dad, but it’s true.”