I'm sorry, I know I should feel bad, but some of the memories of dad which are the absolute funniest to me are his injuries. Laughing at other's "accidents" is a very bad Pogue family trait. Mom doesn't do it though, she's got too much class so I'm blaming this bad gene on dad's side of the family.
I just don't get how one person can hurt himself so many times - and I mean lasting, physical, "damn-what-happened-to-you!" injuries. In order to really know dad and especially his poor driving habits and too-numerous-to-mention truck accidents, you must understand his history of "being on the injured list."
His first job out of college was in Las Vegas - and that's where his accidents began...
Brush with death #1 - While getting ready for a few days' stay in the desert, he got out his sleeping bag and a few other necessities including the air mattress he would use under his bag. Giving the air mattress a mighty shake (not sure if he was checking for spiders or trying to get the wrinkles out), the plug flew out of the hole, through air like a bullet, and hit him in the eye. Where most of us have color in our eyes, dad's eye was black. Really, how does a tiny plug from an air mattress, through all the airspace in our universe, find a person's eye? And to make matters worse, had he minded the doctors, he probably wouldn't have had permanent damage. He was told to stay in bed and not get up. He got up in the middle of the night and ran into the wall, bashing his head so hard that it was the straw that broke that camel's back and he was blinded for good. Then the pain was so bad that he took too many pains pills and mom had to rush him to the hospital for an overdose. I can't watch A Christmas Story and hear Ralphie's mom say "You'll put your eye out!" without thinking (fondly of course) about dad.
Brush with death #2. Dad had stopped to check an unattended vehicle parked out in the boonies. Waiting to see if the owners would come back to the vehicle, he started getting hungry and noticed he had a bag of grain in the back of his truck. He helped himself to some of the grain - but after eating a few mouths full, he noticed the word POISON on the bag. According to mom, he was a sick boy!
He also contracted "Valley Fever" while living in Bakersfield. He had heard of a place where people were discovering sharks teeth and sometime later, found out that the soil was infected with the disease. Someone in the family still has those sharks teeth - proudly displayed on cotton in a frame.
He was thrown off a horse, hitting his head on a rock and received a concussion. Another time, he was on his horse and one of them (we'll blame the horse) made the mistake of cutting too close to an old building and he ran head first into a swarm of bees. Not only was it painful but it caused a lifelong allergy to bees. That was Brush with death #3.
Brush with death #4 happened when dad realized that keeping canned food in a metal container, for months in the Vegas summer heat in the back of your patrol truck, is not a good idea. One bite from a "puffy" can of pineapple caused severe food poisoning and he nearly died. Again, who eats food from a can that practically explodes from all the toxins in it when you open it? All I can say is that he must have been darned hungry.
While living in Winnemucca, and again, out on patrol miles and miles away from help, dad drove over a rattlesnake. Wanting to bring the rattles home to show us kids, he stopped to pick it up. He raked his hand across the snakes teeth and that was all it took. He had to drive himself several hours back to town for treatment. After receiving the treatment at the tiny hospital in Battle Mountain, he broke out in hives and then had to stay overnight in the hospital. That was Brush with death #5.
After the loss of vision in one eye, depth perception was hampered so there were too many pickup accidents to mention. His patrol vehicle always had numerous dents and dings from sideswiping or backing into something.
In all reality, only a few of these were actual brushes with death. But dad was always out of radio contact and miles and miles from the nearest help. He truly was lucky to have survived as long as he did. While talking to mom about this post, I said, "He was just an accident waiting to happen, wasn't he mom."
Her reply, "Every day. Every day. I never knew what kind of shape he'd come home in." Fortunately, his major injuries seemed to end when we moved to Garden Valley...