This was originally posted 7/4/95. Google's current archival link
I'm reposting this so current rec.woodworking readers may enjoy this
story again. All rights, etc, remain with Thomas Gauldin and his family.
Big Jim and the Sweetheart
Many of you will remember the totally off topic tale I told this last
spring about my best friend, who I called "Big Jim," to protect his
reputation. The tale was recounted after a fellow asked about the towing
capabilities of garden tractors. Today is July 4, and with some time on
my hands, I thought you might enjoy another absolutely TRUE tale of Big
Jim's misadventures. Since some woodworking tools were actually
involved, this story is "kinda" on topic. . . if you tilt your head
sideways and wink ;^>
ABSOLUTE TRUE AND UNEMBELLISHED TALE OF BIG JIM'S ROMANCE
Big Jim was the type of neighbor that every person wants to have. He
was the kind of fellow who would come to your house at 4:00 in the
morning, if you needed help, would loan you any tool that he had in his
shop, would go out with you to help cut firewood and would help you
stack it when you got home. His wife and my wife were also best
friends. . . with coffee in the mornings or shopping in the afternoon.
On weekends, if Big Jim wasn't down at my house helping me do something,
I could usually be found up at his house, returning the favor. After
ten years of being friends and neighbors, you get to know folks really
well- you think!
Big Jim was 6 years older than I was, and was approaching his late 40's.
He had married Joan, his high school sweetheart, following his high
school graduation and had enjoyed almost 31 years of marriage. The
marriage had produced a beautiful daughter, who had just graduated from
high school herself. Joan and Big Jim had made a home on the second
floor of their house for Joan's mother, who had lived with them for
many, many years. Being a kind and good-hearted man, Big Jim thought of
Joan's mother as an inseparable part of his own family. Big Jim's own
mother still lived on a farm outside of town, and we were always driving
out to spend an afternoon at her place.
My wife and I never saw any change in Big Jim, but the onset of middle
age had apparently been taking its toll. Big Jim apparently thought he
was slowing down a little in his love life at home, and I later heard
that Joan had confided to my wife that Big Jim just wasn't the man had
had been ten years earlier. Big Jim wasn't the kind of fellow who would
give up anything easily, and apparently had decided that he could
regenerate things a bit by having some extracurricular activity.
Working at a large factory in town, Big Jim and one of the ladies at the
plant decided that they'd meet for a "few drinks" one Saturday
afternoon. (I honestly don't think that Big Jim had done anything like
this in his 31 years of marrige, but he and the "new sweetheart" decided
that they'd have an affair that fateful Saturday afternoon.)
The Saturday arrived and Big Jim told Joan that he had to go into work
that aftrnoon to clean up some paperwork- not at all unusual activity
for him. Instead, he drove to the appointed motel, where he met "Susy"
in the bar. They had 3-4 drinks and then checked into a room. That was
where Big Jim made a little mistake.
Do you remember me mentioning earlier that Big Jim and Joan had a
beautiful daughter who had just graduated from high school? Well, Big
Jim had overlooked the fact that his daughter had just started her new
job. . . SHE WAS THE NEW 3:00-11:00 SHIFT ROOM CLERK AT THE MOTEL WHERE
BIG JIM HAD JUST CHECKED IN WITH SUSY. Here is where the story gets
Big Jim and "Susy" had just retired to the room when his daughter came
on duty. The daughter looked over the check-ins and saw that a person
with her own father's name had checked into the motel about a half hour
earlier. As a matter of fact, the person had used the same address as
her father, had signed the register in the same handwriting as her
father and had paid with a credit card with the same number as the one
she had in her own purse!
Big Jim was "relaxing" in the room with Susy when there was a knock on
the door at about 4:00. He walked to the door with a towel wrapped
around him and opened it part way. There, standing in the hallway, was
his daughter, his wife, his mother and his mother-in-law. The four
ladies then pushed the door all the way open and entered the room to
discuss Big Jim's indescretions. There is a saying that, "Hell hath no
fury like a woman scorned," and I guess that Big Jim learned that
applied to ALL the women in his life and not just his wife.
The sweetheart sharing the room with Big Jim ran out the patio door
wearing no clothes, but grabbing her purse. She got in her own car and
drove away, totally naked, but unharmed- leaving poor Big Jim to try to
explain to these four women what he had been doing at the motel. (
Everytime I hear the old joke; "Who are you going to believe- your lying
eyes or what I tell you?", I think of Big Jim) The police were never
called, but it was almost an hour before the four women in Big Jim's
life paused long enough for him to even get dressed. Later, my wife
told me some of the things Joan said had happened, such as Big Jim's own
mother taking away even his towel, so that, "he had nothing to hide
behind," and the four women tossing him into the shower to "wash the
filth off him," . . . you get the picture.
That evening, Joan called my wife to tell her what happened, and that
she was throwing Big Jim out. As they were talking, here came Big Jim
chuffing into my garage on his Cub Cadet towing his trailer. Big Jim's
eyes were puffy, he had a long scrape on his face and he looked like
hell. The trailer was absolutely loaded with every power and hand tool
that Big Jim could put in it; he wanted to know if it'd be OK to store
his tools in my garage. We ended up making 5 more trips up to Big Jim's
house that night with both of our tractors/trailers to clean out his
closet and workshop of power tools, guns and golf clubs. All the time,
the four women in Big Jim's life were there and freely expressing their
dissatisfaction with his actions of that afternoon. I was even verbally
attacked because I was his best friend and should have known what he was
going to do.
For any of you who might be wondering, that was 15 years ago. Big Jim
did the appropriate amount of crying, begging and pleading during the
following days and by the next weekend, he had moved himself and his
tools back into his house. I'm happy to say that while the incident was
never forgotten, the pain and anguish eventually diminished.
From the incident, there are several things that I learned and want to
share with my fellow woodworkers:
1) If you plan on having extracurricular marital activity, consider
portable tools, such as the Delta Contractor's saw and not a Unisaw. It
is easier to move them if you get caught
2) Always remember where your daughter is working.
Thomas A. Gauldin Here's to the land of the longleaf pine,
Raleigh, NC The summerland where the sun doth shine,
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