A Hog a Day Part 11


One of Daddy’s coworkers also indulged in the hunt. I loved hearing the stories they told.
Slim was a God-gifted liar, so well-known for his lying, that anyone who repeated one of his tales had to buy coffee for the group. One day, Slim came rushing by several of the fellows standing around at work and one of them called out, “Slim, stop and tell us a lie.”
“I ain’t got time.” He called over his shoulder. “Martin Bishop just fell in Smokestack 19 and I’m on the way to call an ambulance.” He rushed on as the other men took off in the opposite direction to check out the accident at Smokestack 19. They were breathless upon getting there and found Martin hard at work, totally unaware that he’d just been tragically killed. I guess they all had to buy their own coffee.
Slim and his wife, Ida Ruth, had a large family. Like many men of the time, his work was done once he left the job. One blazing August afternoon he came home to find a workman, a man of his acquaintance, digging a ditch that ran along the right of way in front of his place. The man was stripped down to his undershirt in the sweltering heat with sweat pouring off him. Slim stopped to talk and sent one of the kids for a glass of ice water. “Man, it’s too hot for you to be shoveling in this heat. Git on out of that ditch and let Ida Ruth finish it!” I don’t guess Ida Ruth heard about it, because there was no murder.
Mike Parsons had been raised in Arkansas and considered himself an authority on all things Arkansas. No one could mention Arkansas without getting an earful of his knowledge, experience, or connections. He must have had a hundred sisters, since he had a brother-in-law in every town. It was getting a little tiresome and Ray Marshall decided to set him up. “I’m going to come in to work tomorrow telling a wild tale about a town in Arkansas I made up. Y’all follow along and see what ol’ Mike has to say.”
The next morning at work when they stopped for coffee, Ray started his story, “Any of y’all ever heard of a little town up in the Arkansas called Catscratch? I was driving through there one time and………”
Mike Parsons jumped in. “Sure, I been there several times. My sister married an old boy from there. He raises them big pink tomaters just outside Catscratch. They got a real nice little place.”

Advertisements

Miss Laura Mae’s House Part 9

gossip 1Once again, I was sitting on the back step of Miss Laura Mae’s house with a biscuit. Miss Laura Mae was all flustered. I heard the phrase, “female trouble” and my ears perked up. Anything about “female trouble” got kids shooed outdoors. “Complications” rated even greater secrecy.

I’d just heard both. I hummed a tuneless something just so they’d be fooled into thinking I wasn’t listening. Occasionally, I said something to Miss Laura Mae’s old hound.

“Bessie, Floyd’s oldest sister was wild as they come when she was comin’ up. She slipped off an’ married when she was fifteen, and just stayed long enough to have them two young’uns. She like to drove her mama crazy. You couldn’t believe a word she said. She’d climb up on top of the house to tell a lie when it would’a been easier to stand on the ground and tell the truth. It seemed like she settled down an’ was gonna do good when she married Ben. He was a good feller an’ treated her kids good. He had that nice house his mama left him, worked steady and put his pay in the bank. I never heard him fuss with her. She was even Sunday School Superintendent down at the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church fer a while.

One year right before Christmas, she went to work in her sister’s café, waiting tables to git a little Christmas money. Ben didn’t want her to, said he could git whatever they needed, but she was bound an’ determined to do it. Wasn’t long before she was runnin’ around. She dumped them kids on her mama and run off with a feller named Jett. ‘Course, that didn’ last till the water got hot.

Next thing we knew, Bessie was in the hospital, her kidneys ‘bout shut down an’ she like to had a stroke. She pulled through but wasn’t able to do anything for a long time. Her sister Marthy took her in an’ took care of her an’ them kids for a good while. When she finally got back on her feet, she went back to Ben. The crazy thing was, she told ever’ body she’d been the one takin’ care of Marthy, ‘cause Marthy had been runnin’ around an’ got thataway while her husband Joe was off in the service. She claimed Marthy had took a bunch of quinine an’ got rid of the baby but it like to kilt ‘er. The whole thing was crazy. Ever’body knew what Bessie had been up to and knew about her being so sick in the hospital. I don’t know why she tol’ that crazy story layin’ it off on Marthy after she’d been so good to her. They just wasn’t no need. That was just how she is.

From my perch on the back step, I listened in, making no sense of the story, but knew it was good. I made up my mind to remember when I got a little older and smarter, I could figure out what it was all about.

https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/miss-laura-maes-house-part-10/

How Not to Get in Good With the Snotty Girls

imageAs I ran to the playground, I spotted my “sometimes friend” Betty Green deep in conversation with Rita Lawson, the principal’s snotty daughter. The choice of friendship each day was Betty’s. Her mother and mine were friends, so when when we we at my house or hers, chances are she’d be nice to me, unless she wasn’t.  I was a friendly kid and would have played with a rattlesnake. When Betty saw me running up, she turned her back, making it clear she didn’t want my company when she finally had Snotty Rita all to herself.  Ignoring her cue I tromped right in. “Wanna play chase?” They didn’t. They were both squalling and loftily resumed their tearful conversation, bonding over shared grief. It seems each had recently discovered the existence of a baby sister, dead and buried long before either of these two snotties were born. I listened in awe, caught up in the drama, knowing I had nothing to offer on the altar of their shared grief.

I rushed in and questioned Mother as soon as I got home. “Did you ever have a baby that died?”

No she didn’t. I had heard women whisper of losing babies. I had no idea what that meant, but it might be worth a try.

“Did you ever lose a baby?” She was hugely pregnant at the time and quite touchy.

“No, now get started on your homework. If you don’t have any, help me with supper.”

I recalled lots of homework. Remembering an ancient picture in a box in Mother’s closet, I prowled till I found it. Aha! This will surely get me in the dead baby club!  I slipped it into my math book, the first time that book had been opened at home that year.

Betty and Snotty Rita were still best buddies at recess the next day. I ran up, ignoring their cold looks, as I pulled my prize out of my jacket pocket. “Look, I have a picture of my dead baby sister. She died before I was born.” The sad image of an angelic baby in a white Christening dress, laid out in a homemade wooden coffin, her eyes closed in death was undeniable. Her black hair curled around her tiny face. They examined the picture somberly, giving me sympathetic looks as tears sprung to their eyes. I enjoyed their friendship for about thirty seconds until Betty turned the picture over and found scribbled, “Carrie Louise Perkins, born and died July 7, 1904.” I was out!!!

Miss Tillie’s Troubles With Samson

Miss Tillie, my Sunday School Teacher held my attention like no other before or since, giving the class candy, bubble gum, and tiny little paper umbrellas if we learned our Bible verses. Mother thought she ought not to bribe us to do our lessons. I thought Continue reading