BY DAVID PERRYMAN
My parents used Dad’s World War II, VA loan eligibility to purchase 80 acres in the early 1960s. The north 40 was about half tillable land and half hay meadow. The rest of the place was just pasture and included an old “double-barrel shotgun” style house, so named because theoretically if the doors were opened, a shotgun blast fired into the house from the front would fly cleanly to the other end and out at the back.
One of the first things that Dad did on that old house was to install indoor plumbing and a septic tank. The prior owners had abandoned three pieces of old steel wheeled farm equipment of the type that were designed to carry the operator and pulled by a team of mules or horses.
The metal seats and levers that raised and lowered the plows and planter mechanisms were attractive to kids and consequently, we climbed all over the implements as they sat in the pasture. It didn’t take long to realize, with the help of a couple of cousins, we could use the plow to effectively destroy red ant hills.
We took turns riding while two or three of us would pull and maneuver the plow by the cedar pole that served as the tongue. With the correct aim and speed and the accuracy of a bombardier, the rider would drop the plow blade at just the right time to split the anthill wide open. It was great fun for nine- and 10-year-old boys, seven miles from the nearest town.
A few years later, with no adult supervision, we decided to move the old single bottom plow to another farm that my parents had purchased. A cousin who had become sufficiently proficient [by 1960s standards] to drive got behind the wheel of our Grandad’s old Chevy pickup. My younger brother’s job was to ride shotgun and serve as my spotter.
After wrapping the chain around the cedar tongue and hooking one end to the bumper and the other end to the plow, everyone assumed their positions and I climbed astride the metal seat to begin the four-mile trek in the direction of our destination.
A low gear journey soon picked up speed to the point that about a half-mile into the 35 mph trip I was bouncing uncontrollably out of the seat as the plow swerved from side to side in the wake of the pickup. All in the same instant I realized that, one, there was a great chance that something bad was going to happen; two, I was unable to draw the attention of my “spotter;” and three, things had spiraled wildly out of control.
Then as quickly as I could yell “Stop!” the pole snapped, the broken stub dropped to the gravel road, the spotter observed that the success of the trip was in peril and the driver slammed on the brakes catapulting me on my back into the bed of the pickup followed closely by the plow with all of its rusty levers, rods and protruding bolts headed directly toward me.
Fortunately, the chain tightened and the sides of the pickup bed kept me from becoming a human pincushion. Crawling out from under the inverted implement, I realized that we had not thought the situation through thoroughly.
Today, as an Oklahoma citizen who has been given the opportunity to serve as a legislator, I see decisions in state government that are not thought through thoroughly. I see education funding cuts resulting in an increased prison population.
I see mental health funding cuts resulting in an increase in suicide rates. I see DHS funding cuts resulting in marginalized children and adults being left without services.
I see Oklahoma’s top state income tax rate slashed by almost 25% resulting in more than $1 billion per year in lost state revenue. I see Oklahoma corporate subsidies and corporate tax breaks costing nearly $800 million per year in state revenue. I see a state whose ability to serve its citizens is paralyzed.
If only the legislature had thought the situation through thoroughly.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House