Eureka Springs Independent Column

On December 6, 1993, I stopped by my grandparents’ farm for a minute. I was home from college and I made notes of my visit that day, not because it was extraordinary, but because it was typical. Jack and Betty McCall believed in hard work and expected everyone in the family to pitch in and help. I knew I ran the risk of having to help with chores.

Just after I arrived, Uncle Arlie Weems drove up in a dump truck and dropped a load of gravel for the farm lane leading to the county road. Though I thought I was in a hurry, I ended up helping Betty smooth gravel for two hours. She was just shy of 80 at the time, but she worked me into the ground. She invited me to stay for lunch.

Jack’s health was deteriorating, but he still had work that had to be accomplished, so after we ate, I changed the spark plugs in his Ford pickup. Since the hood was up, he had me replace a radiator hose, too. He decided he needed some O-rings, so we left for town. At the highway, the carburetor kept flooding, so we stopped and put the hood up again. Shade Hadley stopped and helped, but we still were unable to diagnose the problem. Since we were blocking traffic on Rock Springs Road, Jack rolled the truck backwards down the road until it would roll no more.

Betty happened to drive by and stopped and picked up Jack. He returned, chugging along on his ancient Farmall tractor and towed the pickup back to the farm. He still wanted O-rings, so I drove him to Kimes in my vehicle. When we arrived back at the farm, Jack called his son Sherall, a mechanic, and was told to blow out the carburetor as there might be trash in it not allowing the needle to seat. That fixed it. By then it was time to put out hay for the cattle. I left tired and dirty, but feeling good. At the time, it never occurred to me that days like that would come to an end on the McCall farm.