It is not clear how many heart attacks one Power Plant Man can have. Walt Oswalt probably had a heart attack on a monthly basis, but rarely let anyone know about it. Ray Eberle dropped by Walt’s farm one day to visit and found Walt out in the pasture passed out next to his combine as if dead. When Ray began following the ABC’s for safety he found that Walt was still breathing. Upon reviving him, Walt just said that he was tired and decided to take a nap. Ray knew that he had just had another heart attack but didn’t want to admit it.
The best way to revive Walt at this point, we found, was to say out loud that we were going to take him to the hospital in Ponca City. At that time, no one would be caught dead going there…. or maybe they would. At least when they were discharged.
Walt had a different way of looking at the world. It was probably brought on by a combination of being a long time Power Plant Man and being partly insane… in a likable sort of way… if you already have a good sense of humor. If your sense of humor is lacking, then Walt may have appeared annoying.
Either way, Walt bounced between one adventure to another.
One day Ray Eberle, who considered Walt a dear friend, dropped by to visit Walt (which was a common occurrence). When Ray walked into the living room of Walt’s double-wide, he found two coffin-like boxes laying in the middle of the floor. Ray asked Walt why he had two wooden coffins laying on his living room floor, half thinking that maybe Walt was thinking ahead and found a deal on a couple of cheap coffins on the Internet.
Walt explained that the two boxes contained a marketing tool that was going to be the key to his success. Walt decided to open one of the boxes and show Ray instead of trying to explain his new idea, so he took a pry bar and pried open the lid on one of the wooden coffins. In all of Ray’s imagination, he had not figured on seeing what he saw when the lid was lifted from the box.
Carefully stacked inside the box were 50 high dollar pool cues.
Walt pulled one of the pool cues out of the box and showed Ray that each one was carefully engraved with the following words:
“Walt’s Excavating and Dirt Movers – Why go anywhere else when Walt can cheat you just the same?” Then it had his phone number.
Walt explained to Ray that all he had to do was go down to each of the bars in the Morrison and Pawnee areas and hand out these pool cues to everyone, and before long, everyone in town will see his advertisement because “Everyone shoots pool and drinks beer.”
Ray looked at the satisfied look on Walt’s face as he was explaining his new business adventure and replied, “But I don’t shoot pool and drink beer.” Walt said, “Yeah, but everyone else does.” Walt also added that people will think that the part about “cheating you as good as anyone else” is a joke…. but it isn’t.
Ray was curious as he examined the very expensive pool cues and the fine engraving, so he asked Walt how much each of these pool cues cost. Walt explained that since he had ordered 100 of them, he was able to get them at a discount of $75 each (or so. I don’t remember the exact cost). I do know that this added up to $7,500 worth of pool cues that Walt was going to give away for free.
Walt’s dream was that his tractor with the scoop shovel and dirt grater was going to be busy all over the county leveling roads and moving dirt. Ray watched as Walt’s wife walked through the room with a slightly disgusted look on her face as she glanced over at the two coffins on the living room floor. Ray decided to keep quiet until the storm had passed.
When Ray was telling me this story, I wondered how many times Walt’s wife had a heart attack.
On another occasion, Ray Eberle went to visit with Walt after work. Walt invited Ray into the kitchen to have a drink of water. Ray was admiring the new carpet Walt just had installed in the house.
As they sat there talking, Ray noticed that a complete window frame with the glass already installed was next to the kitchen table leaning against the wall. Since Walt didn’t mention the window frame right away, Ray finally asked, “Walt, what are you planning on doing with this Window?”
Walt explained that he bought the window on sale and since he wanted to put another window in kitchen, he bought it. Ray looked around the kitchen and wondered where Walt could possibly add a new window. He wasn’t sure where Walt could add a window. So, knowing Walt, he figured that the fastest way to find out was to ask….
“Walt, where in the kitchen are you going to put the window?” Walt pointed to the wall directly behind Ray where there was a blank white wall. “I’m going to put the window right there.”
Ray saw a flaw in this logic immediately, but decided to wait 30 seconds or so in order to check his logic with reality, just to make sure he wasn’t mistaken…. when he was sure, Ray replied, “But Walt…. Isn’t your bedroom on the other side of that wall?”
Without pausing Walt said, “Yeah. I want to be able to see what’s happening in the kitchen when I’m in bed.” Ray’s right hand slowly grabbed the edge of the table in order to steady himself, so that he didn’t spill the glass of water in his left hand.
At this point, Walt ensured Ray that he always wanted to have a window right there as he reached into a kitchen drawer and retrieved a claw hammer.
Walt walked over to the wall and said, “I am going to put that window right here… and using the claw on the hammer, he began tearing a hole in the sheet rock. Ray, a little shocked backed off to give Walt room as he began destroying the wall in the kitchen.
Sheet rock was flying all over the new carpet, and Ray noticed that as Walt was attacking the wall, he was grinding the sheet rock dust into the carpet even further as he walked on the fallen bits of chalk. Before long there was a gaping hole in the wall, more in a circle than the square hole that would be needed to mount the window. Sheet rock fragments were all over the kitchen table, floor and spilling out into the living area.
About this time Walt’s wife returned home from work. She took one look at the disaster in the kitchen. Ray thought that she was either going to cry, have another heart attack or… well, some other kind of attack…. So, Ray thought it would be a good time to go home to see his own wife Barbara.
Ray said his quick goodbye’s and skedaddled through the front door amazed at the sudden destruction of the wall in the kitchen and the new carpet.
Ray decided not to visit Walt for a few days, just to let things “work themselves out”. Finally when Ray came over for another visit with Walt, when he entered the living room and looked toward the wall in the kitchen, he could see that there was no window mounted in the wall, and the entire wall was back to the way it was before anything had happened.
A little confused, Ray asked Walt, “What happened to the window you were putting in the kitchen?” Walt explained that when he went to put the window in the wall, he broke the glass, so he decided not to put a window there after all. So, he asked Jerry Osborn if he would patch the wall up.
I mentioned in the last week’s post that Jerry Osborn was one of Walt’s “Guardian Angels”, see the post: “When Power Plant Ingenuity Doesn’t Translate“. He was the one that would clean up after Walt’s experiments. Walt was always thinking outside the box.
Walt’s wife walked into the living room with a cheerful satisfied look on her face, “How are you doing today Ray?”, she asked, as she sat down on the couch. Ray thought he knew how the window was broken.
One of Walt’s other ventures had to do with miniature ponies. Walt had decided that even though he had no experience in the “miniature pony” arena, he had read up about the business on the Internet and decided that just by looking at a picture of a miniature pony on the Internet, he could tell if a pony was a keeper or not.
Much like his purchase of the truck in Chesapeake Bay (see the post: “Mr. Frog’s Wild Power Plant Ride“), Walt decided to buy some miniature ponies from someone in Louisiana, sight unseen. Before long, Walt owned some miniature ponies, and was in business.
Ray knew Walt really was in the miniature pony business the day he walked into Walt’s house and there in the middle of the floor in the living room were two large wooden boxes, that looked like two coffins. Can you guess what was in them?
Walt couldn’t wait to show Ray his new batch of pool cues. He pulled one out of the box, and there written on the side it said, “Walt’s Miniature Ponies, Why buy from someone else when Walt can cheat you just the same.” Walt explained, “You know Ray… Everyone shoots pool and drinks beer… well, except for you.”
Rest in Peace Walt, and thanks for the great adventures! The Power Plant Men of North Central Oklahoma wouldn’t have known what to do without you!