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.”

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Mother’s Garden

Mother built the little path herself as well as a stone patio using little-old-lady-sized rocks. She does all her own planting.  I dig the big holes for her.  She does the rest.  She does have he perennial “rose covered cottage.”  She twines pink climbing roses over her porch rails.  They are mean.  It cured the problem of free-range kids climbing on the rails. Her neighborhood is full of them.  She sprinkles flour over tomatoes and warns the kids they might get poisoned.  It works.  She never loses a tomato anymore.  The neighborhood kids used to pick them and her flowers, but now they worry about the poison.

It’s My Party

WC
Uncle Jerry drank a little. In fact, Uncle Jerry never drew a sober breath from the time he cashed his paycheck at the liquor store on Friday after work until he got back to the shop on Mondays with a killer hangover. One time he told Bud, “I get paid today and I gotta get drunk. I had the flu all week and feel so bad I cain’t hardly drag. I shore dread it.”
Bud, who’d never been initiated into drinking at the time asked, “Uncle Jerry, if you feel so bad, why do you HAVE to get drunk? Can’t you take a weekend off?”
“Oh no!” Uncle Jerry told him. “I always stay drunk on the weekends.”
He must have been concerned about his reputation. He was Aunt Myrtle’s second husband. At the time I knew them, they’d been married over forty years. If Aunt Myrtle stuck by Uncle Jerry, I can’t imagine what her first husband must have put her through.
Mother went over to visit Aunt Myrtle one Thursday morning, not realizing Uncle Jerry was on vacation. They went out to the garden first to admire Aunt Myrtle’s tomatoes and the green beans that were starting to put out, picking a few for Mother. When they made their way into the kitchen, they encountered Uncle Jerry down on his hands and knees in front of the icebox (not refrigerator). He’d pulled the drawer out and was eating onions and turnips raw with the garden dirt still clinging to them. Considering it was Uncle Jerry, neither one said anything.
He looked up at them and remarked. “This is my icebox and I’ll eat anything I G__ D____ please.” They got their coffee and took it out to drink in the shade.
“Don’t let Jerry worry you none. I forgot to tell you Jerry was on vacation when I told you to come over to get tomatoes,” noted Aunt Myrtle.
“Oh, that’s okay. It is his icebox after all,” Mother replied.

The Threat of Typhoid Tomatoes

This is a story from my mother’s childhood.
R G Holdaway Family with Johnny Bell early 1930's

Mama kept me close to her side we when were home alone. If she did let me go in the yard on my own, I had to be close enough to come running in an instant when she called. The only exception was a trip to the toilet. Since it wasn’t polite to answer from the toilet, I kept quiet knowing, she’d be watching for me to come out before mounting a search. She always warned me against falling through the hole in the seat, but that was a concern she could have spared herself. I’d have sprouted wings and flown had I felt myself falling into the quagmire beneath that toilet seat!!

A well-worn path led down the hill to the toilet located far enough to cut the odor and avoid contamination of our well. Mama was vigilant about sanitation and shoveled lime into the pit to aid decomposition and screened the open back to foil her chickens who considered the flies and maggots a tempting buffet. Chickens are not known for their discriminating tastes. Any chicken Mama planned to butcher, was penned up and fed a fine diet of grain and table scraps for several days prior to its date with the axe, till Mama was convinced it, “clean.” I now realize my brother didn’t bother with the long walk to the toilet at night, since a healthy crop of tomatoes had volunteered beneath his bedroom window. Mama noted the size and beauty of the crop, but said we couldn’t eat them. “They might not be clean.” They looked as “clean” as the ones from the garden, so John and I slipped off and enjoyed the finest tomatoes of the season, which had apparently benefitted from the trip through his digestive system. When Mama noticed the stripped plants, she whirled around and quizzed me “What happened to those tomatoes? You didn’t eat them did you?” My guilty look gave me away. “You did, didn’t you? Oh, My Lord, you could get typhoid from those nasty tomatoes.”

My heart fell. I knew this had to be serious since Mama said, “Oh, My, Lord!” I had no idea what typhoid was, but I did understand I was about to die.

“John ate most of them. I only ate a couple of little ones but nothing was wrong with them. They tasted real good.”

“Being raised in filth wouldn’t make them taste bad. They could still make you sick.” She went on about her business as I prepared to die.

I worked up my nerve. “Mama, will typhoid kill you?”

“It could, but maybe you won’t get it. I had typhoid when you were a baby and nearly died.” I already had a keen conscience and knew I deserved punishment as I waited anxiously all afternoon for typhoid to strike me down. I attributed everything to typhoid: a ringing in my ears, a rapid heartbeat, feeling hot and thirsty as I played listlessly in the shade that July afternoon. My last day dragged. Mama didn’t say any more about typhoid, but I knew it was only a matter of time. I dreaded going to bed that night since I wouldn’t be waking up tomorrow, but certainly couldn’t confide in Mama, since I’d brought all this on myself. During bedtime prayers, I got cold shivers reciting the line, “and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Knowing tonight would be the night put a whole new light on the situation, especially since I’d disobeyed Mama. It hurt my feelings a little when she tucked me in as matter-of-factly as usual on my last night on earth. I fought sleep, but couldn’t hold it off forever. I bounded out of bed, thrilled to find myself alive and ravenous when I awoke and smelled dry-salt meat frying, biscuits baking, and coffee percolating before daylight the next morning. Typhoid would have to wait for another day!

Killer Tomatoes (Tales from the Toilet)

imageA well-worn path led down the hill to the toilet located far enough to cut the odor and avoid contamination of our well.  Mama was vigilant about sanitation and shoveled lime into the pit to aid decomposition and screened the open back to foil her chickens who considered the flies and maggots a tempting buffet.  Chickens are not known for their Continue reading

Killer Tomatoes

Mama kept me close her side when we were home alone. If she did let me go in the yard on my own, I had to be close enough to come running in an instant when she called. The only exception was a trip to the toilet.  Since it wasn’t polite to answer from the toilet, I kept quiet knowing, she’d be watching for me to come out before mounting a search.  She Continue reading