Thursday, December 30, 2010

Help, I'm Stuck!

I went to Valley Point School for twelve years. The first grade was the hardest. I wanted to fit in with the other kids but it wasn't easy. Believe it or not, I was a little kid when I started to school at the age of six. I remember my mother and I visited the principal of the primary school before school started so that she could see that I was ready for school. I was a precocious child and she said she thought I would be fine starting to school with the other kids my age. It also didn't hurt that Mrs Brooker was a sturdy little petite woman who was no more than five feet tall.

I was in Mrs Owens room in the first grade and was in heaven. She smelled so good. She was a very sweet teacher and all the children loved her very much. We would gather at her desk at recess, and cluster around her, talking and laughing. Some of the kids started sitting on the rim of her grey metal trashcan and balancing on it. I saw different kids doing that. I thought I could do that.

One day I tried to sit on the rim of the trashcan but I didn't know how to balance like the other kids could do. I may have had a hard time because I was shorter than most of the kids and my arms didn't reach back far enought to help me balance. I slipped and found myself folded up like a Swiss army knife and wedged in the trashcan. When I tried to get up I saw that I couldn't get out by myself.

The kids whooped with laughter at my dilema. Mrs Owens tried to get me out but she couldn't. She and some of the kids had to tip the can sideways and pry me out. I was so embarrassed, but the worse was yet to come.

Mrs Owens was afraid that I had hurt my back so she made me lie down on the nearest little wooden table. She called the principal of the elementary school, who was at the building next door, and he came to check on me.

I remember lying on my belly, with boys and girls sitting at the table watching me, and waiting on the principal to come. When he did come in the classroom Mrs Owens explained how I had slipped and gotten stuck in the trashcan and what a hard time they had getting me out. Mrs Owens and Mr Davis were standing next to me beside the table.

Mrs Owens suddenly flipped my skirt-tail up over my back and showed Mr Davis my backside. I suppose they were looking for scratches or bruises but all I saw was a bunch of dumb boys grinning like a bunch of hyenas at me and my panties.

I was mortified. No amount of living would ever erase that shame from my memory and never again did I consider them harmless boys. They had leered at me with glee and I would never forget it. I suppose that was the first wedge that entered the relationship of all those kids that I knew throughout my school years. I always felt it was them against me. No wonder.

My back wasn't seriously hurt and the principal didn't have to call my moma but my ego was bruised. I can honestly say that I don't remember ever sitting on another trashcan again. The teachers in the primary school building put a stop to allowing children to sit on trashcans from that day forward.

That wasn't the only time I would be embarrassed in front of my classmates, or show my underwear. Being a kid isn't easy.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Lake Winnie

Picture courtesy of Paul Drabek at Negative-G

. . . or why mothers eat their young.

Like grains of sand in an hour glass, these are the days of our lives.

For joy, for joy! Long before Disney World, and even long before Six Flags Over Georgia, way back in the beginning of the TV era when I was young . . . long, long ago there was only one main attraction for all the amusement ride lovers in our area and that place still stands today. That place is Lake Winnepesaukah. The place has been here for eighty-five years and it is far better to spend the day there and ride all the rides you want to, than to drive all the way to Atlanta and stand in the lines for hours waiting to ride only a few rides. I hate waiting in lines.

Lake Winnie is the place that a lot of people got their first kiss as they rode the boat chute through the Tunnel of Love. It was reputed to have snakes sleeping in the rafters which sometimes fell into the boats of the helpless victims below. That story always had to be related aloud to some young person who was taking his first ride on the boat chute. The spooky tunnel is at the beginning of the ride.

We had some good times up there. I remember one time when we were young that my cousins Randy and Debbie and I rode to Chattanooga in our great uncle Cletus' white Cadillac. He drove below the speed limit because he believed the sign that said "Keep off the median" meant to drive below the speed limit. We all argued with him that it didn't mean to drive that slow but he wouldn't listen. Old people. Sheesh!

We had a family reunion up there that day. They rented a pavillion and the table was covered with food from one end to the other. Naturally the kids all took off to ride the rides after we ate. We lined up to ride a ride that goes across the lake. Two people to a gondola allowed you to ride high above the lake and you can look down on the people below you riding paddle boats and see all around the park. It was really high. And the water down below looked really dark and uninviting.

Debbie and I were in line behind her brothers, Steve and Eddie, but we could still talk to them. As we started across the water it became obvious that they were starting to panic. Steve was afraid of the height and Eddie was afraid of falling in the water. They kept talking about jumping off because the ride turns around at the other side and rides you back across the lake before letting you off the ride. The turn around is next to electrical wires and equipment working the ride. There are signs posted all over the place with "Warning", and "Danger".

Debbie and I tried to talk them out of jumping but they were determined not to ride back across the lake. We saw them jump. They cleared the wires and hit the ground running. We were stunned. What dummies.

By the time we got off the ride security, in the amusement park, was looking for the two boys who bailed out across the lake. Debbie and I denied knowing them. The rest of us wandered off and tried to distance ourselves from the search. We all eventually got together again and found out that Steve and Eddie had been dodging security and thought they had ditched them. Whew, that was some adventure. You wouldn't believe that years later Eddie joined the Navy and Steve joined the Air Force.

I also remember Debbie and Randy and I were playing when Moma told me it was time to leave. I wanted to stay a little longer and tried to get her to let me ride back home with somebody else. She said "No" but Debbie and Randy and I decided to run away and she started chasing me. We started running around the bumper car shed and would dart in the opposite direction when we saw her coming. This went on for a while and we were laughing and having a good time until Moma tricked me and jumped out and grabbed me when we ran the wrong way.

Moma was shaking with rage, mad enough to kill me. She had me by the hair and began shaking me by the hair of the head. I was tiptoeing and trying to get away. She was furious as she got close to me and said, "I ought to whip you right here and now but I won't, I won't . . ." and then she suddenly leaned toward me and bit me hard on the cheek. She drug me off and told me I better not talk back to her. How could I? She might bite me again. Sometimes it's best to leave well enough alone so I did. It was time to go home.

She was mad because people were watching me and my cousins running away from her and not minding her. She said one old man was watching us and laughing and that really made her mad. Oh well, I guess I learned a lesson there, about minding your mother, especially if she bites.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Did I See That?

Something strange is aways going on in Resaca. A few years ago I had a strange experience one cold winter morning. You won't believe what I saw while I was standing at my bedroom window. I had been watching the birds eat from the feeders hanging in a peach tree outside my window.

I saw some movement at the neighbor's. It looked like someone was going in and out of the house next door. There were bushes separating our property so I couldn't see who it was but I noticed that they kept walking off of the porch and, in a few minutes, they would walk back onto the porch and go into the house. I wondered why anybody would keep doing that and chalked it up to just another example of the bizarre behavior of the neighbors in our community.

I went into the livingroom and looked out the window and, you won't believe this, but there was a man standing by the highway at our driveway and he was wearing a pair of blue tennis shoes and . . . nothing else! He didn't have a stitch on, except for his shoes. He was just standing by the road like he was waiting on a ride. What the heck?

I slipped out onto the front porch to lock the outside door, and then the inside door. I was afraid that he might come over here and ask to use the telephone (another crazy neighbor story). While I was doing that, he pivoted around and headed back to his house. I never did see him again, and believe me I tried. I went back to the bedroom and could see a silhouette of somebody going into the house and coming back outside again, like before, but I didn't see him standing near the road again. He might have, but I missed it. Oh, and I missed something else, too. After he left I realized that I hadn't even checked him out! Can you imagine that?

Now there are a lot of rednecks in Georgia and sometimes you can see some dumbass running around without a shirt, even when it's cold, but this is the first time I've ever seen anybody, man or woman, running around without a stitch of clothing on.

The next day I planned to keep my eyes peeled and watch out for any more sightings. It had been really cold around here so, I thought, he better watch out or he might get frostbite. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you think about it, I never saw that dude again.

Don't you just love the south? We grow loonies by the bushels-full.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back When I Was Young

This is me BACK WHEN I WAS YOUNG. This is probably about as HOT as I ever got. Note the cool feathered back wings around my face. I guess I was going for the Farrah Fawcett look. My three redeeming assets were my smile and my boobs. This is a picture of a picture so it's not so clear but I promise you I was a babe. At least, I thought I was. I liked to go out and party with my friends and go dancing. That's how I met Donny. He thought he was Fred Astaire or Bojangles or John Travolta or somebody. He was a dancing machine. To be quite honest with you, I'm not that good of a dancer and I would much rather watch everybody else dance. Donny would lead me tripping out to the dance floor and start some strange moves and try to twirl me around, quite unsuccessfully actually. I would try to pawn him off on some of my girlfriends who loved to dance but he always came back to dance with me. Well, our dancing days are long behind us now but we're still plugging along together. Donny is the most even tempered and loving person I know. Remember when people used to say "It's not easy being cheesy." It's not easy living with me so I think he deserves a gold star.

I wish I could go back in time and have a talk with the young me. I'd tell myself to take better care of my teeth, for one thing.

I was supposed to go with my cousin Donna to get the pictures made but she passed away suddenly. I decided to go get my picture made anyway. Kind of as the last thing I planned to do with her. I wish we could have gotten our pictures made together. She was like a sister to me. She was only twenty years old when she died suddenly.

Donna and I did things together all the time after I got a divorce. We grew really close. She was like my sister. She loved riding around town in downtown Dalton. Teenagers cruised the main drag up and down and around and around like mice in a cage. There was always somebody that Donna knew in town. She was the pretty blonde girl with the little blue Datsun. There was one more Datsun that looked like Donna's but that belonged to another girl.

The girl with the other Datsun was kidnapped and thrown in a well the summer we were hanging around town. Some of Donna's friends thought the girl in the Datsun was Donna but it wasn't. It was another girl. She was a real nice girl. We knew her. She was lucky because somebody heard her screaming and they got her out alive. Later on, I believe, she was robbed when she was working at a convenience store. That poor girl had a horrible life. I don't know what happened to her after that but life isn't fair, is it?

Donna and I rode around and she would talk on the CB with other people. One night we started talking to some guy who said he was the Grave Digger. Donna said she was the Lady in White. He said he was in the West Hill Cemetary. Donna and the boy kept talking and she tried to find him in the cemetary. He turned out to be a friend of hers that she knew from town. He was one of the boys that drove those huge jacked up trucks. We always had a ball back then.

Do you remember the fashions in the seventies? I used to wear those klunky shoes with the cork bottoms. I loved them. They made me three or four inches taller and I could stand up in them, unlike high heels. I thought I was cool in palazzo pants. Remember those? I thought the Eagles was the best band around.

I've come a long way from the sweet young woman in the picture. In that journey from young to old I have had a wonderfully boring life. I care deeply and worry alot. I have been very blessed and I guess it's okay if I never get plastic surgery. Wrinkle with dignity. Carpe diem!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

All About Christmas

My moma and her family didn't celebrate Christmas when they were growing up, partly because my grandparents belonged to a strict Christian religion that doesn't believe in celebrating Christmas and partly because they were poor. Gramma and Grampa had six little girls they tried to support on their two checks from the Crown Cotton Mill. Moma and her sisters talk often of the good times they shared when they were growing up.

Grampa was very strict and didn't allow them to put up any decorations or get any gifts for Christmas. Despite Grampa's decree Moma and her sisters wanted to celebrate like their friends and neighbors did. Moma said she always looked forward to seeing what her neighbor, Freddie Leroy, got for Christmas. She said Freddie had long beautiful curly hair and, for some strange reason, he always got a beautiful doll. He didn't like his dolls so he always let the Carter girls play with it.

One time the sisters decided to have a small cedar Christmas tree. They put the little tree in a coffee can with rocks in it to hold it up and decorated it with construction paper chains and white cotton balls. They hid the  tiny tree in the corner behind two doors that opened from two rooms that were never closed. Nobody would even think to look behind the two doors. They were so happy after their Christmas tree was decorated. Everyone was sworn to secrecy and everything went fine until Grampa got home.

When Grampa came in from work, tired and hungry, Jonnie Bell, the big mouth, ran up to him with utter delight and said, "Daddy! We have a Cheeta-Chee!" She was trying to say they had a 'cedar tree'. Poor Jonnie didn't realize that her great joy and excitement over their accomplishment would have dire consequences.

Grampa found the 'Cheeta-Chee' and quickly dispatched it out the door. That was the end of their Christmas that year.

Moma said she did remember Grampa buying them some presents a couple of times, though. She remembered one year that he got every girl a doll baby. Jonnie Bell didn't like her doll so she ended up getting Crick's dolly. Things weren't always fair when one child could cry so loud.

Although Moma and her sisters didn't get to celebrate Christmas, and Santa Claus never came to visit them, she never denied me a Christmas. Moma and Daddy always loved me and showered me with wonderful gifts for Christmas. Moma never actually told me that there was a Santa Claus but she never denied it either.

I loved Christmas when I was a kid. The Crown Cotton Mill gave out fruit baskets for Christmas. I only had eyes for the foot long 2" candy cane and all the candy bags of orange slices and chocolate drops. Since both sets of grandparents and my parents worked at the cotton mill there were plenty of goodies sitting around.

I remember some amazing Christmas's over the years. One of my favorite years I got a round wooden table with two matching captains chairs and a cooking set with little dishes and cake pans and mix. Moma and Daddy went back to bed and I mixed all my packages together playing with them. I didn't have anything to cook when Moma got up to help me. I also got an inexpensive set of finger puppets that looked like a barbershop quartet that year. I loved putting them on my fingers and singing with them and pretending like we were performing for a live audience. I had a big imagination when I was a kid.

Daddy and Moma built a house when I was seven years old. Daddy was working with the crew who was building it but they worked on it in their spare time. After he came in from work building someone else's house he would go down to the new house we were building and he would work on things he could do by himself to get it ready to move into. That was the year I asked Santa for a pony.

Every day Daddy would come home late from work and sit down to eat and rest for the day. He was stiff and sore and usually in a foul mood. I thought he was always late because he was working on the new house. I didn't know that he was really breaking a pony for me. He was trying to break it in by Christmas so I could ride it.

The pony was a beautiful black and white pony with a long beautiful mane and tail. Daddy bought a beautiful black studded saddle and bridle to match. The pony was beautiful when it was saddled up. The only problem was, it wasn't broke! The pony was willful and uncooperative. I didn't have any riding experience and I was terrified of the evil, biting and bucking beast. That was a bad idea! Daddy ended up swapping my mean little pony for a brown and white pinto that was supposed to be good with kids. I guess the magic wore off with the first little pony because Trigger and I never bonded like we should have. I was always afraid of him and he knew it. He would roll his eyes at me and I cringed in fear. He was a reminder of my stupidity and the fact that you don't always need what you want.

Moma hid my presents for years and never would answer me when I asked her to tell me if Santa Claus was real. By the time they finally broke the news to me I was in middle school. I remember that Christmas being the one that I got a pretty navy colored sailor's raincoat with white piping. I loved it, until the seams started coming apart and it basically disintegrated on me. I think I also got a crappy watch but I am notorious for killing watches. I think I am too electric, or something. Maybe that's what I Sing the Body Electric means.

I've never been comfortable with swapping gifts and I resent wasting money on crap that nobody really wants or needs. I'll be honest. I'm a Scrooge. When my boys were little I never taught them that Santa Claus was coming to bring them gifts. I felt it makes much more sense knowing that Moma and Daddy are playing Santa, not some fat stranger dressed in a red suit. I didn't want to lie to my kids. I think if you lie to them about Santa, and the Easter Bunny, and then tell them about Jesus, how are they going to swallow that? They might think everything is a lie. Maybe it's just me. I hate being lied to. I know some mothers used Santa as a threat to keep their kids in line. I laughed and watched their kids fearful looks. Whatever. I told the boys not to step on other people's beliefs, but there really wasn't a Santa Claus. They always got everything they ever wanted or needed so they were okay with that.

Every Christmas we enjoy lighting up our yard. We had a Christmas tree in front of the house we decorated, too. We have done this for years. A few years ago I found out that Colt had been telling a friend of his that rode the bus with him that we were Jewish! When the young man came out here he mentioned something about us being Jewish. Huh? Come again.  Colt thought it was hilarious that he had been scamming his friend Justin for years about us being Jewish. I asked Colt why he did that . He said that if Justin was too dumb know we weren't Jewish since we put up Christmas decorations every year he wasn't going to tell him any difference. What a guy! Who knew? We're Jewish. mazel tov!

I love Christmas. I love watching the Charlie Brown Christmas on the TV and, who doesn't love, It's a Wonderful Life? I love Christmas lights and holiday tunes. I love being with family and friends. I just don't love shopping for presents. I don't care if you say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, but wouldn't it be more honest if merchants changed their greeting to Come on in Suckers. Christmas is a marketing gimmick that has been going on for about a hundred years. The best part of Christmas is the decorations, if you ask me.

Now that my boys are grown I like to give them the gift that keeps on giving. You can fold it, you can break it, you can save it, or you can use it all up. No! It is not a gift card. A pox upon gift cards, too. I like GREEN. Who doesn't like green? If we must swap gifts lets put a limit (say $25MOL?) and if you swap gifts give gifts of equal value, all green. Wa-Laa! Now buy what YOU want, yourself. Scout says that doesn't sound like a very good gift. Probably because he'd be breaking even, unlike he usually does. Hey, maybe I am Jewish. Who knew?

I don't think Jesus came into the world to help merchants sell various merchandise to people who can't afford it for people who don't need it. But that's just me.

Oh, and did you ever notice that you can scramble the letters in Santa around and they spell Satan? How do you like that? Creepy, huh?


Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's the Poop?

Boys! You gotta love them. Although, sometimes it's mighty hard. I have two sons and when my oldest son was in the eighth grade he was a handful. He was always getting into trouble for little things. One day I was called to school because of something he had done.

Scout"s teachers assured me that he was usually a quiet and well behaved young man but they had recently had some trouble with him and were needing my help. I asked what he had done and they looked at one another sheepishly. The said they had found out that Scout had been concealing something in his locker. They confronted him and made him open the locker. That is where they found the "offensive" item in his locker. By now I was getting really worried and upset since I had no idea what they were talking about. It turned out that Scout had hidden dog crap in his locker. What the . . .? What a dummy!

I was stunned. "What in the world could he have been thinking?" I asked. They told me that they had investigated and found out that he had snuck the dog crap into school with the intent of putting it in another boys locker as a joke. I asked who the other kid was and they told me. It was a nice young boy who had been on the school bus on the field trip I had gone on with Scout and his class. But that's another story.

For some reason Scout had decided that he didn't like this boy and had intended on putting dog crap in his locker. I have no doubt that several boys were in on it. Some kid had snitched to the teacher, so the rumor mill was working.

I was really upset that Scout would do something so mean and malicious to another kid but I had what I like to call a "cartoon" in my head.  I couldn't help visualizing Scout creeping around the backyard with a little sandwich bag following our little dog all around the yard waiting for her to poop! I couldn't help it. I know it was wrong but I thought it was hilarious. I told him he shouldn't have been so mean and dumb. Every time he did anything at school somebody always told on him. I know he was wrong but this absolutely took the cake. He cracks me up.

It's fair to say that Scout was called on the carpet more than once and you don't know how happy I was when he got out of school but I have to say this was the funniest parent-teacher conference I ever went to.


Friday, December 10, 2010

A Spicy Hot Christmas

Look at all the lovely peppers that we grew this year. We got tons of peppers off of just a few plants. After we picked the peppers, I dried them in the dehydrator.

I crushed the peppers with the help of my food processor and then put them in the freezer until time to use them.

Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas this year. Humm? Can't guess? Well, come on by and get your packet of peppers, if you aren't afraid to try them.

This is the year of the pepper! Woo-Hoo! Yeah, buddy, they sure are hot. That should warm your old heart.

I like using my peppers on top of spagetti or in soup or chili. Since I have way more peppers than we can ever eat I am going to pass these out at our family get-together and share them with all the Strickland's, or anyone else who will have them. Yall watch out!

See all the peppers. There are red cayanne peppers and seeds, and green cayanne peppers and seeds, and red hot banana peppers, and green hot banana peppers all ground up and ready to be packed.

I had to buy a new dehydrator recently so I also bought a jerky kit, too. We can add our peppers to the beef jerky when I start trying to do that.

Oh yeah, while I was trying to ground up the peppers and put them in little packs, I started sneezing my head off. Did you know that ALL peppers cause you to sneeze? That is so funny. I couldn't talk for all the sneezing. I PROMISE I didn't sneeze on the peppers. LOL

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Burying the Baby

. . . in the backyard.

We've lived in Resaca ever since Colt was a baby. I made Donny fence in the yard when we first moved here so the boys could play and they would be safe in the backyard. When Colt was around two or so he was always following Scout around everywhere. The novelty of having a little brother had long ago worn thin and Scout grew tired of having Colt dog his every step.

Donny and I were in the house one sunny day taking a break and watching TV when Scout sashayed in the livingroom with a smug little smile on his face. He plopped down on the couch with us, grinning like a possum. We were talking when Scout proudly announced that he had buried Colt in the backyard.  That conjured up some unpleasant images. He told us he had "planted" Colt in the hole the old clothes line had just recently been removed from. We rushed to the bedroom window to see what was going on. Colt was buried up to his knees and was crying and begging Scout to come get him out.

Scout just laughed like any boy would do. I turned around to rush out there and save my baby. Donny and Scout followed along behind me.

Colt was buried in the fresh dirt from the hole, packed in well by my other son, the demon child. Like an idiot, I rushed up and didn't realize that Colt was truely stuck. I grabbed him around his chest and tried to pick him up out of the tightly packed earth. He yelled in pain. He said that his back was hurt and started to cry even harder. I thought, "Way to go, Mom. Just kill him next time." Boy, What a dummy.

Donny told me to leave him alone. He would get the baby out. He had to use a shovel and dig carefully until the dirt was loose enough to remove the rest by hand. We got Colt out of the hole and I asked him why he let Scout bury him. He said, "Because Scout wanted to." Well, duh!  At a statement like that I fastidiously replied, "And, what did WE learn by that experience?", which became an oft repeated phrase around here whenever somebody did something particularly stupid. His brother had conned him into standing still while he immobilized him. Then he had deserted him. I hope Colt learned not to be so trusting. Who knows?

Despite the pranks that Scout played on Colt, you couldn't meet any more loving brothers. Colt has always been generous, to a fault. Scout is Colt's big brother and best friend. Scout looks out for Colt and sometimes tells me not to be so hard on him. They stand up for each other. They have a very good relationship. I am proud of them both. They are both good boys.

I wrote this a long time ago but everything is still true today. Scout and Colt never got mad or fought with each other when they were kids. They always got along. I guess they figured they had enough trouble with me that they didn't need any more trouble. I was always "watching them".

I always made it a point to tell them how lucky they were to have a brother and they would always have someone who loved them and understood them for the rest of their lives. I wanted them to be close to each other. I never had any siblings so I was always jealous of the brother-sister relationships. My family is divided and nobody can get along with each other. I blame that on the way they were all raised. They were taught to be jealous of each other and weren't all treated equally. It caused a lifetime of hurt and angry feelings. I was determined not to raise my boys that way. I would much rather they gang up against me than fight with each other. Fortunately, for them, I made it easy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

 Today I'd like to reflect on this day 29 years ago when my oldest son was born. I had been Christmas shopping at the local Kmart the evening before I went into labor. I must have looked huge because somebody told me I looked like I was about to have my baby. Little did I know that I would be going into labor in a few hours. I felt pretty good about getting some shopping in before Christmas despite the stress of shopping with the fevered Christmas masses.

I stayed up late that night watching TV and piddling around. When I finally started to bed I felt something warm streaming down my leg. Crap! My water broke. There was no going back now. I woke poor Donny up and told him "it was time". He bundled me into the car and rushed me to the hospital as fast as he could go. I told him to "slow down". I wasn't in any hurry to get there. He was driving like a maniac. I was afraid we wouldn't get there alive. He must have been afraid I'd pop the baby out like a PEZ dispenser.

I hated being in labor. I was attached to all kinds of machines and they wouldn't let me go anywhere. Donny, at least, got to go out to the waiting room and talk to my family and let them know how I was coming along. I thought that was awfully unfair. I'd like to be able to get up and walk around, preferably right out to the parking lot and climb into my car and drive home. Did I tell yall I was scared to death? Whew. Well, I was.

After a while the nurses said that the baby's heart beat was slowing down and they were going to induce labor for the good of the baby. Well, alrighty then. Get that thing out of there and lets get this over with. I know that they had a big mirror angled at my nether regions. You would think that I would have seen everything and remembered this moment forever, but you'd be wrong. The only thing I remember was when someone said, "My, he has a head full of hair." and I looked up to see something disgustingly wet and cheesy with swirls of black hair. Yuck! If that's what it looked like, I'd pass, thank you very much.

The doctor let Donny cut the cord and the nurses cleaned the baby up a little bit and handed him to his daddy. Donny brought the baby over to me and laid him on top of me. Scout was mad as hell and didn't mind telling us. He had his face all scrunched up and was red and screaming. That's my boy.

I thought he was beautiful. He had hair. That was a bonus. I didn't want a bald baby. He and I had a little bit of trouble getting to know each other but after he figured out how to latch on and nurse he was okay. What was I going to do with a little boy baby? I didn't know anything about babies and I sure didn't know anything about little boy babies.

Scout was the first grandchild in my family so he was spoiled and adored by his grandparents. Although my parents spoiled him, he wasn't a spoiled child. Know what I mean?

Scout always loved working with his hands. He was always building things and using his imagination when he was a kid. After he got out of school he went to work as a framer for a contractor. He did that for a few years until Donald went out of business. He got a job putting up fencing and has been doing that ever since. He has also helped Bob build barns and gazebos and sheds. He likes working outdoors, summer and winter.

Donny's moma told me one time that she though I didn't love my children by the way I would talk to them. Sometimes I would tell them I was going to "whup your little ass" if they wouldn't mind me. I wasn't Susy Sunshine with them. Later, she realized that although I talked tough to them, I really loved them.

I guess that's why I am so amazed that Scout grew up to be such a good young man. He works hard, loves his family and friends, and is unpretentious and funny.

Happy Birthday Son!

Friday, December 3, 2010

That's Shocking!

Back when I was growing up we didn't have much to play with. I had the most toys since I was an only child but when me and my cousins all got together we didn't need any stinking toys. We knew how to have a good time and we didn't have to have any store bought toys to while away the time.

We could always walk up and down the creek looking for rocks or minnows or we could run through the plowed fields searching for arrowheads. We would troupe through the woods hunting snakes or blackberries. Sometimes we even snuck up to the top of the hill to sit and smoke rabbit tobacco where we could see all around and make quick our escape in case we were ever spotted. Fortunately we never were.

The most dangerous and the most fascinating game we ever devised was when someone told us about the electric fence and how you could touch it. At first we would take turns running up to the fence with one eye on the fence charger and the red light which showed when the power was on. We would try to touch it before the electric current came back on. After tiring of such game sport we decided there had to be more fun to it than that.

I have to explain that the group consisted of me and my couisins: Randy, Debbie, Stevie and Eddie. Stevie and Eddie were Debbie's little brothers. We usually picked on Stevie and Eddie because they were the youngest and the dumbest in the bunch so we devised a new strategy. We had been taught that the current could run through anything touching it and into the ground. That's why it was our job to go around making sure that there wasn't any grass or weeds touching the fence and grounding it. The electric fence ran around the pasture that was used to keep the cattle in and was only a couple of feet high.

I don't know who got the brilliant idea of making a human chain but I bet it was Randy because he was always coming up with some bright idea. We all stood in a line and joined hands and swore not to break the chain. After a few tries we decided it would be best to put Stevie and Eddie on each end of the line. The one on the end of the line would grab a 55 gallon metal drum used for burning  garbage. The first one on the line would grab the electric fence. The current would come on and pulsate through us all and then flash back off.

While our hands were joined it was hard to break the current so we immediately began fighting and squirming to let go when the power was off. We wanted to get loose before the second jolt of electricity struck us. If the chain was ever broken the last kid standing who was in the line got the full force of the electricity running through them directly into the ground. We never let go if we could help it. You should have felt our sweaty hands and smelled the fear. We were in heaven!

We didn't just play with the electric fence one time and forget it. Each and every time we all got together we made sure to show our courage and sense of adventure by testing our strength and daring with the electric fence. We were united in blood and bonded by our bravery. We were invincible! We were kids.

I still treasure my memories of those times we so foolhardily risked electrocution although I know that the current couldn't kill us now. At the time I thought we were risking our lives. I still wonder who the heck gave us the bright idea of shocking ourselves. It seems to me it was PawPaw or Daddy or my uncle, Bob. Maybe all three. I just don't remember. And I wonder what their bright idea really was. Was it designed to intentionally kill us? Now that I have kids of my own, I wonder. Humm . . .

Debbie reminded me that we also put Stevie and Eddie up to peeing on the electric fence. She said that was the best part. No wonder I though little boys looked like Vienne-Wienies. I guess anybody would if they were being electrocuted.                


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daddy Speaks Out

My family has lived in the Dug Gap community for over 70 years. My father grew up on the family farm. Years later, my grandparents deeded an acre apiece to my father and his sister. They both built houses in the '50's. My uncle also got an acre of ground to build his house on in the '80's. My aunt and uncle moved away but my father has always lived there. Daddy knows a lot about the community.

One time  my mother was driving home from town down Dug Gap Road when a limb broke out of a big tree growing on the side of the road, smashing her windshield on the car. She asked the people who owned the house if they had homeowners insurance to cover the broken windshield.  The homeowners  claimed that it was on the right-of-way and it was the county's responsibility. They contacted the county but they said that they didn't own the right of way. Daddy and Moma went to the courthouse to check the records and find out if the county owned the right-of-way. The county didn't own the right-of-way so they weren't able to get them to fix Moma's car.

Fast forward a few years later when the county was widening the road down Dug Gap. They were taking about a foot or so of everyone's property on each side of the road and paving it. Daddy said they were going to have to pay him if they wanted to pave beside the road because it was illegal  to take people's property without paying compensation.

When they got to his property, he went outside to tell them that they couldn't widen the road at his property unless they paid him for it. The road crew called their supervisors and they came to talk to Daddy. They got the commissioners to come down and tell him that they owned the right-of-way. He told them that he knew for a fact that the county didn't own the right-of-way and he wasn't going to allow them to pave the shoulder of the road unless they paid for it. The commissioners said that they would bring proof to show Daddy that he was wrong. They left Daddy standing at the driveway to make sure nobody started paving while they were gone.

Everybody in the family went inside talking about the excitement and wondering what would happen next. It didn't take long to find out.

Instead of the commissioners coming back with proof that the county owned the right-of-way, a deputy sheriff came down the road and stopped in the road in front of the house. He told Daddy that he didn't have a right to stop the road crew from paving the road and he was wasting their valuable time. Daddy told him that the commissioners were coming back soon to tell him if they had the right-of-way to Dug Gap Road. The deputy told Daddy that if he didn't stop obstructing their job he would arrest him.

Daddy told the deputy that he was on his own property and the sheriff  couldn't arrest him because he wasn't breaking any laws. The deputy grabbed Daddy and yanked him into the road and said, "You're not on your property now, are you?", then  he punched him in the side near his kidneys with the end of his billy stick. It made Daddy double over in pain. Daddy had been suffering with prostate problems when the sheriff's deputy punched him. He had been under a doctor's care because of his prostate gland. Being jerked around by handcuffs and hit in the side didn't help.

The deputy  forced Daddy into the back of  the sheriff's car and took him to jail. One of our neighbor's saw Daddy get arrested and told the family that Daddy had been arrested.

I was pregnant at the time. When I went outside and saw that the commissioners had returned I went up to them and started yelling at them and telling them what a bunch of cowards they were to call the sheriff on my Daddy and that they were a bunch of crooks and liars. One of the commissioners said they thought Mr. Burchfield's "wife" was going to go in labor because I was so upset. The dumbass wasn't even listening when I was cussing them and telling them how sorry I thought they were for having my Daddy arrested. No wonder they wouldn't listen to my Daddy. Daddy's no dummy. He knows an awful lot about local law and things going on in the community. He was right about the law and the right-of-way..

Moma found out that Daddy had been arrested so she got off work and went to arrange Daddy's bail. She got PawPaw to go with her to help get him out of jail. The road crew worked hard to pave that strip of land and get out of there before Daddy got out of jail.

Daddy is not one to sit and let people walk all over him. He contacted a lawyer. Actually, he contacted a lot of lawyers. He found out that no lawyer in Dalton would take his case, even though he had proof that he was right about the right-of-way and the unlawful arrest. It took him a while until he was finally able to find someone to take his case.

In the meantime the road department came back down the road widening the bridges on Dug Gap Road. Moma was at home that day. She went outside and told the workers they didn't have the right to widen the bridge on our side of the road and that she and Daddy were in the process of sueing the county and if they paved the bridge on our side of the road she would just sue them, too. The road crew called their supervisor and he told them to leave that bridge alone. The bridge at my parents house still isn't paved today.

It took years before the case went to court. Both of my boys were big by the time the case went to court. Daddy won his case and was paid a settlement.

Another time Moma and Daddy befriended some neighbors who were old maids. Moma had asked them if she could have some of their pecans. After getting to know the ladies, Moma and Daddy felt sorry for them because they all seemed helpless. Their yard was overgrown and their bushes needed trimmed. Daddy went to one of the churchs at Dug Gap and told them that some old ladies who lived in the neighborhood needed some help to get their yard cleaned up. He asked the preacher if he would get some young people together to clean up the old ladies yard. He said that the preacher asked what church they went to. Daddy said he didn't know what church they went to but they needed help and he was asking for it. He promised to get back to him. Nobody from the church ever showed up to help. Moma and Daddy ended up taking their trailer up there and cut down three huge loads of limbs and brush. They hauled it all down to their house and burned it.

Years later, when the electric company wanted to put huge power poles down a small section of Dug Gap Road, everybody in the neighborhood wanted to stop them. People got together trying to get the electric company to use another less invasive route. Daddy and Moma went to meetings to discuss the gigantic metal power poles being proposed. Daddy and other members of the community went around talking to people about the power poles. He even asked one of the pastors from another church for their support in stopping the electric company from putting huge power poles through that part of Dug Gap. Instead of supporting him, they told the electric company that it would be okay with them if they wanted to put the poles on their church property.

When people in the neighborhood found out that the only ones to get any money from the electric company would be the actual people who owned the property that the poles would be placed on everyone lost interest. Never mind the fact that Dug Gap looks hideous with those monstrous metal power poles running through a short section of Dug Gap. It seems that the only way people care about anything is if money is involved.

Daddy has a huge 142 foot metal power pole in the front yard between his house and his neighbor's house. I've learned to ignore it but it is HUGE. And so unnecessary. They could have run the line from Highway 41 through the woods and by the Ryman Farm and subdivision. There are already electric lines that run across that section of Dug Gap Road from Highway 41. It would have been able to go directly to the Valley Point power station by that route along Highway 41. I think the commissioners and the electric company probably chose the route they did to make sure to put a huge ugly power pole in Daddy's front yard. But that's just my theory.

There are a lot of churches in the Dug Gap community. When the Muslim's bought some property in Dug Gap, the community banned together in opposition of a mosque. Daddy went to those meetings, too.

When Daddy was allowed to speak he told everyone in the meeting about asking one church for help in blocking the power lines through Dug Gap and how they hadn't helped. He also told about asking another church to help the elderly ladies in the community. Then he told about one church that had purchased land to build their church on and how they had desecrated a graveyard. He offered to talk to anyone after the meeting if they wanted more details.

The preacher from that church caught up with him after the meeting and told him that he had no right to say things like that about his church. He said they hadn't bulldozed any graves. Daddy told him that he was a liar. He told the preacher that he was going to town one day and saw that the church was bulldozing the land all around the graves. When he came back from town the dirt had been graded down and there wasn't a sign of the graves.

The preacher said, oh well, there weren't any bones and so they didn't desecrate any graves. The preacher also said that someone had told him it would be alright to level the graves. Daddy said he had probably been talking to Quinton Babb and he didn't even own the property so he had no right telling them that they could flatten the graves.

People had used the excuse that the mosque would bring in too much traffic down Dug Gap so Daddy told about all the churches that had been built over the years. One church had been built recently and was adjascent to the property owned by the Muslims. He said that, so far, the churches in the community hadn't done a thing to help him but, he felt, if he asked the Muslims for help they would probably be more accommodating than some people in the neighborhood. He also said that since they didn't meet like the churches in the community they probably wouldn't attract any more traffic than the other churches. Daddy said that he thought the Muslims had as much right to build their church in Dug Gap as all the other churches. The mosque was built but not everyone was happy. The property has been vandalized.

My father is one of those rare American's who believe in standing up for the things that he believes are right and he isn't afraid to stand up to local government or big business or community discord. He inspires me.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gracious Gratitude

I've never forgotten my Christmas present when I was five years old and I especially never forgot the lesson I learned the hard way. As a little kid I don't remember many specific details. I think my consciousness was sort of napping until my id awoke. That's the psychoanalytical source of psychic energy. I guess it is my way of saying that if it were not for this specific incident I would probably have forgotten what I had gotten when I was five but fortunately for that Christmas I had gotten a beautiful bright blue bicycle and had my first road trip.

Daddy bought me a 24" bike but, to my diminutive stature, it appeared huge. Daddy chose an expensive bike and he told me that he got it for me so that I could take care of it and never need another bike in my life. Woe! That was a big responsibility to a little girl but I was delighted. He had even put training wheels on the bicycle and left them barely not touching on either side so that the bike could be ridden by experienced riders like himself.

We lived in a rental house on Dug Gap Road in Dalton, Georgia. His parents lived about two miles down the road from us. Daddy's sister lived between us and their parents house along the way. The weather was nice for Christmas day and Daddy suggested that we ride my bike down to my grandparents house. He said that he would ride on the seat and steer for me and I could pedal so that my legs could start getting strong so I could ride my new bike. I thought that was a fine idea. After a while I saw that I had been duped but that didn't matter, we still traveled on. Sometimes Daddy would give me a break and let me rest from pedaling. I was growing exhausted by the time we got to the old Dug Gap store and stopped to rest. My aunt lived in one of the houses next to the store and we stopped in to visit and get warm before we traveled on.

My aunt had her house all decorated for Christmas and had a big cedar tree in the living room sitting on her polished wooden floor. I remember she always had a Victorian painting of a woman posing for her picture. I asked her who the beautiful lady in the picture was and she said it was a portrait of herself when she was young. I frowned at this statement but never thought to doubt her. I just thought they didn't look the same to me. Hmm.

Vivian was a big joker so I never knew when to take her seriously. Sometimes she was called Ben, too, so that's what I usually called her. Her son had tried to call her Vivian when he was little and it had come out as Ben and it had stuck. She was all the time teasing us kids and she was teasing me that day about giving me a Christmas present if I was nice. I had to beg her for my gift. She pulled out a present all wrapped in gay wrapping paper.

I tore into it and unwrapped something knitted. I unfolded it and saw that I had gotten an ugly pair of red slipper socks with stripes on them. I must not have looked pleased because Ben asked me if I liked the socks and I said "No. They're ugly."

I must have hurt her feelings but when you're five years old you only notice your own feelings and my feelings were hurt. I don't know why I didn't like the socks but I thought they were a dumb gift. Vivian said, "In that case then I'll give them to Stevie or Eddie. They'll like them." Stevie and Eddie were my younger cousins and Ben's nephews.

I didn't want her to give my present away so I said "No, I'll take them." to which she replied, "Too late, little girl. You'll learn to say 'thank you' next time." She put the gift back in the pile for somebody else and I ended up with nothing. At first I thought she was kidding but she wasn't kidding this time.

The moral of this story is sort of obvious but it was one lesson I learned awfully young. Too bad a few more people haven't met up with their own Aunt Ben and learned to be gracious and say 'thanks' no matter what the gift is. It's not the present that counts, it's the thought.

I never did get a gift from Ben that year and I never did complain about anything she gave me after that. Lesson learned, Daddy and I continued on to Beulah and Paw Paw's house, but the climax of the day had already happened. The ride back home felt a lot longer.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Up A Tree

The thing that attracted me to Don when I first met him was the fact that he could "do things". He wasn't afraid to work on his own car or get dirty and work hard. He was a man's man. He wasn't big and flashy but he was focused and determined. No matter what the job, Don proved himself more than capable of the challenge.

He built a small shelf out of old oak boards from a pallet and produced an attractive place to display his stuffed raccoons. He had two young raccoons mounted on a tree limb. He also displayed a huge mule deer he had shot in Colorado hanging on the living room wall. He even built a seven by ten foot shelf for our books and TV. He never ceased to amaze me at what he was able to accomplish.

We bought a home in Gordon County and Don has done everything around here that has improved the place. He landscaped the yard so that it doesn't flood under the house when it rains. He put all the gutters on the house without any help. He even put a six foot high fence around the yard for the kids when they were little. Our whole backyard is enclosed.

We had an old dilapidated building that we use for storage. There is a huge old pine tree that grows beside the old barn. Don worried that the limbs would fall off the tree and crash through the barn. This began to really worry him over a long period of time until he finally decided to climb up the tree and cut some precariously loose limbs.

Don had a good chain saw and an extension ladder. He got an early start and climbed up the tree to begin to discard weak branches. The boys and I went somewhere and were gone for a long time. After we came back home we found out that Don had been cutting tree limbs when a big pine limb hit the ladder and knocked it down. He had been standing on another big limb way up high and he couldn't figure any way to get out of the tree or how to retrieve the ladder. He was stuck up a tree!

Don said he sat on the tree limb for a long time yelling for anybody to come and help him down. Our neighbor, Jay, finally heard him calling and came down to see what was wrong. She had a good laugh when she got here and saw him sitting on a tree limb. It was a good thing he had left the fence open or she wouldn't have been able to get in the backyard to help him. She came over and put the extension ladder back up for him so that he could finally come down. He decided to tie a rope to the ladder so that he could pull the ladder back up if he knocked the ladder down again. He didn't want to be stuck again.

That's my Paul Bunyon story about Don.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Runaway Logsplitter

"Neither a borrower, nor a lender be . . . " That reminds me of the story about the logsplitter.

Don's a metal worker and he is a genius with a torch and metal. He made a great logholder for my parents when we first got married and he's able to make anything if he has the time. He has built several flatbed trailers and he even built his own logsplitter after we bought a wood stove and started burning firewood. When a couple of friends heard that Don had built a logsplitter they asked to borrow it. Don is a much more generous person than I am so he agreed to let them borrow his logsplitter. He figured it would be okay because it was a heavy duty hydraulic logsplitter built on a huge I-beam and was practically indestructible. It was capable of splitting some huge trees. He said there wasn't any way they could hurt the logsplitter so I shouldn't worry. Huh! Little did he know.

My friend Pat and her husband asked to borrow the logsplitter and Don lent it to them. Alan came to our house to get the logsplitter and even brought it home after a couple of weeks. I was in the yard when he pulled up in our driveway in his big red truck and just sat there grinning like a 'possum. He hadn't said a word yet. I said, "Hello Alan. What are you doing?" and he kept smiling and said he was returning the logsplitter.

I was confused because I could see that he didn't have the logsplitter with him. Don came outside to see what Alan was doing.When Alan realized that he didn't have the logsplitter attached to his truck he and Don went back down the road trying to find it.

They found the logsplitter a couple of miles down the road where it had come loose from the truck and ended up in a bunch of trees. Don and Alan wrestled it out of the undergrowth and hooked it back up to the trailer hitch and brought it home.

I'm sure I teased Alan mercilessly for losing the logsplitter and not even noticing it and I know I told Pat what a bonehead he was. She had always been aware of Alan's imperfections before and had told good natured stories about him so I didn't think it would make her mad. But not long after that incident I called Pat and she never returned my phone calls. I tried to talk to her several times and she never ever called again. I finally got the message and quit calling her. Oh well.

I couldn't figure out what I had done that was so awful that she wouldn't talk to me but over the years I have seen several friends fall by the wayside. It really hurt my feelings to lose a friend without understanding why. Years later Don admitted that he had told Alan off and told him what a dumbass he was when they had gone back to get the logsplitter. He was really mad at Alan for losing the logsplitter and for not even realizing it until he got to our house. Maybe that's why Pat didn't talk to me again. I just don't know.

Next it was Don's childhood friend Terry who asked to borrow the logsplitter. Don even took it over to Terry's house to let him use it. He lived up in Crow Valley in the country and he had a lot of firewood to split. Terry had one cripple arm so he had been having a hard time getting all his wood split. The logsplitter was the answer to his prayers. Don told him to keep the logsplitter as long as he needed it and he could bring it home when he had all his wood split. Don emphasized the importance of getting the logsplitter hitch locked and using the safety chains.

When Terry was through with the logsplitter he hooked it to the trailer ball and started to bring it home. He got on Walnut Avenue, one of the busiest two lane highways in Dalton, before the logsplitter suddenly came loose from the car and went barreling across both lanes of oncoming traffic and landed in the front yard of a vacant house.

Terry was so shaken that he came on down to our house and got Don to ride back up there and help him get the logsplitter. They brought the logsplitter home.

After these two incidents we didn't lend the logsplitter to anybody again. He let his stepfather use it but he took the logsplitter to Charlie's house and went back to pick it up. We didn't want to take any chances of anybody getting killed, or hurt.

Like I said, "Neither a lender, nor a borrower be." Now you know why it doesn't pay to lend things. We could have been sued if somebody had been injured when the logsplitter was being hauled around by some careless or incompetent person. Thank goodness nobody was injured in either case but the indestructible logsplitter could have been lethal.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Silky the Flying Squirrel

When I was in high school a friend of mine raised three orphan grey squirrels. They were Romeo, Juliet and Ophelia. She loved to talk about their pet squirrels and tell about their antics living with her and her young husband in a small mobile home. I would go and visit them and enjoy these beautiful wild creatures up close and personal.

Someone at school had a flying squirrel that was becoming a nuisance and they offered the squirrel to Patricia. She would have liked to adopt the little flying squirrel but she was afraid it would upset her grey squirrels and cause problems. She asked me if I would like to have Silky. I was thrilled to adopt the cute little creature.

Patricia and Billy brought Silky to my house and let him loose to show me and my family how friendly the little squirrel was. They bribed him with pecans and walnuts. He would scamper all over them, crawling on their shirts and pants and perching on top of their heads. He would perch there for a few moments to examine his new environment and then suddenly go sailing across the room to land on the curtain rod and scurry across it like it was a tree limb. He was funny and friendly. He took to us immediately and Moma and Daddy were won over. They didn't mind having Silky in the house.

In the evenings Silky and I would retire to the bedroom with the door closed so he wouldn't wander about the house and keep everybody awake all night. Flying squirrels are nocturnal animals and he became progressively active at night. His bed was a cube shaped kleenex box I place on the curtain rod above my bed.

Every night he would sail across the bedroom over my bed and hit the closet door. Thump! Then you could hear him scurry across the wooden floor and sense him crawling over the bed and leaping up the curtains to ascend to his treetop only to jump into the abyss and smack into the closet door, or land somewhere else and scamper around. After a while I began to grow sick of the noise and loss of sleep. Locking him in the closet didn't help because he would slam into the door again and again trying to get out.

Moma and Daddy were having carpet put in for the first time and having the ceilings sprayed with foam to make it look modern. The house became a maze of displaced furniture that was being constantly moved out of rooms so the ceilings could be sprayed. All of this activity made Silky nervous and he was able to hide so it wasn't easy to keep track of him. The house was finally straightened out and everything settled back to normal. Moma found nuts that Silky had hidden above widows and the glass door. He was very good at saving his nuts for later.

Moma and Daddy were both working at night during that time. Moma would always stand in the bathroom in front of the sink getting ready for work. I had to spend the night next door at my grandparents so I left the house before Moma went to work. I walked to their house. I would have to walk home in the morning to get ready for school. I stayed with relatives whenever Moma and Daddy were both working third shift so I was used to doing this.

The next morning I walked through the field from my grandparent's house in the early morning chill and went into a quiet, lonely house. I ate my milk and cereal and went to the bathroom to finish getting ready for school. The lid on the toilet was raised and I thought I saw an olive green kleenex like the ones Moma used floating in the toilet. I reached out to flush the toilet and then looked down to see that it was Silky floating in the toilet! I was horrified. Silky was stiff and drenched. It looked like he had spit up in the water!

I could imagine the curious little squirrel flying into the toilet unaware of the danger. I imagined his struggle as he tried in vain to get a foot hold on the cold slick porceline. I began to cry with deep wracking sobs as I realized his fear and panic before he drowned . . . in toilet water! Augh!!! What a way to die.

I was sick with grief and guilt because I hadn't stayed to make sure the toilet lid had been closed. Daddy had warned us of the danger and yet we had still let Silky drown. I felt too upset to go to school that day. Moma came houe and got Silky out of the toilet. I didn't even have the guts to fish him out. Whenever I looked at him I wanted to throw up. Moma and Daddy let me mope around the house all day and cry over Silky.

The next day I went to school even though I still felt close to tears. My friends asked me why I hadn't been in school the day before. I told them that Silky, my flying squirrel, drowned in the toilet. Instead of the sympathy I expected from them I received laughter and then they would turn around to somebody else and tell them to ask me why I had been out of school. Everybody thought it was a big joke. That was my first experience at realizing that unless a tragedy touches you personally nobody cares.

One good thing did come of that. After Silky drowned Moma did quit buying the green kleenex out of courtesy to Silky. After all, at first, I did think he was a tissue. I guess I was the nut.

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