One summer, a TV reporter called to ask if he might come out to film a story on blowing beaver dams. I was gone that weekend, but my son, then in college, was home. “Sure, come on out,” he invited. “Daddy ain’t here, but I’m the one who would have to do all the work, even if he was here.” An hour or so later, the reporter was pulling up in the driveway.

Adam was ready, with the .22 rifle and a backpack of dynamite. He vaulted into the open jeep, pitching the backpack onto the back seat as the TV guy flinched. “Er, I think I’ll just follow you in my van,” he stuttered.

Adam said he noticed in the rearview mirror that every time the jeep hit a pothole or water furrow, that van would drop back a little farther. Finally they arrived at the far end of the ditch, and the reporter began to unload equipment: camera, tripod, microphone – all that stuff. My son shrugged into the backpack, grabbed the rifle, and offered to carry some of the stuff. “Oh, no, that’s okay!” the guy said. “You go on ahead and get the dynamite ready. I’ll follow you.” He did, at a distance, walking the quarter mile into the hot, humid swamp on a dry trail. When they finally got to the dam Adam had chosen, the red-faced, sweating reporter set his stuff down, surveyed the area, then began to set it up his tripod in the dry ditch bottom, downstream of the dam!

The kid tried to warn him: “Mister, you don’t want to set up there, because….”

The hot sweaty TV expert interrupted: “Son, I know where to set up, okay?”

“But, Mister, if you set up there, it’s going to….”

“LISTEN, KID!” the Expert declared harshly, “I’ve been in the TV business nearly twenty years! I want to get that blast against that blue sky, framed between those green willows, with the sun at my back to light the action! I KNOW where to set up the camera! All I want you to do is to shoot the dynamite when I say so! Understand?”

And my subdued son agreed laconically: “Well, all right! Just say so!”

When the Expert Reporter had everything ready, he mopped his sweat off, bent down to peer through his eyepiece, and announced, “You may fire when ready, Son!”

Adam was really, really ready, so he fired.

It was a beautiful piece of television work, seen that night on the ten o’clock news. There’s this tremendous explosion (it might have only been a six-sticker, except for the comments of the Expert; it ended up a ten-sticker) with the rising water briefly glimpsed above the top of the dam that was making its way toward the blue sky, framed by the green willows: one could actually see the fireball of the blast, then mud, sticks and water flying upward and outward. And one particular log growing closer and closer and closer, before suddenly the camera jerks sideways. During the newscast, the reporter sported a bandage just over one eye.

Oh, my son was quick to the rescue: the reporter had noted how expensive that camera was, so he saved it first, then waded back out into the formerly dry ditch for the tripod, and finally back for the stunned, staggering Expert Reporter, who had known just exactly where to place the camera, and had pointed that out to the youngster!

And I have to give the reporter this: he reported just what happened, laughing!


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