September 22, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 57

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
We had our first heavy frost on the 2nd of November, 1991.  The last two weeks of October were warm.  I’m sitting here in the kitchen looking out the window over to where the cottonwood stand used to be.  As I have mentioned on other tapes, I can remember back in the 1930s when all sorts of livestock used to roam this little village.  Cows, hogs, horses, mules and sheep all ran loose. 
Jack and Son McNair
Jack and Son McNair had live, tamed mallard duck decoys.  I believe it is illegal now to use live ducks as decoys but back in those days it was legal.  Jack and Son would put their ducks out in the water; they must have had them tied in some way.  I remember hearing those ducks quacking and calling and then the wild ducks would come in and they would shoot them. 
The live duck decoys were kept at cousin Jessie Chisum McNair's house who was their mother.  Back in the Mid-1930s, those ducks would fly all over town.  I remember being out in the cottonwood stand and looking down in the hollow of an old fallen tree and seeing a mallard hen sitting on some eggs.  I watched those eggs for a week or two then suddenly they were gone.  I don’t know whether they hatched out or something got them.  The eggs were light blue and larger than chicken eggs. 
Me and the Seal sisters, Juanita and Ouida, used to play all out in that cottonwood stand.  Their father, Mr. Alvin Seal, built them a swimming pool out in that stand of trees.  He also built a shed over the pool.  I can just see the sunshine coming down through the cracks of that old shed.  The swimming pool was about two and a half feet deep, 14 or 16 feet wide and about 24 feet long. 
Mr. Alvin had all kinds of things fixed up for those girls.  They had swings and what we called a shoot-to-shoot.  In their house was a small room that was called their play room.  Later on, they had two more daughters, Patsy Ann and Carolyn. 
We used to have a lot of gray geese on the Island.  There would just be flocks of them.  Several people had them.  My Grandma Steele used to have some.  What I remember about old gray geese was how those things would hiss at you.  Those ganders could hiss like a snake.  They would stick their ole long necks out and hiss at you.  They would also jump on you.  I was scared to death of them when I was little. 
I remember hearing Grandma Steele telling about the time a gander grabbed Junior Seal [Walon, Jr.] by the seat of his britches with its bill then took its wings and whipped him.  I’ve seen ganders do that to dogs and scare the devil out of them.
I think the last geese I saw on the Island were the ones I owned in 1955 or 1956.  At one time, I must have had twenty grown ones.  I had built a little house out in the back of our yard for the geese to lay eggs.  Several of the hens laid eggs and sat on them but they never hatched.
One day Annie Boxler, who lived in a small house on the corner of our lot, came over and told me a cat was getting the goslings as they were hatching.  She said she had seen the cat going in the little hen house and getting the goslings for a week.  She never thought to tell me about it before.  Those four or five nests must have had at least forty eggs in them.
The whole thing was so discouraging that I just gave up on raising geese.  I eventually sold all of them to old man Harry Jenkins.  He would come by and get a few at a time until he got them all.  He paid me two dollars for each one. 
I also had two sheep, Gertrude and Georgia.  I know my oldest two children remember them.  We got Gertrude first then bred her to one of Mr. Henry and Mrs. Georgia Westbrook Peniston’s sheeps. 
Gertrude and Georgia
The following Christmas morning, Georgia was born.  After they got up grown, we gave both Gertrude and Georgia to the Penistons. 
Years later I got some chickens, turkeys and a couple of mallards.  I loved having them out in the yard.  Some of the town folks starting complaining that the roosters crowing in the morning bothered them and woke them up.  Most of the people who complained about the roosters crowing were raised hearing that sound.  Some complained that the chickens scratched their flowers. 
Turkeys in yard
They went to the town council and an ordinance was passed that stated that no one could have chickens, turkeys or ducks in town so I had to get rid of all of them.  I will always believe it was simply about politics.  People who were on the opposite side of me politically seemed to find anything and everything they could to go against me.  I had complaints against my cats and dogs bothering people.  Some of the silliest things I had ever experienced.
Since I’m now out of politics, I have seriously considered buying a bunch of goats and turning them loose here in town.

The following letter was submitted by my father to the Catahoula News Booster after the town council passed the ordinance mentioned above:




TOM (a turkey gobbler) and DONALD (a duck) ALSO COME UNDER THIS 'FOWL' RULING.

Borrowing a phrase from the late Judge Drew, Court of Appeals, Shreveport, Louisiana, in making his decision in a similar case (1945),
"I cannot conceive of a normal person, endowed with ordinary sensibilities and ordinary habits, being greatly discomforted by the announcement of a new day from the well-trained voice of a stately cock, the sound which is used as a symbol of good cheer by many advertisers."
"He has been doing that all over the world since before the year 1, and so far as I can find, no one has until now tried to silence his cheerful greetings."
Big Red and his owner won that one.  Judge Drew ruled "to allow the rooster to continue to crow."
However, since Big Red and his harem in this instance have greatly disturbed some of the Island's citizens with his crowing and the hens scratching for worms, I think it best that Big Red go - along with his harem - including Tom Turkey and Donald Duck.

Quoting again from Judge Drew's decision,
"Although there seems to be nothing impossible in these fast moving times, I doubt if anyone has yet learned how to stop a rooster from crowing in the early morning, other than by wringing its neck."
As I said, Big Red won that court decision in Shreveport, Louisiana back in 1945.  Of course, Shreveport only had a population of 100,000 back in those days. ~ Yours truly, Bruce A. Edmonds

Note:  Parts 1-56 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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