Getting rescued posed another set of problems. Mom was the only one home and she was in the house and could not hear me yelling. Furthermore, there was a little alley known as Buttermilk Alley that ran along the side of our house. Throughout the day people walked up and down this alley on their way to and from the downtown area. Since at this tender time in my life I judged the pain of embarrassment to be worse than the pain of being stuck, I yelled only when I was sure no one was walking down the alley. I remember yelling off and on like this for a long time. I also remember thinking that the people walking up and down Buttermilk immediately grasped my situation despite my silence and my best effort to affect a look of nonchalance with one leg hanging in the tree and the other dangling inches from the ground.
Finally Mom came outside. My sense of relief was immediate, overwhelming . . . and short-lived. She was unable to get me out. She pulled on my leg a few times, but nothing happened. The woman who had birthed me and my three other siblings, couldn’t get my leg out of a tree. I hadn’t seen this coming and was crestfallen. To her credit, she did bring me a little stool for my right foot to stand on so I was no longer dangling, but all I could think of was that it would be several hours before Dad would get home. Mom had more immediate plans though and they involved calling the local fire department.
Before the men from the fire department arrived though, the mayor drove by to check things out. Apparently he had heard the news and driven over to survey the scene. It was obviously a slow day at city hall. Fortunately, he did not stop and get out. He just slowly drove by, looking out the window. I could see him grinning as the car passed by. He was lucky I wasn’t old enough to vote.
The firemen arrived shortly afterwards. (I have always wondered what kind of town it is where the mayor beats the firemen to the rescue scene). The rest was anticlimactic. Actually, it was further embarrassment. They assessed the situation, grabbed the leg of my short pants and jerked hard and my leg came right out of the tree. In fact, they made it look so easy that I felt stupid squared—stupid for getting stuck in the first place and stupid for not being able to get my leg out. We thanked them and they went on their way.
After they left, I rubbed my red, slightly swollen knee. I ran my hand over and over the indentations the tree had left there. I was too young and inexperienced in the ways of life or I would have recognized what today I’m absolutely sure was there. I’m sure those indentations formed a nice, neat pattern . . . of a bronco buster being thrown off his horse.