Did you hear the one about the barbed wire?
Many years ago, I started snapping pictures of things that I sensed would soon be lost to view. Barns were first on the list, probably because I'd spent endless childhood hours playing in one on our rural Kansas property.
My father attached a rope swing to the haymow's peak to swoop 75 feet from end to end.
But another subject to snap: barbed wire fences with scissor-tailed flycatchers perched on them, which reminds me of an incident involving barbed wire
With so many varieties of barbed wire, collectors frame 18-inch lengths of barbed wire on white velvet. I learned about such collectors from a family friend.
One summer I was on a Holy Land tour which stopped in Cairo, Egypt. Even then, this was a somewhat risky place for tourists. During a tour of the city, I saw a pile of barbed wire cordoning off a sensitive area. What a souvenir to take to my newfound collector/friend!
I was young and bold enough back then to approach a friendly appearing guard and indicated I'd like a piece of that wire. He appeared incredulous, but I nodded, indicating I did, indeed, want a piece - hand-gesturing how long - so he cut me a piece; I tucked it into my suitcase.
Back in 1971 we could not go directly to Israel from Egypt because of the animosity between the two countries. We feared Israel would not let us in if we came directly from Egypt, so our passports themselves were not stamped with that country's name but onto a paper instead.
Thus we continued our tour through "neutral" islands and countries mentioned in Paul's missionary journeys between Egypt and Israel before entering and spending time in the latter.
When it came time to leave Israel, each of us tourists was taken privately into a small tent in the airport and hand-searched. (Anyone who complains about private body searches now would consider them nothing in comparison to the crevice searches I endured - which I don't mention in mixed company.) Next, our suitcases were opened by customs inspectors lined up in rows like tellers in a huge bank with tourists waiting in long lines to each.
In the melee, I was pushed into the line presided over by the crabbiest-appearing thug of all. That's when I remembered that forbidden piece of Egyptian barbed-wire I'd stashed in the very suitcase he was about to search! I'm a dead duck, I thought, envisioning my companions bidding me good-bye forever through the bars of my cell while they returned to U.S. safety.
Then, suddenly, it occurred to me that many men are suckers for a good-looking woman (which, fortunately, back in 1971, I still was).
So, as I approached him, I glanced appreciatively up-and-down and showed my approval of his manly frame with my biggest, pearly white-teeth smile. His eyes never left my big, brown ones as he merely patted the contents of my opened suitcase, then waved me on.
But, back to that sinister piece of barbed-wire
When I was safely home, I could barely wait to give my prize to the collector friend! What a treasure he'll think this is - especially when he hears the drama I endured to get it for him!
In anticipation, I waited his response. He looked it over, handed it back and said, "This was made in the U.S., and this design is one of the common of all - I have many like it."
Copyright 2012 by Isabel Torrey.
Isabel Torrey is a freelance writer in King City.