Archive for September, 2007

Williamson County Jumping Frog

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Hanging around the “Whittlers Bench” you can hear some wondrous things being discussed. And I have the tendency of believing them all. Past adventures is one of the most often used story lines. These stories range from wild horse roping to big fish catching. If you lined up all the horses corralled and the fish netted end-to-end they would reach from here to Andice. And handsome horses and fat fish they all were. But please don’t ask for the exact meadow or fishing hole they came from, for these things are private information being kept secret for future use.

Another theme used around the “Whittlers Bench” is dangerous encounters. Or encounters of any nature. These tales usually began, “One day, back in the fifties, this ole boy——–“. The characters in these stories have by now gone to their rewards, or are pushing walkers down rest home hallways. But they were heroic and important in their time. And speaking of heroes, the teller, most often, come out on top in the conclusion. And some time the conclusion is evasive and hard to recognize. In fact, some conclusions never happen; they just trail off into the never never land. However I enjoy them all and make a mental note to tell the tale myself in another time and another place. Shucks, I just might get to be the hero if I am careful with the telling.

Politics are not discussed much around the bench. Occasionally a new boy will broach the subject of happenings in our government, both local and national, with zeal and excitement. He is usually ignored, or put in his place with tact and he learns soon this is not the place. It is neat to see the professional men in session skirt the subject.

But by far the most popular subject in story telling is the weather. “Boy, aint it hot today?” One question that is always asked, “How much rain did you get?” Another popular query is, “How are the crops?” With all the rain we have been blessed with recently frogs have become a popular subject. Alfred Nelson came by the other day and told of mowing his grass. He said he was about half way through mowing his rather large lawn when he spied a big frog right in front of where he was mowing. He didn’t have time to stop and ran right over the rascal. Alfred stopped, looked back, and there the frog sat. Alfred said he swears he winked. I’ll fix him for his smart-aleck way. He backed the mower over the frog real fast and looked forward. There he sat, this time with raised fist. Alfred raced forward and stopped right on top of the frog. But he did not hear a ”bump” he expected when he should have hit him. Getting off the lawn mower and looking under the deck, he saw the frog just grinning and jumping the blade each time it came around. Super frog if there ever was one.

Now I like and believe this tale. Thank you Alfred. If you want to hear a neat story, well told, with verve and honesty, come by the “Whittlers Bench” and sit a spell.

Sounds of Summer

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Crickets, June bugs , and cicadas singing in the warm summer night remind me of sitting on the porch with Dad and Mom and the other kids. Us kids, tired of chasing fire flies, would listen to the night sounds. The crickets had a constant beat of four-four time while the June bugs had a beat more like three quarter time. The ones I liked best were the cicadas. Hundreds would sing in perfect time and harmony a loud buzzzzzzuzzz., holding that note for perhaps a minute. Then they would go quite and hundreds more across the meadow would answer back….buzzzzzzzuzz.

That must have gone all night, but I never knew for sure. I always got sleepy and crawled into a cot on the porch and fell asleep. I think the whippoorwills sang all night. They were hollering and answering each other as I fell asleep and were still at it when I awoke. Sleeping on the porch some times became a little scarey. We had a family of barn owls that always waited for me to go to bed, then start their hooting. I knew they were just owls, but they conjured up visions of all kinds of buggers. I never really saw any night animals that would eat a little kid alive, but I knew they were out there.

A kid can handle day sounds of summer much easier than those of night ones. How about the sound of about a half dozen kids playing in the creek? If we were lucky, some one would rig up a swing that went from this bank to the other side. The yells of laughter and sounds of pure delight filled the creek bottom every summer day. The splashes of bodies falling into the water was as near heaven as us kids wanted.

Another sound of summer was the cotton gin. The whole town was bathed in the hum of those mysterious machines at the gin. The sounds permeated the town like the smell of money, for that was the life blood of most small towns it those days. I liked it when the man at the gin blew the whistle loud , long, and clear , telling the farmers he had a head of steam up and was ready to gin their cotton.

But you know the sound that excited us most in the summer? The sound of a steel sledge hammer driving a steel stake into the ground. No matter where we had ridden our bikes, or where we were playing, when we heard that sound we came running. For you see, that meant a circus or medicine show was on the way. We would hurry to the city park where they always pitched their tent to watch the great event. And sure enough there they would be, in all the flurry and confusion getting ready to raise the giant tent. It was a happening not to be missed. One day we were fooled. We heard the beautiful sound of steel on steel. Like flies to honey we swarmed to see the great show of all that ducking being raised to house the acts. As the massive cloth building became erect, and the sign was unfurled advertising the coming show, our exceptions were suddenly dashed. There for all of us to see and read, in bold print, “Come, hear Brother Johns Preach the Gospel Tonight.”