Standing Up While Sittin’ Down

I was 20 years old and had just returned from Colorado where I had spent several months working as a roughneck in the oil fields. It’s hard work and it goes on for 8 or 16 hours a day and 7 days a week. The old saying is that it’s a job for mules but all the mules have been worked to death so now they are using men. I remember my first week on the job and coming back to the hotel every night and collapsing on the bed. One morning I woke up on the floor with a boot in my hand. That’s as far as I got with my undressing the night before. I got tougher every day and soon was able to work out at night with the set of weights I had been carrying around in the trunk of my car. After roughnecking for a few months I could work an 8 or 16 hour day and still lift weights afterward. I weighed my normal 158 pounds when I went to Colorado but I soon bulked up to 198 pounds and probably got a little too proud of myself. Needless to say, I was in terrific shape and didn’t worry about anything.

After getting back to Augusta that day, I waited around home for Mom to get off work at the Augusta Daily Gazette. We had supper together and then talked for a while. I decided to go down to the pool hall and see what was happening there. The pool hall was set up like most of them with a bar and a bunch of domino tables in the front. Then, there were 3 snooker tables and an 8-ball table to accommodate the pool shooters. As I stepped through the door, I could hear my Dad back at one of the snooker tables sounding off about something. When Dad was sober, he was a genial, mild-mannered man whom everyone liked. When he was drinking he became a mean, loud-mouthed, profane drunk that nobody wanted to be around.

I came on in, took a stool at the bar and ordered a glass of beer. When I got the beer, I swiveled around and leaned back against the bar and kept an eye on Dad. He was getting louder and more obnoxious and a couple of guys at the next snooker table were yelling back at him. All that did was egg him on and he was calling them everything but civilized people. I was kind of enjoying it because after listening to Dad for years I knew just how drunk he was. At this point, he was fried just enough to be hell-on- wheels. Those two guys at the next table, that I knew to be just a couple of loud mouths, wouldn’t stand a chance. Fortunately for them, they decided it wasn’t worth it and hung up their pool cues and left. 

There were two guys in their late 30’s, sitting at a domino table near me. They were tired of listening to Dad, too. They became more agitated as they were cussing Dad and finally one of them starts talking tough and says “god-dammit, I think I’ll go back there and whip that loud-mouthed old wolf!” I just turned my stool a little until I faced them square on, took a sip of my beer, and in my best cowboy drawl said “Shucks…the two of you can’t even whip his cub!” They didn’t want any and got up and left. I just finished my beer and went on home leaving Dad to take care of his own problems.

Dave Thomas
February 23, 2015


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