Cool Cooper and his telephone pole house

By ROBBIE ROBERTSON,
Cool Cooper’s dog, Fang, acting the natural hero, would bark mean at every dog along the route while feeling secure from his safe perch in back of the pick-up. 
In the summer of 1976, on days off from the barbershop, I would drive 50 miles to Camden, Miss. where I was building Cool and my sister, Jennel’s house, (24’ by 42’) on telephone poles, the bottom floor 18 feet off the ground.
Berry, a carefree, ten-year-old boy with big smiling eyes, and a face to match - was Cool’s all time guy. Besides liking Cool, he knew that he would be well paid, but that day Cool asked him to go 24 feet down into the bowels of Mother Earth into an old 30” diameter well to clean it out and get the water started again, Berry hesitated. Cool flashed a $10 bill. Berry still nodding a “no.” Cool added a $5 bill, and Berry smiled.
We tied a loose bowtie knotted rope around brave Berry’s belly and lowered him down into the well. Dark in the well it was, but when he touched bottom, Berry looked up and we could see his bright smiling eyes. Lowering a bucket which he filled many a time, the water started flowing freely. Pulling Berry up after about two hours work, he was thrilled to have made that much money so fast. 
We dug deep holes to set the poles in. I wrapped a rope around the poles and tied it to a 2x4 so that Cool and I could lift and center the pole in the hole and tramp the dirt in to secure it. One time while securing the 2x4 my finger in between the 2x4 and pole, without a signal from me Cool jerked on his end of the 2x4. Me,  not yelling in time to stop Cool, I took the pain of a broken finger bone instead. The pain quit, but my crooked finger remains to this day.
One cold winter day Cool, Mark, Fang and I were going to ride in the cab of my pick-up, but Fang, had been chasing a skunk; the smell was terrible. So, I told Cool that he should put Fang in back of the pick-up. Instead, Cool, a hunter, not given to Fang being cold alone, also got in back with Fang.
After a few minutes glancing in the mirror I saw both forlorn figures enduring the cold whipping wind. I slowed down about to stop, but 12-year-old Mark said, “The skunk Dad, the skunk.” Remembering the, uh, unwholesome smell I sided on saving our lungs.
So it goes, the wheels of life keep spinning and the world keeps turning.