Messed Up Family

It just occurred to me that Mother may have been raising a tribe of cannibals during the time Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Edward lived with us and I bit my cousin Cathy.  My brother Billy was five months old to Cousin Eddie’s six weeks and much bigger.  Mother and Aunt Bonnie had Snowmanput the two babies on a quilt to play while they did their housework.  Eddie had colic and cried all the time, so Aunt Bonnie wasn’t too surprised at the wailing.  She went in to check on him after a few minutes to find Billy, who was teething, had worked his way over to Eddie. He had a foot in one hand, a thigh in the other, and was gnawing him like a Thanksgiving Turkey.

Making an Ass of Myself at a Funeral

funeral cartoonMy brother Billy and I decided to go to Mr. Charley’s funeral together.  I should have known better.  He always gets me in trouble.  We grew up playing with Mr. Charley’s kids, in and out of their house a lot.  He was a good guy.  I certainly didn’t decide to go to his funeral just to make a total ass of myself.  That was Billy’s doing. Continue reading

The Snake and the Flying Fencepost

laughing snake

Daddy had recently had surgery and was hobbling around on crutches in an ankle to thigh cast.  Feeling he just had to get outside for just a few minutes, he took his first trip into the yard.  Four-year-old Marilyn who was following him around suddenly starting screaming in terror.  She’d stepped on a snake!  Daddy balanced himself on one crutch, grabbed her, Continue reading

Advice for the Easter Season: No Baby Chicks!

Rubberneck 1Rubberneck 2repost for Easter:  Illustrations by Kathleen Swain

No little kid should ever be allowed a small, defenseless duck, chick, or bunny for a pet.  One of those four hundred pound tortoises would be a far better choice.  It could protect itself and the kid couldn’t pick it up.  Porcupines or crocodiles should be fine, too.  They could probably hold their own against a four year old.  Case in point, when I was four, Continue reading

Just One Orange Cap Too Far

Runt RiderBilly was Daddy’s shadow, making every step he made. One evening, they were sitting with several of the guys on logs around a fire telling tales. Billy had worked hard to keep up with his new orange hunting cap all day, only too aware of how lucky he was to Continue reading

The Incredible Tale of Uncle Albert’s Tale

man with a tailWhy in the world did Daddy ever tell us Uncle Albert had a tail if we couldn’t ask questions or ask to see it?  The next few times I saw him, I followed him around, hoping his pants would fall down.  He was emaciated as only an eighty-five year-old life-long smoker can be.  It seemed like a real possibility.  For a while, every time I was around him, whenever Continue reading

Hanging By a Thread

hanging by thread

Though he didn’t apppreciate it till later, Bill’s life hung by a thread as he sat tranquilly in that day in church, just as he had every Sunday of his life. We all lined that pew, third from the left in front, Billy, Daddy, Mother, Marilyn, Connie, Phyllis (she was good help with the little girls), then me, on the end, where I’d hopefully pay attention best. Careful thought had gone into the seating. Billy and I couldn’t be trusted to sit together. I couldn’t be next to the little girls. I played with them, encouraging them to “act up.” Nobody sitting next to Phyllis got any encouragement to do anything except be worshipful. This generally worked out pretty well, giving bored kids plenty of time to think, the very thing that put young Billy’s body and soul in mortal peril that particular Sunday.

As the minister droned on and time dragged, Billy had plenty of time to think. The offering had been collected and sat temptingly on the altar: a handful of change, a couple of fives, tens, ones, a twenty, and a few checks. Brother Deck, an ancient deacon, who’d help collect it, had nodded off in the pew directly ahead of us, his head drooping as he slept. Occassionally, he delighted us by tooting in his sleep. It sounded like a screen door flapping and was quite satisfying, though we couldn’t make as much of it as we’d have liked, having been forewarned not to laugh when he did it again this week. It was still something to look forward to, relieving the tedium of the service.

Brother Elmer Elkins and his wife Miss Margie sat on the other end of the pew ahead of us. Brother Elmer had had the good sense to marry money. His wife had inherited land as well. Mr. Elmer was an excellent farmer, adding to the investment of her inheritance, and was the envy of the that farming neighborhood and the undisputed “boss” of the church. Though the church might vote on expenditures, plans didn’t come to fruition unless Brother Elmer, the church treasurer, signed the checks. As Billy pondered the fortune displayed temptingly before him on the altar, it occurred to him that in the bustle of church dismissal, that treasure would be unattended. He might be able to pick up a little offering of his own, if he slipped to the front unnoticed.

As the prayer ended, he slipped out the opposite end of the pew from the rest of us, intending to sidle by the offering plate unnoticed, helping himself to a little gift. Brother Elmer must have dealt with this temptation before. He slid out of his seat just ahead of Billy, turning to glare him down, before “collecting” the collection plate. Apparently, Billy wasn’t the first to think of this little trick. Thank God, Brother Elmer’s “bad boy” radar was working that morning. It saved Billy’s life!

Farm Life: Gotta Have Guts


Daddy loved home remedies and dosed his kids and livestock readily.   Mother did run interference for us on cow chip tea and coal oil and sugar, but did let him load us with sulphur and molasses for summer sores. We never got summer sores, probably because we reeked so much we didn’t tempt mosquitoes. I do appreciate Mother for putting her foot down when his ideas got too toxic. No telling what kind of chromosome damage she saved us. Continue reading

Maniac in the Wilderness

Bill 2Bill ever survived my mother’s abuse.  When he was only a tiny lad of eighteen, he was six feet four inches tall. I think the fact that she wasn’t even acquainted with five feet gave him a feeling of superiority.  While I won’t say he had a smart mouth, I will allow it was extremely well-educated.  I am sure they only reason my mother hadn’t already killed him was because she hated to go to prison and leave her younger daughters motherless.  It certainly wasn’t because the thought hadn’t crossed her mind at least a thousand times a day since puberty attacked him and her by proxy.

Anyway, on occasion, they had to travel places alone together.  It was a misery to them both.  It didn’t help that the car was a tiny Volkswagon Beetle.  It’s always worth a person’s time to stop and watch a huge guy unfold himself and crawl out of a Beetle, a pleasure Bill dreaded providing mirthful onlookers.  It didn’t improve his mood on arrival, a mood already blackened with inevitable conflict he’d shared with Mother.

At any rate, on this particular day, they started home with Bill driving.  According to Mother, he was driving like a maniac: driving too fast, following too closely, cutting people off.  I have no doubt this was true.  It was his typical manner.  She insisted he slow down.  He crept along at ten miles an hour, hoping that was slow enough to please her.  She’d finally had enough, telling him to pull over.  She’d drive.  He critiqued her driving as soon as she started.  “Speed up!  Don’t ride the clutch! Change Gears!”

Finally, she’d had enough.  She pulled over.  “Get out!”  Delighted, he hopped out, thinking she’d come to her senses and wanted him to drive.  She drove off and left him standing on a country road, thirty miles from home.  She enjoyed the rest of the peaceful drive.  At  home, Daddy wanted to know where Bill was.  “I left him somewhere close to Bossier City.”

Daddy was shocked she’d left the little fellow all alone in the wilderness.  “Well, You’d better go get him!  It’ll be dark soon!”

“You go get him if you want to!  I don’t care if he never gets home!”

Daddy was a lot better at giving orders than taking them, but he jumped in his truck to rescue his precious son and heir.  Billy met him at the end of the driveway, brought home by a Good Samaritan.  He’d somehow survived his abandonment but I think he still drives like a maniac.  I don’t think he and Mother voluntarily ride together till today

See attached picture if you care to put out APB on either