Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hens, eggs and Uncle Buck

Much of the time when I post stories or poems they tend to be warm or even bittersweet. Today I have a story on my mind that is not so much of either. It is a story of childhood, of the harshness of nature and the love of a kind and gentle Uncle that had a terrible task.

When I was a boy I loved wanderin' around my Grandma and Grandpa Hollen's farm. The smokehouse was dark and full of mystery. It smelled of old corn meal, salted meats an' oiled tools. The barn was down a path, just a little further than the smokehouse, but off limits till I was a bit older. When  I was finally old enough to go there I would climb the steps of that log barn, look down the square openings to the mangers below where the two mules, Joe and Dick would eat hay. It was wonderful place to explore.

Between the smokehouse and log barn was my Grandpa's orchard. The trees were ancient, low and
gnarly an' the apples sometimes just as gnarly as the parent tree. They were, however, most wonderful to a little boy who could go out and pull one from a branch an' eat it right there on the spot. Grandma would patiently gather the apples, peel and slice and make fried apples, canned apples, apple sauce or maybe dry them and later make fried apple pies in her cast iron skillet.

The branches had been twisted and formed low so fruit was easy to harvest. I always thought Grandpa or maybe my Uncle Buck (his real name was Bert, but he was always Uncle Buck to me) shaped and nursed them trees in the ol' orchard to that shape just for us to play on. The trees grew together with age and for a little boy it was hard to tell where one tree ended and another began. It was a paradise made for little boys an' my brother and I played there sometimes for hours.

When the sun would start to set it became mysterious an' scary. There were secrets in the orchard too. Secrets I didn't know till I was a grown man. Secrets mostly forgotten by all but me an' one or two older relatives. Secrets not evil, but sad. That, however, is a story for another day.

Behind the smokehouse was the hen house. It was sort of a lean-to that was attached to the back of the smokehouse. Grandma would open the door, step in an' gather eggs in the folds of her apron. If I was there she would give me an egg or two to carefully carry inside an' place in the big bowl that all the eggs were placed in.

The chickens roamed the farm, only goin' into the hen house at night. Grandma fed them in the yard between the house an' the smokehouse each day. A big ol' tractor tire had been cut in half an' she would pour the dishwater into it. Them chickens would rush for that water to find tidbits of food that had fallen into the dishpan. A few hens an' the rooster would fly into the apple trees to roost. I loved to hear the big ol' red rooster startin' to wake up an' crowin' back in the orchard.

Most of the hens nested in the hen house. Now an' again one would start nestin' in the weeds an' it was my job to watch an' find their nests. Young hens would lay eggs in a nest in the weeds an' just leave it. Critters would often get the eggs an' sometimes folks had egg suckin' dogs that would rob ever' nest they could find. Occasionally an ol' hen would nest long enough for chicks to hatch an' out of the weeds a hen would stroll one day with little ol' yellow chicks right behind like some sort of parade.

When I found a nest with chicks I would tell Uncle Buck so he could get the nest an' take the hen to the hen house. Chicks didn't live long out wanderin' around in the weeds. Uncle Buck could put the hen an' chicks on one end so she couldn't get out while they grew up.

One summer day I was playin' at the end of the orchard, climbin' one of the low limbs an' playin' Tarzan. As I surveyed my domain I heard a quiet "peep" an' searched the grass below. I saw a nest an' an ol' hen an' realized I had missed her nest. I went to get Uncle Buck an' he followed me back to the nest.

He shoo shoo-ee'd the hen off an' started to pick up the eggs. He stopped an' knelt down for a closer look. I bent over to see what he was lookin at. The eggs were hatchin' an a couple chicks were strugglin', not yet out of their shells. Uncle Buck was right quiet like an' told me to go into the smokehouse an' get a basket for him.

I was sort of surprised but did as he asked. Normally he would just gather nest an' all in his hands, carry it to the hen house with the ol' hen cluckin' an worryin' right behind him.  This time he gathered the eggs an' chicks up one by one an' laid them in that basket. I asked him what he was doin' an' he said he had to do somethin'. Told me to go to the house.

Then he walked down the hill to the creek - named Little Creek an' headed toward Red Bird River. I followed him an' he kept sayin', "Stevie, go on back now. I don't want you to see this."

I followed him anyway an' when he got to the river he walked downstream a way an' knelt down. He sat the basket on the ground an' I realized he was gonna drown them chicks. I started cryin' an' ran to him, beggin' him not to drown them. I cried an' he took me in one arm, sat me on his knee an' showed me the basket.

When Uncle Buck got upset or mad he would stutter a little as he did now, "I di-didn't want you to s-see this, Stevie. Them flies have done blowed these eggs as the chicks would b-break a little hole. That damn hen left them too much an' the flies blowed them eggs."

I looked an' saw that the chicks were covered in fly larvae... maggots. Uncle Buck didn't want them to suffer an' be eat up alive. I stared an' cried. I asked him if I could pray for them an' he said yes. I don't remember my exact words but it was something like, "God, I am sad them chicks are hurt an' mad at them flies. I am sad Uncle Buck has to do what he has to do, so take care of these chicks an' help me an' Uncle Buck get over bein' sad an' cryin'. Amen"

Uncle Buck told me to go stand where Little Creek ran into Red Bird River. He walked further downstream an' knelt again. Carefully he laid each egg into the deep water. I sort of figured it was like a burial at sea an' told him so when he walked back to me.

He didn't say nothin' as we turned to walk back to the house. I reached up an' took his hand. He carried the basket in his other hand as we stepped from stone to stone in the creek. He held my hand the whole way an' helped me in the "slippy" places.

When we got to the little dirt road that led up to the house I pulled on his hand, "I reckon we had to do that, didn't we,Uncle Buck?"

"Yessir, we did, Stevie."

"I love you Uncle Buck."

Uncle Buck just grinned that bashful grin he had. My Daddy's family was never much for sayin' that mushy stuff. Instead he tucked that basket under his arm an' rubbed my ol' burr haircut real good. Uncle Buck was my favorite.

Many years later I sat by his bed as he breathed his last few breaths. I held his hand for a long time. I don't know that he was aware I was there, that I held his hand, but I did. I leaned over an' whispered to him, "I love you Uncle Buck.". As he was takin' those last few breaths tears rolled down his cheeks.

I'm told that happens a lot in those last few minutes, just a natural thing an' he probably didn't even know I was there. Didn't matter to me. I stood an' held his hand an' remembered all the times I spent with him. Memories of eatin' watermelon right in the rows of the garden, goin' swimmin' an' jumpin' off his arms as he threw me up an' into the river.

An' I remembered holdin' his hand as we walked home that terrible day. I don't remember ever sayin' that to him before that day. I don't know how many times in my life I told him that. Only thing I remember now are those two times

Those two summer days, the first time and last time I said, "I love you Uncle Buck".

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Big Dad Walker

Though the world has changed so much in the last 40 or 50 years, I can still remember the ol' fellers that would sit on the front porch over to Feltner's Store up on Spring Creek. They would arrive after chores were done an' just sit, talk an' whittle away with their Case knives. There is an art to whittlin' that most folks don't really understand. They weren't carvin' anything. They was just shavin' long curls of wood off the sticks they carried, just to have them curl off an' lay in great piles at their feet.

One of my favorites was ol' Big Dad Walker. Him an' Big Mom lived just up the road from the store an' he would walk down most afternoons to sit with the other fellers an' jaw for a while. I always had to laugh when folks mentioned Big Mom for she was about 5'2" and can't have weighed 100 pounds drippin' wet. Big Dad Walker was over 6' tall and a pretty big feller like his name said. Don't know why folks had to call his wife Big Mom.

I remember stoppin' by the store years ago. Big Dad  an' Henry Feltner were the only ones sittin' on the porch. Henry Feltner would come out an' sit with a cup of coffee when there was no customers. Henry was right quiet an' liked to listen to the others as they spun yarns. Both men greeted me as I climbed the steps an' they told me to not be in a hurry, to sit an' visit for a while.

Henry went back into the store to refill his coffee an' came back out with a paper cup of coffee for me just the way I liked it, two sugars an' enough cream to make the coffee all caramel lookin'. He told me Big Dad had been talkin' about the sheriff election an' that Gib Gilbert was about to be reelected again. Gib had been sheriff for as long as I could remember.

That was all the cue that Big Dad needed. Henry grinned an' winked at me real sly like as he sat back in his ol' ladder back chair. Big Dad peeled off one of the longest curls of pine off the stick he was whittlin' on, cleared his throat an' spoke up...

"Well sir, I heard some rumors an' goin's on about Gib Gilbert. Don't know as what you'll be wantin' to hear them, seein' as how y'all are kin an' all." he said as he looked over his glasses at me.

Big Dad knew that Gib an' I both went back to ol' Felix Gilbert who was my Great Great Great Grandpa. Gib was maybe my 5th cousin, maybe a 6th cousin.

I spoke quickly, not wantin' the story to get away, "Kin is kin, but politics is different, Big Dad. The voters want to know." Henry chuckled into his coffee cup, knowin' I was gettin' Big Dad primed, loaded an' ready to go.

"I know right smart," he said quiet like, "but I'll just tell y'all of one incident that happened when he was collectin' names on his petition to run. It is bound to make a feller stop an' think when they gets into the votin' booth.

Way I hear it, Gib Gilbert had been collectin' names on his petition of folks who would support his run. He started awful late, don't you know, just forgot to start the petitions, y'see, since he had been Sheriff so long.

When he realized he was almost a hundred names short on his petition the deadline was the very next day. Mrs. Gilbert told him she didn't think he had time to go round an' gather up that many names on the petitions. But ol' Gib is an inventive man, just like all the folks in your family. " Big Dad said with a sly smile.

That was true enough. My Great Grandpa had invented the paper airplane years before the Wright boys ever flew. They was cousins of ours, don't you know. They done stole his idea an' became famous, y'see.  Other kin invented them bobble heads they give away at the ball parks, the weed whacker an' even nicotine gum...'cept it was really just some country ham, sliced real thin like an' applied to the skin with a piece of duck tape,  smoked good an filled with nicotine after it hung for a year over Sophie Precious as she smoked 3 packs a day at the counter of her store, Precious Smoked Meats, but that is another story for another day.

Big Dad went on, "As I heard it, bein' inventive an' all, he loaded Mrs. Gilbert up in the truck, grabbed the clipboards with the petitions an' took off down the road. He stopped over to the graveyard by Booger Holler Holiness Church where your cousin, Hazel Nutt Budder is married to the preacher, Woodrow Budder.

They drove half way round the circular road through the graveyard an' stopped. Gib an' Mrs Gilbert got out an' Gib told her to start writin' the names on the stones on the petitions, usin' different ways to sign the names till they got the names they needed.

Now, Mrs. Gilbert knew better than to correct her man. After all, he was a politician an' he know how these things worked. Who was she to argue? They both went to work, signin' up the folks who was buried there.

After a while Mrs. Gilbert counted the names on the petition on her clipboard, went over an' counted the names on Gib's petition an said, 'Gib, we have done collected 131 names, more than you need to turn in your petitions. I reckon we can go on home now.'

Gib looked at her like she was some sort of Martian or Yankee or somethin'. 'What?' he said. 'Quit now? No mam.' Gib pointed to all the gravestones on the other side of the cemetery.

'See all them graves? Them folks have just as much right to vote as these other do! We are gonna work till we have ever' one of them registered.'

That is exactly what he said to her. That is the way I heard it told to me." Big Dad whispered to us with a crooked smile on his face.

Henry Feltner sat there for a minute or so studyin' on what Big Dad had said, shook his head, threw the cold coffee in his cup onto the ground an' went into the store.

I sat back an' laughed as Big Dad lowered his head, peeled off another long curl of pine an' grinned to himself, "Yessir, that is just the way it happened, least that was how I heard it an' all."

I can still see him there in my mind, gray hair pushed under his ol' beat up hat, long grizzled beard coverin' his chest an' much of the black tie he wore with his white shirt most days, black coat an' ol' work pants completed his wardrobe an' were always clean though well worn.

His smile an' them dark brown eyes were always full of orneriness an' stories. He always had a good word for folks, always was the first to laugh at himself an' the stories he told.

copyright 2014 Stephen  Hollen

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Mountain Survival Guide for Yankees Part 1

For much of my life I have not realized that those of us from the mountains or the south, especially those of us from Appalachia, have an unfair advantage over the city born and raised, the Yankee and now the northern retiree with a pension to spend that comes to our hills, buys property and seeks to live among us.

Not that we mind them coming to the hills. They often find opportunity to buy vegetables an' fruits from our farmer's markets, junk from our barns when we have yard sales an' those knick knacks we might make an' sell.

A good example would be fellers who take ol' tobaccer sticks an' clean them up, spray with a little polyurethane, drill a hole at one end an' tie a leather strap through. They then sell them to the unsuspectin' Yankee for $10 each. Them Yankee folks think they got a bargain an' the farmer is glad to get rid of one of the thousands of ol' sticks in their barn.

Note; the above was for the mountain folks an' should be disregarded by you Yankees with money to spend. Them walkin' sticks are one fine deal an' I can give you a better deal if you want to buy a couple.

So, for those folks who still have their trainin' wheels on when it comes to mountain livin', here are a few helpful hints to make your time in the hills better!

First of all, understand that we don't give directions like you do. Often our directions are based on landmarks, or more important for you to remember, former landmarks that might no longer exist but are remembered by those who have lived here for generations.

Example: "Y'all go down this here road for a couple miles till you come to where Ray Bob Wilson had his cow barn. It is gone now, y'see. Turn left at the next road an' go, oh, I don't know, maybe a mile or two till you come to the field where Jr Simpson keeps his big ol' Angus bull. Now, he don't always have that bull in that field, but when you get to that field you take a right, go up the hill yonder an' look for a barn with squirrel hides nailed on the side of the barn. That is where Homer Poovey lives. Y'aint goin' to Homer's, I know. Charlie Jenkins is who you asked about. He lives right across from Homer in the single wide trailer there with his wife an' three youngin's."

Second, though we have our own dialect an' you may have to listen real close, y'all will get it after a while. We talk R E A L slow so you can keep up... bless your hearts.

First rule of grammer:understand the "Multiplicity Rule" of mountain grammer. Words are often spliced together for ease of use. An example of the word/words you might encounter?

TH'AIN'T. Words spliced? "They Ain't" How used? "Thain't no way I am gonna drink no espresso. I want coffee, black an' high test!"

Second, y'all will often hear the polysyllabic pronunciation of monosyllabic words. That is just how we say things down here in the hills. A good example is the word or name "Bill". Say it to yourself an' then understand when we say the same word/name it is pronounced "BEE-UHL". Not every monosyllabic word can be pronounced polysyllabically. Don't try to understand it. It ain't fittin' for you to do so.

On another note, don't try to imitate us. All of us in the hills have heard some northerner come down to the hills an' think it is funny to make a show of sayin' "You-all" or "Whut" instead of "What". It is offensive and will just honk folks off. Y'all won't make neighbors that way.

Last of all, don't think that because mountain folks talk slow or say "ain't" an' "y'all" that we are slow or stupid. Great men an' women have come from the hills an' the south. Dialect has nothin' to do with intelligence.

Yes, you may know Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton (all rich, by the way), but you might not remember Alex Haley, Mother Jones, James Agee, Homer Hickam, Jennifer Garner, Colonel Harlan Sanders, The Judds, Napoleon Hill, Dr. Bill Blass or John F. Nash, Jr., just to name a few famous Appalachians. (go ahead, google them)

They represent authors, musicians, actors, historians, engineers, a "rocket scientist" as well as other scientists, labor activists and businessmen/women. All of them might be called "hillbillies".

We are a proud folk with deep roots in them hills.

Oh, an' by the way... don't call us Lil Abner, Jethro, Daisy May or Daisy Duke. We all have lots of cousins an' know where y'all live. lol

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Walkin' the Antenna Wire

Lige Wilson sat in a chair under a maple tree in the front yard of his grandson's home an' watched as the feller from the satellite company placed a dish on a post he had secured next to the house. When he heard that Matt was getting satellite he asked if he could drive over from Teges Creek to watch. Though he had heard about them dish things, he had to see for himself.

Television had not done well in the mountains. For some reason radio and television waves just didn't cooperate and bounce down into the hollers like they should. Seems they travel in straight lines an' just flew over the tops of the hills. No one could ever explain to him how the radio waves did land in the bottom of the holler after dark.

The boy from the satellite company was Tommy White, grandson of Chester White who lived over to Teges Creek. He talked with Lige as he worked, explainin' what he was doin', how things worked and that there were satellites high up above the world shootin' signals down everywhere. Lige told Tommy he weren't too fond of the idea of them signals hittin' ever'thing. It just didn't seem fittin'.

"Now, Lige, the signals don't hurt a thing. They are harmless, light waves an' sound waves are all around us, even before TV" Tommy said as he finished up. There was a Mason jar full of sweet tea waitin' for him there in the shade an' this was his last install for the day. He eased over to the shade and had a seat by Lige.

"Didn't you and my Grandpa share a TV antenna line years ago? I heard y'all were the first to have TV back in the late 60s."

Lige smiled, took a swig from his own sweet tea, "Well yes, but that was way different from this here. We had to string antenna wire up the mountain an' then only got two channels an' they was sometimes so fuzzy a feller didn't know if he was a watchin' a basketball game or a soap opery. An' they was always problems with that antenna wire."

Tommy grinned. He suspected they was a story comin' on. "Problems?" he asked innocently.

As if on cue, Lige leaned back an' started in, "Oh lordy yes, all sorts of things happened to that dag-gone wire. Y'see me an' your Grandad agreed to split the cost to put it up the mountain an' split it at the bottom of the hill. We bought several hundred yards of the wire. It were actually two wires, not coated an' separated ever' few inches by a hard plastic piece so they didn't touch. We walked the mountain unrollin' that wire, securin' it to trees with staples, clearin' branches an' brush to make sure it didn't get broke.

It took all weekend to get it up the side of the mountain. We only paused for church Sunday mornin' an' my wife Betty an' your Grandma carried on somethin' terrible about us workin' on Sunday. We had to though, we didn't want to lose a day of real work on our farms to string that wire.

At the top of the mountain we found a tall lodge pole pine up there on the ridge. We carried a ladder up there an' cut all the branches off'n it. We mounted one of them big ol' aluminum TV antennas to the top of that tree with metal straps an' guy wires an' dozen's of screws so it would stay in a big wind.

Folks came from all over to see the TV's when we was done. We had TV night 'bout ever' Saturday night at our place or your Grandpa's place. We took turns, y'see. The women fixed cakes or pies an' coffee an' folks usually brought somethin' to share. If was loads of fun."

"Sounds like it was" Tommy said, "a lot different from today."

"Yessir, it was," Lige went on, "it was more of a get together. You should have seen your Grandma an' Betty carry on when the wrasslin' show was on. They wanted to get in that ring with them fellers.

Problem was critters would break the antenna wire an we would have to walk the wire, lookin' for breaks an' repair the wires where they was broke. Squirrels would run the wire, y'know. We always knew when they was runnin' the wire 'cause you could see a fuzzy shadow of a squirrel runnin' across the picture."

Tommy nodded in earnest as he was listenin', unaware the story had gone from fact to tall tale all at once.

"Tommy, I remember one time we was a'watchin' a UK basketball game when all of a sudden these tree like things appeared real fuzzy like on the bottom of the screen. The picture went to movin', jigglin' an' goin' all wobbly like. Ever' body hollered an' me an' Chester grabbed our tools an' started up the hill. As we climbed, Betty hollered up that the picture got better for a while then went to bobblin' an' wobblin' agin. Strange noises was a comin'' out the speakers" Lige said.

"What happened then?" Tommy asked.

"Well sir, we climbed the hill, followin' the wires, lookin' for a break. Then we saw it! The wires had been pulled loose half way up the mountain. Staples were ripped right out of the trees. We saw the antenna wire on the ground an' it was a movin'! A snakin' this way an' that.

We followed it as best we could, seein' as how it was a twistin' all over the hill. We heard terrible noises, roarin' an' growlin' an' snortin' an' carryin' on. We knew we was gettin' close, boy, so we kept on goin' in earnest."

"Then what? Then what" Tommy was leanin' forward in his chair.

Lige looked Tommy right in the eye, "Son, when we got to the ridge they was a mama bear chasin' a huge 12 point buck all over the top of that hill! We had never seed anythin' like that. Mama bear was a roarin' an' growlin' an' all wound up in that antenna wire. She was chasin' that buck aroun' an' tryin to get hold of it.

Tommy, that buck was all wrapped up in that wire too! They was both hurt pretty bad. Then we saw what all the commotion was about. A half grown cup was a hangin' from antenna wire stretched between the rack of that 12 point buck! Sure as I am sittin' here, that is what had the mama bear all riled up.

That young bear must have been crawlin' on our antenna wire when the buck came through, got its antlers caught up in the wire that was hangin' low from the bear's weight, pulled ever'thing loose as it tried to get away. The mama bear heard the youngin' carryin' on an' came to save her cub. Both got all wound up an' mortally hurt tryin' to escape, get to the cub or just get out of the mess.

Both the mama bear an' the 12 point buck died from their wounds. I raised up that cub an' it still comes round home to visit when it is in this neck of the woods." Lige paused, took a long pull on his sweet tea an' sat back.

"Oh, ho ho! What a story, that was great. You had me goin' there for a while." Tommy laughed so hard he almost fell out of his chair. "That was one of the best tall tales you ever told."

Lige looked serious, "That weren't a tall tale. Ask your Grandma. Better yet, they was 14 folks watchin' the game that day. They saw the whole thing play out in fuzzy shadow interference on the TV. They thought the UK game had been interrupted by some nature show. All over top of the UK game as they watched."

"Uh huh, Sure they did, Lige" Tommy chuckled.

"Tommy, let me ask you somethin'. You've been to our cabin. Y'ever notice that taxidermy deer mount on the wall? An' the bear skin rug hangin stretched next to it?" Lige asked.

"Yep, I sure have." Tommy still was laughin'.

"Have you seen all those stripes, bald streaks on that bear skin? An' how about all the wire wound around the antlers on that 12 point rack. Ever notice that?"

"Yes, but, but I figured that was just somethin' you had stuck up there. It weren't... it weren't?" Tommy felt a little confused. "You mean, they are? They are the real bear an' buck that was caught in that antenna wire?"

Lige just smiled, "Tell you what, Tommy, bring your Grandma over for dinner Sunday after church an' you can take a look for your own self an get the womenfolks to tell you the story."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mrs. Chappell's Wild Ride

Well sir, yesterday was full of excitement over to Booger Holler and at the home of my Cousin Peanut Chappell! I was not there, but heard all about it over to Buster Hollen's Barber Shop when I stopped in to get a trim.

Seems Cousin Peanut's Mama, Mrs. Chappell (we pronounce it MIZZ in the hills, of course) had determined to face the 8 inches of heavy snow and get out of the house to get some root vegetables an' gather the eggs from her hens over in the henhouse. Now that henhouse is actually a shed sort of thing built onto the side of the barn and there is a door from the barn into it. This makes it easy to go into the barn, get some corn and step in to feed and gather eggs.

She put on her husband Vergie's worn out ol' work boots that she often wore in muddy or icy weather. She thought they had better soles than her day to day shoes an' they came up over her ankles. She sort of figured they would keep the snow off her feet better. As she left the house she grabbed a big ol' dishpan so she could gather the eggs in it an' carry in some taters an' other root vegetables from the barn to make supper later that afternoon.

Goin' out weren't no problem. She was careful an' grabbed onto the clothesline post along the way to steady herself. The deep snow was covered by a sheet of ice an' her feet crunched through as she walked.

Once in the barn, she shelled some corn off the cob and put it into her apron as she held the bottom hem up to make a pouch for the corn. Steppin' into the henhouse caused a flurry of feathers an' cluckin' as the chickens gathered round her to peck at the corn as she tossed it to the ground. Though there was a small door for the chickens to get outside, they hadn't ventured out much in the snow an' it had almost closed up their exit.

She was right disappointed that they was only three hen eggs in the nestin' boxes. This cold an' snow had put the layin' hens off for the last few weeks. She gathered the eggs into her apron and went back into the barn.

After she carefully laid them eggs in the dishpan, she went to the back of the barn an lifted the angled door that led from the barn into the root cellar. Vergie had been right smart to build the barn with the henhouse an' the root cellar built on. She stepped down the two steps an' turned on the flashlight that hung from some balin' wire just inside the door. It gave her enough light to grab some taters, carrots an' turnips before she went back out an' into the barn.

That is when things went from normal to excitin'. She put them root vegetables in the dish pan, went out the barn door, turned to make sure it was latched an' turned back to start to the house. She noticed that it had started snowin' hard again when she turned an' took a step.

It was that turn that did her in, I reckon.

Y'see, Vergie had got himself a new pair of work boots a couple years back because the old ones was worn out and the sole was rubbed as slick as a slate rock from years of work an' wear. When Mrs. Chappell stepped out an' turned around she lost her feet out from under herself an' went down on her backside.

She let go of one side of that dishpan an' the eggs an' root vegetables flew out. When she put her hands down to catch herself the dishpan somehow got under her backside an' she landed in that dishpan on that icy snow.

That was just enough to start her skiddin' over the yard an' toward their ol' Ford truck. As she saw it comin' up fast, she laid back like one of them luge sled fellers goin' feet first. She went right under the truck an' out the other side but went to her left an' right into the dry branch that runs along the yard.

Once she hit that dry branch it was all down hill an' feet first. She commenced to squallin' an' carryin' on to beat the band. Vergie is a good bit hard of hearin' an' he thought it was just the snow an' wind comin' down the mountain an' through the holler. He sat back in his easy chair, closed his eyes to take a little ol' nap, smiled an' just listened, glad to be in on such a bad day. He couldn't wait for the hot beef an' vegetable soup Mrs. Chappell was goin' to make that evenin' for supper.

Well, things weren't goin' so good for his wife. She was a goin' down that dry branch like a locomotive, squallin' into the wind, the snow hittin' her in the face an' beginnin' to cover her all over. Folks paused all over the mountain, wonderin' what they heard. Most thought it was just the snow storm that had hit.

Then her foot caught on the branch of a cottonwood tree an' she commenced to spinnin' round an' round in that dish pan! The spinnin' made her squeals an' squalls sound like some sort of police (pronounced po-leese) or sheriff car or fire truck. Ever' one knew they was no fire trucks close by an' a few, includin' Dr. Percival Poovey (a purveyor of potent potables - he made 'shine an' sold snake oil on the circuit), was hopin' the sheriff weren't comin' after them an' made themselves scarce.

Just imagine that sight! Some critter comin' down the dry branch, all white an' snow covered, spinnin' like a top an' bustin' your ear drums with its carryin' on. It scared several youngin's who was sleddin' behind Booger Holler Hard Shell Baptist Church. They ran inside the church, found the preacher an' confessed they had stole some cigarettes an' had a smoke! They wanted right there to get themselves right in case that was judgement that had screamed down the mountain an' by them

Mrs.Chappell commenced to doin' some very unladylike cussin' an' carryin' on as she continued her wild ride, twirlin' like one of them there dervishes folks read about in the National Geogramic. Snow had completely covered her an' she almost looked like a purdy white weddin' cake or some store bought sweetnin' spinnin' on display in a big ol' picture window.

Finally the branch started to level off an' she dug the heel of one boot into the snow to slow her wild ride down an' stop the spinnin'. She hit a log across the branch, flew into the air, still hangin' onto the dishpan an' landed on the hood of her middle boy, Walter Nutt Chappell's (Folks call him WalNutt) vintage AMC Gremlin. Her face smashed up agin the windshield an' the wipers started to clean the snow an' ice off her face.

WalNutt had been startled as a huge snowball landed on his Gremlin. Y'all can just imagine how shocked he was when the wipers revealed the face of his little ol' Mama, all squishy agin the windshield.

She blinked a few times, grabbed an' held the wipers and stared fierce like only a Mama can. She pointed a finger at WalNutt an' spoke quiet like, "Get me off'n here an' get me home.

He lifted her off the Gremlin, shook her good an' hard to get all the snow off an sat her down. She didn't take too well to the shakin' an' slapped him hard.

"I said GIT me home, boy! An' never tell anyone about this." She said to him as she looked up into his frightened eyes. She threw her dishpan into the back seat, got in the AMC Gremlin and sat starin' straight forward.

He swore he wouldn't breathe a word of it to anyone. He drove her home, helped her in an' went out to the barn to gather the eggs an' root vegetables. He was plain ol' shocked that not one of them hen eggs was broke. He took them into the house, woke Vergie to say "Howdy" and was on his way.

WalNutt Chappell went directly to Buster Hollen's Barber Shop an' waited till he was in Buster's barber chair to say, "Fellers, do I have a story to tell you!"

I didn't hear it first round. I was over to Knuckle's Dollar Store when I was told I needed to stop in the Barber Shop to hear about Mrs. Chappell's Wild Ride!

I heard it there and now have told it to you just as it happened. I wouldn't lie to you 'bout it! That is just how it happened. I'd rather eat fried chicken than lie to friends.