MY MOM THE FUEL PUMP
Dad told me this story at his home in Pennsylvania during a family get together about a year before he died. I laughed so hard I fell out of my chair.
As background to this story, you must know that my father was a very inventive and industrious man. Living in post-war Korea, he had to learn to design things, jerry-rig things, and make do with whatever limited resources he could scrounge up.
The following story is of one of Dad's jerry-rigging incidents that happened in South Korea in the mid 1970s along the yet unfinished new super highway being built between Seoul in the north and Pusan in the south.
Mom and Dad were traveling in their little 4-cylinder white Fiat when the car conked out and Dad had to pull off to the side of the road.
He tried to start the car again but it would not start. He checked the gas gauge, and it appeared that he had plenty of gas. The battery was good because the starter did turn the engine over and the lights worked.
He got out of the car and looked under the hood but all appeared to be in order. Through the process of elimination, he finally figured out that the fuel pump wasn’t working so that the gasoline was not getting to the engine.
They were far from any exit or service station, so Dad had to figure out how to fix it himself.
Dad disconnected the overflow tube (expansion tube) from its connection near the gas port and fed it through a hole up behind the back seat on the driver’s side. The end of the tube barely protruded out at the corner.
Mom got into the back seat. By sitting slouched down and twisting over to the left, she could put her face in the corner and blow into the tube. This created enough pressure to push the gas to the engine and get the car to run.
They sputtered along with Dad driving and Mom blowing and blowing and blowing into the tube. As they went up one especially steep hill, Mom was tiring and the car was jerkily speeding up and slowing down with stops and starts of the engine as a police car pulled alongside.
The policeman in the passenger seat rolled down his window and asked my father if anything was wrong. My father assured them that everything was fine. The policemen looked warily at my mother crouched in the back seat but finally pulled forward and moved on.
When they made it to the top of the hill, Dad pulled over and stopped the car to give Mom a chance to recover and catch her breath.
The same police car turned around and came back to check on them. The police again asked Dad what the problem was and inquired as to why he stopped.
My father smiled and told them everything was OK. He just said, "There is no problem. It is just that my fuel pump is tired and she needs to rest a bit."
A Poem By: Gregory Hard
Our stories may seem quite surreal
To those without backgrounds Koreal
Or... maybe our brains
Are distorted by pains
And outhouse gas poisons ureal.
Rodney Hard notes:
Having grown up listening to his father and oldest brothers joust with word play incessantly, and after seeing his older brother Nelson's masterful poems being posted on this site, with much cajoling by me to contribute to the Hard legacy on this site, Greg sent me the above poem with the following e-mail:
“I offer the following as the youngest, clamoring for attention, and in the spirit of the following quote (not accurately remembered) from Mark Twain: The works of the great masters (e.g., Nelson) are like fine wine, and mine are like water... but everyone drinks water!”
Greg fairly accurately remembers the actual quote from Mark Twain in a letter to William Dean Howells, 15 February 1887: "High and fine literature is wine, and mine is only water; but everybody likes water."
Seeing that he has critiqued his own work accurately, there is no need of further comment from me.
HOW GOD USED THE GREAT DEPRESSION TO PREPARE TED FOR HIS MISSIONARY SERVICE
Born to upper middle class parents in 1925 to father Ernest Hard, a successful small Connecticut dairy farmer, age 24, and to Anne, a 20 year old vivacious woman who became the mother of 10. Eleven months later, his sister Jane was born, both in the hospital in Torrington, Connecticut. Ted’s dad, Ernest, was raised by his elderly father of 60 years and a housekeeper. Therefore, Ernest gained little experience of the tender loving care from his mother, Jenny, who died when Ernest was only 3 years old! Thus, we can see a trend in love-starved Ernest’s relationship to his own 10 children with Ted as the first-born.
Due to the failing economy in the late 1920’s, Ernest lost the family farm (which is on the National Historic Registry and was show cased during the 1976 Bi Centennial). He then worked in a local ball-bearing factory until 1935 when he moved the family to Avalon Orchards owned by a former diplomat to England.
By this time, Ted was 10 years old and had listened to parental anxieties wrought by mortgage foreclosure, having to move to an upstairs apartment in the lovely Colonial house he had called home for 10 years.
BUT GOD! Avalon Farm was a beautiful spacious place of fruit orchards, barns, sheep, cows, chickens, gardens, mountain vistas, a hiking distance to a state park, pond, and acres of freedom! There was ample work (for pay) for children picking fruit. Ted earned money digging burdock roots which are the bane of orchards.
Ted was the “boss” of younger siblings whose jobs were feeding chickens, carrying inside the wood for the 2 stoves, and cleaning and filling kerosene lamps. When Ted was about 12, Ernest gave him a .22 rifle which Ted used to kill woodchucks whose holes were destructive to orchard work. The farm manager paid a bounty for each killed woodchuck. Only many years later we learned how good eating they were!
Ted was always a bright eager student and brought excellent report cards home. The rest of us who attended Banton Grammar School were challenged by teachers who greeted us, “Well, I hope you are going to be as smart as brother Ted!” He also excelled in piano playing. In his high school years, he came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. So, true to his personality, he sought to convert his siblings who avoided his preaching!
Ted had a few male friends probably because we lived many miles out in the country, had no car, and therefore little opportunity for extra-curricular activities. Roger Beach and Ted came to salvation about the same time and became life-long friends.
Once again, the Great Depression influenced Ted’s personality when we moved as a family from Connecticut to New York State to another orchard! Now we were civilized with indoor plumbing, furnace heat, and electricity! It was time for Ted, the A student and valedictorian, to move just before graduation! BUT GOD! once again intervened and Ted was able to live with grandparents though graduation. Only Mom was able to attend the graduation ceremony to hear his valedictory and the accolades including a full scholarship to Yale and a paid preparatory summer at the Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts.
So, you see, Ted was often short of parental/family participation in the big events of a teenager’s triumphs. Too poor to dress in style, too isolated to take part in many fun activities, and only Mother there to witness his sterling academic achievements, and no peers out on the farm! God was preparing him for hard service. World War II was in progress.
After 1 year at Yale, Ted joined the U.S. Army Air Force as a navigator on a B29 bomber stationed in the Pacific. While training in the Philippine Islands, he observed real privation of body, soul, and spirit amongst the native population. It was then he yearned to become a missionary.
After graduating from Wheaton College and marrying lovely Grace, who also sought a missionary career, the couple, now parents of Sterling and Rodney, journeyed to primitive South Korea and decades of ardent, sacrificial mission work.
Now can you see the preparatory work as Ted ministered to society-rejected lepers, opened and serviced many, many book stores for literature-starved people, taught in seminaries, traveled miles by foot or primitive vehicles to hinterlands to teach, preach and demonstrate God’s love to a needy nation? His own poverty childhood had taught him how to live moderately, to make-do, wear-out and thank God for the privilege to serve HIM and man. Ted devised solar ovens for fuel poor Koreans, shared whatever knowledge he had in whatever need presented. As does his sister Mary, I love him, admire his grit and scholar-poet nature and hope his children can see him as a loving but “distance-keeping” father who was the product of God’s love and plans for a lifetime of service.
I pray my sketchy reminiscences will help my dear nephews and niece to remember with gladness the life of their stalwart, shy servant–father Theodore Hard.
With love and tears,
SIGNS FROM GOD
While driving to work from my home in Louisville, Kentucky to my chiropractic office in Salem, Indiana at 7:00 a.m. in the morning on 1-18-2012, I had a near miss with another car that could have ended in a tragic accident. I thanked God over and over again, not necessarily for saving me from the accident, but for giving me direct evidence of His presence.
I was listening to 1 Kings of the Old Testament in the Holy Bible on my CD player. The first passage that really got my attention was 1 Kings 19:11-13.
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
At the end of verse 12, Elijah hears a still small voice. I mulled that over a little and thought about how we rush about through life and don’t slow down long enough to be quiet and still and hear the still small voice of God.
I listened further to how God spoke directly to the prophets and told them what to do and what to say. How lucky they were to know that God was there watching over them, talking directly to them, and giving them direction. I thought about how thick headed and hard hearted some of the kings were. Ahab watched Elijah call down fire from heaven to consume the whole altar, acknowledged the one and only God of Israel, and then went out that same day and did evil in the sight of the Lord.
“I am like that sometimes.” I thought. Going north on I-65, I approached I-265 West and realized my Salem/Hamburg exit was coming up right past that. A little nudge to my mind told me maybe I should get off on I-265 and go up Grant Line Road to Salem this time. I don’t like that route in the dark but for some reason, I exited. I reminded myself to get off at Grant Line Road several exits up the road.
I continued to listen to the CD but my thoughts wandered to the time I had gotten more than a little nudge from God. Back in the early 1970s my first wife, Sharon, was driving and I was asleep in the passenger's seat on the way home from a friend's house. It was 1:30 a.m. in the morning on a snowy night with ice covered roads.
I had a vision, or a very vivid dream, in which our car crested the next hill and ran head on into a car that was in our lane driving toward us on the wrong side of the four lane road divided by a raised median. The vision was so vivid and imminent that I immediately jerked wide awake and yelled, "Slow down! Now!" as I put on my seat belt. Sharon was just gaining good traction and momentum while accelerating up the icy hill and didn't really want to slow down, but she saw fear in my eyes and heard the extreme urgency in my voice, so she put on the brake to slow down as we crested the hill.
There was the car that I saw in my vision coming straight at us. Sharon had slowed enough that she was able to swerve and miss the other car by a mere six inches. I realized immediately that God had warned me and saved me from disaster.
My thoughts came back to the present time, to the CD I was listening to, and I looked up to realize that I had just passed the Grant Line Road exit because of my musings. Frustrated, I continued on onto I-64 W and then got off at Exit 119 to take SR150 to Palmyra and then to Salem. I was thinking about the nudging I got to go a different route and then how inattentive I was to miss the Grant Line Road exit. I wondered if that was just me being stupid or if both these instances were God sending me on another route in order to protect me from something that could have happened had I gone my normal route. I remembered acting on these kinds of nudges in the past about going a different route, and I asked myself the same question again. "Is this just me, or is it from God?" I answered myself, "I guess I will never know since I didn't go the other route."
As I finished that thought, out of the corner of my eye I saw a car coming straight toward the right side of my car from a side street on the right. I accelerated instantly and swerved to the left a little as I braced for impact on the back right side of my car. For a split second, my thought went, "Don't tell me I came all the way out of the way to avoid trouble, just to be hit here!"
But, when I realized that the car had missed me by inches, the first words out of my mouth were, "Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!" Then I realized I was not thanking God just for saving me from disaster. I was actually thanking Him for answering my question. He was telling me that, yes it was He who nudged and guided me. He was telling me not to doubt it for a second. It was like he was telling me, "Did I get your attention? You know now, don't you? Of course it was I, you knucklehead."
I don't believe in coincidences. God is sovereign. Everything is part of God's plan "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28.
When Rodney and I were in high school at the Korea Christian Academy boarding school, the diet we all had as students was relatively limited by the tight budget within which the dietitian was forced to work.
Mrs. Robinson, one of the missionary wives was a fine lady, but she was tough when it came to feeding the kids. For instance, when we found weevils in our hot breakfast cereal, her response was, “You’re getting your protein; don’t complain.” The possibility that the hot cracked wheat could be run through a sieve prior to cooking never occurred to her, and she was highly unresponsive to our suggestion to that effect.
The basic issue was protein. Our ration was a very thin, very heavily breaded slice of meatloaf, once a week.
To supplement our spare rations on our own, frogs sufficed during certain seasons of the year, but our favorite was sparrows.
During the early to late spring, it was very easy to catch sparrows with thin nylon filament nets. Simply put up the nearly invisible net between two poles, sprinkle some grain in front of it, and when the sparrows were too busy eating to notice, the guys would come running and yelling from the other direction to scare the birds right into the nets.
Plucked and cleaned, these little carcasses, bones and all, were morsels which would be more than sufficient to give you a couple mouthfuls of really tasty cooked bird done to perfection, roasted over candle flames.
It sounds a bit like it is right out of a Charles Dickens story, but it was great fun. We relished the pushback against the dietitian which gave us a juvenile sense of self-reliance.....but mostly, it was just plain fun.
Well, within minutes after the dust settled on the Sunday nap, snakes and mice caper (see High School Prank story), the girls marched en mass up to Mrs. Robinson’s house to register a petulant complaint.
The judgment was swift and sure, “No meat for a week...at least!”
The strategy plan of the rebel band of boys didn’t take long to get formulated. Monday evenings was traditionally vegetable soup night.... so, we had all afternoon after classes on Monday to put our plan into action.
Early that evening, as the cook was preparing a big pot of vegetable soup, a couple of us distracted her and several others dumped an armful of plucked sparrow carcasses into the soup. The roiling, boiling soup quickly reduced the birds to flecks of meat and little bones which settled on the bottom of the pot.
During dinner, after Grace was said, the girls were the first to notice the flecks of meat and the tiny bones in the bottom of their bowls of soup.
Accusatory glances were exchanged between the boys and the repartee went something like this: in mock horror, “Steve you didn’t really, did you?”.....” Do what, I thought I saw you guys messing around out in the field.”
It didn’t take much of this to convince the girls that the flecks of meat and the tiny bones were from the very mice that had splattered on their windows the previous day.
When “reality” dawned on them, their shocked response was to get up en mass and troop back up to Mrs. Robinson’s in the dark.
What transpired up there, we could only guess, but the long and short of it was that our meat ration was restored. The “rebels” had triumphed.....long live the revolution.... so may all dictators face the justice due them, when confronted with a resilient and determined foe.
COMMENTS BY OTHER FORMER KCA STUDENTS:
David Moore comments on this story on his Facebook page saying, "Yes, Mrs. Robinson was strictly disciplinarian in all matters within her jurisdiction.... Typing class was a place to sit up and behave....or else! But I give her credit for my slightly better than average keyboarding skills."
Cheryll Findlay comments on this story in her Facebook page saying, "One week we had almost nothing but rice and bean sprouts. I can't stomach them to this day."
Miriam McClymont comments on her Facebook about this story saying, "Rodney, I'm in this picture on right in tartan pleated skirt facing camera. I remember well a lack of protein in our diet and the smell of roasted sparrows in the school when we came in for a breakfast of rice and bean sprouts."
I remember street vendors making sugar art in Korea. For several Korean “won”, the equivalent of an American penny, we could choose which design we wanted, watch it being created, and then walk away with our candy art on a stick to enjoy at our leisure. Good times!
We could choose from dragons, tigers, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, flowers, ships, airplanes, and many other designs. The larger, more complex, three dimensional works of art cost a little more and made us reluctant to destroy them by eating them. Well, maybe only for a few moments of contemplation. Then into our mouths the sweet morsels went.
For one Korean won, we could get a small sheet of this candy with little dumbbells stamped in them. If we could patiently eat or lick away the candy so that a delicate dumbbell was left intact, we could show it to the vendor and he would give us another free piece of candy as a prize for our diligence.
Often, the same vendor would make “bbawp ki” using melted sugar and baking soda. The little puffed up sugar wafers had a different taste and texture to them that we could not resist.
"We could choose from dragons, tigers, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, flowers, ships, airplanes, and many other designs. The larger, more complex, three dimensional works of art cost a little more and made us reluctant to destroy them by eating them." - Gwen Hard Counts
"Often, the same vendor would make “bbawp ki” using melted sugar and baking soda. The little puffed up sugar wafers had a different taste and texture to them that we could not resist." - Gwen Hard Counts
EVEN IN A STRANGE LAND
It was a crisp cool early autumn evening as the young mother and her toddling son began the now familiar walk up the steep winding hill to the shopping district just above their new home. In the short six weeks that they had lived in this city the young mother thought she was adapting well to the new sights, smells and customs of the area.
She didn't hesitate or blink uncomfortably when the young shopkeeper plucked up her precious treasure and asked permission to hold him. Her son’s dimples mesmerized the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper played patty cake with the tiny little one. Soon the shopkeeper hugged her son and set him back on his young chubby little legs, waving and bowing as the mother and charge continued on their journey.
As they walked past the next couple of stores they came to a hawker who barked out his line of “Come in, come in and see all the best products and good prices.” The ritual of six weeks would begin; as the hawker would bend down to greet the child. He would shake the little one’s hand and in return receive a big, sweet smile. There they were again those big, beautiful dimples. The hawker would salute the mother and they would continue their trip along the strip of stores with windows filled with their bright and sometimes unique wares.
Tonight’s trip meant a longer walk then usual. She and her son would be meeting her husband in the area below the Crown Hotel where there were several small mechanic shops. He was going to be getting their car from the mechanic and had promised that if she and their son would walk down to meet him that he would take them out to eat. In light of that she had dressed up and was wearing heels for the walk. She had dressed her son in an adorable navy sailor suit. He was definitely drawing attention as the only little blonde haired tike out walking and window-shopping with his mother.
As the young woman approached the silk dress store the matronly storeowner came out and scooped up the tike and headed in to the store with the precious bundle. Checking to see that the young mother followed she reached below the counter for a small iced yogurt smoothie that she opened and gave to the tike. He smiled and drank with her assistance. After much smiling, words of thanks, bows and waves the duo were back on their way. Sometimes the mother carried the child when his little legs gave out, other times he walked with a wandering, weaving but determined gate down the now familiar pathway.
As they approached the new cobble stoned corner and turn that led to the hotel and mechanic, the mother saw what was an oddity to her in this new city – a strangely dressed almost punk like couple. They reached down to scoop up the dark eyed little tike. A tremor of doubt and uncertainty assailed the young mother – they were so different in appearance and custom from the friendly shopkeepers, patrons and other people she had met. She recalled her husband’s words that she would learn to adapt and trust the people of this large city. She remembered being told not to call attention to herself. She remembered more importantly that even in this new strange city God was with her. So she relaxed as the punk pink haired young woman held her child.
In an attempt to calm herself she tried to initiate a conversation with the young couple but was dumb founded when the couple turned their back on her and started to walk away. Not into a store but down the cobble stoned pathway. Not slowly waiting for her to catch up but at a steady gathering speed. Her mother’s heart cried out that something horrible was happening, her mind that she just did not understand what was happening. She began to walk faster, but was hampered by her heels. She would never catch them. This stretch for a short period was abandoned, lonely. There would be no help; she had never felt so far away from home.
As she fervently began offering prayers to her only source of help and comfort, she quickly removed her shoes, preparing to run and scream in what might end up an embarrassing situation. As she started making blubbering sounds – she looked down the pathway and saw what to her will always be a miracle of divine timing – a solid khaki green wall emerging from the courtyard of the hotel coming toward her. Four of the biggest, ugliest, yet somehow beautiful American Army soldiers blocking the sidewalk headed her way. Someone would hear her cries.
However, someone else saw the approaching soldiers and weighed their chances of getting past the green bulwark. The unusual looking couple turned around immediately and headed back to the young mother like nothing unseemly had been planned, they handed over the child to the mother, bowed and scurried away to lose themselves in the crowds of the shopping district. The young mother stood clutching her precious son to her chest. She was stunned, finding it hard to process what had just happened. She had come so close to losing her son, but even in a strange land God had answered her plea.
As the American soldiers approached she contemplated telling them how God had used them to save her son, but she hesitated and the men walked on toward the Army base. She let them go and hurried on to her waiting husband. Her first words to him were, “I want to go home.” He was stunned and initially disbelieving, but relying on his wife’s intelligence came to see the seriousness of the situation. Together they soon realized though that God had protected their son and they stayed to do the work that had brought them to this land.
At twenty-seven I did not know that there were isolated cases of Caucasian children in Korea being kidnapped and sold. But, at 27, I learned firsthand and in a mighty way that God does protect his children and that God had a different plan for Ian’s life.
COMMENT BY DR. RODNEY T. HARD:
This story was written by my sister-in-law, Janice, the wife of my youngest brother Gregory. This incident happened to Janice and my nephew Ian in October of 1985 in South Korea. I was shocked when she sent me this story in May of 2011. I had never heard this story before, and it made me reflect on all of the years that my siblings and I had run around the Korean neighborhoods unattended by adults. Truly, God had watched over us, and by His grace, we had been kept safe.
I was on the water today, in one of the nearby streams in my kayak. The mosquitoes were light, the stream was placid but moving well, things were calm, and an occasional bird would fly overhead-- all was copacetic.
I saw something on the bank I wanted to look at closer. As I approached the shore, the current wanted to carry me past my point of interest, so I dug a little deeper with my paddle and adjusted my vector. An unseen snag nearly capsized me, and as I recovered about 20 feet downstream I heard what sounded like a bullfrog. I turned to look and there was a muskrat grinning at me. When he saw that I saw him, I swear he snickered (the bullfrog sound), flipped his ass up in the air and mooned me as he dove underwater! He must have seen my clumsy near mishap, and felt he had to give his opinion of my lubberliness.
Now, if a great blue heron had seen me, he would have launched himself, given me a polite nod, and soared blithely away. An eagle would have regally ignored the whole surface bound fiasco, and a deer would have discreetly melted into the woods to let me suffer my embarrassment privately. Turtles would have slept right through it, and otters would have chuckled and thought I was playing a game. But that muskrat SNICKERED at me !!! I don't know if I'll ever live down the embarrassment, chagrin and raw shame. Good thing I have my therapist on speed dial.
All ended well, though. The picture is what the sunset looked like as we left the water.
Lovin' our Minnesota summers.