Sunday, November 18, 2007

Boyhood stories

Over at Back in the Day gawilli is posting about childhood stories. It set me to thinking about some of my own childhood stories. They might be described as legends but, most likely they are just lies told by old men in front of impressionable boys.

I grew up hunting in the Saline River bottoms of south central Arkansas. Bob and Nelly lived some ten miles off the nearest gravel road smack in the center of the bottoms. Their house sat on stumps that were at least five feet tall. It was a two room shack with screend porches stretching the length of both sides. Bob raised hogs sort of free range style -the hogs wandered through the bottoms and Bob had "corrals" in various spot that he would use to butcher them. Nelly raised turkeys. I would crawl under the house in play in the sandy dirt -watching for snake and being careful that not turkey scratched just as Miss Nelly warned me.

The land was owned by Paul Finkbiner of the Capital Pride meat packing company. Bob and Nelly lived there in exchange for hosting Paul's deer hunting club of which my dad was a member. We went to Bob and Nelly's most weekends. Sometimes we had to hike in because the road was too muddy to pass without four wheel drive.

Of the childhood stories to tell many of them blend together. There was the "legend" of injun joe who wander off into the bottoms and never came back. Most likely he died in the bottoms from too many mosquito bites and exposure. But as a kid hunting in those bottoms alone I always wondered if I would come across him.

There was also a tale my dad and the hunters loved to tell about 'coon huntin. Bob and Paul and Auto, his brother along with Ed Salter and my dad were out 'coon huntin one night. They hunted with a dog that had run off and left them in the dark. They wondered around aimlessly trying to find their way. Finally, Paul or at least I think it was him, claimed they wuz walkin in circles.....

He took his bandana off and laid at a the base of tree. They all proceeded in the direction thay had chosen only to come across Paul's bandana at the base of that tree! Sure enough they had been walking in circles.

Those times were fun. We would always end our hunts at the pipeline which was where the gravel road ended. The pipeline was a cut through the woods where a natural gas line was laid from Louisana (I think). The pipleline was a major benchmark for wondering the bottoms as was the whiteline. The whiteline was were the Union Pacific Paper company had gone through the bottoms painting the trees with white paint. They used that to delineate where they were going to cut trees that would be trucked to the Pinebluff paper mill.

Our hunts end with a ritual. We would all gather in a circle men and boys. We would throw a dollar each in the middle. My dad would take out his dice and we would shoot craps for the pot. The men would pass a bottle of whiskey -Old Taylor to be exact. Each would take a snort and then we would head for home.

-willi

4 Comments:

Anonymous gawilli said...

I love it when you tell these stories. More, more!

8:44 PM  
Blogger mjd said...

I enjoy your stories too. Your childhood as an Arkansas country boy sounds so unfamiliar (but interesting) to a northern city girl.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

Such great memories. I agree...more please!

11:24 AM  
Blogger daddy d said...

Nice story. It sounds like a great time was had by all.

8:56 PM  

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