The start of my junior year was hopeful. I had worked all summer building high steel grain elevators. Everyone knows that high steel is dangerous but in those days the contractors hired young farm kids who would do anything to make $5.00 and by anything I mean climbing, working, welding and assembly at heights over 100 feet with no safety rigging at all. We thought it was normal.
The pay was good, $1.25 an hour working from 8 am to dark building grain storage towers for corn and beans. We worked in crews, 2 crews with 2 totally different bosses, Red and Duke, both heavy drinkers. Red was always talking and Duke seldom said squat. I started working with Red who quickly found out that I could read blue prints and count. counting the pieces, panels, bolts and sundry parts is a constant job on site, how much of what, when and where. I learned that management was thinking ahead and that few people were very good at it.
Red and Duke made a lot of money as subcontractors putting up these grain storage units with teenage labor, but I got what I wanted.
I had two interesting classes that year, Biology and Geometry. When I learned about the Phylum’s of Life it was wonderful thing, a thing I had seen in nature only structured, categorized and connected. Everyone had to do an insect collection which I did will zeal and determination. I had managed to collect an example of each insect order except Isoptera, termites. We lived in Iowa and termites just did not like the cold. The whole study of insects fascinated me so much that I decided that I wanted to be an Entomologist, one who studies insects. I was a nerd before being a nerd even existed, a rebel nerd warrior in self training.
My other revelation was Geometry. Geometry comes from the Greek Geo, the earth and metron, measurement, the measurement of everything you can see. Geometry has axioms, proofs and theorems that once learned could be used to prove various unknowns. To find the unknown from the known, I loved it because I could see the axioms just like I could see the road signs.
The Geometry class was comprised of the smartest kids in school. Algebra was the cut or sieve that determined who could take Geometry and because of my lack of home work, unexcused absences while running away; I had nearly failed Algebra. My Algebra…