When I was a boy in the farmhouse near Coleman, we had a four-wheel trailer loaded with a 500 gallon steel tank for water. The water was used in the house as the main supply so we didn’t have to use polluted water out of the well. We had to drive to Santa Ana to fill the tank with good water. There was a gin on our side of Santa Ana, and we’d drive the tank up under the gin, turn the spicket on, and fill the tank.

I was about 15 years old when my dad (Pawpaw, or Lester) told me to go fill up the tank by myself. I had been with him many times before, so I knew what to do. I jumped in the truck and went to fill up the tank for the first time, solo.

After filling the tank, I hadn’t gone far down the road before the trailer began pushing the truck … side to side, and back and forth. I pushed the brake too hard at first, and the trailer nearly flipped over. The front two wheels of the trailer could pivot, so I had to learn quickly to barely touch the brakes to keep from jack-knifing and flipping the truck, trailer, and water tank. At several points, the water tank and trailer actually picked up the truck and moved it to one side or the other! It was fortunate that there weren’t any oncoming vehicles.

I drove very slowly, because I was really scared. I didn’t want to flip dad’s pickup and destroy the water tank. I got home after 45 minutes of driving, and acted as though nothing happened. I didn’t even tell dad. From then on, I went to get water … and drove carefully!