The Red Ball Express.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Elmer was rooting through the dump. Not just any old dump. The dump on the family farm. Back in the day, all farms had a dump. The farmer would excavate a rather large hole in the ground, throw in some trash, and call it a dump. The family dump. Something to be proud of.

Submitted: April 09, 2015

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Submitted: April 09, 2015



Elmer was about 7 when he found what would become the Red Ball Express.

Elmer was rooting through the dump. Not just any old dump. The dump on the family farm. Back in the day, all farms had a dump. The farmer would excavate a rather large hole in the ground, throw in some trash, and call it a dump. The family dump. Something to be proud of.

“Yep, I just got done digging our family dump,” a farmer would brag. “Took awhile to get started. But we decided we couldn’t be the only family without a fresh family dump. It just wouldn't look right. The wife is over to the Johansson’s bragging about it as we speak. Yep, a mighty fine dump it is, if I say so myself. Used it just before coming into town.”

This particular dump was created many years before Elmer's family moved to the farm. By an unknown family, who had long since moved on. There were treasures here, he was certain. Why, there could even be items here to sell! For money or just to trade. On this day he and his friend, Harold (Harry) Phratry, who lived just down the road on the next farm, were digging near the far end of the dump. “The far end” was the oldest part of the dump. They knew this because Elmer's family threw their trash into the “The near end”. So far, they had found nothing worth the effort. Even the farm dog, Digger, was laying down, panting but still interested, having dug up several disgusting things Elmer and Harry could not identify.

Digger, a brown dirt colored mangy farm cur with a patch of black fur around the right eye, was a happy dog whose tail was always waging with boundless energy. Happy to be included in the treasure hunt. He reminded everyone of an old patch rug. He was found by Elmer’s pa, while still a pup, stuck in a mud hole out in the north field. He had to use a shovel to dig him out. Thus the name. No one came by to lay a claim to him. Digger’s origin, and how he came to be stuck in the mud, remained a mystery. Digger was very loyal to the farm or just did not want to move to town when Elmer and his family did several years later. He stayed on the farm, regardless who the family was. Digger died of old age while digging a hole. He was “buried” in the dump.

Suddenly there was a loud “clank” as Harry's shovel hit something. Treasure! They were sure it was valuable treasure. Imagine the looks of disappointment when, after digging it out they discovered it to be an old bicycle wheel. Harry tossed it into the discard pile. After digging most of the afternoon, the pile had grown rapidly.

“Say, Harry,” said Elmer, “every thing we dug up is in the discard pile. None is the treasure we were seeking.”

“Ya, maybe we should rename the pile. We don’t want to stop digging without some treasure,” replied Harry.

That was how the discard pile became the treasure trove. Neither one wanted to dig all afternoon for treasure just to have it end as discards. In the pile was four wheels, a badly used Red Ryder wagon, a red ball, bicycle handlebars and a hammer.

“Boy, what a treasure” said Elmer. “We can make something as soon as we think of what. What we need is a plan.”

“Yea. Bet we can make something we can sell.” replied Harry. “But I don’t know about a plan.”

“What about we make a truck with the treasure. We can hammer the dents out of the wagon, attach the wheels. Maybe tie a rope to Digger so he could pull it.”

“Yea. We can attach this handle bar so we both can pull at the same time or hitch Digger to it. He'll think it fun. Just like a team of horses. And we can throw in this old red ball for Digger.”

“If you throw in that red ball, we will be pulling Digger.”

They spent what was left of the summer building the ‘truck’. The old hammer they found came in handy, pounding on the dents. But, truth be told, most of the dents remained. Harry allowed it gave it caricature not really knowing what the word meant. He just liked the sound of it. Harry’s pa had an old gallon of red paint the boys got their hands on. They painted themselves, the ‘truck’, and Digger, red. Most of it wore off by the time school started. They scratched the name “Red Ball Express” into the side after asking for help with the spelling. They never got Digger to pull the wagon. Whenever they tried, he just ran around barking, having a good time thinking they wanted to play with him. Tongue out and grinning. That was one happy dog. He loved jumping into the ‘Red Ball Express’, hang his tongue out and grin, every time the boys played with it.


Harold (Harry) Phratry would go on to career as a trucker and business owner. He named his trucking company ‘The Red Ball Express’. Elmer Phud became a life long wordmonger, curmudgeon and sometime fishmonger. They remain friends to this day.

Elmer and Harry served in the armed services. Elmer in Europe, Harry in south east Asia. Harry saw combat but has never spoken about it. Not to his family or even Elmer. Something’s a person tries very hard to forget.

Elmer did not see combat in the traditional sense. He was assigned to a top secrete combat/recon team. His team traveled through out Europe performing missions at the direction of the President. He cannot talk about it. Some things they did were not exactly legal & may have violated treaties. Both rose thru the ranks during their short time in the service of their country. Both, when pressured, will show their awards but neither will explain them. Both get emotional when looking at the awards for any extended time. Both have learned to live with the past.

They both raised fine families. Their wives became fast friends. Their families lived near each other in the same county. Joined the same church. Grew older at the same time. Harry’s middle boy married Elmer's youngest daughter. They became proud grandparents of twins. They have been friends for sixty two years & look forward to the day they and their wives can retire to an adult community as neighbors.

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