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Vassar Bushmills and His Friend, Mick Hensley

Lessons are being taught all around us. Some people learn from them and some people don’t. Some people learn them, live them and then forget. Lessons are most easily forgotten when your candle burns at both ends. You know what I’m talking about.

History is such a great teacher, but some things you must learn from your mom and dad. Your friends can teach you things too. Vassar Bushmills once had a young, low born friend who taught him a lesson. VB told it this way:

Y’ought never lie.

When I was in fifth grade Mick was placed in my class. He was 14 or 15, while most of us were 11, head and shoulders bigger than anyone else. Mick was like a lot of big roughneck kids then, he was still too young for Shop, and had no interest in anything they taught in school, and only wanted to wait until he turned 16 so he could go to work in the mines. (In those days, school teachers earned about 3,000/yr while miners earned closer to 5,000.)

My mother immediately tagged Mick as a thug and a bully. She knew the family, way, way up Machine Shop Hollow. Kept pigs underneath the porch. Never came to church. Kids, all eight of them, always looked like they needed a bath. Heathens!

In truth, since we grew up side by side for a few years, Mick was as gentle as Dan Haggerty, just real rough around the edges. A true nature’s child, he ran the hills like a goat, barefoot as often as not, held the record for typhoid shots I guess, from rusty nails and barbed wire. He built a cabin from saplings and binder’s twine (I used to camp in it when it rained.) Long shocks of red hair, freckles all over his body, and a big grin, a genuine Huck Finn…who coulda played fullback for Notre Dame.

Most of all, Mick had a native, uncultured sense of honor, honesty, and integrity that no kid could learn in Sunday School. On weekends we’d all meet behind the school and play Cowboys and Indians, or somesuch, dividing up into two “armies” usually of 8-10 each. And for guns we’d use sticks we’d find on the ground, that curved just enough to give the stick, and us, some class.

One of those days I ran smack dab into Mick’s sense of justice. We were running and diving behind corners of building, trees, big bushes, going “Bang bang, Gotcha”, when I was running one way and all of a sudden Mick stepped from behind a bush. I jumped behind a half-inch poplar sapling which wouldn’t have concealed my left hand, just as Mick yelled “Bang, Gotcha”. I yelled, “No, I was behind…” only before I could finish my defense, I was trying to pick myself up off the ground, my nose wrapped around my right ear, blood gushing all over a fairly new shirt that Mom told me not to get dirty.

Mick just bent over, with a big “ah shucks’ grin and helped me up, and said “Y’ought never lie” as if he was telling me to zip my fly. I’d never even thought a cuss word before, but a big “Oh, hell!” just shot through my mind as i looked at my shirt. What will Mom do? One of the other guys had a handkerchief, which I used to staunch the bleeding, then I walked that long march home, never reflecting on the lesson of the day for many years to come.

Most people learn these lessons quickly. One bloody nose usually does it. I never knew I was law school material until Mick had to teach me again, a year later, up in the mountains, during an acorn fight. Thrice broken (football), I had to have most of the cartilage surgically removed so I could breathe, but from that day forward, every time a lie comes rushing to the tip of my tongue, like a fellow who ducks walking under helicopter blades, I just naturally flinch…and the lie retreats. Even today.(emphasis is mine)

How’s that for a lesson in truth-telling? Now I ask, as Maximus asked in Gladiator, “Were you not entertained?” Were__You__Not__Entertained? If you weren’t entertained by Bushmills’ story-telling, you just might be an elitist. Or maybe you have a hole in your soul. Either way, you need to have a conversation with yourself.

Now I guess all this sounds a little preachy. The truth often comes across that way. Well, I’m no youngster. I’ve seen some things in the last three decades of running my small business. I am this guy. And so I’ve learned some things about honor, honesty, integrity and the like. To be sure I’ve fallen short at times. All men do. The main thing is to always aim high and be honest about about your mistakes. That’s how you avoid being charged as a hypocrite.

So I say to you my experience tells me the Kraken fell unjustly, in the way the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust. A place that can’t abide EPU, Speciallist and Vassar is not a place I can abide.

For RedState and all who remain, I wish you good hunting. We share a purpose and there are plenty of dragons to slay defeat. Get out from behind the keyboard and go getya some.

Now, cue the Tombstone clip, “Well, bye.”

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