A Hog a Day Part 10

Art by Kathleen Swain

Cousin Carol married a sorry guy.  He wasn’t crazy about working.  In fact, he was pretty much averse to it. He had better things to do, hunting, fishing, sleeping and making babies.  He and Carol had three babies in record time.   It worried Daddy’s brother terribly that Jerry didn’t provide for Carol and the kids.  As a favor to him, Daddy had Jerry meet him at the house one day after work.  “Come with me and we’ll go get you a hog so Carol can have something to cook for the kids.”  Jerry was all for free pork.  They went to the pen, got Jerry a nice-sized pig, and he was on his way.

A few days later, Daddy showed up to check hs traps mid-morning and surprised Jerry at his pen with a 22 rifle in his hands.  He’d just shot a pig and was getting ready to load it in his car.  Daddy was an imposing man, very six foot three.  He slapped Jerry to the ground.

Billy was Daddy’s shadow, making every step he made, whether it was hunting or socializing, which were often one in the same.  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 have it. It was late. He was tired. He’d nodded off a time or two, leaned up against a big log next to Daddy when he was startled to see Runt Rider, the crotchety owner of the fish camp wearing his cap. His hand flew to his head, finding it bare. Sure enough, Runt had his hat! The other fellows teased him routinely, but Runt was an old grump, who’d never even spoken to him. There were even stories that he’d stabbed a man!

He’d been set up. The guys were all waiting, watching for his reaction. The more he studied the situation, the more outraged he became. Finally, time for action. He bounded across, grabbed the cap off Runt’s head, and was rewarded by an explosion of laughter from all the guys around the fire. Runt was not happy at being laughed at. His face turned fiery red. He spit, sputtered, cursed, struggling to maintain control, clearly infuriated. Billy calmly put the hat on his head, walked to Daddy’s truck, and got in, feeling vindicated.

Daddy walked over to the truck. “Son, why in the world did you grab Mr. Runt’s hat off his head?”

“He had my hat. I had to get it back.”

“Look on the seat beside you.” Beside him on the seat, undeniably, lay his own hat. “I guess you’d better give Mr. Runt’s cap back. Billy took off the cap, returning it to Mr. Runt, with an apology. Mr. Runt was ungracious, but at least didn’t stab him.

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A Hog a Day Part 3

Miss Becky cleared away breakfast and remarked, “Well, setting here drinking coffee ain’t gittin my permanent put in.  If you’re still a’mind to do it, we better git started.”  Pouring a kettle of hot water over the dishes, she set another big pot on the stove to heat.  They got their water from a well, not a faucet, so I followed her out to refill the water bucket.  The well fascinated me, enclosed in a covered timber structure.  A bucket hung on a rope suspended from a pulley.  Miss Bessie turned the cover back and allowed the bucket to drop.  After a few minutes, a heard a splash.

“Can I look?” I asked.

“No, it’s too dangerous.  There’s a boogerman in the well!”  She warned.

At five, of course I knew there wasn’t a boogerman in the well, but also had learned long ago not to sass. Mother had foolishly assured me earlier there was no boogerman, a serious error on her part.  I’d have  probably been a lot better kid had she invoked  him periodically.  Maybe Daddy would hold me up and let me look down the well when he got back.  That wasn’t the kind of thing I’d even bother to ask Mother.  She was always trying to prevent any kind of fun.  I gave some thought to trying to look on my own, but feared falling in and somehow being rescued.  Daddy would warm my britches, good.  What I really wanted to do was get in the bucket and let myself down by working the rope hand over hand.  I’d seen a well dug and that’s how the men had gotten up and down, of course, that was before the water seeped in.  I’d have to think some about how this could be managed without discovery.

I thought about this as I followed Miss Bessie back to the kitchen with her bucket of water sloshing out on either side as she walked.  Mother had the home permanent ready to go by the time we got back in.  Home permanents were the hairstyle of choice for budget-conscious women of the fifties who were brave and not too fussy.    Women frequently cut and permed each other’s hair.   Mother was not a talented amateur.  She hated fooling with hair, but Daddy had volunteered her for the job.  He was good at that.  Her time and energy belonged to him and made him look good.  Miss Bessie wrapped a towel around her shoulders and settled in a straight back chair on the porch.

Mother got straight to work, cutting and perming as she went.  Dividing Miss Bessie’s hair into sections, she measured it, wet it with a comb dipped in water, wrapped it in a little folded-up square of white paper,  measured it against a mark, and snipped off every thing sticking out past the end of the curling paper.  Afterward, she twisted the paper-wrapped hair around a hard plastic spiky permanent curler, and twisted it tightly to the scalp.  I’d been subjected to this misery a few times, so was glad to escape outdoors.  I wanted no part of the home permanent process.  It was painful, smelled horrible, and made me look like a Brillo Pad.

Billy and I played in the cool, white sand under the high porch.  The dogs had thoughtfully dug  large holes to make the landscape more interesting where we marked out roads with chips of wood.  We stood up small branches to serve as trees.  Rocks made fine pretend houses.  From time to time a lazy hound pushed its way into one of the holes as we played around him.  Billy stretched out and took a nap across one of the hounds.  Bored with Billy sleeping, the conversation from the porch above caught my attention.

“Miss Bessie, how many kids do you have?”  Mother asked.  I couldn’t make sense of that.  In my mind, once people got grown, they had no parents.  Miss Bessie was as old as my Grandma.  Mother claimed Grandma was her mother, but it didn’t make sense to me. If Grandma was her mother, how come I’d never seen her spank Mother? Besides, if Grandma was her mama, why didn’t she live with her?  Why didn’t she sit on her lap?  I just let it go.

“I had them five big ol’ boys right off.”  Miss Bessie said.  “Seems like every time Grady hung his britches on the bedpost another one come along. It plumb wore me out.  If his mama had’na been staying with us I don’t know how I’d made it.  I had to help Grady in the field.  She couldn’t see well enough to do much, but she could rock young’uns and string beans.  All three of my oldest squalled till the next’un was born.  I thought I was done, then ten years later two little gals come along ten months apart.  Ruth Ann done fine, but I lost Susie early on.   She nursed good but never keep nothing down.  Grady got a goat but she never did put on no weight.  It ‘bout killed Grady to lose her.  I thought I might lose him.

I pricked up my ears at this.  Miss Bessie lost her little girl!  She must have been mighty careless. I wondered if I might be able to find her.  Maybe she hadn’t gotten too far.  Old people ought not to be having babies.  Miss Bessie looked like she moved way too slow to keep up with a little kid.  I thought I’d just look around a little.  I crawled out from under the porch and dusted off my knees.

”Don’t you run off and get lost,”. Mother bossed. “I’m fixing to put the stuff on Miss Bessie’s hair and I don’t want to have to go looking for you and burn her hair up.  Where’s Billy”

”He’s sleeping on the dog.” I informed her.

At that, she had to go check.  “Well, you stay right here where I can see you.  Don’t go messing around that well.”

”Yes, Ma’am.  I’m just going to look for Miss Bessie’s baby.”

”What?” Mother said.  She seemed to have totally forgotten about that lost baby.  Miss Bessie didn’t look too worried either.

 

Miz Dalrymple and the Hog

pig in slopThe neighbors gathered after the first frost to slaughter the Jackson’s hogs. Terrified by the commotion and scent of blood, one of the pigs managed to escape and hide up under under the neighbor’s outhouse, a good ways off, where Miz Dalrymple was
enjoying a little time to herself, thinking all the menfolk was off killing hogs. Just as she got relaxed, she heard A deep voice, “I’ll git behind here ‘n poke ‘er with a stick. You hit ‘er in th’ head with th’ ax when she comes a’runnin’ out!”

Thinking madmen had ‘er for shore, pore Miz Dalrymple come a’flyin’ out with her drawers around her ankles. It was amazing how fast an ol’ lady could run like that. It took her two days to walk back!

Bring Him on In, Honey!

At the end of a long, long day on my dialysis unit, there were only two of us to finish up the work of cleaning up and setting up for the next day’s treatments.  There was still an elderly gentleman to be returned to his room.  I helped him into his chair, wrapped him in a blanket, and headed back to his room.  As always, I was in a bit of a hurry to get home to my children.  I wheeled him into what I thought was his room only to find the bed already occupied by a little old lady.  “Oh excuse me Ma’am.  Wrong room!” I apologized.

“Just bring him right on in, Honey.  I’ve been here quite a while!”  We all got a good laugh out of that.

 

Hint for anyone in hospital.  Always ask that your wheelchair seat be covered and be wrapped in a blanket when you leave your room.  Wheel chair seats can be soiled and those halls get cold.

Joke

Joe walked into a bar and saw a tiny little man sitting on the end of the bar playing his heart out on a perfectly scaled miniature grand  piano.  “Barkeeper, where did he come from?”

The barkeeper pointed toward a lamp sitting on the bar.  ” I rubbed this lamp.  A genii came out and gave him to me.”

“Let me give it a try!”  Joe rubbed the lamp and a genii appeared before him.

“What is your desire? You get one and only one wish”

Without hesitation, Joe asked for a million bucks.  The genii disappeared back into the lamp as the room filled with ducks.  They overflowed out into the street as far as the eye could see.

Horrified, Joe said, “What the Hell?  I said I wanted a million BUCKS, not a million ducks.  Is that genii deaf?”

“Yep,” replied the bartender.  “How else do you think I would have gotten stuck with this 12 inch pianist?”