His Excellency comes to dinner.
My mother never ceased to amaze me as she was a remarkable woman. This is a story of her and it may sound like a one of a kind incident but I can assure you things like this happened all the time.
I was just in my second Army enlistment and felt homesick. I had some days of leave coming so I hopped on my motorcycle and left Fort Carson behind. I arrived after the 14 hr. drive just as tired as I was happy to be home. Taking the spare bedroom up in the attic I was soon fast asleep on Grandma's old feather bed. It seemed like a short night when I was rudely awakened by a siren and the noise of many cars idling in our quiet residentual street in Sioux City, Iowa. Looking out the attic window I saw a line of Limo's in the street, bracketed by police cars. HOLY SMOKE, I thought and grabbed my pants and buckled on my gun and shoulder holster. Sneaking down the stairs I was very careful to make no noise. (Husbands that are reading this, if you step on the step next to the wall the steps will not creak) When I made the first floor and stepped into the kitchen I found the room full of men. There was two policemen, two guys wearing dark suits that my law enforcement eye could tell were talored to cover guns under their arms, and one gentleman that was obviously the boss. He was dressed in a custom talored suit and had a picture perfect mustache with long side burns (ala Elvis). The two black suits had their hands in their coats and were giving me the serious stare.
My mother was talking Spanish to the gentleman and noticed his eyebrows go up questionly. She realized that my sudden apperance had put the room in tension. She then rattled off more Spanish and the only word I caught (wish I had listened when she was trying to teach me Spanish) the Spanish word for son. The well dressed dude turned on a smile that made me want to vote for him. He brushed his two body guards aside and pumped my hand like he was drilling for oil. Then he almost got shot when he grabbed me and kissed both of my cheeks. Mom was telling me in the background that this guy was the Vice President of Spain. And he was in the United States touring farms and agriculture sites. Well Sioux City is pretty agriculture all right but Dad only had a small garden in back of the house. I smiled at him so hard that I almost lost my partial plate. Everything seemed to relax and Dad clued me in that we were going to take his Excellence out to our old farm. We had moved to Missouri when I was 15 yrs old and the farm we used to live on was bought by our neighbors whose kids I went to school with. That made it nice because I could always go out to the old place and be welcomed, sit in my old house and walk the pasture full of memories.
Soon Mom and the Dude stopped rattling off Spanish and I guessed we were ready to leave. First the body guards ran out and checked out the entire neighborhood, I think, and then they and some more bodyguards that were hiding in the cars (probably loading guns) made a corridor for the well dressed guy to walk down. The neighbors were all out on their porches and some had camera's. I had a feeling they kept the camera's close by after my folks moved into that house. Then off we went to our old farm. The new owner was Ralph Krol and his son Shorty was my childhood buddy.
When we arrived at the farm Ralph was at the gate to great us. Mom introduced everyone in rapid Spanish and I kind of slid to one side to tell Shorty what was going on. I guess his Dad had been warned ahead of time. An official tour was first on the agenda and Ralph handed the V.P. some black rubber boots to put over his expensive shoes. The body guards looked around for their boots but Ralph only had one extra pair. Off to the barn we went and I was glad I was wearing my combat boots as Ralph had a lot of stock crammed in that barn. All eating on one end and spreading on the other end. It was humorous to see the spic and span bodyguards trying to pick their way around the pies.
Finally we made it to the milk barn side and Ralph had left a couple of heifers in the stocks with full bags. Then my Mom turn to me and told me to show his Excellency how cows were milked. (Holy Cow, Mom, I havn't milked a cow for 15 years) But I smiled again and found the one legged stool and sat down at the cows hindquarters. I carefully tucked my knee into the crook of the cows leg so I could intercept any kicks and get me and my bucket of milk out of the way. Turning my Army fatigue hat backwards I tucked my head into the flank of the cow. Talking to Mom so she could interpret to the V.P. I told him that first I would take this wipe and wipe the teats of the cow so they would be soft and clean. Unfortunately English of the American style and Spanish do not compromise on some words. I then showed the V.P. how you must massage the udder to start the milk flowing. Next I grabbed the teats and stripped them down a couple of times to clean them out. Hoping the cow would not think I didn't know what I was doing I started the milking. Dang if it didn't sound good clanging against the tin pail. This is what I needed to relax and de-stress. The V.P. was fascinated and squatted down to look at the same level as the bucket. I could feel the kick coming as the cow bunched up her muscles. I grabbed the bucket and swung it free and got my feet under me to jump out of the way. Somewhere in there I had forgotten his Excellence was behind me and looking over my shoulder. And when I stood up suddenly he went over on his rear into a cow pie. His body guards had jumped to catch him but were not fast enough. A couple of them had pulled their guns and I wasn't sure if they were going to shoot me or the cow or both of us. His Excellence got my admiration when he got up and used a expensive white handkerchief to clean off his pants. And then after Mom apologized for her stupid son, the V.P. came back with his own apology. I was begining to like this guy. The cow had only one kick in her so I asked the V.P. if he wanted to try his hand at milking a cow. He approached the cow with trepidation but he was braver than the average honorary high mucky muck and he sat down at the cow. He must have been watching me very closely as he put his knee in the right place. But then he looked to me to for the next step. I motioned to the udder and he spoke some of the few English words that he knew.
"Oh yes I must massage the breast" It was all I could do to keep from sputtering or laughing outright and Shorty didn't have my control. So the V.P. massaged the breast and then pulled the tits. Those Spanish guys sure have a way about them when it comes to handling females. He was rewarded with a few weak streams of milk and a contented "Moooooo" by the cow. Soon he was really going and had milk foam rising in the bucket. What a show this Spanish Gentleman put on. His body guards all clapped when he got up and turned, displaying the full bucket of milk. Camera's flashed and I had pictures in my mind of the framed photo's of the guy in the Presidentual Palace. If he was willing to hang those pictures then he was even braver than I thought.
Then Ralph had Shorty show the VP were the milk cooler was. This was not a refrigerator, but a spring that came up in the corner of the barn and collected in a concrete basin. The water was always ice cold summer or winter. I had fond memories of that cold water in the heat of the summer. On we went to the pig brooder side of the barn and that is where we almost lost the V.P. Ralph had some sows that had just dropped their piglets and Shorty and I knew that they could be mean as all get out. But the VP and his group had no knowledge of this. As soon as the lights were turned on the old sow came up off the ground fast and faced our group. The V.P. and three of his body guards hopped over the fence and strode over to look at the piglets. Ralph shouted to "Be careful" but Mom forgot to interpret. One of the guards bent down to pet a little piglet and the sow hit him full in the rear. She got a piece of his pants and what he had in those pants. When he screamed, the V.P., who was the smartest one in the bunch took off at a good pace toward the fence. Leaving his bodyguard behind. The other guards pulled their guns and Ralph got between them and the sow with a pitchfork. For a while there I thought we were going to have an reenactment of the Spanish-American War. Shorty and I (inspite of my better judgement) jumped the fence and Shorty just upped and kicked the sow in the head. It did the trick but she then turned on Shorty. Shorty was no fool and he cleared the fence with 4 ft. to spare. The bodyguards were right behind me as I hit the gate. Other than a few teeth marks on his derriere the guard came out of it alright. Maybe he will get a purple heart when he gets back to Spain. We all had a good laugh at the bitten guard's expence and he looked like that was the first time his face had laughed for years.
After a hayrack ride around the farm pulled by an old Farmall tractor everyone was in good spirits. When we got back to my folks house the neighbors were waiting with their cameras, and the local police (Dad used to be a cop) were there for crowd control and probably sightseeing. Mom had my sisters busy while we were out at the farm and the kitchen door was wafting good smells toward us. Mom had sent the President of Spain a letter (and that is why they picked her house to visit) and one things she asked was what kind of food the Vice President liked. Well surprise, surprise, he liked Mexican food. Not Spanish food, mind you but Tex-Mex food. So we all set down to a table filled with hot steaming enchiladas, tamales, chicken with mole, spanish rice, and lots of hot peppers. (the bodyguard had a pillow to sit on)
Finally Mom took pity on the neighbors that were still camped out on our lawn and after dinner invited them all in to meet the Vice President of Spain. It was a mixed neighborhood and we had Mexicans, White folks, Black folks, Indians and even some Orientals. When the VP asked about that Mom was proud to tell him that we were all Americans. This impressed him very much by the look on his face and the rapid Spanish to his male secretary. The guy had been carrying that note book around all the time trying to keep up with what was happening, and now he had more to write. I pulled out a little pad of paper and wrote as fast as I could with my sister telling me what Mom was saying. When I handed the three pages of hand written notes to the little guy, I think I could have dropped into his Casa any time in the next 5 yrs and he would have given me his oldest daughter. Finally as the sun was giving everyone the most beautiful red light show I have seen, we all shook hands. This took a while cause there were 20 or 30 people there by then. But politicians love to shake hands and even the guards took their hands off their guns long enough to shake hands all around. And Dang It if that Spanish Dude didn't kiss me on both cheeks again. If one of my sisters had a camera and used it they would not have found her body until the spring thaw.
As I said at the begining this was nothing unusual for my family and especially Mom as she was a doer, not a sit at home and complainer. She was famous around Sioux City, Iowa and spent most of her life trying to help people. She was a volunteer and we kids were right there helping her. It stuck on us too, cause all my 4 sisters and myself spend a lot of our personal time doing volunteer work. My folks taught us by their example. What a wonderful way to grow up.