Shaking the Nickel Bush

Shaking the Nickel Bush

Shaking the Nickel Bush

Shaking the Nickel Bush

Synopsis

Skinny and suffering from diabetes, Ralph Moody is ordered by a Boston doctor to seek a more healthful climate. Going west again is a delightful prospect. His childhood adventures on a Colorado ranch were described in Little Britches and Man of the Family, also Bison Books. Now nineteen years old, he strikes out into new territory, hustling odd jobs, facing the problem of getting fresh milk and leafy green vegetables. He scrapes around to survive, risking his neck as a stunt rider for a movie company. With an improvident buddy named Lonnie, he camps out in an Arizona canyon and "shakes the nickel bush" by sculpting plaster of paris busts of lawyers and bankers. This is 1918, and the young men travel through the Southwest not on horses but in a Ford aptly named Shiftless. New readers and old will enjoy this entry in the continuing saga of Ralph Moody.

Excerpt

Nobody likes to go back to his home town dead broke, but I'd made up my mind to do it anyway. That was in St. Joseph, Missouri, on the night before the Fourth of July, in 1919. and that's why I was lying flat in a ditch in the freight yards, a couple of blocks beyond the passenger depot.

At the beginning of World War One I'd been old enough for the draft, but the board in Medford, a suburb of Boston where we lived, had passed me by because I was the head of our family. Then, when I tried to enlist, the doctor turned me down, so I went away to work as a carpenter at a munitions plant. By working seven days a week I made enough money to support our family and buy half a dozen fifty-dollar Liberty bonds. But during the summer and fall of 1918 I lost so much weight my clothes looked as if they were hung on a fence post.

When the armistice was signed and I went home, Mother sent me right up to see our family doctor. Dr. Gaghan was a gruff, blunt old Irishman, and the best doctor anywhere around, but he wouldn't tell me what the trouble was until he'd put me in a hospital and had me examined by several specialists. Then he pulled a chair up beside the bed, sat down, and looked at me . . .

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