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My Tom Sawyer Moment

November 09, 2022 - 00:00
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When my wife and I bought our house in Navasota we needed to fence in the yard for our dogs. I was insistent about putting in a white picket fence because it had always been a vision of mine to have a white picket fence on a nice quiet street in a great small town. Something like “Leave it to Beaver” always came to mind. I got my wish, but with one string attached – I had to paint it. No problem, I thought. I’ve painted many, many things and this is just one more paint job. Well, I was wrong about that.


The fence came in 8-foot sections with pre-set pickets and the back yard required 18 of those sections. My good friends from down the street helped with the initial project of getting the posts laid in concrete to support the fence and they were also instrumental in getting the sections secured to the posts. All it needed at this point all it needed was paint. So, one Saturday morning I put on my painting clothes, grabbed a can of paint and some brushes and began transforming the unfinished lumber into a white painted masterpiece.


Have you ever considered how many edges and sides of wood make up picket fence?  Neither did I. Turns out it’s somewhere around a million. Not really, but it’s a lot. There are 15 pickets per section. That comes out to over 60 areas to cover. No problem, right?  Wrong. After 2 hours of intense labor, I had 2 sections done. By my calculation it would take me about 2 months of Saturdays to get all the painting done. Slightly dejected, I went back inside to come up with another plan.


The following Monday I just happened to mention to my 5th graders that I was really struggling to get my fence painted and of course a bunch of them got all excited and yelled out, “We’ll help you, Mr. Shoalmire!” As the week went by, I asked the kids if they were really serious about coming out to help me and they assured me that they were. So, I set it up for the following Saturday fully expecting to be working by myself. I was wrong about that too. About 6 or 8 kids actually showed up including 2 from down the street who weren’t even in my class. I was thinking to myself that this is going to be great!  We can knock this out in no time!  You guessed it – I was wrong about that too.


Turns out none of the kids had even held a paint brush, much less used it to apply paint on anything. So, the teacher in me gathered everyone up and I gave them some basic instructions on how much paint to use, how to put the paint on smoothly, etc. and in a few minutes, we were painting away. The only thing was I did not get to paint very much because I had to “herd cats”. The kids’ enthusiasm was infectious and they tried very hard to get the work done. That being said, sometimes they painted the fence, sometimes they painted themselves or others, even the ground!  After a couple of hours of this I had everyone stop and look at how much they got done. About half of the fence was completed and I was pretty proud of them, and they were proud of themselves. I think maybe even Tom Sawyer would have been proud of us on that day. 


The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Alan Shoalmire. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.

Alan Shoalmire is a resident in Grimes County and the owner of Grill Sergeant Hotdogs and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week.