Rough Hew Them

Once I built a bluebird house.
I lived in Rochester, Minnesota, at the time.
I didn't build the house for any bluebird.
I built it for half a credit of Industrial Arts at Rochester Junior High School.
I was in the seventh grade.
I built the bluebird house because I didn't want to build the tie rack.
It was 1950.
I had never seen a bluebird in 1950.
I still haven't seen one in the year 2000.
The teacher's name was Mr. Poppinberg.
Sixteen guys built tie racks and sixteen guys built bird houses.
Eight guys built bluebird houses and eight guys built wren houses.
The bluebird houses and the wren houses were exactly alike except the
bluebird houses had inch-and-a-quarter doors and the wren
houses had three-quarter-inch doors.
My bench partner was Bob Ness.
We called him Neddy cuz he was just a little short guy.
We were twelve years old.
Neddy was always crackin' jokes.
Neddy's mother was little too.
She was a librarian, and Neddy called his mother "The Wren."
That always cracked me up, the way he called his mother "The Wren."
When it was time to drill the door holes, Mr. Poppinberg put one
three-quarter-inch bit and one inch-and-a-quarter bit on each bench.
Neddy took the little one.
I took the big one.
If Neddy'd taken the big one, I'd have built a wren house instead of a bluebird house.
Neddy and I laughed all week long while we were building those damn bird houses.
Mr. Poppinberg laughed too.
He was a good egg.
My bluebird house had big cracks where the boards didn't fit together and nails
sticking right through the sides.
Neddy's wren house did too.
We both got C-minuses.
It was November.
I'm a teacher now myself.
I teach English.
I don't know whatever became of Neddy.
The woods behind my house are full of wrens.
My wife's name was Phyllis.
She was a good egg.
She taught too, and the kids at school called her "The Wren."
This is all true.
This is a true story.
The guys who made tie racks gave 'em to their dads for Christmas.