Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Short Sale

This is a test of the feature that can send an email to people when my blog is updated. We will see if it works.

We agreed with the Seller of a house in Virginia Beach on September 20. We first expected to close on November 20, before Thanksgiving. But we just didn’t know about the “short-sale” process.

Coming from the “old days” in the financial business, the term short sale has a completely different meaning, referring to the action of selling a security that you currently do not own expecting to buy it at a later date, presumably hoping for a lower price to “cover” the short sale.

In the current real estate market, the short sale refers to the sale of real estate where the sale price will not be adequate to pay all the liens on the property leaving a “deficiency” as the funds come up “short.” It is really an agreement among the parties to avoid foreclosure that would generate additional costs for all the parties and result in less money going to the lien holders in the end. We don’t know who the lien holders were, for sure, in this one, but we know the bank was involved, we believe there was an insurer like Fannie Mae and we know there were some others, like the Home Owner’s Association that had not been paid.

When you involve institutions and bureaucracies, like banks and Fannie Mae, it is sort of begging to get inefficiency and delays. They can’t get a drink of water without looking it up in the rule book first, so reasonable actions take a long time to work their way through. On top of it, there are conflicts.

For example, their “proposal to sell” stated that the property was being offered “as is” which means that they had no interest in fixing anything or replacing anything. Well, I have no interest in paying too much, but sometimes I do, and my clients (selling businesses) uniformly tell me they will not carry back any debt…but they do because it makes sense. In this case, we offered a fair price for the house, accepted the “as is” qualification and we were off to the races, expecting to take a little longer, but close in a reasonable, 60-day time frame.

Upon inspection, however, we decided to make a further assessment by a firm that was qualified to inspect EIFS, Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems. The stuff looks like stucco, but is a sandwich of all kinds of materials, including plastic insulation (something like Styrofoam) and synthetic coatings. The problem occurs when the doofus homeowner allows moisture to get behind the system, which is not porous. This creates rot and mold. Sure enough, there was moisture in several spots.

We told them we were not going to close, even sent a formal notice of termination. Regardless of the “as is” clause, we were out. Unless they fixed the EIFS. Their alternative at that point was to see if they could get a lender to provide a mortgage to a buyer under the conditions that the house probably had mold (not likely), to sell to a “cash buyer” (significantly lower price), or to work with us. They decided to work with us, and they fixed the EIFS.

We will see, but it is scheduled for 2:00 this afternoon. Hope to actually have more clothes than could fit into a couple of suitcases. We have learned that we can exist with the stuff that fits into a Hyundai plus us and a dog, but it is pretty inconvenient. We have been in this situation since the end of July. Pioneers we are not!

Keeping fingers crossed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Email notification

I just found out from my friend Gerry that I could set the blog to notify people by email when there is a new post.

You are one of the lucky ones! Well, maybe not so much, but you can tell me to remove you from the list if you want.

If anyone else wants to get the posts by email, just let me know and I will add.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Geo Will

Listened to a speech that George Will gave recently at the Danforth Center, Washington University in St Louis. You can see it if you google "George F. Will Religion and Politics in the First Modern Nation" but allow about an hour to watch it.

He explained that he was going to tackle a complex subject, drawing a "picture" of what he believes the role of religion is in America. He was reminded of the third grade teacher who assigned the class to draw a picture of whatever each of them chose. She circulated through the room and paused at the desk of Sally. "What are you drawing?" "I'm drawing a picture of God." "But, Sally, no one knows what God looks like." "They will in a minute."

Listen to the video and you will, "in a minute," find out the vision of one of the really bright people in this country on this topic.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hedwig Kiesler

Another of the things I did not write, but find fascinating. There is of course the comparison with my own ordinary life, and then the theme of the smart, talented Jewish woman contributing to the world in the face of Hitler's extermination effort. To complete the effect, look up her photos on the web, she was really beautiful.
        It all started with a skin flick.
        In 1933, a beautiful, young Austrian woman took off her clothes for a movie director. She ran through the woods, naked. She swam in a lake, naked. Pushing well beyond the social norms of the period, the movie also featured a simulated orgasm. To make the scene "vivid," the director reportedly stabbed the actress with a sharp pin just off-screen.

        The most popular movie in 1933 was King Kong. But everyone in Hollywood was talking about that scandalous movie with the gorgeous, young Austrian woman.

        Louis B. Mayer, of the giant studio MGM, said she was the most beautiful woman in the world. The film was banned practically everywhere, which of course made it even more popular and valuable. Mussolini reportedly refused to sell his copy at any price.

        The star of the film, called “Ecstasy,” was Hedwig Kiesler. She said the secret of her beauty was "to stand there and look stupid." In reality, Kiesler was anything but stupid. She was a genius. She'd grown up as the only child of a prominent Jewish banker. She was a math prodigy. She excelled at science. As she grew older, she became ruthless, using all the power her body and mind gave her.

        Between the sexual roles she played, her tremendous beauty, and the power of her intellect, Kiesler would confound the men in her life, including her six husbands, two of the most ruthless dictators of the 20th century, and one of the greatest movie producers in history.

        Her beauty made her rich for a time. She is said to have made—and spent—$30 million in her life. But her greatest accomplishment resulted from her intellect, and her invention continues to shape the world we live in today.

        You see, this young Austrian starlet would take one of the most valuable technologies ever developed right from under Hitler's nose. After fleeing to America, she not only became a major Hollywood star, her name sits on one of the most important patents ever granted by the U.S. Patent Office.

        Today, when you use your cell phone or, over the next few years, as you experience super-fast wireless Internet access (via something called "long-term evolution" or "LTE" technology), you'll be using an extension of the technology a 20-year-old actress first conceived while sitting at dinner with Hitler.

        At the time she made “Ecstasy,” Kiesler was married to one of the richest men in Austria. Friedrich Mandl was Austria's leading arms maker. His firm would become a key supplier to the Nazis.

        Mandl used his beautiful young wife as a showpiece at important business dinners with representatives of the Austrian, Italian, and German fascist forces. One of Mandl's favorite topics at these gatherings—which included meals with Hitler and Mussolini—was the technology surrounding radio-controlled missiles and torpedoes. Wireless weapons offered far greater ranges than the wire-controlled alternatives that prevailed at the time.

        Kiesler sat through these dinners "looking stupid," while absorbing everything she heard.

        As a Jew, Kiesler hated the Nazis. She abhorred her husband's business ambitions. Mandl responded to his willful wife by imprisoning her in his castle, Schloss Schwarzenau. In 1937, she managed to escape. She drugged her maid, snuck out of the castle wearing the maid's clothes, and sold her jewelry to finance a trip to London.

        (She got out just in time. In 1938, Germany annexed Austria. The Nazis seized Mandl's factory. He was half Jewish. Mandl fled to Brazil. Later, he became an adviser to Argentina's iconic populist president, Juan Peron.)

        In London, Kiesler arranged a meeting with Louis B. Mayer. She signed a long-term contract with him, becoming one of MGM's biggest stars. She appeared in more than 20 films. She was a co-star to Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and even Bob Hope. Each of her first seven MGM movies was a blockbuster.

        But Kiesler cared far more about fighting the Nazis than about making movies. At the height of her fame, in 1942, she developed a new kind of communications system, optimized for sending coded messages that couldn't be "jammed." She was building a system that would allow torpedoes and guided bombs to always reach their targets. She was building a system to kill Nazis.

        By the 1940s, both the Nazis and the Allied forces were using the kind of single- frequency radio-controlled technology Kiesler's ex-husband had been peddling. The drawback of this technology was that the enemy could find the appropriate frequency and "jam" or intercept the signal, thereby interfering with the missile's intended path.

        Kiesler's key innovation was to "change the channel." It was a way of encoding a message across a broad area of the wireless spectrum. If one part of the spectrum was jammed, the message would still get through on one of the other frequencies being used. The problem was, she could not figure out how to synchronize the frequency changes on both the receiver and the transmitter. To solve the problem, she turned to perhaps the world's first techno-musician, George Anthiel.

        Anthiel was an acquaintance of Kiesler who achieved some notoriety for creating intricate musical compositions. He synchronized his melodies across twelve player pianos, producing stereophonic sounds no one had ever heard before. Kiesler incorporated Anthiel's technology for synchronizing his player pianos. Then, she was able to synchronize the frequency changes between a weapon's receiver and its transmitter.

        On August 11, 1942, U.S. Patent No. 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and "Hedy Kiesler Markey," which was Kiesler's married name at the time.

        Most of you won't recognize the name Kiesler. And no one would remember the name Hedy Markey. But it's a fair bet than anyone reading this newsletter of a certain age will remember one of the great beauties of Hollywood's golden age—Hedy Lamarr. That's the name Louis B. Mayer gave to his prize actress. That's the name his movie company made famous.

        Meanwhile, almost no one knows Hedwig Kiesler—aka Hedy Lamarr—was one of the great pioneers of wireless communications. Her technology was developed by the U.S. Navy, which has used it ever since.

        You're probably using Lamarr's technology, too. Her patent sits at the foundation of "spread spectrum technology," which you use every day when you log on to a wi-fi network or make calls with your Bluetooth-enabled phone. It lies at the heart of the massive investments being made right now in so-called fourth-generation "LTE" wireless technology. This next generation of cell phones and cell towers will provide tremendous increases to wireless network speed and quality, by spreading wireless signals across the entire available spectrum. This kind of encoding is only possible using the kind of frequency switching that Hedwig Kiesler invented.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Ladder

This memo was written in mid-2012 as a start of a series of memoirs that I thought would be of interest to my children.

I had been at the bank for seven years and over the 4th of July, 1982 the Penn Square Bank of Oklahoma City filed for bankruptcy.  Seems quite unrelated, but a bank going under in 1982 was a big deal and of note to us and a lot of others.
The guy in charge of our dealings with that bank turned in his resignation on Friday, July 5.  We had loans that were guaranteed by the Penn Square Bank that, at the time of the bankruptcy went from being very secure to being very risky.  I applied for the job.
The President of the bank had a knack for making others do work.  Because of the team he assembled, the bank was quite successful and a great place to work. 
I remember visiting with him about something else a few years earlier when we had purchased the grand piano.  He asked how much it cost and I told him that it cost $12,000 (this was about 1979) and he looked puzzled and said, “You could buy a real nice organ for that.”
The cutting edge work that my associate, Bill, and I were doing on Asset/Liability management was way beyond his comfort zone.  But that was pretty understandable since we were among the few in our size in the nation to be doing that type of analysis, a practice that became widespread in the ensuing years.
Anyway, we had branched out into the purchase of some loans backed by lines of credit through the Penn Square Bank of Oklahoma City, but if memory serves, some of them were backed by other banks, too.  These loans backed drilling programs in the days of high interest rates and oil shortages brought on, in part, by the ineffective governance of the Jimmy Carter years.
The President of the bank didn’t know what to do with the problem and the resignation, so I went to him and said that I would take over that position if he wanted me to.  Within a few hours, they offered me the job.
I remember going home, gathering everyone on the patio at the picnic table, Amy was almost 13, Marcee was almost 11 and Matt was not yet part of our family.  I explained that I had been offered a job that would be quite a challenge and that there was risk.  Amy reasoned that if I didn’t like it or if I couldn’t do the job, I could just go back to my old job.   I told them that it would not be good if I failed, that it was sort of like climbing a ladder and that they took out the steps behind you.  I said, “If I fail, there really isn’t any going back.”  Amy thought a moment and said, “Don’t fail.”
End of discussion.
We worked really hard on that situation, went to Oklahoma City a lot, and one of the meetings I vividly remember was headed by the stud from Continental Illinois, Chicago and seconded by the guy from Seafirst, Seattle.  They went on and on about how they were going to pursue all legal remedies, not negotiate and these investors owed them the money.  No argument, but I got up in the room of about 50 bankers and observed that a lot of the investors didn’t have the money to pay.  They insisted that their course of action was appropriate.
They went their way, we went ours.  We negotiated with each borrower and eventually got all of our principal and half the interest we were owed.  Both Continental Illinois and Seafirst, banks who were in the top ten in the US, went broke and disappeared from the map.
I remember walking into the offices of three borrowers in Philadelphia.  They were attorneys and Jewish.  I told the guy I was with that we were WAY out of our league—Jewish Philadelphia lawyers and it is their own money!  The art work in the offices could have paid off the loans easily.  They paid.
Things went along, I learned a lot from managing the commercial loan department, the mortgage loan department (we were among the first in Iowa to generate loans and sell them in “packages,” an almost universal practice these days), the correspondent banking department (that was a mess), and the investment department.  We went on to weather the 1982 farm loan crisis, Willy Nelson starting Farm Aid and the killing of a few bankers by farmers.  The first year, 1982, we barely made any positive earnings, but we established a basis for terrific profitability over the next few years.
The investments I made in the bank stock back in those early years financed the college educations for both Amy and Marcee (well, almost, for Marcee).  There was money set aside for Matt, but that sort of disappeared a few years later, but that’s another story.  The bank was really profitable and I shared in that success over several years.
There are tons of stories from those days, we moved to Sioux City the summer I was 30 in 1975.  Lincoln was the default place to live for U of N graduates, so the salaries were extremely low.  My first job at Bankers Life Nebraska (now Ameritas) paid $600 per month.  Both of the girls were little, in fact Marcee was born in Lincoln.  The insurance company was a source of a lot more stories (like working with the future poet laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser) and it was sort of like another college degree because I learned so much, but we were really poor.  I went to work for First National Lincoln in the Trust Department for a short while, and a headhunter recruited me for the job in Sioux City. 
I was with the bank in Sioux City for ten years, from the summer of 1975 through the summer of 1985.  It was sort of a no-brain decision—I started with Bankers Life making $7,200 per year, was making about $12,000 per year at First National Lincoln, and started in Sioux City at $21,000. 
We sold the big house in Lincoln (that has been entirely remodeled, I guess, it is beautiful) and bought a newer style house that had fallen on hard times.  The sellers were getting a divorce, the husband had been indicted over a gambling episode that led to the closure of the hotel in downtown Sioux City that was, just recently, still standing vacant over 35 years later.
Bought our first color TV soon after moving there (to watch the first real mini-series, “Roots”), and from then on, the financial side of the ledger improved a lot.  I was even able to fulfill a life-long dream and got my private pilot’s license.  We bought the first new car, which was promptly wrecked by a truck running a red light, and then another one that I still remember, a 1979 Chevy Impala, white with red interior and all kinds of bells and whistles.  Even bought a new second car, a Honda Civic that was eventually rolled by someone we barely knew.
One of the interesting things that I observed during this substantial increase in personal wealth and financial growth—I gave generously to the Catholic church, to the United Way and volunteered in a whole bunch of organizations.  I was on lots of boards, like hospitals, the Symphony, Boys and Girls Club and adhered to a high level of giving, both financially and of my time and efforts.  I have often observed since then that the money and time that I contributed came back to me in multiples.  Don’t know if there is a causal relationship, but that is what happened.
In about 1984, I was invited to go hiking with our neighbor, Russ Christenson, and some of his friends.  We hiked from the west side of the Tetons to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Soon after that, Russ offered me a job with Midwest Energy.  Russ was the President-elect, and the Chairman of the Board and President was Frank Griffith.  For some reason, Frank did not like me (I barely knew him) and he attempted to block my hire after it had been announced and after I had resigned.  Fortunately, the Board sided with Russ and Frank was out of there in a few months.  He was one of the corporate executives that give corporate people a bad name.  I am not sure what is going on now, but at one time it is my understanding that his sons (there were three) were attempting to get a court order for protection as he had a loss of mental acuity and was still chasing women, one of whom was attempting to get all his money.
I was with Midwest until 1993.  We did all kinds of fun stuff, like the Dunes, financing communication satellites, purchased commercial airplanes and leased them to airlines, and a variety of “economic development” projects.  One of my responsibilities was economic development, this was a time when Iowa was trying to recover from the Farm Crisis and jobs were all heading overseas and to the Sun Belt.  Among the investments we developed was the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad.  General Electric Credit put up $80 million, we put up $5 million and the railroad was off and running.  Well, for a while.  It eventually tried to declare bankruptcy, that is a whole story in itself, and I will never forget being the only witness in the Bankruptcy Court when we were successful in reversing the bankruptcy.  That railroad is still running, as far as I know, and is so important to the economy of Northern Iowa.
During this time, I served on the Board of Directors of Alexander Energy in Oklahoma City.  Bob Alexander is a valued friend who we saw at his home in Palm Springs a couple of years ago.  Bob sold the company and I left the Board (this was when I was in Fargo), and he had to then come back and bail it out of a whole bunch of bad management decisions.  He thought it would take six months…it took six years because the banks forced the company into bankruptcy a month after Bob came back on board.  That was when he enlisted the aid of an old friend, the “king” of bailouts and leveraged financial takeovers, Carl Icahn.  Icahn and Bob bought the banks out for pennies on the dollar (that is a book in itself as the stupid and the greedy paid for their arrogance), they did two other ones just like it and Icahn cleared $500 million. 
Now, Bob chews tobacco.  Not snuff, like I used to chew and swallow.  This is the messy stuff, and he carries a tin to spit in all the time.  Icahn is notorious for being formal and for being intolerant, so his minions were dismayed that Bob was allowed to show up in boots and to spit in a can during meetings.  Something was said one time and Icahn told the “team” member that if he could “…clear me a half billion dollars, you can spit in a can, too.”
Anyway, the metaphor of the ladder is so true of so many parts of life.  We can’t go back to where we were, climbing involves removing the rungs behind us.  We must go on, whatever we are doing.  And, Amy, you were right, it is better if you don’t fail.

Near Death

Aunt Fran died a few months ago. She was near 100. Maurie had gone a while earlier at about 100, too, and my mother at 90 a few years earlier. Their grandmother (not Aunt Fran, as she was a Rockey, not a blood relative) was 109. They grow them sturdy in the middle of Nebraska, I guess.
Aunt Fran’s only child, a son named Doug, died while overseas during the Viet Nam war, not from the war as I understand it, but still. When I think of her, I think of him, and when I think of him I eventually think of the Sandhills. Do you ever do one of those association things in your head where you end up a long way from where you started? Well, this goes on in my head more than I like to admit, and this particular one leads to my early teens.
Doug and I were not well-acquainted until the summer after my freshman year in high school when we went together to the All-State Music camp at the University in Lincoln. It was 1960, and the University was like a different world…no, it WAS a different world for me. Big buildings, lots of people, and a world of music like I had never imagined. I had one line in the musical “South Pacific,” and I delivered it like I was supposed to, loud and little regard to key, but on cue. Then it was singing in the big chorus with really talented people, sampling some of the great musical literature; I had never experienced the fabulous beauty of a Requiem before.
My roommate was the son of a rancher in the Sandhills, he said they needed people to help with putting up hay, and I pretty much committed before I asked my parents. They weren’t pleased as it was also time to irrigate, and they needed free help rather than me out earning $6 per day in the hay field. I was home by the start of August when the real hard irrigating started, so it worked out.
We were about 30 miles from any town, slept in a bunkhouse, ate breakfast in the basement of the big house and were in the field by 7 AM six days a week. Since I had experience on a farm, I was running one of the mowers, a twin-mower arrangement that cut 14 feet at a swath, along with the ranch foreman, Bo. We ate “dinner” at the one hired man’s house and “supper” at the other’s, and it was not consistent fare. I specifically remember one hamburger casserole. The wife apparently didn’t know that you were supposed to drain the hamburger after you brown it, so the casserole was swimming in a half-inch of grease. We had the choice of whether to eat it…or not. Some decisions aren’t that hard to make. The pickups came around to gather us up at 7 PM.
That was the summer of my first airplane ride. My boss had one at the ranch and he would fly in the long summer evenings to check the cattle, and I rode along. A Piper Super Cub is really slow, and has been described as the safest plane in the world; it can just barely kill you.
Drifting over the wide open Sandhills with the long shadows of the evening defining the hills, the blowouts, the lakes and the occasional grove of cottonwoods was all golden light and the wonder of flight. I do remember the sensation that would be repeated when I gave in to the love of flying and got my own license when you land on a grass strip. It is really, really noisy!!
That was also the first time in my life I experienced a knuckleball. You see, Bo was a pitcher in the Basin League, similar in the 1950’s to the Cape Cod league today, that showcased a lot of future major league players. There wasn’t much future for a pretty good knuckleballer, so he went to ranching and raising a family, but he responded to my request to “play catch” one evening. My excuse was that it was starting to get dark, but that was lame. The first one hit my leg, the next one hit my chest; and there was no third one since I was sure that one would catch me in the teeth.
I mentioned the pickups. One of them, a late 50’s Chevy, turquoise in color, had a roping chair mounted to the front right bumper in front of the headlight, and that was used for working cattle. I loved to ride in it when we came in from the field. We were a bunch of teenagers, driving fast on sand trails when my hat (we all wore hats since we were in the sun all day) blew off. Bobby (the driver) hit the brakes, I extended out from the roping seat like a hood ornament as there was no such thing as a seat belt, and we skidded to a stop to retrieve the hat. If my grip had failed, I would have gone under the wheels that were sliding on the sand. Got the hat and away we went.
All this review of events started with Aunt Fran.
When I wrote, The Ladder, it contained a phrase that was repeated more than I like—“…that is a book in itself,” and sometimes phrased, “…but that is another story.”  I have so many stories cluttering up my head, and the process of writing seems to trigger one after another.  They aren’t Pulitzer Prize types, but they are just the stories of one life, and it happens to be my life.
When my brother died, I thought about how many stories were in his head, and when he passed, the stories were just gone.  Sure, there were others involved, usually, but it is the same for everyone that when they die, their side of the story, their unique experience dies.  How many times I have wondered what it would have been like if someone I cared about would have put down their stories.  Some of my stories will be recollections of others, some simply my history, but always my “side” of the story, and it is getting to be more and more likely that I will be the only one surviving when the story is told. 
That sole survivor situation could lead to embellishment at the best, fabrication at the worst.  We know that the stories will not be factually accurate as everyone’s memory works differently than a video tape of the episode.  Especially when those things happened forty or fifty years ago. But that’s what you get.
After Norma died, we had no idea what to do with all her stuff, so we simply had an auction. After the auction, we stayed with my brother at the farm and had a couple of drinks and started to talk about some of our experiences as kids. Linda and I had just started to get to know each other, and she was amazed at how all the stories seemed to lead to a situation where I was the one who was just about killed.
For instance, when I was about five years old, I had a hand-me-down tricycle that was designed a bit differently than anything today. Instead of the front tire as the drive, one of the rear tires was driven by a chain. It was old, the tire was completely bald, it was spring and it was muddy. It is always muddy around the farm…when it isn’t dry and dusty. To solve the traction problem, I wrapped barbed wire around the tire, weaving it through the spokes, and it proved to be quite serviceable. My brother was on a horse, Cherry the bay, I think, and offered to pull me… which seemed like a good idea at the time. So we take off at full speed, I hit some ruts, lost control and my leg dropped onto the barbed wire that was rotating like a buzz saw. The barbs went through my jeans, my long underwear and my leg. Since we couldn’t dare tell our parents, we bandaged it up a little and went on with things. To this day, I have quite a scar where it should have been sewn up as it took several days before my mother figured out that something was terribly wrong.
A lot of things had to do with horses. I fell off during the Rescue Race at full speed, head over heels at the Rodeo Grounds, flew over the head of my horse Klinker and landed in the stumps at the bottom of the ditch, etc. Is it any wonder that I fail to grasp the romance of horse ownership?
There were others where I was alone, like the time I crossed the river on the tree, came back and slipped on the patch of mud that had thawed, fell in and went under the tree and into the brush. It was winter, so by the time I got back to the house, my clothes were frozen to the point where they were stiff. I still have nightmares about that one. But fortunately, I didn’t lose my rifle.
He thought he had killed me the time we (that means “me”) were riding calves. We weren’t supposed to be doing that, of course, but the rodeo had been in town and it looked like fun. We fashioned some gates in the old bull pen and got a calf in there, rope around the middle, around and around my wrist that was enveloped in an adult leather glove, and open the gate!
The gate stuck as he opened up, so it was just a little gap which the calf bellared and jumped right through. That scrubbed my legs completely off the back so that I was fully extended on the top since as much as I tried, the rope was firmly attached to my arm and I couldn’t let go. We are running and bucking through the cattle lots which were baked into pottery shards in the late August heat with buffalo burrs all over, when I went up, then came down as the calf’s tail head hit me right in the solar plexus. All breathing and vital functions shut down, the glove thankfully came off and I fell face first into the sandpaper dirt.
Thankfully not too much blood, but the non-breathing thing was a problem. Eventually, it started up again, hesitantly, but my brother was really worrying about how he would explain this when I died for good.
He actually picked me up and carried me up to the milk barn where I laid on the cool concrete for a long time recovering. Again, not as many visible marks as you might think, so that one was relegated to the stories they didn’t know for many years.
It was a dangerous time, a dangerous place. But I survived, and as I have said before, at least I won't die young.