Sunday, September 29, 2013



Mammaw’s story in italics.  The rest is quotes as she remembered them.   Really long story   Rated PG


My Unca Tobin was a right-quiet man.  He ditten say much, and he pondered awhile before he spoke.   Unca Tobin and Unca Franklin had them a little upholstery business, and they had a man to run the lathe and the saws, and two to do the stretchin’ and tuftin’ and stitchin’.   They made a many a parlor set and dinin’ chair, as well as mattresses you could buy, or you could bring them your own material, and they’d make you one. 



Mrs. Dare brought them four of her mama’s stored-away hoop-skirt dresses, because they were made outa the best materials, and pretty, too, and they made a kinda crazy-quilt mattress and some nice pillows, as pretty as you please, with some of the cloth that had danced at the governor’s inauguration.   And Dares had probably birthed and died in that bed for a couple hundred years.


But once, when Ole White-Earl Holliman was out doin’ some a his nonsense, Unca Tobin come home from the factry, all hot and sweatin’ from the lint and all that horsehair and velvet and all, and seen White-Earl a-sneakin’ up around the side a the house, where he had no business bein’, even in the daytime.   And it gettin’ on to dark ‘n’ all,  Unca Tobin got ta suspicionin’ him a idear that White-Earl was up to a baaad kinda mischief.


When he come round the corner of the house, White-Earl was a- standin’ there at Cud’n Verlee’s winder, and her in there dressin’ for a Missionary social, with him hid kindly up in the viburnums, and a-peekin’ in real sly-like through a little ole crack between the curtains. 


Unca Tobin eased up real slow, and picked him up a stick a stove-wood as he went.   Him in his dark overhalls not bein’ too visible in the dark, and White-Earl a-lookin’ in the winder fulla light from the ceilin’-bulb---well, he just eased up close, and when he seen what White-Earl was a-doin’ behind them bushes---it just flew all over Unca Tobin like the time he caught them Freeman boys a-hangin’ over the sty fence, just a chunkin’ big ole hard clods down on all the baby piggies in the pen to make ‘em squeal.  


Real quiet like, he stepped in behind White-Earl, and  fetched him up a right smart CRACK upside the head with that wood.   Like to killed him, and Unca Tobin didn’t care.   Not one bit.


With that commotionin’ out in the bushes, and the limbs a-wavin’ and her Daddy cussin’ fit to bust, Cud’n Verlee just ran right up to that winder and looked out, with her cheek right up against the screen, tryin’ to see what was goin’ on out there.


You get on away from that winder, Verlee,” said her Daddy.   “Holler up Summer and Zeal and send ‘em on out here.”  


In a little bit, when White-Earl kindly come to hisself, he looked up at them three big ole Pardee men, all standin’ there over him in just the light from the winder, and the women a-gatherin’ and jumpin’ off the porch to see what was goin’ on, and Aint Vera come out the house so quick she’d still got the butcher-knife in her hand---well, it took all the wind outa HIS sails, I can tell you that.


They looked down at him with his britches all a-hangin’ and him with a kinda dazed look in his eyes, and they yanked him up and I think they all musta had a good swing or two at him, cause the tale went around that he was bunged up somethin’ fierce next time anybody saw him.


“Get up here, now!” said Unca Tobin---Cud’n Thelma and Laverne told it the same way every time---“You get up here and answer for yourself!   Whatchoo mean hangin’ round my winders, and lookin’ in at my girls?   I’m of a mind to all of us just take you to TOWN and let everybody see what choo been up to.”


Cud’n Zeal and Cud’n Summer helt on to White-Earl tight while their Daddy was blessin’ him out, and there were some several words in there that made Aint Vera shush him up, even though she’d come over there and give White-Earl a good kick her ownself, and him still on the ground.


“I thought my heart would just plumb STOP,” Cud’n Thelma would always say---“Just plumb STOP, when Mama went rushin’ over there with that butcher knife, and him a-layin’ there with his britches all a-hangin’ loose.   My Mama is a GOOD Christian woman, but you could see the fire in her eye, and I sure wouldn’a wanted to be in HIS shoes.”


“If ever there was a TIME,” Aint Vera would say many times later,  “If ever there was a TIIIIME---well, that was it for me.   I thought a lot of his Mama and all, and I knew she’d be just SO got away with over this, but there just wadn’t any keepin’ it quiet.   And we didn’t WANT to.   Lord knows what ELSE he’d a got up to if folks weren’t on their guard.” 


“Well, them boys always was ones for larkin’ and gettin’ into stuff,” Laverne would continue the tale,  and I’ll be dog if we didn’t just all get right into the spirit, girls and all, and nothin’ but Mama insistin’ on them lettin’ him fasten up his britches could make them not just parade him around just as he was.”


“Tarnation take you, you wall-eyed scallywag, you! You get you up on this muley-cow, and we goan ride you to town,” Zeal said.   “You can get up by yourself or we’ll hitch up Ole Joss, and he’ll drag you over crick and holler, right there with your butt hanging out nekkid.   You take your pick.”


And so they did, and everybody just walked the half-a-mile into town with Ole White-Earl a-straddle of the muley-cow, and his long legs just about draggin’ the dirt, they said.  The two youngest boys grabbed up a pot and a dishpan, and when they got on down the road where the next house was, they banged out a big racket, and the kids all came-a-runnin’ along with their Mama out gettin’ in the last of the clothes off the line, and their Daddy steppin’ down off the porch with his glass a tea and his toothpick.


And it got to be a kinda parade, kindly like a shivaree, almost, with a coupla lanterns and some more things to make noise, and Ole White-Earl just hangin’ his head down on his chest and a spot of of blood on the side of that big bush of primmachur white hair he had.

They went clean into town, and right down the street to the Sheriff’s office, where Ole Sherf Little come out and was waitin’ for all the clammerin and the marchin’ to get to him. 


“It got right quiet,” Cud’n Thelma would always go on, “and we all just stood there, with White-Earl moanin’ a little bit and kindly swayin’ on the back of the muley cow, while Daddy went on up on the porch and inside and had a word with the Sheriff.  He said later that it watten nothin’ that families ought to hear, especially the women-folk, and he’d just as soon not say it out loud.”


“Well, I think probly White-Earl was gladder to see Sherf Little than anybody’d ever been in their life, because he was bleedin’, and he’d already done wet hisself when the boys got a-holt of him, and they’d put such a fear into him---well, he just about jumped off that muley cow and run up the steps to get in that jail.”


“They sent White-Earl off to the County for that stunt, and you’d see him now and then, in the field gang and workin’ the road-grades in his black-and-white stripes, and he stayed some good while.  Verlee was still scared for a while after, and it took her some several months to not do all her dressin’ and undressin’ in the bathroom, with that high winder way up off the ground.”


“And none of us will EVER forget that night, and that parade.   If it hadn’ta been such a bad reason, and poor ole Miz Holliman takin’ on so--- well, that would really have been more fun than any shivaree we ever had.”


Mammaw always finished the tale with “Wish I’d been there.   I’d a kicked him myself while they had him down.   Wouldn’ CHOO?”