Monday, August 29, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where Be The Southern Jackass, Most Honorable?

I have been unable to reach the Southern Jackass via email for several days ... but only realized to day that there was no public access to The Southern Jackass' Stall ... along with his store of pictures.

I an saving the archives and hope that he will soon return ... he is a most gifted writer, but more importantly, a wonderful person and my treasured friend. I hope all is well!

Should anyone have information ... I would appreciate knowing that all is well ... or not, as the case might be.

You can comment here or in Ye Olde Barbershop ... Thanks!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Ghandi's Seven Blunders Of The World ...

1. Wealth without work ...

2. Pleasure without conscience ...

3. Knowledge without character ...

4. Commerce without morality ...

5. Science without humanity ...

6. Worship without sacrifice ...

7. Politics without principle!

* Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, India. He led India's movement for independence from British rule and is one of the most respected spiritual and political leaders of the 20th century. In 1948 he was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic who opposed his tolerance for all creeds and religions. Gandhi is honoured by his people as the father of the Indian nation and is called 'Mahatma', which means Great Soul...Museum of the Mind.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jawin' With A Jackass! ...

Here's a story Ansel Poteet passed along to Henry Beefeater over at the General Store the other day ... later on Henry told it to me ... so I'll tell it to you ... it was common knowledge that Ansel Poteet was of the same persuasion as Grandpa DooLittle when it came to unbridled potation of top-grade alcoholic beverages ... often following these shameless acts of over-indulgence, the pickled pair would seek out undisturbed solace in somebody's barn or shed for the purpose of "sleepin' off" their crapulous, albeit blissful states of inebriation ... neither of these seasoned sots relished the idea of facing their wives while under the influence of volatile spirits, nor did they want to meet up with Sheriff Clarence A. VanMeter, who always had more than a few vacancies in his cold, hard drunk tank.

Well, on that particular evening, after guzzling copious amounts of their favorite intoxicants, the sozzled duo made an executive decision and agreed amongst themselves that Virgil Hunnicutt's mule shed was as good a place as any to wile away the hours basking in the glory of spiritous, backslidden bliss, besides, Virgil was so hard of hearing and nearly blind that he would never be the wiser ... so the bacchanalian duo stumbled inside, careful not to rile Virgil's old mule named Clyde(no relation), and settled into a pile of new straw in an adjacent stall ... it wasn't long before Grandpa DooLittle had dozed-off, but Ansel Poteet hadn't been so lucky, those evil spirits dancing around in his gut assured him that he was in for a tumultuous night ... with his head spinning like a greased weather vane in a prairie windstorm, Ansel propped himself up with his back against the far side of Clyde's stall, then rested his head against his chest while trying to draw in as much fresh air as his tired lungs could pull so as to ward off any sudden onset of fierce nausea ... meanwhile, Grandpa DooLittle was lying there as quiet and motionless as a frozen mud puddle.

Now without fail, as was his habit, Virgil Hunnicutt would go out to the shed each evening after supper and treat his beloved mule Clyde to some oats or sweet feed, along with a couple of juicy carrots if available, and to make sure he had plenty of water to get through the night ... this evening was no different, well, at first it wasn't ... Ansel Poteet had heard Virgil Hunnicutt enter the shed, so he sat quietly as the old-timer hung a feedbag around Clyde's neck  ... Virgil talked to the big mule continuously the entire time he was munching on those oats, telling him what a great friend and magnificent beast he was ... this gave the tipsy mischief-maker an idea as he peered between the planks of Clyde's stall watching Virgil remove the empty feedbag, then stick a huge carrot between Clyde's teeth and turn to fill the water trough ... all of a sudden, as Clyde chomped on that carrot, a deep, raspy voice resonated from within the recesses of the darkened stall "man this is the toughest carrot I've ever gnawed on!" ... Virgil froze in his tracks, then slowly turned and asked the voice to repeat itself ... "I said, this is the toughest carrot I've ever tried to gnaw on" ... "I certainly hope that other one there in your pocket is better" ... Virgil was beside himself ... "Clyde, is that you that just said that?" he enquired ... "why yes it's me, who else do you think it is? ... do you see anyone else about? ... we're all alone here in this shed, are you losing your mind ol' friend?" replied the voice from the stall ... Virgil was so befuddled that he didn't know whether to run away or continue the discourse, so he replied "well Clyde, it's just that you've never talked to me like this before" ... the husky voice retorted "well you've never fed me carrots as stale as these before either, so why don't you go find me some that are much fresher and fitter to eat!" ... Virgil could hardly believe his ears but complied "Yes sir, I'll do just that, but under one condition, you have to promise never to tell anybody about our conversation" ... a deep guffaw emanated from Clyde's stall, then the voice proclaimed "oh I won't tell anyone if you don't Virgil Hunnicutt ... besides, I wouldn't want anyone to know that I've been jawin' with a jackass!"


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bartholomew Goodfellow's Rule ...

The weathered, little schoolhouse had been standing idle for nearly two years ... although numerous souls had nobly taken on the often thankless task of educating the scores of children who funneled in from surrounding hills and hollows, some prevailing longer than others, but all eventually departing for the same reason ... a guileful bully by the name of Bartholomew Goodfellow ...

It was common practice during the days of one-room schoolhouses that just one teacher kept charge of pupils consisting of first through twelfth grades ... small youngsters intermingled with larger teens in a single classroom for an entire school year ... naturally, this combination brought together fickle elements liable for potential trouble ... Bartholomew Goodfellow had always been extremely adept at sowing seeds of discord which eventually developed into the desired fruits of his labor--that being his prolonged truancy from the dreaded learning institution of which he so vehemently detested ... achieved by simply "scaring away" any and all teachers ... now Mister Crabtree, a meek and refined, old gentleman, who had been an highly efficacious educator for the past thirty-five years or so, had undertaken the daunting endeavor of assuming the position of schoolmaster at the storied edifice, and was fully aware of the challenges at hand having spent many sleepless nights in operose thought trying to determine the best course of action for handling almost certain confrontation with Master Goodfellow ... consequently, he had settled on a theory--maybe if he were to give the young man the impression that he and his classmates were ultimately in charge of maintaining discipline and directly responsible for determining rules for good behavior, the ploy just might dissuade Bartholomew's intent from menace and mayhem to that of peace and placidity, after all, Mister Crabtree was certain that he could neither physically control nor forcefully restrain the boy's 'oft tetchiness and fits of hostility ... however, after enduring more than three and a half decades of successful adolescent didactics, Crabtree was known to be extremely proficient at psychological manipulation ... particularly at the juvenile level ...

Standing in the back of the room like a swaggering peafowl was a rugged fellow well over six feet tall ... a flannel shirt with rolled sleeves exposed strong, sinewy arms and scruffy locks of auburn hair lay crammed 'neath a well-worn newsboy hat ... more notable was the intimidatingly icy stare and persistent sneer on his sparsely whiskered face ... hovering around the imposing hulk was a group of smaller lads which in appearance seemed to be equally as tough ... however, truth be told ... they were terrified of him ... as were the rest of his classmates ... many grown men around those parts had no desire to tussle with this overgrown behemoth ... the infamous Bartholomew Goodfellow ...

Mister Crabtree cleared his throat, introduced himself to the class, then announced that he would be permitting each enrollee to offer up one proposed behavioral rule which upon approval by the entire student body would be adopted as official schoolhouse policy for the remainder of that year ... everyone seemed quite agreeable to this unusual course of action, especially Bartholomew Goodfellow--who figured he could use it to his advantage sometime in the very near future ... so each student scribbled their proposal on a small piece of scrap paper and Mister Crabtree collected each of them in an old cigar box ... he then read each suggestion aloud as the class voiced either a yea or a nay ... every rule was unanimously accepted ... even Bartholomew Goodfellow's rule, which was that anyone caught stealing was to receive three stinging blows across the bare back from a willow switch by whomsoever may have fallen victim to said theft ... no exceptions ... Mister Crabtree didn't like this rule in the least, but judged that the mere possibility of such severe punishment would likely deter any thoughts of thievery by any right-minded mortal ...

Although still early, the fall semester seemed to be moving along exceptionally well, there had been no grievous or life-threatening problems ... that is, until this particular afternoon ... there before the class stood a manifestly umbrageous Bartholomew Goodfellow, one hand grasping a long, thick willow switch with which he was methodically striking the wide palm of his other hand with loud, sinister smacks ... Bartholomew angrily announced that some despicable larcenist had committed an unpardonable act of outright villainy--some shifty-eyed culprit had pilfered his lunch and he was now demanding that the worthless vagabond be straightaway apprehended and brought to swift and sudden justice ... that being three stinging blows across the bare back from that willow switch ... no exceptions ... which he was menacingly waving through the air for all to behold ..... that which Mister Crabtree greatly feared had come to pass! ...

The distinguished pedagogue lamentably reminded the class that Bartholomew Goodfellow's rule had been agreed upon by one and all, and reluctantly demanded that whomsoever was responsible for the alleged theft should immediately stand to their feet, step forward and present themselves before the entire class to receive the prescribed punishment ... the old man unquietly hoped and prayed for the sake of the guilty party that he or she would simply remain quietly seated ... but to his dismay, little Melvin Proctor wearily rose to his feet and slowly plodded to the front of the room ... Melvin was a scrawny, underweight young boy who came from an unfortunately poor family which lived in a dilapidated shack near the head of Mill Hollow ... his father had been killed in a war that Melvin never had come to understand ... since his dad's untimely death, Melvin's mother had always told the skinny child that he was now the man of the house, and that he should conduct himself accordingly ... well, Melvin was now being that man, and conducting himself accordingly ... ragged clothes ... growling stomach ... hollow gaze and all ... he looked right up into the glaring eyes of Bartholomew Goodfellow and told him that he was sorry for taking his lunch, and that he would somehow make it right, he then added that there had been no food at his house for nearly a week, and that his baby sister had been awfully hungry and had cried herself to sleep each night ... Melvin went on to say that he could no longer bear to hear his little sister sobbing because of hunger, so he had swiped a lunch so she would have something to eat that night ... prepared to accept full responsibility for his actions, Melvin removed his threadbare shirt to reveal a skinny torso -- his spine and rib cage clearly protruding through thin, pale skin ... as he bent over to brace himself against Mister Crabtree's old oak desk the piteous sound of huge tears could be heard dropping onto the dusty planking of the classroom floor ...

Everyone sat breathlessly silent with tearful eyes awaiting Bartholomew Goodfellow's response ... with voice breaking for the first time ever, Bartholomew looked at Mister Crabtree and enquired if he should be permitted to make an amendment to his rule ... Mister Crabtree told him that it would only be permissible if the entire class consented, of which they hesitantly did ... so the hulking giant offered that if anyone were to step forward and stand in place of any guilty person, then they should receive any due punishment in their stead ... Mister Crabtree along with the rest of the class cautiously concurred ... Bartholomew then handed the sturdy switch to Mister Crabtree, leaned over and picked up the tattered shirt from off the dirty floor and gently placed it on Melvin's bony back as he led the terrified little boy back to his seat ... Bartholomew then returned to the front ... removed his shirt ... grabbed the corners of the desk ... and directed Mister Crabtree to administer Melvin Proctor's scourging to his own bare back ...

Henceforward and without fail Bartholomew Goodfellow fetched two lunches to school ... one for himself ... the other jam-packed with sufficient grub for Melvin Proctor to eat his fill of--along with enough to take home for his baby sister and mother ... fellow classmates regularly tossed in extra goodies too ... unbelievably, Bartholomew Goodfellow seemed to have a more considerate temperament ... he was becoming a man ... a man just like Melvin Proctor!



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Colored Past ...

It is well-documented in the history of baseball's storied past that it's once longstanding color barrier was soundly shattered on April 18, 1946, the day Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia to a sharecropping family on January 31, 1919, was signed to play with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization by owner Branch Rickey, becoming the first African-American of the 20th century to join Major League baseball. Robinson made his first appearance with the Montreal Royals in the International League, and after just a single season with Montreal, the gifted athlete made his big league debut as a Brooklyn Dodger on April 15, 1947, when he played first base against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field. Jackie Robinson helped catapult the Dodgers to the National League Pennant, and earned National League Rookie Of The Year honors.

During those early years, Jackie Robinson endured hardhearted mistreatment from fellow ball players and baseball fans alike, all with quiet dignity, but his entrance into America's favorite pastime had served to spin rusted tumblers in the doorlocks of prejudice thereby enabling access by other players of color such as Don Newcombe, Roy Campanella, Joe Black and Larry Doby, the first black star of the Cleveland Indians. By 1952, more than 150 black players comprised of the "cream of the crop" from Negro League rosters had been enticed to join organized baseball's integrated majors and minors. However, few people have given much thought as to how Robinson came to the attention of major league scouts, where he had played before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, or what the nature of baseball might have been in the black community before integration in the major league. I would like to take a brief journey back in the history of American sports and society to the fascinating era of the Negro Leagues, and explore the events that brought about the great Jackie Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers ... and white America.

The original National Association of Base Ball Players, which formed in 1867, had banned all black athletes, but by the late 1870's, many African-American players were on active rosters of white, minor league teams. In the North, between the end of the Civil War and 1890, a good number of African-Americans played alongside their white counterparts on major and minor league teams, but following brief stays with white teams, most of these players felt the hurtful sting of regional prejudices, along with an unofficial color ban. However, there were some notable exceptions who built long and successful careers in white professional baseball. In 1884, John W, "Bud" Fowler, an African-American with more than a decade of experience as an itinerant, professional player, was signed by the Stillwater, Minnesota club in the Northwestern league. Fowler preferred to play as a second-baseman, but played virtually every position on the field for Stillwater, further heightening the reputation that had brought him to the attention of white team owners. Bud Fowler's baseball career continued through the close of the 19th Century, much of which was spent on the rosters of minor league clubs in organized baseball.

In 1883, Moses "Fleetwood" Walker, a former Oberlin College star, began his professional baseball career with the Toledo club, also in the Northwestern league. Almost from the beginning of his career, Walker was a better than average hitter, and considered by many to be among baseball's finest catchers. In 1884, the Toledo club joined the American Association, and Walker became the first black player to play with a major league franchise. By 1886, many black players were playing with teams in the "outlaw" leagues and independent barnstorming clubs along with Fowler and Walker, including George Stovey and Ulysses Franklin "Friendly Frank" Grant. The best black players found a measure of tolerance, if not acceptance, in white baseball in the North and Midwest until the end of the 1880's. But that situation made an abrupt change in 1890.

In 1890, as the season began in the International League, the most prestigious of the minor league circuits, there were no black players. With no formal announcement having been made, a "gentlemens' agreement" was made which barred black players from participation for the next fifty-five years. For a time, African-Americans were able to find work in lesser leagues, but within only a few short years no team in organized baseball would accept black players ... the color barrier was firmly in place by the turn of the century. As Walker, Fowler and Grant, along with many others struggled to find a spot (and keep it) in organized baseball, other black players were pursuing careers with the more than 200 all-black independent teams that performed throughout the country from the early 1880's forward. Through the close of the century, powerful Eastern teams such as the Cuban Giants, Cuban X Giants and Harrisburg Giants played both independently and in loosely organized leagues. Professional black baseball had began to blossom throughout America's heartland, and even in the South by the early 1900's.

The emergence of potent black teams during the early years of the 20th Century, such as the Chicago Giants, Indianapolis ABC's, St. Louis Giants and Kansas City Monarchs, rose to prominence and presented a legitimate challenge to the claim of diamond supremacy made by Eastern clubs such as the Lincoln Giants in New York, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Cuban Stars and Homestead (Pa.) Grays. Black baseball was also thriving in Birmingham's industrial leagues in the South, and teams like the Nashville Standard Giants and Birmingham Black Barons were establishing solid regional reputations. Black baseball had become, perhaps, the number one entertainment attraction for urban black populations throughout the nation by the end of World War I. It was then that one of black baseball's most influential personalities, Andrew "Rube" Foster, owner of the Chicago American Giants, determined that the time had arrived for a truly organized and stable Negro league.

In 1920, under Foster's leadership, the Negro National League was born in Kansas City, fielding eight teams comprised of the Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABC's, Kansas City Monarchs and St. Louis Giants ... "We are the ship; all else the sea" was how Rube Foster described his new league ... that same year, Thomas T.Wilson, owner of the Nashville Elite Giants, organized the Negro Southern League, with teams in Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Montgomery and New Orleans. Just three years later in 1923, the Eastern Colored League was formed, featuring the Hilldale Club, Stars (East), Brooklyn Royal Giants, Bacharach Giants, Lincoln Giants and Baltimore Black Sox ... the Negro National League continued on successfully throughout most of the 1920's, until ultimately succumbing to the financial hardships of the Great Depression and sadly dissolving at the close of the 1931 season.

In 1933, Pittsburgh bar owner Gus Greenlee organized the second Negro National League, quickly taking up where Foster's league left off, and became the dominant force in black baseball from 1933 through 1949. From 1920 through the 1940's, the Negro Southern League was in continuous operation and held the position of black baseball's only operating major circuit for the 1931 season. The Negro American League was formed in 1937, bringing into it's fold the best clubs in the South and Midwest, and stood as the opposing circuit to Greenlee's Negro National League until the latter disbanded after the 1949 season ... the three major Negro League circuits had steadily built what was to become one of the largest and most successful black-owned enterprises in America, despite having weathered the storms of the difficult economic challenges thrust upon the entire nation by the Great Depression ... the existence and success of these leagues stood as a testament to the determination and resolve of black America to forge ahead in the face of racial segregation and social disadvantage.

Gus Greenlee had firmly intended to field the most powerful baseball team in America when he organized the Negro National League in 1933 ... and he may well have achieved his goal. In 1935, his Pittsburgh Crawfords lineup showcased the talents of no less than five future Hall-Of-Famers, including the likes of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson and the great Oscar Charleston. During the mid-1930's, the Pittsburgh Crawfords were black baseball's premier team, but by the end of the decade that title was wrested away by Cumberland Posey's Homestead Grays, winning 9 consecutive Negro National League titles from the late 1930's through the mid-1940's. The Grays had bolstered their lineup with Hall-Of-Fame talent such as that of power-hitting first sacker Buck Leonard, along with featuring former Crawfords stars Bell and Gibson.

During the 1930's and 1940's, the East-West All-Star game, which was played annually at Chicago's Comiskey Park, contributed greatly to the ever-growing national popularity of Negro League baseball. Conceived originally in 1933 by Gus Greenlee as a promotional tool, the game rapidly became black baseball's most popular attraction and biggest money maker. From the first game forward, the East-West Classic regularly packed Comiskey Park while showcasing the Negro League's finest talent ... the demands for social justice had swelled throughout America as World War II came to a close, and many felt that it could not be long until baseball's color barrier would come crashing down. African-Americans had not only proven themselves on the battlefield and seized an indisputable moral claim to an equal share in American life, the stars of black baseball had also proven their skills in venues like the East-West Classic and countless exhibition games against major league stars ... the time for integration had arrived.

Virtually all of the Negro Leagues' best talent had either left the league for opportunities with integrated teams or had grown too old to attract the attention of major league scouts during the four years immediately following Jackie Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Black team owners witnessed a financially devastating decline in attendance at Negro League games as a result of this sudden and dramatic departure of talented ballplayers. The handwriting was on the wall for the Negro Leagues as the attention of black fans had forever turned to the integrated major leagues ... after the 1949 season, the Negro National League disbanded, never to return ... after a long and successful run, black baseball's senior circuit was no longer a commercially viable enterprise. Though the Negro American League continued on throughout the 1950's, it had lost virtually all of it's fan appeal, along with the bulk of it's talent. The league closed it's doors for good in 1962, after a decade of operating as a shadow of it's former self ... the era of Negro League baseball had ground to a halt ... "the ship" had sank ... however, it's rich and colorful history had a profound impact, not only on our national pastime, but on America's social and moral character.

Not only was Jack Roosevelt Robinson, son of a sharecropping family from Cairo, Georgia the first African-American to play on a Major League baseball team in the 20th Century ... Robinson was also the first recipient of the Rookie of the Year Award in 1947 ... the first African-American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 ... the first Major League baseball player to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp in 1997 ... the first baseball player to have his uniform number (42) retired in perpetuity across all teams by the Major League in 1997 ... the first UCLA student to earn a varsity letter in all four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track in 1948 ... the first African-American baseball player to receive the Congressional Gold Medal in 2003 ... and the first African-American to serve as Vice-President of a major American corporation, Chock Full O' Nuts 1957-1964 ... Jackie was also a recipient of the NAACP Spigam Medal in 1956 ... received an Honorary degree from Howard University in 1957 ... recipient of the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1985 ... and the Rookie of the Year Award was renamed the Jackie Robinson Award in 1987.

Despite a myriad of impressive collegiate and professional, athletic accomplishments over the course of Jackie Robinson's extraordinary and outstanding career, his integrity, courage and character off the field were indispensable attributes, not only in the life of the man, but more importantly in the melioration of the fragmented moral fabric of American society ... he not only possessed the courage to stare racism and hatred directly in the eye--he bravely defied it! ... while serving in the U.S. Army, Robinson was court-martialed for refusing to sit in the back of a segregated military bus ... he was later acquitted and honorably discharged from the Army ... Jackie Robinson endured unspeakable mistreatment, abuse and threats while playing the game he loved ... but endure he did ... the many black players who came before him were genuine pioneers, true Americans (America must never forget them) ... they were steppingstones that led the way from the intolerance and discrimination of the Jim Crow era to the threshold of racial equality and integration in organized, professional baseball ... amid those stones rests a mighty cornerstone ... Jack Roosevelt (Jackie) Robinson (1919-1972).

Please remember Jackie Robinson Day April 15th.

"There's not an American in this country free until every one of us is free." --Jackie Robinson


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Clogged ...

It is widely known that the prodigious and renowned centenarian Virgil Hunnicutt was rumoured to be well above one hundred years of age, and a near genius in possession and ready command of an astronomically Brobdingnagian intellect, all the while put upon to conduct the day to day affairs of this life in an habitual state of almost complete deafness and total blindness ... however, his being "hard o' hearin' and dim-sighted" were not his only maladies ... Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt ate poorly so to speak, not so much as in quantity, rather Uncle Virgil devoured everything and anything he desired or could get his hands on, and often ... consequently, poor Virgil developed a profoundly solid and unmovable case of acute constipation ... this in spite of his various and sundry attempts at home remedies such as the ingestion of prunes ... spinach ... green apples ... linseed and castor oils ... a mixture of lime juice and salt in hot water ... drinking water kept all night in a copper kettle ... and lengthy strolls all about the countryside, amongst others ... the resulting outcome proved to be a disappointing and a disheartening failure ... thus Virgil's only remaining alternative was to pay a visit to some dreadful doctor specializing in gastroenterology ...

The very next morning Virgil Hunnicutt found himself anxiously sitting in a brightly-lit, albeit chilly doctor's examination room ... attired in nothing more than one of those skimpy hospital gowns ... all open down the back ... in short time an enthusiastically energetic young physician entered the room, an enormous and shiny stethoscope draped loosely around his neck ... followed by a starchy, stern looking nurse ... "what seems to be ailing you today Mister Hunnicutt?" he blithely enquired while applying the cold instrument to the elderly outpatient's nervously heaving chest ... Virgil's reply was unhesitatingly precise and direct "constipation sir, despite all my efforts to the contrary!" ... the doctor smiled warmly, then declared in an overtly confident, professional and authoritative manner "not to worry my good man, I believe I've got just the therapeutic treatment on hand that should relieve you expeditiously Mister Hunnicutt ... I'll be right back!" at which he and his amylaceous assistant exited the room leaving the door slightly ajar ... moments later Virgil heard a loud commotion out in the hallway, so he eased over and took a gander through the gap in the open door ... there he spied a somber-looking fellow donned in a long trench coat and wheeling some sort of heavy, metal-framed machine directly toward and adjacent to his examination room--where he left it ... this apparatus sported some type of motor or gasoline engine, along with a large spool upon which was wound a thick band of steel no less than an inch in width and quite possibly exceeding one hundred feet in length ... at the end of that steel band was a gruesome brass knob about the size of a ripe walnut ... the contraption's "operator" was apparently on his way to retrieve even more devices and equipment when the doctor interrupted his progress and demanded of the man that he "rest not until the blockage is forthwith located and straightaway thoroughly removed ... no matter the cost ... even to the dismantling of the entire system--end to end!" ... well Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt had seen and heard sufficiently enough ... as he crawled out the window in such a rush that he forgot his clothes ...

It was a beautiful day as Lester DooLittle leisurely steered his daddy's pickup truck along the winding country road while enjoying all the sights and sensations associated with early spring ... the sun's rays shimmered warmly against his face ... a pleasant breeze carrying the scents of blossoming trees and patches of flowers blooming purple and yellow wafted about his nostrils ... dense, green grass richly carpeted the gently inclined banks at each side of the gravel lane--where an elderly, barefooted gentleman attempted to frantically wend his way as rapidly as possible along the edge of the narrow, brushy ditch line--attired in nothing more than one of those skimpy hospital gowns ... all open down the back ... Lester slowly pulled up alongside the scantily clad pedestrian and ground to a stop ... Uncle Virgil flung open the door and breathlessly crawled into the cab of the truck "drive boy drive!" was his command "neither slow down nor stop till at my gate!" ... it was not until Virgil was safely within the familiar walls of his abode that he explained his frightening encounter at the doctor's office to Lester DooLittle "I shall never again knowingly cross the threshold of any coldhearted sawbones no matter the asperity of the affliction ... I'll stick with my home remedies--though eternal dyschezia may be my fate!" ... that along with a request that Lester go there and fetch his clothes ... Lester DooLittle immediately complied, and upon his arrival explained to the flummoxed doctor the substance and purpose of his errand ... the nurse had previously collected Virgil's belongings and placed them in a sterile plastic tote, and as she handed it to Lester the doctor asked the boy if he was aware of the reasoning behind Uncle Virgil's unannounced, unexpected and manifestly precipitous departure from the medical facility ... Lester assured him that he was as mystified as they as to the cause ... at which the frustrated doctor proclaimed "well please inform Mister DooLittle, that if he felt cold-shouldered or brushed aside, that it certainly was not my intention of doing so ... you must understand that we've suffered about for many a day now here at the office from a wretchedly clogged drain  ... and I was momentarily put upon by the plumber as to the general location by which he should concentrate his efforts ... please convey our sincerest apologies to Mister Hunnicutt ... and wish him well!"


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April's Fool! ...

Lamar Beefeater's best pal Luther DooLittle had a first cousin by the name of Clydeen DooLittle - a girl, an often scheming, cantankerous and vengeful one at that - who resided in a nearby town just across the big ridge ... unfortunately for the boys, Clydeen DooLittle was en route by way of railcar to spend a week or so visiting her Grandpa & Grandma DooLittle who lived up at the head of DooLittle Hollar, her appearance was close at hand ... unfortunate because Clydeen had a vituperative dislike for both Luther and Lamar, and was fiercely opposed to their inexorable roguery ... the feeling was mutual ...

Later that afternoon Luther and Lamar found themselves at the train depot impatiently awaiting Clydeen's impending arrival, not so much as to greet her or to make her feel welcome, but rather Grandpa DooLittle had assured the boys in no uncertain terms that if they refused--both would definitely spend some quality time out in the woodshed getting reacquainted with his leather razor strop ... although time seemed to stand still, the hissing old steam engine at last pulled in and ground to a squealing halt ... a fogeyish conductor stepped out and slowly turned to assist Clydeen DooLittle out of the dusty passenger car, along with a matching set of threadbare carpetbags which held her "travelin' possibles" ... as soon as the restless boys caught sight of Clydeen, Luther was suddenly stricken by a wave of knee-buckling queasiness and trepidation, and Lamar's panic and apprehension about took him under ... Clydeen at once spotted the boys and modishly waved, then turned back towards the coach as if she'd forgotten something ... just then a smartly attired ... blonde-haired ... bouncing ponytails ... petite, young lady emerged from the train like a bright ray of sunshine breaking through layers of dark, roiling clouds ... what a looker! ... particularly in contrast to that drably-clothed ... manifestly unattractive ... tomboyish Clydeen DooLittle ... "hello fellers ... I'd like to introduce you to my new, best friend ... this here's April, she came along to keep me company durin' my visit" declared Clydeen ... the little girl's rosy cheeks reddened to an even brighter hue(as did those of the boys)as she fluttered her long eyelashes in rapid succession and a beautiful smile crept from ear to ear exposing a perfectly even set of glistening, pearly-white teeth "why hello boys, delighted to make your acquaintance" she hoarsely uttered ... Luther DooLittle was straightaway thunderstruck by a flaming arrow of love shot from the taught string of Cupid's merciless bow ... and if Luther had his way about it--he would soon be April's beau!

For the next several days Clydeen DooLittle and her lovely companion April ran adventurously and inseparably about the countryside doing what young ladies do--while Lamar Beefeater and the lovesome Luther DooLittle shadowed their every move ... now Clydeen had already warned April as to the rapscallion ways of her cousin Luther, and that she should discourage him at all costs by "dumpin' cold water" on his every advance--and that she did ... all the while Luther continued to pursue the attractive April, and pester the irascible Clydeen as to "fixin' him up" with her appealing friend ... with "sparkin'" on his mind, he feverishly harassed both girls to no avail until finally the exasperated girls determined to bring about an embarrassingly abrupt cessation of Luther's persistent and unrelenting badgering ... so Clydeen explained to Luther that her friend April had disclosed to her in private conversation that she only associated with amoristic gentlemen who were practiced kissers, and that it was glaringly obvious to her that he/Luther possessed neither the bold countenance nor any of the sophisticated mannerisms which are peculiar attributes displayed by that of any prodigious or capable osculator ... but he was not to sink into a miry pit of despondency ... for April had had a change of heart, and was willing to offer Luther a rare opportunity to prove his smooching prowess, or lack thereof ... it was to be kept secret of course, but that very evening as soon as it grew pitch dark outside, Luther was to stealthily proceed to the back of Grandpa DooLittle's barn, where was a lone window opening, its rickety cover loosely dangling by a single, rusty hinge ... Luther was to quietly approach that window from the outside, then blindfolded he was to stick his head through the opening ... April was to be braced and waiting anxiously for his kiss in the darkness within the barn ... Luther could hardly believe his luck, and unquestionably agreed to the proposition ... he would be at the barn window that night as planned ...

Well ol' Luther could hardly wait, but finally it got sufficiently dark, so he grabbed a lantern and hurriedly made his way to the back of Grandpa DooLittle's barn, where he met up with his cousin Clydeen ... whereupon she took the lantern from his shaking hand, then quickly blindfolding him she led him to the open window ... "okay Luther, pucker up now and stick yer head through that there winder ... and lay one right on 'er!" insisted Clydeen ... Luther did just that ... his pursed lips made contact with the softest most inviting mouth that he could ever had imagined in a thousand years ... while the familiar scent of April's perfume and flowery talcum powder wafted amongst that of fresh hay bales and cow manure ... that there kiss just went on and on ... Luther had to break away for a quick breath then he dived right back in and reattached himself to those delicious lips once more ... and again he had to stop for another gulp of air ... Luther wanted more, but feared that April would think him as being too overbearing or forward, so he figured he would be careful and polite and ask for a third kiss "Miss April, would you mind terribly if I kissed you but once more, please?" ... there was a short hesitation, then April replied "well I reckon so ... just make it quick ... I'm gettin' tired of holdin' this heavy ol' bullfrog!" ... Luther's knees suddenly felt wobbly and a million butterflies took flight within his churning gut at the thought of it ... "bullfrog?!" ... about then a few stifled giggles and chuckles exploded into an earsplitting chorus of trumpet-like guffaws as Luther scrambled for his lantern ... upon turning it up he discovered his pal Lamar Beefeater and Clydeen DooLittle, along with a dozen or so of his best "friends" ... he then rushed over to the "kissin'" window and stuck the lantern inside ... there stood a hysterical April all but overcome by the hilarity of the situation ... in the palms of her hands rested a big, fat, ugly bullfrog sporting a thick coating of flowery talcum powder and bright red lipstick smeared all over its bloated mouth ... Luther DooLittle forthwith lost all interest in becoming April's beau ... but he would be all and forever April's fool!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Luther 'Houdini' DooLittle's Disappearin' Act! ...

It being the renowned Hungarian-born illusionist Harry Houdini's birthday--(born Erik Weisz; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)--a local pair of varlets had accordingly concocted a scheme fraught with inclinations of a deceitful nature, this partly in honor of the aforementioned late, great escapologist--but mainly to fallaciously acquire a hefty swag of burnished coinage from their ofttimes gullible friends, neighbors and acquaintances, along with that of a stranger or so ... thus preparations at once commenced ... the central character in this base plot, Luther DooLittle, obtained a discarded and moldering pickle hogshead from beside the General Store and straightaway concealed it behind an adjacent public 2-stall, 4-hole outhouse ... Luther's best pal, loyal partner and eager assistant, Lamar Beefeater, retrieved the proper tools required to "modify" the old barrel, which entailed the skillful cutting of a hole in its side thereby enabling the configuration of a hardly detectable trapdoor, hinged from the inside, and held securely closed by a small, rusty latch ... this accomplished, the boys "walked" the heavy cask to the corner of the store and positioned it strategically in front of a thick, overgrown multiflora rosebush ... then Luther cleared his throat and clapped his hands together loudly in order to elicit the attention of the nearby crowd, which was comprised of Ansel Poteet the Senior, Grandpa DooLittle, the Wooden Indian and Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt, all of whom were, as usual, settled in around a fiercely raging game of checkers on the store's front porch ... a few regular and anonymous shoppers were also milling about ... having gained their sufficient engrossment, Luther enthusiastically began his pitch " ladies and gentlemen, and all other inanimate objects ... I hereby declare that at approximately 6:00 PM this eve or thereabouts ... with kind assistance from my trusted apprentice and longtime partner Lamar Beefeater ... I shall confidently and boldly climb into this here begrimed hogshead ... hands manacled and eyes blindfolded ... its lid then tacked in place ... will within a very short span of time, upon removal of the lid by my helper Lamer, shall have upon your immediate inspection--'VANISHED' into thin air ... quite possibly to never be seen around these here parts ever again!" ... there was a definite hush amongst the multitudes, along with several giggles and guffaws ... then a sudden explosion of interest as the gravity of Lamar's words gradually sunk in "quite possibly to never be seen around these here parts ever again" ... what a grand and refreshing proposition ... Luther continued his magnetic spiel as he placed a glass, quart Mason jar with a slot punched in its lid on the wooden porch rail "all that I ask, is that each of you deposit a bit of your loose change into this here receptacle as a gesture of your appreciation--refundable of course should my efforts result in dire failure!" ... various and sundry coins began pouring into the jar!

The afternoon slowly passed and it finally approached 10 of 6:00 PM ... Luther and Lamar were giddy upon their return to the store as they discovered a massive audience gathered anxiously round the hogshead, and their Mason jar overflowing with shiny pieces of U.S. currency ... now the plan was for Luther to descend into the barrel manacled and blindfolded ...  Lamar was to replace the lid and soundly tack it in place ... in the meantime, Luther was to loosen the latch located within the barrel, open the trapdoor ... exit the barrel on the concealed side ... slam the trapdoor shut, thus prompting the latch to again catch hold thus securing it ... he would then signal Lamar that all was clear so he could remove the lid and show the breathlessly anticipatory throng that Luther DooLittle had indeed doubtlessly and unquestionably disappeared from sight--whilst he forthwith made his escape by way of the dense multiflora rosebush--never to be seen again--at least until the crowd had dissipated ... at which Lamar Beefeater was to retrieve the jar of coins and hurriedly rendezvous with Luther at a predetermined covert locale ... all evidence associated with the ruse--the hogshead--was to be destroyed by fire at a later time ... unfortunately, miniscule and/or unnoticeable miscalculations often result in unforeseen and devastatingly tragic outcomes.

The time had come ... the crowd fell silent in a state of intense awe ... all eyes fell on Luther DooLittle as he slowly and dramatically eased himself down into the dark, musky depths of the barrel ... manacled and blindfolded ... Lamar Beefeater positioned the lid and fastened it firmly with half-a-dozen or so short, brass brads, then awaited Luther's signal ... but to his terror and dismay, Luther DooLittle discovered that he was incorrectly positioned, and unable to reach the rusty latch as previously designed while handcuffed, much less open the trapdoor--he was in a 'pickle' so to speak ... meanwhile the spectators were growing increasingly restless as torturous minutes slowly trickled by, and foreboding murmurings could be heard as Lamar Beefeater nervously prayed for Luther's signal ... yet nothing came forth ... Lamar could hear Luther thrashing about inside and was now certain that something had definitely gone awry ... the expectant onlookers had transformed into an angry mob, and as they closed ranks on Luther and Lamar their collective shouts rang out "open the lid! ... off with the lid!! ... charlatans! ... open that danged lid!!!" ... Lamar Beefeater made an executive decision and took off running towards the hills ... just as the ringleaders were about to unceremoniously dismantle the rigged hogshead piece by piece, along with its contents, Virgil Hunnicutt stepped up and saved the day "now look here folks ... let's not be overly hasty ... I believe Luther DooLittle is without a doubt capable of disappearing, just as he proclaimed, quite possibly to never be seen around these here parts ever again ... ain't that right Luther DooLittle?!" at which Uncle Virgil tipped the wooden cask roughly onto its side and gave it a hearty shove in the direction of the greenbrier thicket which sat directly across the road, and ran for a good half-mile or so--every whit on a steep downhill grade--until it met up with a deep beaver pond below ... the tumbling barrel quickly rolled out of sight, and the piteous sound of Luther DooLittle's frantic screams eventually faded from earshot ... Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt fetched the Mason jar containing the coins and smugly declared "I reckon this here's mine ... considerin' I'm the feller what made that scandalous Luther DooLittle disappear!"


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Monkey See--Monkey Won't Do! ...

Lamar Beefeater greeted his mother bright and early one Saturday morning with an unusual request "I wish to view all family photo albums if you please ... particularly those comprised of my earliest ancestors?" ... his mother stared dubiously at the anxious and seemingly troubled youngster as she submitted "why, you've seen them all previously on numerous occasions" ... Lamar continued to insist and was eventually granted access to every album, scrapbook and loose photo that could be found on the place ... "now explain your abrupt and earnest interest?" she demanded ... Lamar looked up at her with eager, searching eyes "I need to make sure none of 'em look like apes!" he announced ... then spent the larger part of the day doing just that.

From the very earliest of his formative years, Lamar Beefeater had proven to be a supremely meditative and opinionated young lad, determinedly set in his ways, and proficient at "readin', writin' and 'rithmetic" long prior to his introduction to the elementary levels of public education ... an individualistic "thinkin' man" of the first order ... shortly succeeding his immersion into the murky depths of the aforementioned didactic process, Lamar was out of the blue put upon by a profound academic stumbling block, which threatened to straightaway dash to pieces all basal thought and accepted instruction which he had up to then gleaned from the pages of either politically-sanctioned textbooks or from the mouths of schoolhouse pedagogues, and immediately scatter every bit of it to the four howling winds ... the burgeoning Lamar Beefeater was suddenly introduced to the ever-polemic "theory of evolution" of which he'd never heard before, and in a manner more attuned to that of fact rather than theory ... with a frown of dismay he raised his hand so as to address his instructor "what about 'The Good Book'? ... it don't say nothin' about us comin' from apes or monkeys ... it says we was created in God's image!" ... thunderstruck by Lamar's bold asseveration the schoolmarm authoritatively replied "well Lamar, evolution is presented in your textbook as but one of many scientific theories, not as fact" ... the puzzled student continued "and what are the other theories?" ... edging ever closer to a spirit of discomposure the teacher clamantly exclaimed "well all other theories are deemed less important or unacceptable as to inclusion in our present studies" ... Lamar continued the exchange "is that 'God created man in his own image' included with those 'deemed less important or unacceptable as to inclusion'?" ... "of course not!" she sternly proclaimed ... "then it certainly must be fact!" adjudged Lamar ... "I wouldn't go as far as to say that!" returned the teacher.

The adversarial discourse continued "then accordingly, it would make little difference if I were to covet other folks' belongings ... bear false witness ... rob and steal ... commit adultery ... murder ... disrespect my mother and father ... forget the Sabbath ... take God's name in vain ... worship idols ... or other gods?" enquired Lamar ... "no, but what has all that to do with the curriculum at hand?" demanded the teacher ... "because those commandments were given to us from God, and were recorded in the Bible ... the same Bible that says we were created in His image ... if evolution is true, then either God is an ape, or He is a liar(neither of which He is!) ... why then should the commandments be adhered to, much less anything else set forth within His Holy Word? ... if one were to regard one part of the Bible as false, how then can any part be held as truth?" deduced Lamar "including all the practical teachings concerning love, kindness, faith, honesty, long-suffering, compassion, grace, mercy and good-will toward our fellow man as mentioned in the 'Sermon on the Mount' among others?" he added ... the teacher was now at her wits end "I'm not going to argue with you Mister Beefeater ... I am mandated by the school system to teach you exactly what is approved and contained within your textbooks ... that is that ... now kindly take your seat ... and be quiet!?" 

Lamar obediently complied and promptly took his seat ... but his mind was anything but quiet ... he had at once slammed solidly into the realization that he could no longer take for granted that everything which issued forth from the mouths of his educators should be unimpeachable or true ... he had emphatically rejected this "theory of evolution" so insolently thrust upon him by direction of the public school system, and which was by all odds diametrically opposed to his tenets of faith ... he refused to approbate such foolishness ... therefore, he thenceforth never again accepted nor embraced any teaching or instruction at face value simply because it might perchance be put forth by some "official figure of authority or governmentally-mandated text" ... and although "readin' , writin' and 'rithmetic" were definite absolutes, anything beyond that would from then on require and demand his fervent attention and utmost consideration ... often it isn't the overall bulk of one's educational journey or development that most determines one's eventual destination, position and outlook on life ... it's usually those fleeting and seemingly insignificant instances that most drastically affect us ... such as Lamar Beefeater's aforementioned experience ... consequently, he developed into an even more prodigiously independent thinker ... a stalwart and unshakable apologist as to verity and common sense ... we are each entitled to our personal beliefs and opinions, along with their respective consequences, therefore, I would hope that this narrative should at the least evoke a bit of thought and confabulation ... 


Monday, March 14, 2011

Leprechaun? ...

It had been a relatively quiet and uneventful day for Deputy Sheriff Cletus A. VanMeter--an unassuming fellow of impeccable character ... unquestionable integrity ... and unwavering sobriety ... as he sat poised for action in a big V8-powered patrol car parked clandestinely behind the familiar Sunbeam Bread billboard which stood adjacent to the main drag ... the only sounds to be heard were an occasional motor vehicle passing by, and numerous and frequent gunshots boom! boom! echoing from amongst the distant hills ... quite possibly emanating from the general direction of Grandpa & Grandma DooLittle's place ... now it was well-known around those parts that Grandpa DooLittle only fired off his worthy Stevensen shotgun in order to bag a critter for supper ... or to scare off some pestiferous troublemaker ... or maybe even a slithering revenuer now and again ... none of which required more than a single shot ... two at the most ... so considering the relentless fusillade, Deputy Cletus figured it prudent to respond forthwith to ascertain the welfare and status of one Grandpa DooLittle.

Cletus hurriedly made his way up the gravel lane leading to the DooLittle place as the persistent sound of gunfire grew louder ... soon he was steering the shiny police vehicle through the gate, and as he cautiously approached the DooLittle house there sat Grandpa in his rocking chair on the front porch peering vigilantly into the woods ... a look of dismay upon his craggy face ... his trusty Stevensen resting upon his bony knees ... spent shell casings scattered everywhere ... suddenly the old man brought the heavy weapon to his shoulder and leveled it in the direction of a thick clump of bull-briers Booom! Booom!! ... "what on earth is wrong with you DooLittle?! ... what are you shootin' at anyhow? cried the stunned policeman, his ears ringing from the thunderous blasts ... "why didn't you see him VanMeter? replied Grandpa ... then once again unexpectedly BOOOM! BOOOOOM!! ... Cletus tried to cover his ears with his hands, unfortunately a split-second too late, and was now certain that his eardrums had been split to shreds ... Cletus immediately sprung onto the porch and wrestled the smoking gun from the bare-knuckled grip of Grandpa DooLittle "now I demand to know ... what the devil are you shootin' at old man ... answer me?!" ... Grandpa pointed in the direction of the woods "are you blind VanMeter? ... cain't you see him? ... Deputy VanMeter slowly and deliberately scanned the wood line from end to end but saw nothing of significance "I don't see nothin' but trees and bushes Grandpa ... so what were you shootin' at?" ... Grandpa's answer was unflinchingly and unabashedly succinct "that thar green-clad lepr'chan!" ... well Deputy Sheriff Cletus A. VanMeter straightaway took a more thorough gander towards the woods! ... when the lawman turned back he discovered what he thought was the likely cause of Grandpa's "lepr'chan" sighting plainly sitting there between the feet of the elderly gunslinger ... an empty 2-gallon stone jug ... of which the intoxicating contents had been gradually transferred during the course of the afternoon down the gullet and into the gaping innards of Grandpa DooLittle ... who was duly and soundly intoxicated!

Cletus helped Grandpa onto his feet, and with the assistance of a now furious Grandma DooLittle they escorted the aged inebriate to his bed as the Deputy eventually convinced him "tongue-in-cheek" that he would at once personally dispatch "that thar green-clad lepr'chan" ... and before leaving, Cletus and Grandma DooLittle had a great laugh all at the expense of Grandpa ... "just to think" Cletus sardonically proclaimed "a green-clad lepr'chan?" ... "never!" as he climbed back behind the wheel, closed the gold star-emblazoned door and commenced to ease the big V8 through the DooLittle gate and back onto the gravel road ... a flash of green caught his eye in the rearview mirror ... "nah ... couldn't be" ... but there it was again ... a glimmer of green behind that tree ... Deputy Cletus slammed on the brakes and whirled around for a more direct look, but saw nothing ... when he turned back around there was yet another flash of green right near the hood of the car ... ol' Cletus A. VanMeter hit the accelerator and never looked back as he sped out of DooLittle Hollar faster than lightning on a greased pole--sternly reassuring himself all along the way "a green-clad lepr'chan! ... couldn't be!"

... "could it?"


Saturday, March 5, 2011

No English Fox Hunt ...

As usual, Grandpa DooLittle and Uncle Virgil Hunnucutt were seated on discarded soapboxes at opposing positions around a good-sized pickle hogshead which sat on the front porch at the General Store, where upon they were deeply entangled in a heated yet seemingly eonion game of checkers ... Ansel Poteet Senior stood adjacent to the auld participants, along with the ever-stoic Wooden Indian,  glancing occasionally with mild interest at the protracted match before them ... now as I've often touched on in the past, the immutable Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt was rumoured to be well above one hundred years of age and a near genius, dazzlingly skilled in any field with an astronomically immense IQ ... accordingly, due to his advanced age, the prodigious centenarian was all but totally deaf and nearly blind--in spite of his store-bought ear horns and Coke-bottle eye spectacles, however Virgil Hunnicutt was still the sharpest knife to be found in any drawer ... off in the distance one could hear the soothing albeit frenetic baying of hounds ... "Whooooa!" .. "Whooooa!!" ... "Whoooooooooa!!!" .. "Whoa!" ... hunting dogs most likely, growing manifestly louder and nearer by the minute ... the old gentlemen mused amongst themselves for a bit before thus determining that it certainly could not be a coon hunt this early in the day, nor a bear hunt this time of year, neither yet a rabbit nor a squirrel hunt, for either or usually entailed far less distance as to length of chase ... no this held the tune and hackles of a classic English fox hunt--almost.

Just then a beauteous and regal red fox emerged from an immense corn field--its bushy tail held high like a glorious and noble oriflamme waving proudly in the air--and went rapidly bounding by, at times bouncing and pouncing from side to side in a zig-zaggy motion, then in an instant darting and sprinting straight as an arrow released from the faithful string of William Tell's true and accurate bow ... as the cunning Vulpes vulpes made its way, it proceeded to leap over logs, crawl under logs ... encircle particular saplings and small evergreen bushes multiple times respectively ... dash through a brier thicket and wade about tall bulrushes in the marsh ... trot up the side of a pile of stones then roll down the other side ... dart through a culvert then traverse a couple of flowing irrigation ditches ... at last apparently concluding its evasive maneuvers as it disappeared behind the store building ... but not quite yet ... the guileful critter reappeared from the other side, ran up the steps onto the porch and boldly perched on its haunches ... panting exhaustively ... right there betwixt Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt's greasy brogans just as his ragtag pursuers came into sight with Lester DooLittle and Ol' Blue in the lead ...

This was in no way a genuine English fox hunt, for there were no pedigreed foxhounds at hand--merely rangy, obnoxious and uncouth coondogs--among other lesser breeds ... neither was any individual in this hunting party attired in proper foxhunting habiliment, which was comprised of both Lester and his cousin Luther DooLittle, the infamous artificer Lamar Beefeater and the oft-avoided Ansel Poteet Junior--rather, they were all clad in well-worn and threadbare flannels, along with ragged denim britches ... nary a hunter rode upon the back of a well-behaved steed befitting of the sport--just listless and broke-down work mules ... needless to say--the fox was at great advantage! ... and if this confederate group could not possibly be more undignified or pathetic, every now and again Lester DooLittle would give forth a tawdry blast "Bluurrrpppp!" from a cheap tin bugle previously acquired in a swap for half a poke of "baccy" ... thus was the scene as those hounds snuffed the ground in a near-futile attempt at unraveling the tangled and twisted scent by mimicking every elusive move made by the now resting fugitive sitting motionless at the feet of Virgil Hunnicutt ... it took the better part of the afternoon for that pack of tiring coondogs to retrace the exact path of their majestic fellow canine before finally heading around the side of the store and returning from the other to the front ... then all activity abruptly halted and time stood still but for a fleeting moment ... then fire and brimstone was at once unleashed as that mob of hounds laid eyes on the subject of all their toilsome efforts crouching there next to Virgil Hunnicutt ... it was a horrendous assault as those angry dogs converged and fell upon that fox, along with Virgil ... alas fur flew ... slobbers were slung ... fragments of clothing were strewn ... checkers and checkerboard went airborne ... shrieks and cries for help were heard before Lester DooLittle and his collaborators were able to rescue the piteous Virgil Hunnicutt from the iron jaws of the relentless, mauling curs before they mercilessly tore the man to shreds ... fortunately Virgil was relatively uninjured considering the viciousness of the onslaught, yet suffered from numerous and painful bites and countless stinging abrasions ... it could have been much worse ... somehow that sly fox had managed to escape virtually unscathed and almost unnoticed from the midst of the mayhem ... and now a superbly enraged Uncle Virgil was about to give all present an overflowing earful as he proclaimed "fellers, that was the absolute worst attack on one of God's most grand and gracious creatures that I have ever seen ... an honourable mammal of the highest level of knowledge, intelligence and wisdom ... an adroit and ingenious beast of the loftiest order ... a far superior being than that of its motley peers ... a productive yet unassuming social being ... a master of its domain shamefully mishandled and abused ... a ah ahh uh" ... Grandpa DooLittle could stand to hear no more and thus interrupted "whoa, whoa, hold on there fer a minute Hunnicutt ... that ol' fox weren't hurt none ... he got away without barely as much as a brush of a tooth and sauntered directly back into that there corn field from whence he came" ... Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt stared disdainfully at Grandpa DooLittle for a bit until the silence became unnerving before audaciously replying "well DooLittle ... I wasn't speaking of that fox ... I was referring to myself!"


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Just A Swingin' ...

It was early spring ... and little by little ... step by anxious step ... Luther DooLittle and Lamar Beefeater cautiously zigzagged their way amid a narrow, secret path which led up the sloping hillside through a Brobdingnagian mass of undergrowth ... a tangled and confusing maze consisting of every vile and injurious brier and thorn bush known to civilized man ... with each step, and with each bead of stinging sweat that dropped from their keen brows, the seething throes of acute cabin fever began to lose its febrile clutch the nearer they approached to the pinnacle of the rugged DooLittle Ridge ... from the apex of a towering and timeworn oak tree dangled the twisted tentacles of that which purposed such treacherous exertions on the part of the boys--a heavy grapevine of the density and diameter of a mid-aged sapling--their familiar and trusty "swingin' vine" ... however, just how "trusty" had yet been determined with a "first go" by either of these courageous and adventuresome souls ... for a commonly stalwart "swingin' vine" is often compromised in its stoutness from the naturally ravaging effects of a hard winter ... now dare not think for a New York minute that Luther and Lamar had given no previous musings as to this necessary proposition ... thus they had contemplated the prospect of toting a hundred-pound sack of "taters" up the hill, attach it to the vine and grant the chanceful "first go" to the disposable and lifeless spuds, however after several toilsome hours of further glowing cogitations the plot was outright chucked due to its "overwhelming weightiness" ... eventually the boys settled on an alternative scheme of last resort, which would require the introduction of a third "stooge" so to speak, of whom in their minds was equally as disposable, lifeless and weighty as the previously aforementioned sack of taters, but capable of personally transporting said attributes to the top of the ridgeline at neither expense of energy nor effort other than his own--one Ansel Poteet Junior in all his hebetudinous ebullience!

As Luther and Lamar partook of a welcome respite at the predetermined summit, eventually strained and laborious huffings and puffings could be heard amongst the rustling underbrush and tumbling stones as the nearly exhausted yet grateful Ansel Poteet gradually made his way to the point where Luther and Lamar had been impatiently waiting for nearly an hour and a half, even though the ill-sorted trio had set forth on the ambitious journey simultaneously ... and although festering with fear and trepidation of the unknown, Ansel Poteet could hardly believe his luck and good fortune at being selected to join the august ranks of such an exclusive club of "vine swingers" as that of the venerable Luther DooLittle and Lamar Beefeater ... the manifestly corpulent lad was barely awarded time to catch his fleeting breath and settle his frayed nerves before Luther DooLittle commenced to instructing him as to the ancient initiation procedures he must subsequently complete and endure before becoming an official fellow "vine swinger" ... which simply necessitated taking the perilous "first swing" ... now Ansel Poteet's skittishness was growing by the minute, but not so much at the thought of taking that impending "first swing" of which he little understood the hazards involved ... no, the overly vigilant Ansel Poteet feared the unthinkable possibility of the appearance of some fierce and menacing rogue bear in these here woods ... and the boys would soon take advantage of that fact.

The elements associated with the dangers involving the annual "first swing" were the potential risk of either the vine carrying one aloft to a prominent height, then without warning its completely breaking loose from the treetops thus sending one to the rocky and thorny depths below, or for the vine to merely loosen and drop to within two or three feet of the ground thus dragging its passenger from one end to the other directly through the midst of the aforementioned brier patch--while accordingly shredding one to bits ... peering about nervously, ol' Ansel mounted the ledge and grabbed hold of the twirling vine with arms and legs then immediately froze in place right on the spot ... mindful of Ansel's dread of bears Luther and Lamar both at once began frantically sounding the delusive alarm "bear!" .. "bear!!" ... "tis a bear!!!" ... Ansel straightaway jettisoned himself off that big rock and soared through the air just above that jagged and dense bed of sharp, piercing briers and thorns, the creaking vine spinning uncontrollably as he screamed at the top of his lungs all the way to the outcropping on the adjacent hillside ... Luther and Lamar were in a state of grand hilarity as they cheered and jeered and pointed disdainfully in the direction of the shrieking trapeze artist ... they were so rapt in a fit of spasmodic laughter that they failed to notice that the gnarly vine had returned to them sans Ansel Poteet ... when the boys looked up they saw their hapless "swing test dummy" safely perched on the ledge on the opposite hillside waving his arms wildly up and down while yelling "bear!" .. "bear!!" ... "tis a bear!!!" ... well the far-famed and seasoned Luther DooLittle and Lamar Beefeater would never in a thousand years fall for bald-faced trickery such that ... no sirree ... so they both nonchalantly waved back then leisurely sat down at the base of that mighty oak tree as brashly disinterested in Ansel Poteet's flailing about as an old Eskimo at the sight of a young snowflake ... that is until they heard the chilling sound of jaws popping ... then slowly turned to discover a mangy, rangy, drowsy, starving black bear standing not five feet behind them freshly emerged from its long winter hibernation ... nodding its curious head back and forth as it sniffed the boy-strewn air ... searching for a quick and easy meal ... needless to say, there is no longer a single, crooked path wending its way through the brier patch to the top of DooLittle Ridge ... no, there were two additional paths cut that day, both as straight as the crow flies ... with bits of boys' attire marking the way all along the low-lying tree limbs and bramble bushes ... and though the boys never returned to the site, there remains a stout grapevine hanging from atop a magnificent oak ... just a swingin'!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

What's For Supper Grandpa? ...

Luther DooLittle and his lifelong pal Lamar Beefeater had whiled away the better part of the lazy afternoon earnestly toiling on the weedy banks of Grandpa DooLittle's farm pond in a fruitless endeavor to entice any one of the enormous catfish that dwelt therein to latch onto barbed, trebled hooks laden with delectably alluring chicken livers ... to their utter dismay, the cliquish creatures merely hovered near the squelchy bottom of the pool while staring contemptuously, without as much as a flinch, at the tempting morsels lying within half-a-foot of their whiskered noses with no present intentions of grabbing hold ... frustrated, tired and hungry ... and nearly consumed alive by merciless and rapacious "skeeters" ... Luther and Lamar determined their demonstrable failure due to it being just "too danged hot and humidified" ... not a day conducive to the successful angling of big cats, thus they eventually retrieved their fishing lines and removed the rancid bait from their hooks, then flung the offensive globs, along with that which remained in a plastic container, directly into the pond right where those ol' catfish were patiently abiding ... suddenly ... unexpectedly ... that placid water at once became sorely troubled as it commenced to roiling violently about as if being pelted by thousands of angry hailstones from the heavens above as those catfish fell upon those discarded chicken livers forthwith devouring every last one of them in a matter of seconds while leaving nary a fragment ... the water then fell back into its previous state of tranquility ... the boys shrugged their shoulders as they looked at each other in amazement and disbelief at the outright audacity of those collusive brutes, then dejectedly hung their heads as they sauntered off towards Grandpa & Grandma DooLittle's place in hopes of an offer to remain for supper--which always boasted mouth-watering vittles renowned for their general specialness all throughout those parts.

As Luther & Lamar approached the DooLittles' gate, Grandpa was sitting on the front porch in his hickory rocker patiently awaiting Grandma's beckon to supper ... the boys made sure Grandpa would notice their passage by each slowly kicking empty, clanking tin cans along the gravel lane ... although Grandpa had been listening to the nettlesome racket long before the young band came into sight round the bend, of which the aged and intended target was well aware of the conniving juveniles' ulterior motives and reasoning ... thus Grandpa DooLittle cheerfully summoned the clattery boys' attention with a wave and a "haw men" ... then he graciously interpellated as to their status as potential dinner guests for the evening ... with a postiche boggle the calculating duo at once halted , as if genuinely taken aback by the sudden presence of the old man ... without hesitation both boys replied in unison that they "had grand places to go and important things to do"--but indicated that the aforesaid impending affairs might be postponed lest the risk of appearing ill-mannered and less than neighborly should befall them--they therefore humbly accepted Grandpa's kind invitation ... Lamar Beefeater then presumptuously enquired of the generous host as to the substance of the menu ... ol' Grandpa hungrily replied "well fellers, I reckon Grandma's a fixin' collard greens, black eye peas, macaroni & cheese, corn bread and warm nanner  puddin' along with sweet tea to down'r all with" and after peering around in all directions, Grandpa carefully added amid a whisper "and pan-roasted BP!" ... the boys gazed at each other and then at Grandpa with a tinge of befuddlement, then Luther wondered aloud "what the heck is BP Gramps?" ... the response was downright astounding "you see that Shakespearian Mule a standin' right over there? ... well he's awful peculiar and tenderhearted ... and can't bare to witness neither the harm nor demise of any of his feller critters, neither domestic nor wild ... why when Grandma wrings the head off'n a Sunday chicken I have to walk that mule way up into the apple orchard out of sight and sound of the requisite deed ... and considerin' the fact that he understands words better'n most school educated folks, I am obligated to use initials of persons, places and things at times so as not to injure his brittle psychological constitution ... so we're a havin' pan-roasted BP is all I can say! ... now for those of you unfamiliar with the "Shakepearian Mule"--you may introduce yourself to the august beast here ... now back to the story at hand, which took place long before the unfortunate occurrences set forth in the aforementioned story ...

Grandma DooLittle proudly rang the dinner bell, and as the boys followed Grandpa inside, they hurriedly and curiously perused the barnyard in search of some edible creature what might carry the initials of "BP" ... tweren't anything beef ... tweren't anything poultry ... but there in the hog pen trotted about a dozen or so energetic and squealing Baby Piglets ... pan-roasted Baby Piglet! ... a delicacy indeed amongst many worldly cultures ... the boys couldn't wait to dig in, and after all were seated at the dinner table and Grandpa DooLittle concluded the saying of Grace the famished pair did just that, ravenously engorging themselves with the delicious fare, especially the fragrant and scrumptuous "BP" ... stuffed nearly beyond capacity, and after determining that the "Shakespearian Mule" was nowhere within earshot, Lester DooLittle unabashedly announced with a satisfied yawn that he had just dined on undoubtedly the finest pan-roasted baby piglet that ever had the pleasure of sliding down his slippery gullet and filling his craw! ... at which Grandma DooLittle nearly inhaled a swaller of her sweet tea before interjecting "oh you poor, simple child ... that there weren't no pan-roasted baby pig ... that there were pan-roasted Boar Possum!!"