i A Time and a Place...: The Northern Lights…

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Northern Lights…

I was over at Tweetys’ site enjoying the outstanding photos of the Aurora Borealis and remembered when I first saw the Northern Lights. (and the only time, I hasten to add) I may have posted about this sometime in the past but I’m gonna do it again!

It was in the year of our Lord, 1957, and I was living and working out of pueblo, Colorado, driving truck and hauling pipe from the steel mill there (Colorado Fuel and Iron Co –CFI) to all points mostly south into Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico to assorted oil well drilling rigs and pipe yards.
On this particular trip, a big one-eyed Irishman named Don Ferguson was making the trip with me in his truck. Don was from Vega, Texas, and his family still lived there.

Don was a country boy, a bit on the shy side and in no way worldly wise. As an example; on this trip we went to Houston to take two loads of drill pipe to a pipe yard there. (Or a steel mill, I don’t remember for sure which) Anyhoo, when we got there, it was too late to unload that day and we were hungry so we parked in the large parking lot (which was where we would sleep on a pallet or sleeping bag under the load of pipe to keep the morning dew off, since there were no hotels available) and looked around for a café. Down the street about a block or so away was a Danny’s restaurant. It was new and would later change it’s name to the now popular moniker of, “Dennys.”

Anyhow, when Don saw it, he was reluctant to go in because he thought it looked too fancy. I assured him we would be welcomed with open arms since we closely resembled working men with appetites and money. We did go in and eat and were treated royally.

Now for the important part. We unloaded the next day and headed back to Pueblo. On the way, we went through Vega and visited some with Don’s folks. They wanted us to spend the night but as we were wont to drive great distances without sleep, we decided to go on.

Now, to make a short story shorter, going back northward, we had to drive through the Canadian River basin. It dropped probably six or seven hundred feet from level to the river and up. It was a moonless night and very dark. As we drove along, all of a sudden I saw Don’s truck brake lights come on and he pulled to the right and stopped. I stopped behind him and walked up to where he was, by now, standing. He appeared excited, as was I.

He was looking north, pointing at something in the sky. He asked me if I saw a flash of light and I assured him I had seen it. He wondered aloud if the Russians had dropped an atomic bomb on our houses in Pueblo. (or anywhere else north of us) In those days, worrying about the Soviet Union and the “A” bomb was an everyday thing. I agreed it could be the scenario creating the tremendous flash of light.

Then we saw it again and I realized what it was. I asked Don if he knew what the Aurora Borealis was and he said he did. Then I assured him, the Northern Lights were, indeed, what we were seeing and we wondered that we could see them this far south of the border. (of Alaska)

Anyhoo, that’s the first and only time I have espied the Northern Lights. I remembered Don in the year, about 1993 or so (I’m a big reminiscer) and called him at his home in Vega, Texas (He’s still married to Sally) and axed him if he remembered much about us in those days and the first thing he said was, “Yeah, mostly the time we saw the Northern Lights.”

Boy, them was the good old days!



Blogger tweetey30 said...

Cool story. I love remiscing too. Jeff gets annoyed with me sometimes.

9:22 AM  

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