The Red Baron

I went to a one-room school.  I went to a one-room school with one other student for four years.  I went to a one-room school with one other student, who was my older brother, for four years.  I went to a one-room school with one other student, who was my older brother, with a teacher named Kelly.

Not Ms. Someone or Miss So-and-So, but plain Kelly.  Kelly taught at the one room school for nine years and lived in the small house next to my grandparents.  This tiny one room house is still called the “Teacher’s House” and Kelly has unofficially been adopted as our aunt.

Kelly was awesome- she was from Michigan, could cook up a storm, had the best Halloween costumes (seriously, a bag lady in the Sandhills!), and had a new cherry red Jeep.  I had never known anyone with a newer car, let alone a car that shiny.  All our vehicles were old Ford pickups that limped and, at times, died on the prairie. 

Kelly loved that Jeep and loved to drive it fast.  Our family would joke and call her the “Red Baron” after a red blur and a cloud of dust buzzed by on the gravel road.  On special occasion, the school (Kelly, my brother, and me) would ride in the Jeep, flying across the plains, while classical music floated from the radio.  I loved it.  We never drove that fast (mainly due to the fact none of the ranch pickups could).

In the Sandhills, we have autogates (or cattleguards).  Autogates are holes dug across the road and covered with heavy pipes.  Cars can pass over, but most cows can’t cross.  It saves you opening gates every time you come to a fence.  We have over 15 autogates on road at home.  That’s a lot of gates to open.

But the autogates are very bumpy.  So when the pastures are devoid of cattle, the rancher will throw open the wire gate (next to the autogate) and you can quickly and smoothly drive through.  A wire with a reflective license plate (for driving at night) is placed across the autogate (to say “Hey, I’m closed.  Use the real gate.”)

Pete, the rancher, “dug out” his autogate.  Sand tends to blow in and fill up the hole and the cattle walk across.  What Pete did next was inexcusable in the Sandhills.  Pete took out the autogate, placed it in the ditch and went home for dinner (the noon meal, what you call lunch).

And he did not place the wire with the reflective license plate across the hole.  Inexcusable.

The Red Baron unknowingly headed down the road.  At the usual great speed.  Lucky for Kelly, she drove fast that day.

Like the Dukes of Hazard, the Red Baron flew over the unattended hole and landed crunchily on the other side.  Anyone else driving at a normal speed would have crashed into the gaping hole.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Red Baron

  1. School Marm

    Dearest Than, You have one detail wrong. “Pete” wasn’t just digging out the autogate, he was actually taking it to another spot. My beautiful red jeep never did sound the same after that. When Grandad found out, his first words were, “Well, kid…” I think all of the family knows what came next.”

    I have been truly honored to be your teacher, aunt, and friend. All of my “kids” have made me very proud. Your were an easy crew to teach.

    Love you always,
    Aunt “Kelly”, Red Baron(ess), School Marm

  2. Ahhh, thanks for jogging my memory!

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