Memories of Rev. Will Walker
Submitted by Nancy Paine, Typed by Eileen Tims and Annotated by Joyce M. Tice
And More Memories
This chapter might well be labeled, "Pranks" or "just pure devilishness," There seems to be a time in a boy's life, and I might be excused if I included "girls life," too, that they seem to think that the whole world was made just for fun. The more fun a boy can get out of it the more he thinks he is getting out of life. Often youngsters are not so careful as to the choice in kinds of "fun."
Often it is, that a boy's fun, is a great expense to the peace and happiness of others. I fear that some of my fun was of that nature. I will not relate it all. However, there were many happenings that bordered on fun of that nature, that I recall with a bit of, what shall I say? Pride or appreciation. Some, I am about to relate, no doubt, resulted in a certain amount of displeasure to others, however no harm was intended.
Picture a long, rambling, low log house with fireplace and chimney at one end. The chimney was built from stone and mortar, about (25) feet high. There never was a Santa Claus big enough to have had any trouble in getting down or up it.
Picture the "Old Folks" on this wintry night, tucked snuggly in bed, and enjoying the fairyland of dreams. Seated on a settee, before the glowing logs of the huge fireplace, is a boy and girl, who are also in dreams; but castle dreams. Little they knew of what was about to happen.
Did you ever take an apple and force it on a stick in order that you might hurtle the apple with great force? Well, some boys of the neighborhood, myself among them, I was not the boy in by the fireplace. As I said some boys, in fact (6) of them had been very much occupied in a plan to get a large pumpkin up in the air and drop it down that some chimney of the fireplace as a surprise on the "Turtle Doves." The thought of the apple and stick gave us an idea. A long pole that had been used as a "binder" on a load of hay, solved the problem. We speared the pumpkin with the small end of the pole, and then began the real task. Possibly you never had any experience of balancing a (20)# pound pumpkin on the end of a (25) foot pole, well, all I have to say is "try it." At last we were successful in getting it hoisted in an upright position. We had to do this a little way from the house to avoid attracting attention by any little noise. We then began our approach to the chimney; as I mentioned before the difficulty was to move the pole and pumpkin and keep it balanced. The moment it was out of the perpendicular, it would require the entire six of us to right it again. Twice, we almost met with disaster to our plans, but at last when we were about ready to give it up, we reached the side of the chimney, and pushed the pumpkin over the rim of the chimney. It was still on the pole and only needed a pull on the pole to free the pumpkin. It could be easily held in that position, so one boy held the pole, while the five of us secured vantage position where we might watch the effects upon the two by the fire. We expected it would be a startling surprise; it far exceeded our anticipation. There was a piercing scream; Those two sitting on that settee made one wild leap, endeavoring to put as much distance between them and the fireplace as possible. At about that time the old folks appeared and we beat it in as many directions way we could make tracks.
If there was a proposal underway that night, the pumpkin scared it clear out of him; however, not for all time, for they were married in about year. But the pumpkin story still is told in that community.
In the previous chapter we talked about the Perrys. There is an incident or two more concerning that family.
The old man Perry, had an imagined ailment, and used crutches. He was seen to walk without them many times. It was commonly known among the neighbors that the crutches served as excuses for not working. He was not a favorite with the boys of the neighborhood for many of them had felt blows from those crutches upon little or no provocation.
One summer Perrys had some little chickens with a hen in a coop out in their back yard. A skunk visited the coop one night and killed a chicken or two. Mr. Perry was determined to catch the marauder; so he set a steel trap in one end of the coop. Now luck would have it that a boy friend of mine, had killed a skunk a few days before. We waited until Perrys were in bed and asleep, and then took the dead skunk and placed it in the trap. It was not much of a trick to have the old hen create a commotion. As soon as that was accomplished, we ran behind an old wagon and watched the fun. Soon a light showed in Perry's, and Mrs. Perry appeared in the back door with nightgown and cap on, and the lamp in her hand. The old hen had been thoroughly aroused, and kept up a continual squawking, about that time Mr. Perry was up and out. He came with his crutches, but hardly using them. He made swift progress towards the coop. Arriving there he saw the black and white skunk's fur. He called for his wife to bring the lamp nearer so he could see better. She refused, and said, "If he wanted to get scented on alright, she'd stay at a safe distance." By this time we were thoroughly enjoying the spectacle which was working to perfection. "All right," He called to his wife, but I'm going to have the satisfaction of killing that D_____-* skunk" "stink or no stink". His dander was up and he was out for blood. As I close my eyes now, I can see that old man out there with a shirt, but no trousers on with a crutch in each hand, and Mrs. Perry keeping at a safe distance, lamp held high above her head. Old man Perry launched the attack with a vicious jab of a crutch through he slats of the coop, and then with a nimbleness that would have done honor to a "broad jumper," he dove behind the coop to escape the expected counter charge. The absence of fresh scent did not seem to deter his attack. He repeated those vicious jabs and dives behind the coop many times. We were holding on to our sides and rolling in the grass over behind the old wagon, but we did not dare laugh out loud. The way old man Perry was handling himself on his feet without the aid of the crutches, was a revelation. He finally decided that he had killed the skunk, so raised the side of the coop and poke the skunk, securely fastened in the trap, out from the coop. He then whaled the dead skunk a few more times with a crutch, let out a few more cuss words, and finally started back into the house with a feeling of deep satisfaction, little knowing what a vaudeville show we boys had enjoyed.
Just one other "Perry" story.
Perry's well was of the old fashioned "lift Pole" type. This pole when at ease, was directly over the center of the opening of the well, it's big end about ten (10) feet up in the air. This made an excellent perch for birds. One night the Perrys were awakened by the loud hooting of an owl. It was not so dark but what the owl could be seen perched on the well pole.
Without thinking of what would be the results, the old man Perry pointed a gun out of an upstairs window, and fired point blank at the owl. He killed the owl, but the owl fell directly into the well. They fished the owl out the next day, but Mrs. Perry would not use that well water for a period of one year to a day (superstition).
All communities have boys gangs, Perrtytown did not escape. This particular gang of boys was not vicious, just of vim and vigor with a desire to "blow off steam" in some way. They loved to have fun with a family by the name of "Wood". They were susceptible to all kinds of "devilment". Mr. Wood's first name was "Hollaway". He had a son, who was little older than any member of our gang, his name was "Stephen". We called him "Stevie".
Whatever depredations were carried on at Wood's, by "the gang", were thought by "Hollaway" and "Stevie" to be the operations of a notorious gang of men that once inhabited those parts. If not the gang of men themselves, then it was their ghosts, come back to visit the old haunts.
Our "gang" never did them any bodily harm or destroyed any property. As I recall Hollaway and Stevie, their philosophy and physiology, I believe they would have been greatly disappointed if a week went by without a visit from the "gang". I will recall one visit of the "gang" at Wood's. There were ten or a dozen members of the gang present. We stationed ourselves in a large circle about the barn. Father and son were doing chores inside the barn. We begun operations by a loud "wait", or "cry". The barn was considerable distance from the house. Pardon me, I forgot to mention that this old man and son lived alone, Mrs. Wood having been dead for many years. Perhaps Hollaway's superstition was too much for her.
The night I started to tell about, the "gang" formed in a large circle, a considerable ways back from the barn, but completely surrounding it. The wait was taken up by number one (1), and so on in numerical order. As number two (2) took it up number one (1) ceased; thus that "wait" was carried around the circle with weird effects.
Sometimes, when Father and son would appear, two members of our gang, would carry on a conversation with each other, making their voices as gruff as possible, sometimes those conversations would depict a quarrel and end in a supposed fight, or even murder.
Many were the varied talks Hollaway and his son "Stevie' would relate while on a trip down to the country store, tales which told of strange and weird happenings "up home". And possibly, a member of the gang was there at the store and would enjoy the account. Then we would meet and plan something "bigger and better".