One summer harvest was very memorable. I think it was the summer before my Senior year. Working at the elevator that year was: Bob, the manager, Mom, the "second man", Rick, Muriel, Me and Nina.
In one way or another, we were all related too. It's a small town thing...Bob's little sister married Mom's cousin. Rick is their son, which technically makes him my second cousin. Nina was Rick's little sister, and Muriel was his wife. So we were basically all family in one way or another. Nina, Muriel and I were working in the office. Rick was dumping trucks. Mom and Bob were either in the elevator, or they were loading railroad cars with wheat. Mom was also responsible for posting all tickets and keeping everyone's account in order and most importantly, she was the payroll person!
But, that year, we needed more help. The corporate office in Hutchinson sent out this guy to work with us. I do not remember what his name was, and I'm not sure I took the time to really learn his name. We all called him Arkie and he left quite an impression on us all.
I'm pretty sure Arkie was from the Ozarks. He pulled in on the first day of harvest driving an old school bus that he had reconditioned and made it his home on wheels.
Arkie himself was a tall man, at least 6 foot. And he weighed a good 300 lbs. He always wore overalls. In fact, I think he wore the same pair the entire time he was working with us--2 weeks. Mrs. Arkie was short, probably 5'2" all the way around. Her favorite outfit consisted of a big loose skirt and a tube top. Oh, and no bra, and no underwear, and, she didn't sit in a ladylike manner either.
Yep, they were quite the pair. He was a fairly good worker, and the Mrs. would sit out in the elevator watching him work all day. The truck drivers really enjoyed that view; Ms. Arkie, sitting on the steps, or in the corner in line with the side mirror, sitting with her skirt hiked and no underwear...
Arkie knew everything about anything. He was very well educated. All you had to do was ask. Which we tried not to do, but somehow it didn't matter. He knew everything.
Our favorite part of Life with Arkie was when he'd come in to use the facilities.
We'd have to evacuate the building and fumigate before going back into the office. Which wasn't real convenient during harvest.
Seriously, the man had serious gas. Noxious gas. It took a vvvveeeeeerrrrryyyyy long time for the place to air out. And Air freshener did not work. It just made it worse.
Late one night, (or early one morning) we were shutting down. Arkie had gone out to his Bus, and we were all getting ready to go. Mom and Bob were even in the office. Rick said he just had to tell us the latest piece of information... Arkie had asked Rick if he would like to switch wives for the night.
To be honest, I'm not sure how Rick kept a straight face at that, and I do think he told Arkie just where he could go with that idea. But, by the time he told us, he could laugh about it. Because the idea was just mind boggling! Muriel and Rick were still newlyweds, and they were crazy about each other. The thought of Rick trading Muriel for one night of "pleasure" with Mrs. Arkie...well, yeah, it was hilarious. Especially since Arkie had already shared with us (on one of his facility visits) that he and the Mrs. liked to...well, their favorite spot for conjugal matters was the cemetery.
So now, we all knew that they were...odd...added to their dress and overall hygiene, and well...yeah. I know I would have been tempted...
tempted to run the other way.
Fortunately for us, we only needed Arkie at the elevator for 2 weeks. He moved on; in his bus, with his wife. I have to admit though, we all thought that some of our family and neighbors in Big E were eccentric, and very red-necky, and down right odd; but no one, and I mean no one, could hold a candle to Arkie.