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Billy Joe Fudge: Let's be ready for the next time

The dramatic impact, first hearing the word "impromptu" in Norman Grant's FFA class, turned his life around, brought him out of the shadows, and gave him a new philosophy, perfect for the career he was born to follow. He wrote in a response to a request for a photo of his beloved 1972 VW Beetle, which he said was never the same after it lost one of its fender skirts.
Click on headline for complete CM Instant Classic essay which includes Epic Billy Joe Fudge poem, "The Dragon."

By Billy Joe Fudge, President, Homeplace on Green River

I was not too far removed from high school where in FFA I learned the word, "impromptu". Norman Grant read me like a book and put me on the path to recovery.

Changed my life.

Finally, there was a word which described me and it had, in my opinion, been coined to give credibility to a life lived in the shadows.

I hid there for years prior to this revelation because of a phobia pressed upon me by an organized world which drained every drop of confidence from me in its demand to play the music already written when all I ever wanted to do was write my own music and dance to my own tune.

So, at that time I took no pictures for I was way too busy making pictures.

In '72 I went to work as a Forest Ranger. It was all I ever wanted to do; fight fire that is!

Impromptuness is the prerequisite quality needed to not just survive as a "fire suppressionist" but to excel at it. I fought the dragon and won!

By Billy Joe Fudge
The past forty-three hours of constant hell
Have not dampened my ability to tell
That through this fog of sulfuric black-
Is a raging monster on the attack.

I can't see him yet, but I can smell the stench
Of his pillage as he begins to reach
More and more food to fuel his growing furnace.
"Lord God Almighty don't let this thing burn us!"

I can't see him yet, but my lungs know he's there
For they scream as the smoke rips and tears
It's way in and out of my heaving chest,
And all my body's cells beg for rest.

I can't see him yet, but my ears hear his roar
As we get closer to hell's gate and death's door;
Every fiber of my being warns to turn back,
But our efforts must not waver nor go slack.

Then with trembling knees and sword and shield in hand;
With armored heads and bodies, we all band
Together as one to enter the fray.
This demon must be defeated today.

All at once the dragon appears with bellows
Sucking and blowing, enough to make a fellow
Break and run, but we must make a stand here and now.
We must cut off the dragon's head, somehow.

"Stand firm crew, his bark is worse than his bite.
We'll beat this devil if it takes all night."
He charges us and we just barely hold on;
We're all beat, bushed, tired to the bone.

With everything we know and courage slipping
We attack the dragon's throat by ripping
The roaring flame from his ugly, vicious head-
Until at last the dragon lays black and dead.

Now dawn turns the horror of night into day.
We rest, lick our wounds and in silence say,
"We did it, we won, we did fine,
Let's be ready for the next time."

This story was posted on 2018-06-24 10:25:19
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