It was twilight of a pleasant Sunday evening. I was just beginning to recover from the after effects of an even more pleasant Saturday evening, trying to decide between TV and a good book. Or I might just relax and watch the plants grow in my wife’s terrarium. Suddenly I was jolted to attention!
“Say, Dad, do we have any cement?” I didn’t catch on at first, assuming it was just a growing boy’s natural curiosity.
“There’s a ten-pound bag in the basement, Steven. I’m going to build a patio someday….or other.”
“That’s a relief, Dad. I was afraid I was going to flunk Earth Science.”
I caught that one, a wicked line drive, and flinched. “Am I correct in assuming you have some kind of impending school project, Son?”
“Yup, and it’s due tomorrow. Miss Grumble said if we don’t……”
“Steven, you mentioned cement. Can you assure me we don’t have to build something like that Fiji village out of toothpicks tonight? There was a pleading tone in my voice.
“Of course not, Dad. That was last month’s geography project. This is for Earth Science. It’s completely different.”
I gripped the arms of my Van Winkle Lounger and whispered, “What is it?”
“Hoover Dam, Dad. I have to build a model of Hoover Dam. Miss Grumble said if I don’t…..”
“Hoover Dam by tomorrow morning ? How long have you known about this and why didn’t you start sooner?”
“Gee, Dad, you don’t have to shout like that. I’ve been busy with other things, like the poetry class and cross-country practice, but I’ve also been working on this project.”
That’s different, I thought. I’m good at finishing touches. It’s my specialty. “What have you done so far?” I asked.
“I’ve got the water for Lake Mead in this bottle, Dad. “
After an hour’s research I had a vague idea of what Hoover Dam looked like. While Steven stood by holding Lake Mead, I began mixing quick-dry cement , wondering how to fake turbines. What’s a turbine, anyway?
It was a challenging fun project at first, but assistant Steven went to bed at ten and it got lonely. By 2 a.m. I was groggy and suffering with cement burns. (I should have worn gloves.) A few hours later I awoke, looking down at what could easily be mistaken for Hoover Dam by someone who had never been there or had never seen or even heard of it.
Full payment came when Steven pronounced in the morning, “It’s Super!”
“But gee, Dad,” he said, “You didn’t have to make a sign like that and I think you misspelled it.”
“Leave it as it is,Son. Humor your old Dad and leave the sign.”
“Dedicated to Miss Grumble: Hoover Damn.”