Years ago, most air compressors were big industrial machines.
My father had one as part of the small auto repair business he ran from a building in the back yard of our Winfield home.
Like most such machines at that time, the air compressor was driven by a belt over a large pulley, running to a smaller pulley turned by a big electric motor. The whole contraption sat on the tank into which the air was squeezed so it could be used to fill car tires or drive tools.
The large, spinning cast iron pulley atop my dad's compressor seemed to have held some fascination for me as a small child. Why else would I have stuck my finger in it?
My mother often recalled my dad carrying me into our kitchen, screaming and bloody. He was as pale as a ghost, and off we went to the emergency room to have my shredded hand patched up.
The doctor did a good job putting the bones back together and clutching my fist around a ball of gauze. Nearly 45 years years later, the only signs of the frightening episode are several small scars across my left index finger, and an oddly deformed nail.
I'm guessing there's still some bad mojo left in that finger. Friday afternoon, as I tried to hold two berserk dogs by the collar with one hand, that finger got tangled and twisted when one dog decided to change direction without my cooperation.
The kind folks at Urgent MD Friday evening said the agony in my left hand was a bad sprain. The doctor at Augusta Orthopedics confirmed that Monday, along with noting what seems to be a torn muscle in my palm.
The result is constant pain, a finger that won't quite bend the way it's supposed to, and about three weeks until it is likely to straighten up and stop hurting.
The way things are going these days, I don't suppose I should complain about losing 10 percent of my fingers when my hands are still at 90 percent capacity. That's especially important to remember when some people don't have hands at all.
Hands are awfully important for someone who spends much of his work time pecking on a keyboard, and much of his leisure time building or fixing something.
Charles "Smitty" Cliett was one of those handy guys. He was a master carpenter with a reputation for being able to build just about anything.
Smitty and I grew up together, roaming the halls and tussling on the playground at North Columbia Elementary. I was saddened to hear last week of his death at the young age of 48.
We hadn't seen each other since high school, and I'm sure he's grown up just like I have since then. But I'll always remember him as a carefree, funny guy. My condolences to his family.
On a happier note, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce is holding a small meet-and-greet session next week for the three finalists for the executive director post.
John T.Y. Smith, the chairman of the chamber board, says all three finalists are from Columbia County and all are impressive. (Maybe that's why they're finalists.)
There is a very slim possibility the new director, who will replace Karen Chrjapin, will be on board in time for Masters Week - which will be here before we can say "Good Lord, where does all that pollen come from?"
A final note
Gov. Sonny Perdue is attracting criticism lately for seeking to have Georgia removed from Justice Department supervision under the Voting Rights Act.
He won't get any criticism from me. It's one of the few things he's done that I agree with. I'm sick and tired of my state, and a handful of others, being presumed racist and guilty. Let it end.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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