That time my dad cut off his thumb


I heard the great Bruce Springsteen song “Dancing in the Dark” over the weekend and it immediately brought me back to a memory.
The memory was not of a great concert or a fun time at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion with good friends.
The memory was about that time when my dad cut his thumb off.
I was in fourth grade; my sister Carla was in sixth grade.
Dad was in the backyard working on Carla’s science fair project, which involved pieces of plywood set up in that trifold way we used to do science fair projects. My mom was out running around with her friend Dale.
Carla was in her room listening to Springsteen’s classic “Born in the USA” album. It was loud and she couldn’t hear my father when he yelped in pain from the backyard. Apparently he sawed his thumb off with a circular saw, fell to his knees in pain and a piece of plywood bounced up and hit him, breaking his collarbone.
Memory is a funny thing; I don’t know exactly what happened, but as the story goes, Dad came in the house and asked me for a plastic bag of ice. In a panic, I dumped out a Mrs. Baird’s bag of bread, put a bunch of ice in it, and put it on his hand. His thumb was being held together by a Band-Aid.
There were no cell phones at the time, so I called some friends from our land line, trying to track down my mom. My sister and I weren’t able to drive, and having such little experience with life, I wasn’t sure my dad was going to make it.
Side note: They sewed Dad’s thumb back on that day but even now, he can’t bend it.
Meanwhile, Carla is in her room with those lyrics blasting: “You can’t start a fire without a spark. This gun’s for hire, even if we’re just dancing in the dark.”
What does that even mean?
Ultimately my mom arrived and took Dad to the hospital. I think she was a little disturbed that I threw bread all over the kitchen. Why I didn’t put the ice in a regular old Ziploc bag, no one knows.
Meanwhile, Carla’s still listening to Bruce Springsteen.
We were shuffled off to the home of our parents’ friends Dale and Curley Hallman. Curley was a legendary football coach at Texas A&M from 1982 to 1987 and went on to serve as the head coach at LSU. The Hallmans’ daughter Jennifer was one of my best friends at the time. When we sat down to our pizza dinner that night, I tearfully asked Coach Curley if he would pray for my dad.
I told my dad that story last night, and he said, “I’ve never heard that.”
“I think I thought you were going to die,” I told him.
He then asked me to make sure he sounded cool in this story.
Mission accomplished, even if we’re just dancing in the dark.

April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at


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