SOLOMON QUICK by Solomon Quick written by Charlie Fox Chapter Three

ARNOLD QUICK

Arnold Egbert Quick was born on July 5, 1924 in Monroe, Wisconsin, son of Ephriam and Helena Quick.

He was the youngest of three children the Quicks produced:  Eric, born in 1919 and Agatha, born in 1922 and Arnold.

The Quicks learned early that Arnold was quite mechanical when, at the age of four, he crept into Eric’s room and assembled an entire working crane with Eric’s Erector Set.  Their joy was short-lived when they discovered that Arnold had used that same crane to pick up, then subsequently drop one of Agatha’s porcelain dolls out of an attic window, sending it crashing onto the sidewalk below; scaring a neighbor’s dog which ran squealing across the street to the Edison residence; which startled Little Billy Edison, causing him to ride his bicycle into the street; compelling Frank Bagely to swerve his Ford Model A carrying five Girl Scouts into an oak tree; inducing some cuts and bruises to three of the Little Troopers.

They tried not to let him out of their sight after that.  It wasn’t that easy.

It took some time for Arnold to settle down.  When he was eight he built a glider out of old cardboard boxes and flew it off the roof of their second story house.  Helena was furious, but Ephriam was quite impressed.  “But Darling,” he explained to Arnold’s mother, “he made it all the way to the Jackson house.”  The Jacksons lived four houses away.

Arnold graduated Summa Cum Laude from Mount Freely High School.  Mount Freely, a small town in southern Wisconsin and having only 609 residents, barely qualified to have its own high school.  Arnold’s graduating class had a whopping 43 students in it.  That doesn’t diminish the Arnold’s accomplishment.  He was and still is very smart.  Marion says he’s too smart.

I don’t want to be like Arnold and be too smart.  Just ask any of my teachers.

In 1942 Arnold joined the United States Army.  He never made it out of the U.S., being stationed in Fort Bragg.  Actually, he was scheduled to go overseas, but because of a major screw-up he ended up in the brig.

See, Arnold wanted to use his desire to take things apart and put them back together again.  But of course, the Army-with its wisdom-saw things differently and decided to make Arnold an MP, in charge of guarding the tanks.  The night before a huge military exercise was to take place Arnold was on duty.  Even President Roosevelt was going to be in attendance to observe America’s great military strength.  The urge struck Arnold, so the goofball decided he could quickly disassemble and reassemble one of the tanks.  Bad decision.

He had taken one tank partly apart and then thought he could switch parts and make the first one perform better, so he took another tank apart; then another.  In his haste to reassemble them he made a few errors.

During the military exercise the steering mechanisms were so screwed up, tanks were driving into one another.  It wouldn’t have been that bad but one of them headed right towards the grandstand were the general and FDR were perched.  Four soldiers picked up the President and got him the Hell out of there.  The General was demoted and Arnold ended up in the brig.

But at least he didn’t have to go fight in the war.  We’re all safer because of that.

Upon graduating with honors from UW-Platteville, Arnold tried to get a job as a mechanical engineer with the GM car factory in Janesville.  However, due to the fact that his father, Ephriam, had worked there and was caught stealing over $4,000 in parts, the management thought it wise not to hire Arnold.

I’ve only seen Grandpa Quick once in my life. That’s because the prison in Green Bay really gives me the creeps.

Arnold is always fixing stuff around the house; whether it needs it or not.  He still likes to take stuff apart and put it back together again.  One time he had this big black box sitting on our kitchen table.  He was plugging tubes from our Philco television set into it and flicking switches, watching the tubes light up.

“What are you doing, Arnold I asked?”

“Call me ‘Dad’ or ‘Father’.”

“So, what are you doing?”

“I’m testing the tubes from the television set.”

“Don’t you think they’d work better if they were actually in the television?”

“Don’t be a smart-ass, Solomon.”

He wears a bow tie and pocket protector all the time.  Even when he’s not at work.  Kind of like Andy Taylor from the Andy Griffith Show always wearing his sheriff’s uniform even when he’s home.  That’s pretty dopey.  I think the only time I’d wear my work clothes around the house is if I got a job where I wear my pajamas.  That would be cool. I gotta get a job like that.

Arnold doesn’t yell at me too much, even though there may have been a few times when he could have.  He usually tells me not to do something.  He doesn’t tell me to do things much, mainly not to things.  I think I must be doing a lot of bad stuff and not even know it.

Arnold is almost as tall as Marion.  He always keeps his hair pretty short, in a crew cut.  His favorite color is anything that resembles yellow.  He wears yellow shirts and light brown bow ties and tan pants.  He bought white socks and had Marion dye them yellow.  This pleased the Hell out of her since it made her feel like she was making something crafty.

In Miss Connor’s 5th grade class we had a “Father’s Day” where we brought our fathers and they got up and told the class what they did for a living.  I tried faking illness, running away, smothering Arnold with a pillow; anything I could think of to not bring him to school.

The Horrible Day arrived.  A few fathers got up and I was hoping we wouldn’t have time for Arnold.  He was sitting next to me with his bow tie and pocket protector.  When it was his turn to get up and talk I just put my head on my desk.

Arnold said he was a mechanical engineer at the Barclay Paper Mill, fixing machines and designing safety guards.  Robbie Tiller-a real dope-asked Arnold if it was fun driving a train.

Arnold: “I’m not that kind of engineer.”

Robbie: “Are you the conductor then?”

Arnold: “No, I don’t have anything to do with trains.”

Julie Sanders(normally the smartest kid in our class):  “Did you drive your train to school today.”

Arnold:  “I don’t drive a train.”

Me:  “Yeah, they put down tracks outside the school just so he could come to school today.”  A couple of the idiots actually looked out the window.

Arnold:  “Don’t be a smart-ass, Solomon.”

Miss Connor: “Mister Quick, please don’t use that language.”

Me:  “He’s always calling me a smart-ass, Miss Connor.”

Miss Connor:  “Solomon!”

Arnold:  “I’m not always calling you a smart-ass.”

Miss Connor:  “Mister Quick!”

Me:  “I’m smart, but I don’t think I’m a smart-ass.”

Miss Connor:  “Solomon!”

Arnold:  “Oh yeah, you’re a smart-ass.”

Miss Connor:  “Mister Quick!”

Me:  “See, he called me a smart-ass again!”

Miss Connor:  “Solomon!”

I tried to keep that up for as long as I could.  Finally Miss Connor told Arnold he was through and he left.  Robbie Tiller said to me, “Wow, that’s pretty cool having a father that drives a train!”

I put my head back down on my desk again.  Arnold was not the least favorite father of the day.  That belonged to Eddie Lawson’s dad.  He’s the local dentist in Moon Lake.  When Doctor Lawson asked if anyone had any questions, we all just looked down at our desks.  Nobody wanted to open their mouths.

I was about thirteen when Arnold wanted me to help him hang up some new eaves on the house.  We borrowed a ladder from the Martins and Arnold got up on our ladder and I climbed up the other one.  Already I was trying to think of way to get out of it.  “My foot hurts,” I said. That didn’t work.

Arnold was holding one end of the eave and I was holding the other.  “Just hang onto it with both hands until I get this end attached.  Don’t drop it!” he said.

I didn’t mean to drop it.  I just suddenly got a terrible itch in an unmentionable area.  So I let go with one hand to scratch.  When my end fell, Arnold dropped his end and it bonked him right on the head, knocking him off the ladder and sending him head first into a nice, attractive rock garden that Marion had constructed.

I jumped down from the ladder and went over to Arnold who was lying face up with his eyes closed.  I thought he may have been dead. I nudged him with my foot and he didn’t move.  I have to admit, instead of considering rendering first aid, my first response was to think how I could wipe my fingerprints off the eave, and then in which direction to run.  I thought I could try to steal a car and drive to California.

Marion then came running out of the house.  “Arnie!” she screamed.  She called him Arnie when they were making googly eyes at each other or when she was mad at him. Poor guy; he never  knew if he was going to get a kiss or get yelled at.

“Solomon!  What did you do?”

That’s it, blame the guy that’s still alive.

“It was an accident,” I said.  A phrase I used a lot.

Just then Arnold came back to life.  “Solomon!  What did you do?”

“It was an accident.”  See what I mean.

“I told you not to drop your end!”

“It was an accident.”

Marion grabbed Arnold around the waist and she helped him limp into the house.  Quite dramatic, I thought.  Just then I saw Arnold’s hand reach down and squeeze Marion’s ass.

Sometimes when I think Arnold has no common sense, he pulls something like that.

What a guy.

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