Fun Side of Life ~ Chapter 6 ~ installment 3 (edited)
One hot summer
day Bill and I were almost home after picking our pails full of
blackberries. Bill spotted an old decayed tree stump about two feet
high and two feet wide. As he wrestled it up to his shoulder, he
said, "This is perfect for the wood stove." Near our back
porch Bill threw the tree stump to the ground to break it apart.
To our horror, a five-foot-long blacksnake slithered out from the
broken pieces. We cornered it so it couldn't get away. Our yelling
and jumping around drew a big crowd of neighbors to our yard. Everyone
marveled at how big it was. Some men said it was the largest blacksnake
they'd ever seen.
An old wives' tale circulated that
if a person built a fire around a snake, its legs came out, and
it walked. Bill and I had heard that tale before and, with encouragement
from the others, decided to put our snake to the test. We gathered
wood and built a ring of fire, placing the snake in the middle.
Our blacksnake did not sprout legs and walk. As we watched with
hope for a genuine miracle, that poor snake burned to a crisp right
before our eyes. What a horrible sight! It stayed with me. More
importantly, I never again put my faith in old wives' tales that
promised miracles. After that day, if anyone mentioned the word
snake, we had to tell about our crispy blacksnake.
Some days a snake story helped get
us through the work. Once a month over the summer our father insisted
we hoe the cornfield. For at least a week, he awakened us at 5:00
a.m. just before he left for work. Each day we had to hoe weeds
until noon. We goofed off and played in the cornfield quite a bit,
but we also got a lot of work done.
At harvest time this cornfield gave
us six wagonloads of feed for the hogs. Night after night in front
of the radio we shucked and shelled corn until the blisters came.
We could quit for a few nights until they healed, and then we had
to shell again. The word cornfield makes me weary, thinking about
that brutal work. The only thing worse than hoeing weeds was shelling
Printed from the book Black Days,
Black Dust, by Robert Armstead as told to S.L. Gardner,
published by the University
of Tennessee Press, 2002
Hope you enjoyed stories from chapter 6, "The Fun Side of
Life." Now--don't you want to read all of Bob's stories?
Read Installment 1
Read Installment 2