Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the rooms,
not a creature was stirring, we were all out of spoons

The children were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

The baby was nestled all snug in her bed,
while roaches and spiders crawled over her head

I wore pajamas and my old lady a gown,
as we both crawled in bed about to get down

When out on the lawn arose such a clatter,
I leapt from the loft and fell down the ladder

Away to the window I flew like the Flash,
tore apart the shutters and threw up on the sash

As I stuck out my neck and looked at my shed,
down came the window on top of my head

When what to my bulging eyes should I see,
but a man on a sleigh running into a tree

The plump little driver so clumsy and slow,
yelled to his reindeer, ‘Dammit let’s go’

More faster than turtles his reindeer they came,
as he screamed and he shouted and called them bad names

On Dasher, on Dancer, on Donder and Blitzen,
on Comet, on Ajax, on Agnew and Nixon

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall,
now dash away, crash away, smash away all

The prancing and pawing of each tiny hoof,
could clearly be heard as they all peed on my roof

As I pulled in my head and was turning around,
head first came Saint Nick as he crashed to the ground

He was covered in ashes from his hat to his shoes,
and gagging and wheezing and smelling like booze

Though his bag was filled with brand new toys,
he took all we had and made not a noise

In his bag was a hatchet I hoped was for me,
but before I could stop him, he chopped down our tree

Then laying his finger aside of his nose,
a bright yellow mucous from his nostrils he blows

Then away through the door, he screamed as he sped,
‘Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead’

The Great Rattle Snake Roundup.

About thirty-five years ago, my family lived on a modest farm in North Alabama, on the top of Wilhite Mountain.
Our little patch of land was only 28 acres, but it was surrounded by my Grandfathers land on three sides and our neighbor, Mr. Moore on the other side.
The only honest job my grandfather, Grampaw as we called him, ever had was being a blacksmith, he made horseshoes, ornamental iron, wagon wheels, and all manner of metal workings. He planted corn which was worked out into corn meal, and cough syrup, as well as grew sugarcane which was worked into molasses and rheumatism medicine.
In the Winter we slaughtered cattle and hogs, which were salted away or smoked in a smoke house.
In the Spring we did the planting and late Summer meant time to harvest, between those times there were horses to be shod, wheels to be made and barrels to be ringed.

One particular day, my brother and I were playing in our front yard, when we saw Grampaw ride up on his old mule, Lester.
“Boys, I saw a rattler snake this morning, while I was working some shoes, your uncle Paul is going to see if he can find it and was wanting you boys to help him.
My brother looked at me and shouted “NOT IT!”
As I started to run screaming to the house, Grampaw said ” Easy boys, you don’t bait rattle snakes, and they probably aint no more bears anywhere around here.”

After a little bit of grumbling and finally being offered a quarter apiece, we headed out. Grampaw on Lester and my brother and I on our trusty old bicycles.

When we got over to Grampaws shop, Uncle Paul was already there, holding a rake and a hoe (the kind you chop weeds with).
“You boys move that wood pile and tin and I’ll whack that snake when I see him.” Paul said.
After about three hours of moving a woodpile, we discovered there was no snake, so we started checking the shop, and the little sheds all around the shop.
I really feel I should describe my uncle Paul, he was a big man, standing almost six feet and seven inches tall and weighing over three hundred pounds.
Paul would pick a shed and we would start at one side and work our way all the way around it and back out the door, leaving no space unchecked.
Finally we came to the last shed, the one my brother and I anxiously looked forward to searching.
You see this particular shed was always locked, not because Grampaws still was in there, but because my cousin, who was an only child had all of his old toys in it.
You see his father did not want my brother and I to play with and possibly tear up any of his old toys, and he figured that it was a great way to torment us, because we knew there were all kinds of neat things in there, but we couldn’t get to them.
We went inside and immediately lost sight of our mission, a rattle snake was the last thing on our minds, as there were games, toys, hot wheel cars, G.I. Joes, and other things, more than I can remember.
One thing that really caught my eye was an old barbecue grill, my brother saw me looking at it and immediately leaped ahead of me grabbing up the long barbecue fork and warding off any forward momentum that I might have had in trying to reach that grill.
However I was soon distracted by a wind up pinball machine. It stood about two and half feet tall, and was probably three feet long, it was old and rusted even then, but to me it shone like a diamond, under a spotlight on a black cloth.

I immediately began playing with it, flipping the levers and shaking it to see what it would do.
“You have to wind it up.” My brother said, pointing to the winding key on the end of it.
“You boys leave that mess alone and help me hunt for that dang snake.” Paul said.
My brother layed the barbecue fork on top of the grill and I turned away from the pinball machine, then immediately turned back and tripped the mechanism that made it unwind.
The following events happened so fast it’s really hard to describe.
Uncle Paul, had raised a pile of toys and stuff up with the rake. The machine started rattling, causing Paul to jump backward toward the grill, and ram his backside into the points of the barbecue fork, making him think that his butt had just had a close encounter of the worst kind.
The resulting scream could be heard by human ears for over a mile, and made coondogs howl for over three miles.
Paul’s hat was hanging in the air, as he exploded forth through the partially closed-door of the shed, causing the door to leave its hinges and land thirty feet from the shed.
Grampaw and Lester had to go round Paul up, and my brother and I decided it might be best to ease on over to our house.
It would be six years before Paul would ever speak to my brother and I again, and that was only by mistake.
After he had mellowed for about twenty years or so, Paul finally got to where he could laugh about that incident, although my Aunt Janice, Paul’s wife,  never hesitated to remind us that it took days of soaking to get the stains out of his overalls.
We never did find that snake.

A Poem by Me

The grass was high and could not wait
I knew the lawnmower was awaiting my fait

I fired it up and made a pass
lowering the level of that tall tall grass

the cat was watching and following me
as I pushed that mower, weaving around the tree

the flower in the yard could now be seen
with blooms of red and stems of green

as it always does when the lawn I mow
clouds moved in and the wind did blow

a gust of air moved my hat to the ground
I searched for it and turned around

it was at the moment I reached to retrieve my hat
that I did indeed mow that damn cat

all nine of its lives must have fled
as the poor old cat splattered all over my shed

I felt really bad and knew not what to do
so for supper that night, we all had stew.

Hmmm?

The night was moonless and dark, the type of night when your shadow can’t even see your shadow.
The old man sat beside the barrel, drinking a bottle of cheap rum, wishing that he had more wood for the fire.
Gazing intently into the fire that bellowed forth from the barrel, the old man never saw what hit him.
The bottle fell to the ground, as did the old man, his body growing cold as it fell, his eyes glazing over,  his heart no longer beating.
It would be three days before anyone found his mutilated remains.
Ray Bob, Tom, and Slim were taking a short cut through the old abandoned textile mill.
“What the hell is that smell?” asked Ray Bob.
“I think it’s a dead dog or a possum.” said Slim.
“Whew. I aint never smelled no possum or dog that smelled like that.” Tom added.
As they rounded the corner from the old loading dock and entered what had once been a warehouse, the smell got stronger, the three men saw the lump laying by the old fire barrel.
“See, I told you it was a possum.” said Slim.
“Well I have never seen a possum, wearing a wristwatch.” said Tom.
Ray Bob reached down and picked up the remains of the old mans arm. “Hey it’s a Timex.” He said as he removed the watch and put it in his pocket.
“Hey that watch might have some inscription on it so that someone might be able to identify this guy.” said Tom.
Ray Bob pulled the watch back out from his pocket and spread the band far enough to look at the back of it.
“Well?” asked Slim.
“You’re right.” said Ray Bob.
“What does it say?” Asked Tom.
“It says, Dear Ray Bob, enjoy your new watch, I don’t need it anymore, love the old dead guy.” Ray Bob said as he placed the watch back into his pocket.
Just then a noise startled the three men, turning around they saw…….
To be continued….
Now NBC this is what I am talking about.
Cancel a freaking show, and leave it in a cliffhanger.
Who the hell is Earl Jr.’s daddy if it aint Darnell?
You bastards!

I Don’t Like Golf.

Okay most everyone knows what golf is.
Some folks spend thousands each year to play golf, and then there are some of us that just can’t stand it.
My brother is in the first category, whereas I fall into the second.
It’s not so much the game of golf itself, it’s the challenge or lack there of, in the game of golf. You go out on the field and whack a ball trying to knock it a few hundred yards into a little bitty hole.
Could it get any simpler?
I went with my brother one time and watched him whack the ball toward this little flag that was almost out of my sight.  So when it was my turn, I whacked the ball into a trucks windshield.  
Now there were probably twenty cars in that parking lot that day, and did I hit the ball into any of their windshields? Noooooo. I knocked that sucker right into the windshield of the only truck in the parking lot. Mine.
So I put another ball onto the little stick thingy they call a tee, and whacked it, not the ball the tee.
My brother being the golf pro of the family showed me a different stance and technique, which helped me send the ball almost straight up, angling toward a tree, and landing in a squirrels nest.
I am omitting the third because it just was not pretty, lets just say there was a lot of hopping around and cussing from the third attempt.
The fourth attempt, saw the little golf ball roll off the roof of the clubhouse and bounce off the head of one of the patrons.
My fifth and final attempt saw the ball actually go toward the little flag (I let my brother hit it for me).
By the way, left handed clubs cost a lot of money, especially if you return them to the clubhouse and they are slightly bent into the shape of horseshoes, although they say that the one that slipped out of my hand is still stuck through the tree. Luckily I found this place, that have some pretty good deals so that I could replace those clubs and get the lawsuit dropped.
After we got down to where the golf balls were lying in the grass, I watched my brother hit the ball with this other little golf club and move it within about three feet of the flag. My turn. I hit the ball and it went straight toward the flag pole then somehow or another it boomeranged on me and came back toward me, causing me to duck, which caused the ball to collide with the left side of my brothers face, which caused little birds and stars to circle my head, I later found out that somehow or another the golf club he was holding collided with the top of my head.
He swears it was an accident and that he was only trying to defend himself from my wayward golf ball.
The next move saw him swat his golfball with a thing he called a putter and knock it into the hole. I swatted my golf ball seven more times and knocked it into a lake.  Since I only had one golf ball left and all of my clubs were falling victim to various deformities, I decided to throw the ball at the flag.
After six failed attempts at chucking golf balls, and one lopsided throw into a hornets nest, I decided to have a beer and watch my brother play.
Apparently this particular golf course frowns on the consumption of beer, when you are driving the golf cart.
How freaking petty can you get?
Those bushes grew back, and the cows didn’t do much damage. Besides I fixed the fence.
So anyway, after posting bond, replacing the clubs, repairing the fence, and replacing my windshield I have decided that golf is not a sport. It is a form of torture. If you want the taliban to talk, threaten them with golf.  On second thought the Geneva Convention probably won’t allow that.  
Those of you that enjoy golf, I just have this to say. “Masochists.”

The Little Girl On The Plane

A congressman was seated next to a little girl on the airplane when he turned to her and said, ‘Let’s talk.
I’ve heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.’ 
The little girl, who had just opened her book, closed it slowly and said to the total stranger, ‘What would you like to talk about?’ 
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ said the  congressman. ‘How about global warming or universal health care’, and he smiles smugly.
OK, ‘ she said. ‘Those could be  interesting topics. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff – grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?’ 
The legislator, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, ‘Hmmm, I have no idea.’ 
To which the little girl replies, ‘Do you really feel qualified to discuss global warming or universal health care when you don’t know crap?

DO NOT BRING PLANTS IN THE HOUSE DURING COLD WEATHER!

I got this in an email today,  I did not write it.DO NOT BRING PLANTS IN THE HOUSE DURING COLD WEATHER!

 
 Never bring outdoor plants into the house. Garden Grass Snakes also known
as Garter Snakes (Thamnophissirtalis) can be dangerous. Yes, grass snakes,
not rattlesnakes. Here’s why………
 
 A couple in Baltimore, Maryland had a lot of potted plants. During a
recent cold spell, the wife was bringing some of them indoors to protect
them from a possible freeze. It turned out that a little green garden grass
snake was hidden in one of the plants and when it had warmed up, it
slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa.
 
 She let out a very loud scream! The husband (who was taking a shower) ran
out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him
there was a snake under the sofa. He got down on the floor on his hands and
knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him
on the behind. He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell
over on the floor.
 
 His wife thought he had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to
lie still and called an ambulance. The attendants rushed in, wouldn’t listen
to his protests and loaded him on the stretcher and started carrying him
out.
 
 About that time the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency
Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher. That’s when
the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.
 
 The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on
a neighbor. He volunteered to capture the snake. He armed himself with a
rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch. Soon he decided it was
gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief.
 
 But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she
felt the snake wriggling around . She screamed and fainted, the snake rushed
back under the sofa. The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out,
tried to use CPR to revive her.
 
 The neighbor’s wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery
store, saw her husband’s mouth on the woman’s mouth and slammed her husband
in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and
cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches.
 
 The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor
lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that he
had been bitten by the snake. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle
of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man’s throat.
 
 By now the police had arrived. They saw the unconscious man, smelled the
whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to
arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a
little green snake.
 
 The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his
sobbing wife. The little snake again crawled out from under the sofa. One of
the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the
leg of the end table. The table fell over and the lamp on it shattered and
as the bulb broke it started a fire in the drapes. The other policeman tried
to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of
the family dog who, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an
oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car.
 
 Meanwhile, the burning drapes were seen by the neighbors who called the
fire department. The firemen had started raising the fire truck ladder when
they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead
wires and put out the electricity and disconnected the telephones in a
ten-square city block area (but they did get the house fire out).
 
 Time passed! Both men were discharged from the hospital, the house was
repaired, the dog came home, the police acquired a new car, and all was
right with their world. A while later they were watching TV and the
weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The wife asked her husband
if he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.
 
 That’s when he shot her.

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The Last Coonhound

Memories travel through your mind, like vacationers on a highway, sometimes there are more than you can count, and then that lonesome one comes straggling through.Sam is one of those stragglers. He travels through my mind every so often, bringing with him fond memories of a time when life was not nearly as complicated as it tends to become when we get older.I was eleven years old when I first met him. He was a young black and tan coonhound that my dad had traded a pocket knife and three dollars for. That in itself should have been an omen.My dad had been a coonhunter for as long as I can remember, and I would often wander the hillsides following behind, asking questions and annoying him on a regular basis.”What’s that sound?” I would ask.”Just an old owl.” He would reply.”What about that one?””That’s a squirrel, we must of woke him up walking around out here.” he would say.”I just heard a limb break, what is it?””That’s just the sound of me breaking a switch off this tree to whup your ass with if you don’t shut up and quit asking questions.”I had to admit dad had a way with words, although many is the time I did not like his words.As a coon hunter, my dad knew about dogs. He could look at a dog and tell immediately that it was a good one or that it wouldn’t, as he put it, “chase a biscuit.”That’s what always made me wonder about why he got Sam.

Black-And-Tan-Coonhound

Just a picture I found at i-love-dogs.com

We would keep him separated from the other dogs for a couple of day, and then ease him into the general population. Coonhounds can be a nasty lot, they will argue amongst themselves, or tie up and fight over having their space invaded by a newcomer. Since we didn’t want any shanking going on in the dog pen, we had to integrate Sam in with the others, Ol Ruby, Sparkplug and Lester.After a couple of days Lester, the self appointed Godfather of the dog pen finally started liking Sam and kind of took him under his wing.Unfortunately, Lester, who may have been the toughest of the dogs, was the worst coonhound in the bunch. A level of incompetence when it came to tracking raccoons that would only be matched and eventually overshadowed by Sam.The night finally came when it was time to take Sam and the others out for a hunt.We loaded them into the truck and drove over onto the far side of my grandfathers property (about two miles away). Dad dropped the tailgate and opened the box. The dogs spewed forth from the tiny opening, knocking the rheumatis medicine my dad always carried from his hand and spilling it all over the ground, where it was licked up by Sam. Who hiccupped and then staggered off behind the other dogs.“That dog sure walks funny.” I would later say, pointing out Sam’s wobbly gait.“Son of b*****! Drunk all my medication.” Dad would mutter.It wouldn’t be long until Sparkplug hit on a trail, and the baying of the hounds could be heard as they followed it through the hills and hollows.We stood by the truck listening to the dogs. When headlights appeared on the road behind us.”Good here comes Howard now. I hope he brought some more medicine.” Dad would say.I remember thinking that rheumatism must be some pretty bad stuff, because I had always hated taking medicine, but my dad seemed to like it. Then again I guess it worked, because dad drank plenty of the medicine and I never saw his rheumatism act up. I always thought it was funny that it never came in the bottles like my cough syrup and stuff came in. It was always in bottles, jugs, or Mason jars.Either way Howard produced a Mason jar full of the medicine and dad took a healthy dose of it, coughed and wheezed a few times, pounded his chest and said. “Alright, lets follow them dogs.”Now any hunter can tell that dogs have different barks and coonhounds are no exceptions, there’s the ‘okay we have hit a trail bark’ , the ‘okay this trail is hot (meaning recent raccoon activity) bark’ and the ‘holy smokes, he’s in this tree bark’.We were waiting for the latter.Finally the dogs treed the coon, down in the hollow near a little creek.As we hurried to the tree, I couldn’t help but think about the rheumatis again as I noticed both Howard and my dad were steadily taking large doses of the medication.Reaching the tree and shining our lights about, you could see Sparkplug jumping at the tree, Ol Ruby was chewing on the bark as if she were going to gnaw the tree into, and Lester was sitting down with his nose pointing toward the tree, barking occasionally. Sam was wobbling around, much the same as Howard and Dad, I noticed, and would let out the strangest bark I ever heard, followed by a hiccup.Dad spotted the coon up in the tree and shot it with a .22 rifle that he always carried and Howard ran over and got it before the dogs could tear it apart. We killed four raccoons that night and took them home and skinned them out for the fur and the meat.Lester, who was getting old would hunt with us four more times after that, until he got to where he couldn’t hardly walk, dad gave him to a friend of his who wanted to use him for breeding purposes.Ol Ruby and Sparkplug, made two more hunts with us, before they were sold to another coon hunter who had more money than he had sense.Sam endured. He would hunt with us six more times, right up until we moved and my dad quit coon hunting.The last hunt we made, Sam was the only dog. When we got out in to the woods and dad dropped the tailgate, he hopped out of the truck and took off sniffing for trails. After waiting at the truck for a couple of hours and never hearing the first bark, we decided to head back to the house.When we arrived at the house, we saw Sam sitting on the front porch.“Sam.” I said, as I ran up and patted him on his head.“He got here about twenty minutes after ya’ll left.” My mom told us. “Knocked on the door and said something about wanting some biscuits.”Dad quit hunting that night.Sam became more of the family pet kind of dog, instead of the wobbly, yet vicious, tracker of coons he had never once been.He was my best friend and would follow me everywhere I went, even when I didn’t want him to. I would be walking in the woods and he would be tiptoeing behind me, peeping out from behind trees or from under rocks.. On fishing trips Sam would often wade into the water to try to help me land the fish I had hooked or to try to help the fish, I’m not sure which.When we would play football in the front yard, Sam often made the game saving tackles, for one side or the other.When my mom would try to give us a whipping, Sam would save the day by chasing her back into the house.Sam stayed with us for three years after we moved. One day he walked out the front gate, and never returned. I hunted for him for weeks, and figuring he had met his end, I finally gave up.Other than in my memory, I would never see Sam again. Although my mom still remains a suspect.

Trucks I Have Known

In my mind, there are certain things that a man needs and they are, (in no particular order);

  1. A good gun. For this there are actually three good guns, a handgun for personal protection. A rifle for hunting, and a shotgun for hunting and home defense.
  2. A good way to make a living. Whether you’re a butcher or a baker or a candlestick maker you have to have money.
  3. A home. Yep you have got to have a place to lay that weary head.
  4. A truck. Every man needs a truck. Even if you live in the citiest city, you will still need to haul something, somewhere, sometime.

This is the story of number 4.

1957f100092104

1957 Ford

I cannot recall a time in my life, since turning 16 that I did not own a truck. In some parts of my life I may have owned more than one and a couple of cars as well. Although I have owned one Chevy, a  GMC, one International, a Dodge and a Willys , Fords have always been my favorites.My first truck was a 1957 Ford, (it was the mid year body style) when I first got it, I though it was painted with the red oxide primer, after buying the truck, I learned that rust is also the color of red oxide primer. I also learned about test drives.I was working on my grandmothers roof, when I saw the truck sitting in the yard of one of her neighbors. I noticed that there was some grass growing up around the truck and that it didn’t look to have been moved in quite a while.I knew the man pretty well, as I used to take him fish when I would catch more than I could eat.So I decided to walk over and inquire about it. I soon realized that I should probably have climbed down from the roof first, and sometimes pain and gravity seem to go hand in hand.I limped over into the yard, and saw the old man sitting on his front steps, smoking his pipe and talking to his dog. “You got any fish?” He yelled to me.“No.” I said.“Then what the hell you want?” he yelled back.I was wanting to ask about that truck you have sitting there.” I said.“Well then ask about it.” He replied.“What’s wrong with it?” I asked.“Nothing. It just needs a good home and a good driver.” He replied.“Cool. How much you want for it? I asked.“What you give me for it?” He asked.The negotiations commenced.Being the sharp negotiator that I was, I wound up paying only 25 dollars for the truck, of course I had to fix a loose front step, rewire his air conditioner, worm his dog, and reroof his house, but I paid only twenty five dollars for the truck.After completing the transaction, he handed me the key and said “She’s yours. Take good care of her.”I turned the key and the engine roared to life, well actually it more or less coughed, wheezed and gasped to life. But it ran. I knew right away that it would probably need mufflers, since he was standing at the driver side window, warning me to watch  out for snakes. Undoubtedly trying to talk me into bringing him another mess of fish.Somewhere between the time I tried stopping at the end of his driveway and actually did stop over in his neighbors chestnut tree, I realized that he wasn’t concerned about my fishing.Even though it had no brakes, and no seatbelts, and most of the floorboard had been claimed by rust, I was proud of myself. I had gotten my first truck and I had gotten it on my own.With my head held high, I pulled into the driveway, went through the flowerbed, over the little apple trees and coasted to a stop in the creek that runs behind my parents house.My dad, a man totally lacking any form of a sense of humor met me halfway through the garden as I was walking back to the house. “Where in the hell did you get that piece of junk?” He asked, obviously concerned about my well being.“I bought it from old Leon.” I replied.“You bought it? You mean you actually paid good money for that thing? What the hell is wrong with you? Are you stupid or something? How much did you give for that damn thing?” He asked.“Twenty five dollars.” I said.“Twenty five dollars? Boy do you know how much ammo I could buy with twenty five dollars?”“No sir.” I replied.“Enough to shoot you and that truck so full of holes that neither of you would be recognized.” He said.We would later pull the truck out of the creek and I rigged up the brakes so that the emergency brake would work, then I parked it in the yard. I would drive it three more time before the engine died and never ran again. I did however sell it to a collector of old trucks for 100 dollars. Wooden floor boards and all.