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.Oh, For The Want Of A Cigarette…A Shocking Experience

Story ID:8983
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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Oh, For The Want Of A Cigarette…A Shocking Experience
By Chuck Dishno

The summer of 1948, a new kid moved into my hometown, of Bly, Oregon. His name was Joe and he had come from a large city in the Mid West to live with an uncle.

Joe was a really nice kid and wanted to fit in with us and we welcomed him. But of course every new kid has to have a new moniker and Joe seemed so plain, we started calling him “City Slicker” or City for short and later just Sid.

Everyone liked Sid and the stories he would tell about big city living. He was equally interested in our way of life and wanted to just be “one of the bunch”. Most of the boys were Boy Scout members and his uncle was an assistant scoutmaster so it was a natural for him to join too.

Since this was the beginning of summer all thoughts were on swimming. Sid had learned to swim in a swimming pool but had never experienced swimming in streams and canals where the water is just above freezing in early summer.

One of our favorite swimming holes was on Fishhole Creek. Fishhole Creek came out of the mountains and ran thru Bly under First Bridge. The place we liked to swim was about 4 miles up in the timber and in the early summer the water was just melted snow and very cold. The best hole was by a bridge where the water was fairly deep. Most of the boys rode their bicycles up there or walked. I was fortunate to have a Cushman Motor Scooter and rode up in style.

As this was Sid’s first season in Bly we had to take him skinny-dipping and Fishhole Creek was the ideal place. It was only the boys that swam there but there may have been an occasional girl or two hiding in the trees, trying to sneak a peek at a “dangling participle”. This was rare though and none of them ever joined in the swim.

I should mention that Sid had a bad smoking habit that he brought from his previous life. He had the habit but rarely had a cigarette.

One day when were skinny-dipping and Sid had the urge to have a fag. He didn’t have a cigarette but was able to borrow one from one of the other boys. Now he had the cigarette but the guys were playing with him and no one would give him a match.

Sid was becoming desperate when I came to his rescue. I had ridden my Cushman motor scooter to the swimming hole and came up with an idea on how we could get his fag lit.

I took off the seat which exposed the Briggs and Stratton motor. Then I dipped my finger into the gas tank and put a small drop on the end of his cigarette. I then took the spark plug wire off and told Sid to hold on to it and place the tip of his cigarette between the plug and the motor while I kicked the starting crank. My theory was that it would create enough of a spark to light the weed.

Those old Cushman scooters had a pedal on the floorboard that when ratcheted up and kicked down, would spin the motor and magneto to create a spark. I gave it a mighty kick which rocked the scooter. Sid was in the correct position but the spark jumped and got him right on the end of his nose. That combined with the fact that he was wet, naked and standing on wet ground gave him a huge jolt. I think his “participle” may have even been grounded on the scooter shroud.

Poor old Sid must have felt like a Ben Franklin kite flying experiment gone wrong. He was hopping around and yelling at the top of his lungs. I know the other guys were hurting for him but the sequence of what was happening was so funny that they were rolling on the ground in gales of laughter and he still hadn’t gotten his cigarette lit.

When I finally calmed Sid down, I told him he had jerked back and caused the spark to go awry. I tried to get him to repeat the process but he refused saying he thought he would just give up smoking.

Before long we were all back skinny dipping but the story of Sid made its way back to Bly and circulated for many years.

Sid left Bly in our Junior year and I lost track of him for many years.

About 20 years ago I caught up with him living in Oxford, Mississippi. The first thing he said to me was, “Please don’t tell my wife or kids all the dumb things I did while living in Bly.”