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Arizona in the fifties

Posted 12-10-2010 at 10:44 by Bill Powell

Some fo the people you meet growing up tend to stick with you. One guy who comes to mind was named George Tomas, son of Russian immigrants who owned a resale shop in Miami,
Az. George was not stupid, he could do his cyphers and write reasonably well, he was just a basic human being. About as basic as you can get and still function as a human being.

George joined the national guard some before I did and three of the four things I remember about happened while we were in the guard, two at Ft. Huachuca where we did our summer camp.

One was when he was working as a cook's helper in a field kitchen. Outside the mess tent, right beside the mess tray stoage rack, he saw a big tarantula and he grabbed a five gallon can of gas and a match and proceeded to slay that spider.

When the fires were put out we had no mess tent, the eating trays were scorched, the eating utensils were rusty from the combination of heat and water. When it was all over the spider was seen heading for the tall timber, cause he'd decided he had fallen in with a bunch of pyromaniacs.

A couple of days later he was told to go hide his truck, and he did. He forgot where he hid it, and no one else could find it for quite awhile.

His best move happened every time we had a weekend meeting at the armory. Being a cook's assistant, it was his job to fire the submersion heaters. (Any of the guys remember those, or do they still use them? A big trash can, filled with water and a big, gas fired doughnut that sat near the bottom of the can. It used drip gas and make a lot of heat)
The submersion had a smoke stack that went about twelve feet in the air. You started it by starting a gas drip and lighting it with a match. Well, invariably George would set it up,start the gas drip, and then pat his pockets for a match. He would wander around til he found someone with a match and he would light it and drop it in the flash hole. We would hear the explosion, go outside and find George still dodging falling stove pipes. He did it every time.

I ran into George at a gun show twenty years later when I was visiting. The conversation reminded me of a scene in a book called Thunderhead. His proudest moment had been when he had tested for, and had been hired as a garbage truck driver for the city and county. He was a nice guy, but that is where his ambition leveled off.
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