Pat Shingleton: "Slats Did It..."
Yesterday's column highlighted our ability to get from point "A" to "B" in a variety of mobile applications - unlike today's mobile applications. The bicycle was certainly utilized to the point that we learned how to fix a flat, repair and oil the chain and even repair and re-paint a discarded bicycle. Travel outside a mile-or-two radius necessitated "bumming" a ride as friends were there to assist. One friend was Slats Kotuby who drove a 1940 Ford pick-up truck. Slats was an exemplary athlete in basketball and track and as his name depicts he was as "long as drawn water," as my Dad would say. Slats also wore thick, dark rimmed glasses, similar to Buddy Holly. Depending upon weather conditions, he could jam six to eight kids in the bed of his truck and three or four in the cab. These kids constituted the majority of the basketball team. He resided in Belton but didn't mind dropping others off on Wiley Hill. Following an evening basketball practice and the eruption of a rapid-fire snowstorm the truck left the gym. Back then there wasn't much lead time in predicting when and how much snow would fall. Once again, with kids piled into the truck we were homeward bound and as my brothers Denis and Mike relate the story the snow was accumulating on the windshield at a rate that the wipers weren't wiping. Unable to see the road through the windshield, Slats opted for another way to navigate the storm with a truck load of athletes. In bitter cold conditions he wound-down the window and stuck his head outside, driving the '40 Ford pick-up through a blinding snowstorm and as Denis relates, "He looked like Casey Jones engineering a train." Once at our house, he needed a warm-up before he headed home. Stepping into our kitchen, Dad was at the kitchen table, heard the rumpus, looked up and said, "I see you guys made it home and you picked up Admiral Byrd on the way!" Slats's glasses were frozen, his faced was covered with snow and ice and yes he resembled a polar navigator.