© 2017 by Jerry L. Croasmun
"Are you kids ready to go?" Herr Specht asked.
"Just a minute," Ben answered. "That's my girl Paula playing on the jukebox."
Ben and I began singing, "But when we get together we have nothin' but fun... We come together 'cause opposites attract. And you know--it ain't fiction..."
Our duet and public performance of Paula Abdul's hit, 'Opposites Attract' was quickly cut short when Helen Marie approached our table. Helen Marie was amazing and never forgot my birthday. We were both born in April. She on the 3rd and me on the 28th. I was born on April 28, 1972.
"Thanks for coming in. Y'all come back real soon. And Shoshana, happy birthday if I don't see you before then," Helen Marie said.
"Thank you. You are so sweet. How was your birthday?"
"It was good. I had the day off and stayed home with the kids. How 'bout you, any exciting plans?"
"Not sure what Momma is planning. Helen Marie, this year is going by so quick. I will be 18 in less than three weeks and can't believe I will be graduating next month. Life used to be simpler."
"I know, sweetie. I know. Seems like it was yesterday when your beautiful mother brought an adorable baby girl to see me."
"I don't remember that. But, Momma said, I was a big baby weighing 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 20 inches long."
"I've always adored your beautiful red hair," Helen Marie said.
"Awe, thank you. There are lots of redheads in our family. My daddy, Uncle Max, and grandma all have red hair," I said, proudly.
"That's a lot of gingers," Herr Specht said.
"And gingers have no souls," Ben added.
"Knock it off, Benjamin Emmanuel."
"Shoshana Peninnah, you know it's true."
Helen Marie became the referee, "Kids, no need for that. Don't make your Aunt Helen mad."
"Yes, ma'am," we said in near unison.
Ben and I gave Helen Marie a big hug as we left the diner.
"Thank you for giving us a ride home," I said, as we walked across the parking lot to the Unimog.
"No problem. I've enjoyed our visit and the pizza."
"That was the best pizza, I've had all day," Ben said.
"Haha. Because it's the only pizza you've had today," I said.
I noticed a little bird painted on the door next to the 'Arcade Adventures' sign as we climbed aboard the mammoth Unimog.
"What type of bird is that on the door?" I asked.
"It's a woodpecker."
"Why a woodpecker?" Ben asked.
"It represents me. I am Herr Woodrow Gershom Specht. Some of my best friends call me Woody."
We rarely called him Mr. Woody even though Ben had asked, "Can we call you, Mr. Woody?"
"I think I would like that. Yes, Mr. Woody sounds delightful."
"They plan to place a star at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in my honor."
"A real star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame?" I was intrigued and could hardly wait to hear more about it.
"There's a German to English dictionary in the handschuhfach," he said pointing to the glove box. "Look up my family name; Specht."
Ben was the first to find it and yelled out, "Woodpecker! Specht is German for woodpecker!"
"Yes, a real star. I, Woody Woodpecker, aka Herr Woodrow Gershom Specht will have his star on September 13th."
The cab of the Unimog was filled with smiles and laughter as we began our way home.
It was a beautiful clear April day with a slight breeze and a high temperature of 65° Fahrenheit. We were traveling east and had the sun to our backs. I hoped we would be home in time to enjoy the beautiful sunset. Ben and I still shared the passenger's seat, yet I was becoming accustomed to the ride and no longer noticed each bump in the road. That suddenly changed as Herr Specht yelled and slammed on his brakes.
"Hold on!" he said. "Looks like an accident."
"What's that?" Ben asked.
"Looks like a cow forgot to look both ways before crossing the road," I said.
"Shoshana, is that Granny's car?"
Granny Grumbles had indeed hit a cow with her florescent green, 1986 Ford LTD Crown Victoria. There was no doubt it was her car with the custom paint job. There was blood splattered everywhere and the remains of the big black cow blocked the narrow, dirt road. We climbed out of the Unimgo and it took everything within me not vomit. Herr Specht remained calm, quickly assessed the scene of the accident, and began shouting orders.
"Shoshanna, call 9-1-1. We're just past the 204 mile marker," he said, handing me his cell phone. "Ben, grab the first aid kit and blanket from under your seat."
Granny was alive and still in the driver's seat, but blood was squirting out of a gash on her forehead. She was beginning to turn pale as we approached the car, which looked like it could catch on fire at any moment. There was lots of smoke coming out from under the hood. I was glad we arrived when we did.
"Ma'am, it's okay. Try to stay calm," Herr Specht told Granny.
She was visibly shaking, was cold and clammy to the touch, and her complexion was ashen and becoming more and more ghost-like by the minute.
"Where's the blanket?" Herr Specht asked.
Ben quickly handed over the blanket and first aid kit.
"Ma'am, here is a blanket to help you get warm."
"Granny, the ambulance should be here soon," I said.
"I was blinded by the sun. I couldn't see a thing. Is that you, Shoshana?" Granny asked.
Herr Specht stopped the bleeding on her forehead and applied gauze and tape. Ben and I kept talking and tried to keep her awake and from going into shock.
"Yep. Ben is here, too."
"Hi Granny," Ben said.
"Should we get her out of the car?" I whispered.
"No, it is best not to move accident victims unless they're in danger."
"But, what about the smoke?"
"That's just steam from the radiator. We aren't in any risk of fire. The gas tank in these cars is in the back."
"I couldn't see and then she was staring me down. Parley's going to be so mad. What did that old heifer have that I don't? She was nothing but a big fat cow, yet he loved her more than me. She was his mistress and his true love."
"Herr Specht," I whispered, "She isn't making sense and her shaking is getting worse."
"Keep her talking and give her my jacket. We can't let her go into shock."
"Granny, I'm glad you were driving this boat instead of a Mustang or Corvette," Ben said.
"Me too. Me too."
"Hey Granny. Where do we get chocolate milk from?"
I don't think she understood or listened to his joke, as she kept complaining about her leg and stomach hurting. That didn't stop Ben though.
"From brown cows. We get chocolate milk from brown cows."
"What's going on? What was that noise?" I asked, as the world seemed to have spun around me and my ears rang with pain.
"Shoshana, Officer Barney just shot Lou Ella, or whatever that dumb cow's name was, putting her out of her misery," Ben said. "Did the noise trigger your vertigo?"
Much of the rest was a blur except for Granny who insisted the ambulance crew allow her granddaughter to go with her. I really wasn't her granddaughter, but no one needed to know.
"My granddaughter, Shoshana. I need my granddaughter to come with me. Shoshana, where are you?"
It was my first ambulance ride and I was glad I wasn't the one on the gurney. I sat on a small stool and held Granny Grumbles' hand. They had put an IV drip in her other arm and were monitoring her vital signs. Some of it I could understand, but EMTs talk in a lot of acronyms or alphabet soup, as I like to say.
"Allen Memorial Hospital, we are enroute with a 63 year old female patient. She is conscious and stable with a BP 154 over 100. Pulse is 104 with a temp of 89.6° and oxygen is steady at 85%. Patient has a laceration over her left eyebrow and has pain in the right leg and abdomen. ETA at your facility in approximately 8 minutes," one of the EMTs reported over the radio.
"AMH copy. See you soon."
I could have sworn the ride took longer than the estimated time of arrival, but was ever so glad to climb out of the ambulance. Riding in the Unimog was smooth like a Cadillac compared to what I had endured. I swear we hit every pothole and bump on that dirt road. Upon arriving at the hospital, they escorted me to a waiting room and I found a phone to call Momma who in turn let Parley Price know about his wife and the dead cow.
Parley and Martha Price were our neighbors; they lived two miles away from our small farm. As I sat waiting and thinking, I thought about how fortunate I was to have so many people in my life that cared about me. I don't know how Granny Grumbles got her nickname, but we lovingly called her that and she didn't seem to mind. She had been old my whole life, but she had also been there for me my entire life. I didn't want to think about what I would do if she died.
I dreaded getting older and wished there was a college closer to home. The nearest college was Aggie State University in Raliegh-Logan, 314 miles and a five hour drive away. I didn't want to go to college. I didn't want to leave home and I was tired of people asking me what I was going to do after high school. Waiting alone in the hospital lobby wasn't fun.
Herr Specht and Ben had stayed at the scene of the accident until the tow truck arrived. They said the tow truck driver drug the cow to the side of the road and took Granny's car to the wrecking yard. I was grateful when they arrived, the silence was deafening and my inner-thoughts were beginning to unnerve me. I gave Ben and Herr Specht the biggest hugs and began to recite the events of my ambulance ride.
"You just missed Dr. Alexander. They are keeping Granny overnight. She should be in a room soon. The ambulance ride was bumpy and not fun at all. They kept talking in code and I held Granny's hand..."
Herr Specht, cut me off, "Shoshana, I am very proud of you. You've gone through a lot today, not to mention our initial meeting and near accident. You were there for Mrs. Price. She needed a friend and you were there."
"But everything is happening to me all at once. My birthday, graduation, college plans, etc. I don't know what I want or what I want to do with my life. Maybe a nurse or someone who is able to help people. Is BP, blood pressure? In the ambulance, they kept saying BP something over something."
"In that case, I am sure BP means blood pressure. Doctors like to see your blood pressure around 120 over 80. Blood pressure is written as a fraction; the systolic number over the diastolic. The systolic blood pressure shows how much blood is exerted when the heart beats and the diastolic blood pressure measures how much blood is exerted between beats. Fractions are everywhere."
"They said something about her temp being 89.6 degrees, but that can't be right. It sounds too cold. Maybe it was Celsius," I said. "What is a normal body temperature?"
"No, I believe they were talking 89.6° Fahrenheit. Most people have a body temperature around 98.6° F. Do you have your notebook?" Herr Specht asked.
"Here it is," I said, taking it out of my backpack.
He wrote the formulas on a page in my notebook.
Fahrenheit to Celsius
°C = 5/9 * (°F - 32)
Celsius to Fahrenheit
°F = (9/5 * °C) + 32
"Fahrenheit is a way of measuring various temperatures. Water freezes at 32° F and boils at 212°. Likewise, water freezes at 0° Celsius and boils at 100°. Note there is a temperature difference of 32°. Most of the world, other than the United States, use the Celsius scale; however, I am still partial to the Fahrenheit scale. It is named for Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit who was born on May 24, 1686, in Danzig, Germany, which is now known as Gdańsk, Poland."
"Didn't his parents drown in the Baltic Sea?" I asked.
"No, but Gdańsk is a beautiful city on the southern edge of the Baltic Sea. You must be thinking of someone else, his parents both died on August 14, 1701, when he was only 15 years old. It is believed they died from eating poisonous mushrooms."
"That's another reason not to eat mushrooms and black olives," Ben said. "What did the mushroom say to his girlfriend when they broke up?"
"Oh, Ben. I give up?"
"I'm a fungi. Don't you get it? Fun guy."
Herr Specht quickly changed the conversation back to math. "When converting from Fahrenheit to Celsius--subtract 32 from the Fahrenheit temperature, then multiply by 5, and finally divide by 9. Note we are multiplying by a fraction of 5/9. Let's try a couple of problems. Today's high temperature was 65° F. What would the Celsius temperature be?"
"Herr Specht, don't we just write down the formula and insert the temperature of 65 for Fahrenheit?" I asked.
"Yes. Our formula is 5/9 times the quantity of 32, subtracted from the Fahrenheit temperature."
"65 minus 32 is 33. And 33 times 5 is 165. That can't be right," I said.
"Shoshana, you are correct. We need to finish the problem by dividing 165 by 9. 165 divided by 9 is 18.3333 degrees. The 3 keeps repeating, so 65° F is the same as 18 1/3° C."
"Earlier you said Mrs. Price's body temperature was 89.6°. Let's convert that to Celsius. What do we do first?"
Ben answered, "We subtract 32 from the 89.6."
"And what is 89.6 minus 32?" Herr Specht asked.
"89.6 minus 32 is 57.6," I said. "Next we multiply by 5."
"I have 288," Ben said.
"You kids are nearly there. The final step is to divide 288 by 9."
"What? That can't be right. Granny couldn't have been 32 degrees or she would have been a Popsicle," Ben concluded.
"Ben you are correct, but remember we are talking about 32 degrees Celsius not Fahrenheit."
"That makes more sense," Ben said.
"Now let's do a couple problems converting Celsius to Fahrenheit," Herr Specht said. "When converting a Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit--we multiply by 9, then divide by 5, and finally add 32. Note we are multiplying the Celsius temperature by an improper fraction of 9/5. 5/9 and 9/5 are the exact opposites of one another. We call these reciprocals."
He began to write the problems in my notebook when Dr. Alexander entered the hospital waiting room.
"Your grandmother is doing well, but we will be keeping her overnight for observation. She is in room 108. You may see her now."
I was relieved and knew Dr. Alexander was a miracle worker. He had spared my brain from math overload and I was grateful.
Celsius to Fahrenheit
°F = (9/5 * °C) + 32
15° C = ____ ° F
-5° C = ____ ° F
Read Chapter 1--Fraction Bar
Read Chapter 2--Pizza Pi
Read Chapter 4--The Wall Of Division
Read Chapter 5--Calendar Magic
Read Chapter 6--Opposites Attract
(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW
Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.