Bud is fussy about his budget. He does a computer check on the bank account every morning. Our big dog, Croc eats a lot. That goes in the budget. What goes in must come out, so he poops a lot. Bud also likes to work that not the budget. “Croc pooped about a dollar’s worth.”
I’m glad I’m not in charge of accounting!”
Taking his cue from Mr. Grady Rose, Daddy decided he needed to go into the hog business. In theory, all he had to do was harvest wild hogs and watch the money roll in. Mother reluctantly agreed. In fact, he did accrue a few expenses to get a few starter sows and a boar or two, timber to build trap pens, and corn to bait the traps. Of course, he had to have a gun and knife for protection, and mud tires to negotiate the deep woods and oh yes, a hog dog for the hunt, expenditures that severely stressed an already overburdened budget. Daddy brought home about a hundred dollars a week. Groceries took twelve dollars of that.
Daddy took to hog hunting enthusiastically. It became a sport rather than a money-making venture. I don’t recall eating a lot of pork or having to help count the extra money it brought in. The boars were very aggressive to men and dogs. Daddy stitching his dogs up after they were slashed by hogs.
Daddy’s hunting buddy, Jimmy, was amazing. He’d lost a leg as an infant, but had compensated so well, he seemed not to miss it at all. When an angry boar charged a group of hunters aggressively, the other men scattered into nearby trees while Jimmy agiley jumped on top of his crutch and balanced as the hog ran beneath him. He used his crutch to vault over fences rather than hunting for a gate. When my brother Billy was little, Mother had learned to dread what he might say to people. Early one morning as she stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes, she saw Jimmy headed for the front door. She rushed to get to the open front door greet him before Billy got a chance open his big mouth and ask about the missing leg. She was too slow. As she rushed in, Billy announced, “Mama, a skeeter bit his leg off!”
Daddy made an interesting acquisition from one of his hunting buddies. For a nominal amount, he became the proud owner of the Hog Wagon. It was a school bus on a cut down frame with a cage on back for transporting hogs and sometimes children. This amalgamation was unlicensed, of course, since it had no windshield or doors. A battered bench seat covered with burlap bags replaced the bus seat. The V8 flathead engine made it very powerful when run in first gear, an invaluable feature for a vehicle used in swampy areas. We hung on for dear life when we were fortunate enough to get a ride on this beauty. Daddy also employed this powerful machine to pull up stumps when clearing pasture.
We were seriously the envy of neighborhood kids.
Daddy would buy anything sold door to door. He probably would have bought a helicopter had a salesman shown up and offered one on a no-money-down, three-year-payment plan. He bought waterless cookware. It was supposed to cut cooking time, save money and increase Mother’s effiency. He was all for anything that made Mother more organized. I guess it never occurred to him a string of babies and unending farm and house work might be a factor.
When the vacuum salesman came around, Daddy didn’t feel he could afford the new model, so he bargained for the used model the salesman had taken in trade on his rounds that morning. The purchase probably saved the guy a trip to the dump. The salesman jimmied with it enough to get it running that day, but it never started again. I don’t believe that helped Mother’s organization or her attitude a bit. The good news was, the salesman took five dollars cash, and Mother was to send payments afterwards. The good news was, Mother never sent a payment, which meant the guy only beat them out of five bucks.
We also had the only house distinguished by lightning rods on the roof. The theory was, the lightning would strike the rod, rather than the roof. The charge was to follow a metal cable downward, where it would be grounded. The lightning rods might have been an the answer to a prayer had Daddy not bought a remote-controlled television antenna which was probably twenty feet taller than the model that came with the TV from the next guy who knocked on the door. He enjoyed trying to find the best reception for a month or two until the antenna was struck by lightening. The charge ran down the wire, melted a hole in metal TV case and fried the vacuum tubes. Sadly, it also blew out the works in the beautiful ship lamp that came with the TV and melted its lovely red cellophane windows. I was kind of glad when the antenna motor blew out since Daddy spent a lot of time adjusting it, limiting our viewing pleasure. We were frequently sent outdoors a lot to let him know if it was moving while he adjusted. I never could tell when it moved, so I just gave random answers. I don’t know why it gave him so much trouble.
to be continued
I am thankful I’ve achieved one of my life goals! I got Keds! All the snooty kids wore Keds when I was in school. Since there were five of us to shoe, Mother showed no interest in putting us on our path to snootiness. When the guy at the shoe repair shop gave her notice that shoes were beyond repair, she’d bring home a new pair, sized by the pencilled imprint of the lucky kid’s foot. She always went prepared, just in case. We were a one-car family and there was no possibility of a special trip just for shoes. We were whatever she brought home. There was no chance we could claim ugly shoes didn’t fit. She knew what she was doing.
Sometimes, one of us tripped Mother up by having a major shoe malfunction resultingin shoe acquisition that couldn’t be put off till Thursday, Daddy’s payday and her scheduled trip to town, in that miserable situation. On more the one occasion, she made a panicky trip to the dry goods store in Cottage Valley and bought the only shoes available. We hated these crummy sneakers, or “Tennies” as we called them, the ugly, red-headed stepchildren of Keds.
Girls got a style somewhat reminscent of Keds, usually white, wide in the arch, just right for duck feet. Bill got hightop, black basketball shoes with a white basketball on the ankle. Naturally, we had to wear theses lovelies till they fell apart. Mine were always dirty by the time I got to school, even if I were lucky enough they’d just been washed, and frankly, they weren’t washed that often.
My brother Billy got off the bus in one shoe after school one afternoon. Mother exploded. “Boy, where’s your shoe?”
He wasted some time trying to explain and she wasted more trying to make sense of the story. Finally, she got down to business and hauled him back to school to retrieve it from deep in a mass of brush on the wrong side of a hurricane fence. Undoubtedly, he’d pushed it deeper in his rescue attempts. Eventually, they showed up at home victorious except for scratches on her forearms and a tick or two.