Friday, May 18, 2007

It’s All Hooey [CCR]

A couple of weeks ago I traveled down to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for some business. My company has a large facility there which is conveniently located near home. In fact Murfreesboro isn’t that much different than the Shoals. I enjoy visiting the folks there and hopefully they enjoy me dropping by for a spell.

Mom and Dad came up during my trip and visited with me in Murfreesboro. We hadn’t seen each other since our visit at Christmas so it was a nice extravagance for my business trip. They joined me at the hotel and we ventured together checking out the town. We stopped by a hobby store for Mom to find some stuff and, as things would go, it was Dad and me who found something. We came upon some simple pine sticks and dowels. It brought back a memory that we both forgot. About three dollars later we headed back to the hotel to experiment with our memories.

Dad got out his knife to begin whittling as I described the details of what we were about to build. Our first attempt wasn’t exactly as we expected, but each revision got us a little closer to perfection. Dad studied each whittle on the wood as if working on a fine piece of furniture. He then handed the prototype to me for our trial. After our third attempt we found success. Now we needed to duplicate our efforts for mass production.

Again Dad whittled at the pine sticks while making sure we didn’t drop any shavings on the hotel room floor. Mom sat over in the corner reading a book and I’m sure she was questioning our sanity at one point or another. Pine shavings flew and we found success with the second test of our second unit. We closely examined our work to compare how we found success as multiple attempts would not be acceptable quality control for future production.

Dad whittled away at the third contraption and it worked with success on our first trial. I think both of us were as happy as a young child opening presents on Christmas morning. Success was ours. Dad wanted me to take our three prototypes home for my own children. He planned to whittle some more back home and build some contraptions for himself.

And with that visit Dad and I created our own version of the hooey stick, also known as a gee-haw stick. My first exposure to the hooey stick was at the craft fair in Hohenwald, Tennessee. There it was called a hooey stick and so we used that name. It is a simple stick of pine with notches and a propeller on the end. If you rub another stick along the notches the propeller will turn. Say “hooey” and the propeller changes direction. I’m sure many of you have seen one. If not, look Dad up and ask to see one of his.

Our visit was pleasant, but I had to return to Ohio. I packed my three hooey sticks and headed to Galion. At home my children were astounded, but it was my demonstration at work that was more interesting. Want to know how to keep these folks up here busy for hours? Show them a hooey stick and then let them play with it. I guarantee it will bring hours of entertainment for you and a lot of wonder for them. Of course, I ran into one or two who had seen it before. Next thing you know they’ll be claiming it isn’t a Southern thing. No matter. It gave me time to spin some yarns and spread some Southern goodwill. My job was done.