Better check your ‘Tude Dude! – November 2013
“Better check your ‘tude, dude.” Well, that’s not an exact quote from my father, but the meaning is the same. Dad and Mom raised four sons on a dairy farm in south Tillamook County, near the Oregon Coast. It was a seven-day-a-week, 365 days-per-year job with no vacations. The cows needed to be milked morning and evening each day. In addition, there was so much extra work in the summer: fences to fix, fields of grass hay to mow, rake, bale, and haul into the barn for winter. And there were irrigation sprinklers to change, manure to spread out in the fields, a garden to plant and weed, chickens to feed, eggs to gather. As students, we had homework from school to do in addition. We really did look forward to the time we could spend, swimming in the Nestucca River. It was really pretty chilly even in August, so we never really did stay in the water very long. Another treat was fishing for some of those fantastic rainbow trout or hunting grey diggers. Maybe you don’t know what a grey digger is. It is a small rodent, very much like a squirrel, that digs holes in the pasture fields and makes nests underground. They are a real nuisance, because a cow or horse could accidentally step into that hole and break a leg or be seriously injured. What we did not need was another veterinary bill.
We were just expected to work and do our chores. The idea of getting paid for it never occurred until we were at least 16 years old. Somehow $1.25 per hour remains in my memory. Food to eat, clothes to wear, and a bed in which to sleep were payment enough. If we should complain, we would hear “Better check your ‘tude, Dude”. The whole idea is to be thankful for what you have, because when compared to some of the neighbors in our neck of the woods, we were very blessed.
Living with three brothers can sometimes be challenging. I remember one time, they made me so mad I decided to run away. I took off down the driveway, and along the road and hid in some bushes. When Mom got concerned about where I was, she sent them out to find me. They walked right past me, shouting, “Elvon, we’re sorry. Come back home. We won’t do it again.” But I remained hidden. When I came to realize that I really did not want to stay out all night, I decided to return, accept my brothers apology, and change my attitude.
Sometimes even as adults, we need to check our ‘tude. As racers, we would love to win every round. If you think that is going to be your future, guess what. You had better think again. You are going to lose some rounds, even sometimes when you think you should have won. I remember one racer who came to the tower with his video, stating that he had visual proof that the opponent moved first, but got the green light while his light was red. Of course we know that there are so many variables in deciding the red light including rollout, wheel stand, and even backing out of the beam that visual proof of motion would not change the decision of the electronic timers. As I listened in on that discussion, my mind was saying, “Better check your ‘tude, Dude.”
One of my favorite memories is that of one racer in particular who always seemed to go out of his way to express appreciation for all that we did, as staff, so that, in his words, “we racers have a place to play.” His “Thank You”, I know, was sincere. His attitude of gratitude made my six years as office manager an activity I will always hold dear. To him I say, “Thanks for your ‘tude, Dude”
Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980. Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip.