Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Memoirs: Chapter 25: Barbara, Elaine, and I take last school girl hike up to the Salt and Pepper Shakers in Salt Gulch

Barbara had a wonderful destination in mind for a last hike she, Elaine, and I would take before we went away to school after we all got double promoted.  Not long before school was out she invited Elaine and me to Salt Gulch for the weekend, and on Saturday we set out to to climb to the Salt and Pepper Shakers on a high hill to the north east of the Coleman ranch.  This turned out to be just the right distance to make us feel we had accomplished something by the time we labored up to the last few steps to the Salt and Pepper Shakers that gave way to a colorful shale incline so steep it was denuded of any vegetation. Trying to climb such loose shale inclines would have been dangerous, so we never attempted anything so foolish.  We stayed among the pines and cedars when we had to labor up the last steep part of the hill but were in no danger.

I had never even noticed the Salt and Pepper Shakers before but now they would live in my memory as the destination of the last school girl hike I would ever go on with the Boulder girls.  There would be a few more cousin and friend camp outs and hikes but no school girls in southern Utah getting together to find new challenges to climb in the rugged canyon country where we lived.
Barbara and Elaine were going away to school out to Wayne Country where they both had relatives who agreed to let them board with them.  Maybe making themselves useful as I hoped to do to my Aunt Neta's to pay for my keep.
We enjoyed a quiet Sunday in Salt Gulch and returned to our school room studies on Monday on the bus.  Not that we studied very hard.  We coasted with our rancher school teacher, Reeves Baker, who had had to respond to the desperate call for a teacher when nobody else who was qualified stepped up.  We thought Reeves was way too 'easy' and didn't quite know what he was doing but he was very kind, so that was his main virtue.

I was impressed with Aunt Nethella's firmness in dealing with my upset over my dad drinking rubbing alcohol. I knew that my dad would never have told her about his crime, although Mother could have done just to impress on her what extremes her brother could go to. However, I was still concerned about going off to school without having a talk with anyone on the King ranch about the head hired man.  I was just fumbling and bumbling along with the problem, talking to my cousin Ray who arrived early, planning to spend the summer, which would have followed his Dad's death just before Christmas.  Ray was fourteen. He managed to tell me that Grandpa King was insisting that he go down below on a camping trip that would last at least five days where the men would be gathering cattle on the spring round-up.  He had been telling Grandpa he did not want to go, but Grandpa was saying he was going to have to go or else he would be sent home.
Well, I learned that Ray did finally go.  He could not get out of it I am sure, for Grandpa was very forceful when he wanted to be.  Grandpa wouldn't be going of course, he was too old.  He hadn't gone down below to camp for quite a few years.
I know I had another encounter with Cecil, too, during the spring round-up.  He caught me once again alone out on the trail down in the draw where I had been sent to drive some cattle. When he appeared there the third year in a row, I knew he was conscious of me and had watched my comings and goings close enough he had managed to find me alone again.  
As I dreaded he would. He rode up boldly just before we rounded the bend in sight of Boulder and grabbed me again around my thigh in a rough embrace.  I froze.  I just couldn't say a word.  I was afraid to protest for fear I would enrage him and he would go further.
I still hadn't had my period.  I feared that would be the turning point with Cecil when I would very likely be raped or even killed.  He was possibly just waiting for me to turn into a real woman.

A few days later Ray and I drove a herd of heifers and some cows with calves to King's Pasture for the summer.  Grandpa had picked them to spend their summers inside the lush fenced enclosure.  I remember when we started back my wild cousin Ray challenged me to a horse race.  I had always avoided any activity so risky as racing my horse but Ray would not take no for an answer, so I spurred my horse into a run, and we raced across the flat.  Thank God, I did not fall off.  That was all I was hoping for.
After we got to the other side of the flat Ray was in such a good mood I thought that maybe he would talk to me about what happened down below.  When I asked him, his face darkened, and his mood changed completely.  "I will never go down below again," he declared with great forcefulness, "even if I never come back to this ranch again. Grandpa cannot make me."
I knew enough about the hired men not to ask him what happened down there in the five or six days they were camped out.  I just thanked God my dad had not been along.

A few weeks later I discovered that Ray had left the ranch before the summer was even half way over.  I did not know what was involved until years later when my youngest sister Linda told me what she saw happen.  She had been playing close by and saw Ray run the team of horses pulling a wagon loaded with hay too fast around a turn. The wagon tipped and all the hay fell off.  Grandpa was so angry he grabbed Ray and hit him several times and told him to get off the ranch and never come back again!
I thought driving the team too fast would have been typical for wild Ray.  He did not have the gentle and more submissive nature of his older brother Park who had never gotten into such trouble working on that ranch.  
I thought that Ray was probably better off not being there at his age, although it was very sad to me that a boy could not find comfort with his grandfather after his dad has been found dead in a lonely apartment after losing everything that meant anything to him, rancher occupation, home, wife, and family.
I didn't think I was going to be able to fix anything either.  At least Ray would be safe now.  I wouldn't have to worry about him any more, but I still had to worry about myself and thus began hours and hours of trying to figure out how to get out of my dilemma while I was still expected to do the work I loved for my dad which was not safe for me to do.
All the rest of that year I thought my mind would crack with the strain of trying to figure out how to avoid a deadly encounter with a second threatening predator, especially after I got my period.  All I could think was danger danger.
Thus the prophetic dream I had had at 8 years old when I dreamed someone was pounding a nail through a long plank, one end of which rested on my head, was coming true.  When the nail started going into my brain I screamed so loud with the pain in my sleep I could have wakened the dead.  Worry will do that to you.  I would spend at least an hour if not two every night worrying about and trying to think how to prevent a tragic denouement to being the target of another molester.

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