Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:34
I rubbed my eyes again and strained as I tried to get a better look out of our window. The glass fogged-up from my breath as my heart raced faster and faster with each glimpse of Santa Claus. I yelled at my brothers, “Santa Claus is outside, come look!” Everyone dropped what they were doing and raced to the window pushing the other ones aside to get a look at Santa.
There was a snow on the ground that Christmas Eve and his red suit really stood out against the fresh white blanket as he made his way towards our house. He had a black bag on his back that looked so full he could barely carry it. As he got closer to our house, Mom, who had been watching us said, “You had better run and get in bed because Santa wants all little kids to be in bed asleep or he might pass them by.” We looked at each other and then a stampede of kids, racing for the bedroom, began.
I jumped in bed with Ronnie, as Carlos and Anthony filled the other bed beside us. The cover went quickly over us, up to our necks and everyone got really quite as we listened for Santa to make his way down the chimney. Gary just shook his head and told us “All of you are crazy, Santa Claus ain’t real.”
“Don’t say that Gary! Santa’s real, we just saw him. And if you don’t believe, you won’t get any presents for Christmas.” I warned. Gary just laughed and walked away.
“You have to believe,” Ronnie echoed “or Santa will just pass on by. Gary has maybe just gotten too old.” He explained.
“Last Christmas, when he did believe, he asked for something he didn’t get and he then made his mind up that there must not be a Santa Claus just because he didn’t get what he asked for.” Ronnie went on.
“What did he ask for?” I asked.
“I really don’t know, he never told me, but whatever it was Santa didn’t bring it.” Ronnie answered, “He even cried.”
“Maybe he didn’t get Gary’s letter.” Anthony said. “You think Santa might have forgotten it at the North Pole?” Carlos asked.
“I don’t think so. But maybe, Gary was bad last year. You know, you have to be good or he won’t bring you anything. If your are mean or bad, he only brings you a block of coal, Momma said.” Ronnie explained in a low voice, not wanting Gary to over hear.
“We had better get to sleep or he won’t bring us anything!” Carlos whispered. “He knows if you’re asleep, too.”
My eyes grew heavy, as I tried hard to listened for Santa making his delivery of our presents. It seemed I had barely closed them as I felt Ronnie softly shaking me to wake me up. It was still dark outside as I rubbed my eyes almost forgetting what day it was. “Get up! Get up!” Ronnie said, “It’s Christmas!” Those were the magic words.
Anthony and Carlos raised their heads from their pillows with big smiles as we all started putting on our clothes and shoes. Mom and Dad weren’t up yet as we quietly made our way to the living room to the tall, green decorated Christmas tree with presents sitting all around it. Santa had made his stop and we didn’t even know it.
Ronnie and I started searching the gifts for the names on all the presents, handing them out as we called off everyone’s name. Jackie carried Darlene, who was too young to walk, into the room followed closely behind by Mom and Dad.
“Where’s Gary?” Mom asked, looking all around the room.
“Gary doesn’t believe, Momma. He told us there wasn’t a Santa Claus because he had asked for something last year and Santa didn’t bring it.” I again explained.
“Gary, come on in here.” Momma yelled. After a few minutes, Gary slowly made his way to the living room, thinking he would be scolded for telling us Santa Claus wasn’t real. But instead, Momma told him to go a look under the tree. “I think Santa has brought you a present. He told me last year you just weren’t ready for that gun you asked him for but now, he felt like you were old enough.”
Well, from that day on for many years Santa always visited our little home on Paw Paw. He usually brought us what we wanted. But sometimes, if we didn’t get what we wanted, we never said we don’t believe, we just said, “Santa knows what’s best.”
So, if anyone reading this story ever asked Santa for a gift that they didn’t get, remember, Santa does the best he can at making sure everyone wakes up on Christmas morning with everything they want. But sometimes, you may ask for things you don’t really need and like my Momma always said, “Santa knows what’s best.”
And I’m telling you now, long ago on that cold and snowy Christmas Eve, looking out through that frost-covered window, I did see Santa, I really did.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 02:19
Growing up on Paw Paw, few things ever changed. Dad would always say, “We don’t have time or money to go to the ballgames!” and if I heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times, “Money don’t grow on trees, you know!”
I didn’t want to be a smarty-pants, but I never did think money grew on trees. And if it did, I would have a money-tree orchard. I knew how hard my dad worked for the money to raise our family.
But, there was a night when I really wanted to go to a basketball game at Clay County High. Clay County Tigers were playing the Knox Central Panthers in a regional game. I begged and pleaded to Dad but still he refused to take me to the game. I then turned to Mom.
“Please Momma, will you take me to the ballgame? I’ve got my own money. It want cost Dad a dime.” I begged. “I’ve never been, and lots of my school friends go almost every game. Please Momma, let me go to the game.”
Mom was always a little easier to persuade than Dad. “Is it okay if I take Rodney to the ball game Dad? He’s got his own money and I don’t mind if you don’t object.” My pleading eyes turned toward Dad waiting on his answer.
“Oh, alright. But remember don’t come asking me for money when you run out. Money don’t grow on trees, you know.” Dad repeated.
“Thanks Dad! Momma, the game starts at 7:00 o’clock. I’ll be ready to go in 10 minutes!” I told her. I hurried to the bedroom and put on a clean shirt, slicked down my hair with Wildroot, and rushed to the front door hollering, “ I’m ready to go now, Momma! Come on, hurry!”
I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to get to the gym. In the car Momma told me she would listen to the radio broadcasting the game and would leave home in time to pick me up after the game. “Now be careful and wait for me in the same place here where I’m dropping you off! Don’t hang with the wrong crowd and be sure to mind you’re manners.” She said as she kissed my forehead and told me goodbye, slipping .50 cents into my hand.
“Thanks, Momma. But I’ve got enough money to get in already.” I told her knowing what her answer would be.
“You might want to buy something to eat or you might meet a pretty girl and want to buy her a pop.” Mom said smiling.
“I just might do that Momma, thanks a lot!” I said getting out of the car. I had never been to the high school much less a ballgame and I followed the crowd of people to the ticket stand. “One ticket, please.” I told the man behind the glass window.
“That’ll be 25 cents, son.” He told me as he passed the ticket under the glass.
I took the ticket and made my way through the heavy steel grey doors to the gym. The floor looked liked polished glass. I never knew wood could be so beautiful. I walked slowly on into the gym and saw one side had lots of people and the other had almost as many. I didn’t know where I was supposed to sit and didn’t want to ask anyone, so I found my way to the upper deck, opposite of the stage in the old gym. This way I could be on either side, I thought.
The teams came out on the floor to a loud, rowdy crowd. People were standing and clapping as the cheerleaders took the center floor for a “Go-o-o-o Tigers!!!” yell. The side with not as many people were from Knox Central, they “booed” loudly.
The players were introduced and met at center floor for handshakes and the jump ball. The referee blew his whistle, pitched up the ball, and the game was underway. They played toe to toe for 8 minutes and the horn sounded with an even score. Neither could get the upper hand.
I hurried to the concession stand eager to spend the whole 50 cents Mom had given me. “I’ll have a Coke and a bag of popcorn.” I said to the lady working. She gave me my drink and popcorn and you know what, I still had money left over. I told her, “I think I’ll also have a Baby Ruth candy bar.” as I pushed a dime across to her. Man, I was feeling like Richie Rich, as I made my way back to my seat, checking out the pretty cheerleaders as I walked by. It doesn’t get any better than this, I thought.
When I sat down the game was already started. They sure didn’t rest long, I said to myself. The game again was really close as the clock ticked down to the final seconds with Clay County ahead by 3 points. The horn sounded and the crowd went crazy as the teams left the floor. “Go, Big Clay” the cheerleaders lead the fans in unison.
A lot of people got up and started walking out of the gym and I, followed suit. I hoped my Mom hadn’t had to wait too long for me. Walking out of the door of the gym, I noticed a lot of people standing around outside smoking. I guess they couldn’t wait until they got in their car, you know how smokers are. I ran to the spot where Momma had dropped me off, but Mom wasn’t there.
No problem, I would just sit down on the rock fence and wait until she arrived. I took my Baby Ruth out of my pocket and tore off the wrapper. That was the best candy bar I had ever tasted as I savored ever bite.
After waiting for about 10 minutes, I noticed all the smokers were heading back into the gym. I guess there must be another game, I thought to myself, as I heard the horn inside the gym sound again. I didn’t have enough money left to get in again because I had blown it all at the concession. The second game must have been a doosie. The crowd got even louder than in the game before.
I must have waited for another 30 minutes before Mom pulled in to pick me up. She asked “What are you doing sitting out here? The games not over and it’s in overtime!”
I found out later from one of my friends when he asked, “Where did you go at half time? You missed the best game of the year!” that the game wasn’t really over. It was half time.
When the second horn had sounded, I figured with all the people going outside, that the game was over. I had never been to a basketball game before and never knew anything about half time. I was mad at myself for being so stupid.
So quickly, I thought of something to save face, “I was outside smoking with a cheerleader, the game got boring!” I told him.
“Man, you’re so cool!” my friend said, “I wish I could ‘a been with you instead of watching a stupid basketball game.”
With that one comment, I had made a friend for life.
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 14:05
Colonoscopy, according to Wikipedia, is the endoscopic examination of the large bowel and the distal part of the small bowel with a CCD camera or a fiber optic camera on a flexible tube passed through the anus. It may provide a visual diagnosis (e.g. ulceration, polyps) and grants the opportunity for biopsy or removal of suspected colorectal cancer lesions.
It is recommended that when a person reaches 50 he or she should have a colonoscopy examination preformed at least once every 5 years, according to my family doctor.
Well let me tell you about my first colonoscopy.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 02:11
A wild tale of a whitetail…a boy’s memories.
By: Rodney Miller
His track told the tale. “That wasn’t a mule, Lloyd. You see this track? It that had to be left by a monster buck.” My Pap Paw Burkhart said as he examined the ground. “Look how wide it is and how he also left his dew claws in the ground? He has to be close to 300 pounds! I got a glimpse of his rack, and he looked liked he had a rockin’ chair on his head as he ran across the garden!” Pap went on.
“I ain’t never seen a deer around here, Daddy. Are you sure it was a buck?” Lloyd asked “And where do you think he came from?”
“He’s doin’ what the call ‘ruttin’, I suppose. When it gets this time in the fall, they go lookin’ for females, and they don’t stop until they find ‘em one.” Pap said.
Lloyd didn’t have the nerve to tell Pap Paw he was being pranked. He knew how much his dad wanted to take a shot at a big buck and when Pap saw the tracks, a big grin came upon his face as now he knew the chase was on. He finally would get his chance to match wits with a big buck.
It had been many years since my Pap Paw had seen a deer and almost as many since he had seen a track. He told me when he was young, there were still a few “mountain deer” in Clay County but they had been hunted until they were considered almost extinct.
My Pap Paw loved the outdoors and he taught me lots about hunting, animal tracks, and trapping. He also taught me a valuable lesson when cleaning a mud turtle. After their head is cut off they can still bite, and I’m talking about biting with a vengeance.
I had caught a huge turtle in our farm pond and had taken it to him to show me how to “dress” him out. He first cut off the turtle’s head and laid it aside. He then flipped it over and proceeded cutting around the breastplate with his knife. He laid his knife aside and grabbed the breastplate with his hand and pulled it away from the turtle’s body. Then, reaching for his knife he had laid beside him, he instead grabbed the cut-off turtle’s head. It clamped down on his finger like vise grips. His first reflex was to sling off the head with a whipping action of his hand. The turtle’s head nearly took off the whole end of his finger.
But back to my story. Finding the deer tracks made my Pap Paw’s hunting instincts kick in. The next morning he was up early to find the buck that had left the tracks. He put on his hunting clothes and reached for a couple of very peculiar pieces. He got out an old tie from the closet. It was an ugly tie. The color was orange with blue strips, and he tied it around his neck.
“What’s that for Daddy?” Lloyd asked.
“That’s so if there’s anybody else huntin’ the deer, they won’t shoot me. They’ll surely see this tie.” Pap Paw told him.
We didn’t know it at the time and thought he was crazy to wear the ugly tie but he had the right idea. Now, it’s a law that all deer hunters must wear hunter’s orange for protection.
Next, he got a cowbell from the closet shelf. Yep, a real cowbell, like the ones cows ware around their neck so the farmer could find them easier when lost. Pap Paw’s idea was he could sneak up on an unsuspecting buck easier if he sounded like a cow walking in the woods. “A deer won’t run from a cow.” Pap said.
He loaded his 30-30, ’94 Winchester and returned to the spot of where he had seen the tracks the night before. Like an Indian, he examined the ground closely and quickly he was on the trail of the buck. But, after about 10 yards, the trail just disappeared. He scratched his head in disbelief. “I know he didn’t sprout wings and just fly off!” Pap Paw said looking around. Something smelled fishy.
Lloyd, who was hiding in the bushes, started laughing, “What’s the matter Daddy? Did you loose his trail?”
“Yep, I did loose his trail, but you’re about to loose your tail, you Ethiopian!” Pap Paw yelled as he took out after Lloyd running for the woods laughing.
When Pap called someone a name, he didn’t curse or use any bad language, he called ‘em Ethiopians. I don’t think he knew what the word meant but I guess he liked the way it rolled off of his tongue.
Lloyd, who was a big cut-up, had fooled his Dad. He had gotten two deer legs from my Dad, who had cut them off a deer killed by Dr. Becknell at Fort Knox. Then that night, he took the feet of the deer and made tracks in Pap Paw’s garden.
Next, he ran to the house with the full moon overhead, telling the story to Pap Paw about a mule or horse he had seen in Pap’s garden. Pap Paw, who was in bed, began putting on his clothes as Lloyd made his way out the back door.
Lloyd ran in the moonlight to the edge of the garden and holding a broken tree branch over his head to look like antlers, watched for the back door at the house to open. When Pap opened the door, Lloyd made a quick dash across the garden looking like a deer.
The trick had worked like a charm. Later, we all had the biggest laugh as Lloyd retold the story and Pap Paw, who had been fooled, laughed as hard as anyone. You see, Pap was a cut-up too.
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 13:19
Old timers most times used a Y-shaped twig cut from a willow or a peach tree to find water location in under the ground. I always heard that the weeping willow was the best to use when water witching.
The water witch, a man who was supposed to find the water, would take the y-shaped limb from a willow and hold the two ends of the “y” in each of his hands. He held it straight out in his hands palms down. The witch or dowser then walks slowly over the places where he suspects the water may be, and the dowsing rod supposedly dips, inclines or twitches when a discovery of water is made. I’ve heard reports of water signs so strong that it would twist the bark off of the dowsing wood right in a person’s hand. This method is known as "Willow Witching."
Other dowsers used a pair of simple L-shaped metal rods. One rod is held in each hand, with the short arm of the L held upright, and the long arm pointing forward. When water is found, the rods cross over one another making an "X" over the best place to dig for water. If they were looking for an object, such as a water pipe, the rods will point in opposite directions, showing its orientation. The rods were most times fashioned from old wire coat hangers.
In the late 1960s during the Vietnam War, some United States Marines used dowsing to attempt to locate weapons and tunnels of the Viet Cong. As late as in 1986, when an avalanche took 31 soldiers during an operation in the NATO drill Anchor Express in Vassdalen, Norway. The Norwegian army attempted to locate soldiers buried in the avalanche using dowsing as search method. 16 soldiers died in the attempt.
My family like most of our time truly believed in water witching. One year, my Aunt Bootie, Daddy’s sister, and Uncle Buster decided they wanted water. They lived next door to us and had to carry water from a spring because they didn’t have a well of their property. The family turned to a water witch.
It was a belief back then that certain people were better at finding water and dug wells took a considerable amount of work. That meant that you wanted to dig for water in the most likely place to find it. Water witches back then would come to a person home and perform their magic of finding water for a small fee of $5.00 - $10.00 dollars.
As the water witch walked the yard his willow limb began to twist and turn fiercely just a few feet from Bootie and Buster’s home. Daddy and Buster wanted to check for themselves to make sure that was the correct place to dig the well so they too took the willow branch and each time it pointed to the same spot.
Work began soon as the men and boys began to dig the 5x5 foot dirt well. We worked all the rest of that day and only got about four feet deep in the hard rocky clay soil. Next day we were at our digging again early now having to lower buckets by rope into the well to remove the loosened dirt. That evening a wooden ladder had to be placed into the well for the workers to get in and out of the hole now about 10 feet deep, but no luck finding the water.
The next day work was going slower as the well reached deeper and deeper into the hard ground but still no water had been found.
All of us kids were gathering around the edge of the well trying to get a peek at the deep hole. Then, Anthony got a little too close. Down the well he fell landing on top of Uncle Buster. On the way down we heard Anthony say something that well, he shouldn’t have said. He almost knocked Buster down to his knees with the impact.
“What did you say?’ Buster asked Anthony. “Nothing! I didn’t say nothing,” Anthony quickly answered back. “”Yes you did,” Buster said laughing, “Wait until I tell Jamup!”
Anthony kept denying that any bad word had been said but he still didn’t want Buster to say anything because he knew that Daddy would for sure punish him for it. He begged and he begged Buster not to say anything and he agreed not to. But every time he wanted to make Anthony squirm he would threaten him again with telling Daddy. It worked for years and Buster always got a laugh from it.
We never did hit water in the well after digging somewhere around 15-20 feet so the well project was abandoned and the hole was filled up. The water witch had been wrong. Of course he never admitted he was wrong. He just said we didn’t dig deep enough.
And I guess to a certain extent he was right. But if we had continued to dig eventually we might have ended up draining the Pacific Ocean. I’m glad we stopped when we did.
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