January 12, 2014

Amanuensis Monday ~ The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 31

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Cousins and Mischief...
Virginia loved the radio. She loved listening to the radio during the big band era.  
Cousins Evelyn and Virginia
I remember Uncle Wes coming in and Virginia was supposed to be getting up her lessons.  She’d have her book, her tablet and a pencil but she’d be listening to the radio.  Uncle Wes told her there was no way she could get her lessons done while listening to the radio.  She just loved music and dancing and singing. 
I remember when Evelyn and I set up a boxing match out in the back yard between Evelyn and one of my little pals, Vernon Whitlock.  We didn’t have any boxing gloves.  She just went bare-knuckled.  
I talked Evelyn into it.  I told her she could whip Vernon.  Vernon figured out he could get the best of Evelyn and I mean he was hitting her like a mule kicking.  Evelyn was trying but she couldn’t do any good.  I had to break the fight up.  That was Evelyn’s last boxing match.
I've been thinking about the old fireplace room and where the radio used to sit.  We’d sit up at night and listen to the radio.  
A fellow by the name of James Carroll from Wisner used to come by to court Virginia.  One night he brought his little brother, Bill with him.  Bill was about 7 or 8 years old and looked like a little wrestler.  We were all sitting there in the fireplace room listening to the radio. 
About two weeks ago I was up at Kiper’s Hardware store in Wisner.  I looked in the back of the store and there stood Bill Carroll.  Of course, he was much bigger but he looked just like he did that night back in 1937.
Nita and Bruce
I remember one of my Aunt Nita’s dates that used to come here.  His name was Brenham Caruthers and he was from Ferriday.  Every time he came to visit, he brought a box of candy.  
Boy, Evelyn and I really sweated him out!  We were always glad to see him coming.  We’d wait until the next day and go in Nita’s bedroom where she kept the candy and we’d eat it. 
I remember I liked the chocolate covering and Evelyn liked the filling inside the piece of candy.  She would stick her finger up in the piece of candy and get all the filling out then give me the chocolate covering to eat.  It worked out just right!
Mr. Knight had a big barn that used to be across the street from the Steele house.  They’d have horse and mule sales.  There would be a lot of people over there.  They would bring in horses and mules from somewhere and sell them. 
Chickens were always around Mr. Knight’s barn.  There was a breed called brown leghorn.  Seemed like it was over a hundred chickens around that ole barn.  When my cousin, John Fairbanks and I were little boys, we’d go upstairs in that old barn and gather the eggs.  
The hen nests were everywhere upstairs.  We’d gather 20-25 eggs out of one nest.  We’d have two big water buckets full of eggs.  The eggs sold for about 10 cents a dozen.  Gathering eggs fascinated me.
One day John and I went upstairs to gather eggs and started throwing them on the cows on the bottom floor that were eating at the troughs.  No telling how many eggs we threw and broke on those cows.
Things I heard in childhood... 
Allye Steele Edmonds
They said that a man by the name of Mr. Hoggatt came to court my mother when she was a young girl.  He left his car at her house.  Anybody who knew my mother would never imagine her driving a car.  
They said she drove that car.  She drove all over town.   In fact, they said Grandpa Steele said he was going to tear all the picket fences down so she could drive right up to the outhouse. 
One the best car stories on the Island I heard was when people first started getting cars.  Mr. and Mrs. [Thomas] Kempe got a car.  Mr. Kempe was driving the car and Mrs. Kate Kempe was reading the instructions.  The car stalled on the railroad track and they could hear the train coming.  Mr. Kempe couldn’t get the car started and he was hollering, “Read Kate, Read!”
Lucille Steele Ogden
Aunt Dick [Lucille Steele Ogden] was telling about when Uncle Wes hit a cow and had mess all over the car.  She went out and looked at the car the next morning and told Uncle Wes that he had absolutely ruined the car. 
Uncle Wes had never said anything ugly to his wife but on this one occasion he turned around and said, “Oh, Shut up!”
Old man Stewart Montgomery used to go to the show in Wisner and he’d always take a bunch of kids with him.  One time he and Mrs. Montgomery took Little Fred Chambless, Ray Randall, Richard Smith, and Charles Bourke with them to the show in Wisner.  
On the way back, Mr. Stewart hit a horse or a mule.  It broke the windshield and that mess got all over everybody in the car.  They all came back smelling bad.
Uncle Jim McLelland was always running over something.  I heard them tell about the time he was down around Clayton and came up on an old man and his horses pulling a wagon.  Uncle Jim ran over the wagon and tore it all up then jumped out of his car and yelled at the old man for being on the road.
When people saw Pa [Edmon] Chambers coming in his car, everybody got out of the way.  He’d plow through most anything.  He was a short fellow and could hardly see over the steering wheel and out the window. 
All the old timers remember Miss Ruth Peniston driving an old A-model, two-seater car and her mother, Mrs. Anna [Doniphan] Peniston sitting on the back seat. 
Remembering Uncle Wes...
He loved to pull magic tricks.  He could make a nickel disappear.  He could make a ring disappear and they’d find it hanging outside his store.  He enjoyed playing the tricks but he scared off a lot of the colored people.  They were afraid of him and wouldn’t go in his store. 
One time Uncle Wes told me how to catch a bird.  He said all I had to do was sneak up on a bird and sprinkle a little salt on its tail.  I believed him until I got off thinking about it and wondering how I was going to sneak up on a bird. 
Some ladies from down around Ferriday came in Uncle Wes’ store one day and they were wanting to buy some pecans.  They asked Uncle Wes if he had any ‘pee-cans’ and he told them he didn’t have any pee cans but he had some nice slop jars.
Jack McNair
Jack McNair told me a funny story.  Back during WWII things were rationed.  Certain things you just couldn’t get.  Tobacco, candy and a lot of things were scarce.  Jack was running the saloon and one day one of the Miles boys came in and joined a bunch of boys drinking around the bar.  
He sat a little brown bag on the counter and said, “Boys, if you want any black pepper, ole Wes’ has got some.”  Jack said that sounded kind of odd to him.  Jack picked up the sack and opened up it.  It was nutmeg.  
The Miles boy never would trade with Uncle Wes but on that day he had gone in looking for black pepper because it was scarce.  Uncle Wes fixed him up!
I remember one night years and years ago.  I was in Uncle Wes’ store on a Saturday night.  Aunt Dick, Virginia and Evelyn were in there too.  I remember Virginia was there because I remember how she laughed and laughed.  
We were sitting around the store and Annie Boxler came in.  She was about half drunk.  She wanted to buy a veil to go over the front of her hat.  Uncle Wes found an old hair net and put it on her hat and told her how nice she looked.  
Annie left the store and headed down the street with that old hair net hanging off the front of her hat.  I remember Aunt Dick saying, “Wes, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!”  Virginia went into hysterics. 

Note:  Parts 1-30 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

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