Last night he walked up to two ladies and their kids at Petsmart. The little boy had a mohawk and he asked the lady if she had given the boy that haircut. She said yes, so he asked her if she’d give him one too and lifted his hat off to expose his bald head. As we were leaving, I reminded the ladies not to talk to strange old men. Grandpa agreed and a few seconds passed. Then he realized what he’d just agreed to and shook a fist at me.
Grandpa was a teletype operator for the Marines. He served at the Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. This morning as grandpa and I enjoyed our morning coffee, he told me this story.
The base had about 15 head of horses on the land and civilians could come out there and pay 50 cents to ride for an hour. After showing a lieutenant how to handle an unruly horse he was appointed head over the stables. This lieutenant gave him a call and said, “Corporal, get yourself a rope and meet me at the helipad tomorrow morning.” Grandpa asked him what they’d be doing and the lieutenant said that they’d be going out to catch them a wild burro. Grandpa showed up and a pilot flew them out into the desert where they found a wild pack of them roaming. The pilot let them down and got the burros moving toward the lieutenant and grandpa with the ropes. The helicopter blew his rope down and he missed a big burro. When the helicopter came back around he lassoed a baby burro, which dragged him a ways before he was able to get his footing. Then he and the lieutenant tethered him between two yucca bushes and climbed back into the helicopter. The next day they drove a jeep out there to where they’d tied up the little burro and loaded him into the back beneath a blanket. Driving into base they checked in with the MP, who didn’t see the burro beneath the blanket. So they raised the burro and let the kids ride it for free while the parents paid to ride the horses. Well the lieutenant decided to sell the burro and told grandpa to take it to the back of the base and slide it through the fence to a man who had paid $24 dollars for it. Grandpa did what he was told and got $12.50 out of the deal. However, a new officer had come to the base and had seen that the burro wasn’t on the inventory list. He had added the burro to the inventory without mentioning it to anyone. Therefore, a month later when inventory came around the burro came up missing. Since grandpa was in charge of the stables he was told that if he didn’t find the burro then he’d be in big trouble. So for a week he and a stable hand would ride out to an orchard and take naps beneath the fruit trees for an hour or so before returning. They hoped that “looking” for the burro and not finding it would appease the officer. Meanwhile the officer did some snooping around and learned the story of how the burro came to be on the base. He called in grandpa and the lieutenant to demand an explanation. The officer told grandpa that if he didn’t come clean then he’d face 30 days in the brig doing hard labor. Grandpa laid it all out and was told that if he’d ever try anything like that again he’d be ground into a pulp. He said, “Sir if you let me go, you’ll never see me again.” The officer excused him and grandpa took off running, leaving the lieutenant to get tore apart by the officer for his funny business.