Tale #7 — “Night Rescue”

GRANDPAS TALL (TRUE) TALES

Tale #7– “Night Rescue”

Ken and Lois had married a few months before. They were trying to decide what the Lord wanted them to do. Ken had completed one year at Baptist Bible College (BBC) in Springfield, Missouri. He and Lois planned ministry but the details of education and future place of service were still unknown to them.
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Tale #6 – The Day a Babe in Christ Met a Young Dark-haired Girl

It was July 4th, 1955. My buddy LeRoy Beckwith, Seaman Apprentice, as the Navy put it, rode beside me from Glenview Naval Air Station as I pointed my little black Chevy north toward the picnic park a mile or so the other side of Deerfield, Illinois. We were in “civies,” no dress whites for us this warm summer day. We were on liberty, no duty for either of us this Independence Day. What a relief.

Neither of us had ever been to a “fun day” at the Community Baptist Church. In fact, LeRoy had never been to one of their services. I had been there several times on Wednesday night and some Sunday nights, but we hardly knew any of the people. Pastor Wally Warfield had invited me to their Sunday School Picnic. “Come on out. There’ll be plenty of food and fun. You’ll like it!”– His invitation was friendly but not overbearing. I decided to ask LeRoy if he wanted to go with me. We agreed and so about 11 o’clock we showed our “I.D,s” at the main gate and the sentry waved us through. It was a thirty-five minute drive to where the pastor told me the park was.

As I pulled into the parking lot a few youngsters were playing softball. A thin early middle-aged man was tossing the ball toward children who were taking turns batting. They invited us into the game. We tossed the ball around with them and ran after the few that were actually hit softly into the little “outfield.” It was not much like a real game. There were a few young teens there, at least one I noted.

Before long it was time to eat. We had been told, “Just come. We’ll have plenty of food.” So we did. And they did! It was a good meal. As I recall there was a devotional time and a few more games. Then came time for “the ladies’ game.” We were encouraged to watch.

The six or eight ladies who were standing around looked uncomfortable, each one, in being the first to try the game. The object was to be good at throwing a rolling pin. I knew well what a rolling pin was. My Grandma Sasser had used one many time in my presence as she rolled out the dough for the many pies she baked at home for years. We all lived together. She was my second “mom.”

There was a grotesque-looking dummy stuffed into a flannel shirt and a pair of big coveralls. He was hanging from a tree, his “feet” about touching the ground. “Now ladies,” the game leader, probably the Sunday school superintendent, called out, “If your husband stays out late for no good reason, show us what you’ll do to him. Use your rolling pin.”

No one moved. No one wanted to be first. The leader asked again for a volunteer. Suddenly, from the side of the group, a dark-haired girl stepped forward. I remembered then that she had been on the “ball field” earlier that day and seemed to have the care of a young boy. I took him to be her baby brother. Later, I found out that he was. “Jimmy,” she called him. I had paid little attention to her. She looked very young and I had dismissed her from my mind.

Now this cute girl stepped forward and announced in a strong voice: “I don’t have a husband, but if I did, this is what would happen if he came in late.” Reaching out for the rolling pin in the leader’s hand, she grasped it and turned and hurled it hard toward the unfortunate dummy. To the amazement of everyone there, it traveled end-over-end and struck the “husband” in the mid-section. Instantly he was flung high in the air and his coveralls flew off and landed unceremoniously on the ground.

The young girl buried her head in her hands and fled to the back of the ladies’ group. I don’t remember how the wives there did, but to say the least they were out-shown by the reckless act of the dark-haired girl.

A few minutes later a lady spoke up as LeRoy and I stood around with some of the folk there. “Pastor,” she announced, I don’t think these young people have met” and she gestured toward the small group of teens who were there near us. Pastor Warfield gave our names and we nodded toward the young people whose names were announced. The cute girl was one of them.

It struck me that maybe some of them had older sisters LeRoy and I might get interested in. I quickly asked the group if any of them went to “Youth For Christ” in Chicago on Saturday nights. As I recall, they expressed interest in going but had, apparently, not gone before. We were able to make the arrangements for the following Saturday evening and got directions to the young girl’s house in Evanston, about twenty miles from the Naval Air Station. The lady who asked that we be introduced was a “Mrs. Shipley.” I realized she was the mother of the dark-haired girl named “Jane.”

As it turned out, Jane did have an older sister who was a nice Christian girl. She went with us to Youth For Christ. It was Jane, her sister, Sue, and a young girl friend of Jane. We visited and sang choruses and familiar hymns on our ride to and from Chicago. LeRoy and I rode in the front seat and I noticed Jane rode behind me with her sister and friend in the back as well.

Coming from a Lutheran church and being a babe in Christ, I knew many formal hymns but few choruses. One hymn we sang was “Fairest Lord Jesus.” I remember telling Jane that I knew the hymn as “Beautiful Saviour.” She inquired about the words. I began to recite them to her and I think she was writing them down. When we got to the words, “Truly I love Thee, truly I’d serve Thee” I became a little embarrassed. I was telling them to a sixteen-year-old girl. I was twenty-one. I froze on the words as Jane asked for them again. I wondered if that went through her mind too. Later I thought of the incident again. Suddenly she didn’t seem so young to me.

I’m Back….

NEWS NOTE FROM KENWALKS.COM

I’m back. kenwalks.com has been “off the air” for quite a few weeks now. I have been moving my family to our new ministry in Portersville, Ohio, a tiny community in south central Ohio, just forty miles from where I grew up.

Our church here is a small country ministry that was founded in l864. It has always been small with only a couple dozen believers gathering around 20 or so at a time to worship the Lord and to be a testimony to Him.

The people in the church, and one man in particular have worked hard to convert the old parsonage from the fellowship hall it has been for more than thirty years back to a residence for the pastor. We are moved in now and grateful to be able to get started in ministry.

Our two youngest sons, Kevin and Nathan with a lot of help from their families helped us move the larger things on October 1st. Just Monday we moved in the last of our belongings from their storage place in Newark, where I grew up. My brother, Bill, loaned us his garage and numerous things we brought from Michigan some weeks ago were there.

We are about seventy miles southeast of Columbus. If we can help any of you out there, be sure to contact us and we’ll do all we can to help you.

We are glad to be back in circulation. Pray for us and contact us at kenwalks.com, send email or phone us at 740-342-5378. Our address is:
Ken and Jane Pierpont
15622 Portie-Flamingo Road SE
Corning, OH 43730.

In Christ,

Ken Pierpont

Tale #5 – “Hare Today”

GRANDPA’S TALL (TRUE) TALES

The wagon wheels scored the soft earth as the old Furgeson tractor pulled it to a stop in the hillside corn field. It was November and a bit cold but not unusually so for central Ohio this time of year. As I recall, my school district was not holding classes that day so I had no teaching responsibilities. Our children were in the nearby Utica schools or the younger ones were home with their mother. I don’t quite remember the circumstance. .

Be that as it may, my dad and I were together on the old farm. We had decided to take the wagon with its sideboards up into the field to “pick up nubbins” as Dad referred to the small ears of corn the picker had missed as it passed down the rows. Sometimes the small ears would roll off the elevator as the picker fed the ears to it making their way up and into the wagon. Dad was too frugal to let them lie in the field all winter since they would make good feed for his forty head of white-faced cattle.

In the corner of the wagon lay “Old Bellerin’ Betsy” Dad’s Winchester twelve gauge shotgun. A cartridge was in the chamber. “We might kick up a rabbit,” Dad mused to me,” so, since they’re in season , we’ll see if we can get a shot.”

After about only five minutes of walking around in the soft corn field, we had our chance. The stubble of the corn stocks and a few weeds here and there offered a little cover and we knew in some of that cover there might be a rabbit. As we bounced some of the ears of corn into the wagon we spooked a nearby rabbit. from his squat. The speeding hare darted between us. Dad yelled out our characteristic response we had used so many years in hunting: “There he goes!” He lunged for the shotgun.

To my right just a few feet away was a ground hog hole. Mr. Rabbit disappeared down the hole in a flash. Dad whirled around with “Bellerin Betsy” but knew he didn’t have a shot–to close to me and too late!

“Well, he got away,” I called out in disappointment. Dad. standing there in his old “blanket-lined wamus,” as he always called his blue dungaree jacket, brown cap pulled down with the bill just off the middle, had a twinkle in his eye. He took a couple of steps toward the ground hog hole and began to look around.

“Oh, not necessarily,” he mused in reply to my disappointed call. “Let’s see, ground hogs always have two holes,” he offered quietly, and began to circle the hole into which our furry friend had disappeared. After a few moments he called to me as I stood watching, “Here it is over here by this little bush.” And, sure enough, there in a rough place around which Dad had plowed, was a pile of rocks and earth barely betraying the presence of the other hole.

Dad took a couple of steps and reached down with both hands and picked up a good-sized boulder, nicely bigger than the hole. He leaned around and plunked it down over the hole. He raised up and in ceremony scuffed his hands together. “That takes care of that,” he said as he made his way back to me and toward the other hole, our rabbit’s escape route.

I was mystified. “What’er we goin to do.” I asked as I saw the ornery look coming on to Dad’s face. His reply startled me.

“Let’s dig him out,” Dad said with a laugh. I shot back, “You can’t do that!” He instantly replied, “Why not, he’s not goin anywhere,” he chortled as he reached for the three-pointed shovel he always had on the wagon. I remember shaking my head and smiling with some satisfaction.

So began our dig. The soft earth turned easily as we began at the open hole into which “Peter Cottontail” had disappeared. We threw the dirt back to our right and the pile began to mount at once. Taking turns on the shovel and chuckling as we went, our breathing created twirls of condensation rising away from the scene.

After a while it became evident that we had taken on a challenging task. Deeper and deeper we shoveled into the moist autumn soil. Pausing occasionally to survey our work, we saw the hole deepen to surprising size. Finally I said, “… seems irreverent, what we’re doing doesn’t it?” I smiled at Dad. He smiled back and offered: “Yea!” And we dug on sounding as giddy as a couple of schoolboys.

Now the dirt pile had taken on the proportions of an oil drum. We dug on, pausing only as we traded the shovel back and forth for a few moments’ rest. The hole was getting ridiculously big and we were getting tired. Now it crossed my mind that it would take us some time to fill the hole back in once we got the rabbit. If we did! I was pretty sure Dad had never dug out a rabbit before and I knew I hadn’t. I wasn’t quite sure how we would know when we were about there. I soon found out.

Our hole now seemed the likely burial plot for a good-sized piano. Still no rabbit. Just then Dad pushed my hands back after I had turned a shovel full of dirt. “Wait!” He stooped down and carefully watched the dirt in the hole for a moment. Suddenly, a small portion of the dirt moved! Dad reached down with his right hand as he hovered over the hole. In a moment he plunged his hand into the dirt and with appropriate fanfare swung Mr. Rabbit up to his left and to me, with a tight grip on his ears.

“You can do the honors,” Dad chortled to me, bringing back memories of our many rabbit hunts when I was a kid. He meant, “I have him, take him by the hind legs, turn him down and whack him with the back of your hand to break his neck.” I did. The kicking bunny breathed his last. Our hunt was a success. We knew the answer to our question: “Can you dig a rabbit out of a ground hog hole? Yes, you can!” I tossed the cottontail up onto the wagon and turned to begin filling in the hole. Later that afternoon, Dad skinned him and committed him to freezer for future reference, namely a nice meal.

Somehow, this experience seemed to remind me of a joke my niece, my brother Bill’s eldest daughter, Diana, had told the family a year or two before. I remember her smiling face as she related the joke, part of which she sang:

“Uncle Ken” she said, “Little Rabbit Fo Fo, walkin’ through the forest, grabbin’ all the field mice, bashing ’em in the head. Along came the Good Fairy, and she said: ‘Little Rabbit Fo Fo, if you don’t stop bashin’ the field mice, I’m goin’ to turn you into a goon.’ I’ll give you one more chance.”

“Then came the next day: ‘Little Rabbit Fo Fo, walking through the forest, grabbin’ all the field mice, bashin’ ’em in the head. Along came the good fairy, and she said, ‘Little Rabbit Fo Fo, I told you yesterday to stop bashin’ all the field mice. Now I’m going to turn you into a goon. And she did.’

“Now the moral of that story is: ‘Hare today, goon tomorrow.'” Reminds me of our rabbit in the holed: “Hare today, gone tomorrow!”

I suppose I’ll always remember that crazy fun day with my dad so many years ago on the old farm. I love you, Dad, I’ll never forget you.

Tale #4 – Slide for Life

GRANDPA’S TALL (TRUE) TALES

It was a typical wintry afternoon, that January day in 1969. School had been canceled before we all left for classes that morning. That meant that Melony had not boarded the bus for her trip to Quincy, Ohio early in the day and her little brother Kenny was home too. Their teachers, Mrs. Curl and Mrs. Short with their fifth and third grade responsibilities were home. I taught a fourth grade unit and so was off as well.

We lived in Logansville where I pastored the Logansville Christian Church. Normally I would have made my hospital rounds after school on a day anyone was in the Bellefontaine Hospital we knew. Today was different. I was home. There was time to see the sick folk.

There was a problem, however with the weather. It was not especially snowy but there was some new snow down and the roads were slippery. We waited for the weather to improve. It was getting gradually better but not fast enough to suit me. I was looking forward to getting back to have the day for study and relaxation with the family. Kevin was small and Nathan was just three weeks old. I decided to get ready to go.

“Honey, I’ll take Kenny with me. He can sit in the lobby and read while I make my calls,” I called to Jane in the other room. She soon had him buttoned up for the trip into town. I enjoyed having him with me and his mother enjoyed my having him with me!

We piled into the ’61 Dodge we were so proud of. It was white, a “hard-top convertible.” I backed out of the garage into a light snowfall and pointed the nice sedan east toward Mary Rutan Hospital in Bellefontaine, just ten miles away. The “318” engine I liked so well purred assuringly and with some caution we moved along Ohio Route 47 toward our destination.

The terrain on Route 47 in that part of the country is slightly rolling and the road was generally smooth but a little narrow. Here and there were imperfections in the blacktop with some creases that tended to “guide” the car for the driver at times. Not a good thing!

We had covered about four miles on the slippery pavement when we approached a downgrade portion of highway, coming up on a road that led away to the right. Here some noticeable creases in the blacktop presented themselves and the yellow warning stripe told me I was into a “no passing zone” from my lane. I took a tight grip on the wheel to pass over the rough pavement.

The eight-year-old Dodge was in good shape but typically that year model could have rather loose steering. It was difficult to avoid over-correction with the problem of slightly sloppy steering in the event of a slip. I was hoping I wouldn’t have one. But, I did! At the worst possible second we met a passing car headed west. There was no way to fudge on the centerline.

In a flash the big Dodge slipped slightly left in front as it tried to follow a nasty crease in that direction. I corrected just a “tad” to the right to bring it back. It didn’t come! Instead, it darted farther left and we started into a full downhill slide coming around all the way to our left. I toed some brake but that didn’t help and we blew down the hill gradually leaving the pavement broadside and off to the right.

With a death grip on the steering wheel I yelled to Kenny, “Here we go,” and jerked him back to me since there were no seat belts. The car was sliding through the apron area of the road that was coming up on our right. A bare farm field lay off to the right and a little lower on beyond the road area and we made our grand slide off the berm and into the field, still full broadside!

I know Kenny liked excitement but I didn’t have time to glance at his face as we bounced into the field, still sweeping around in our broad turn. As we slid downhill we were rapidly coming up on a modest sized phone pole that had no intention of getting out of the way. Within the next couple of seconds I saw the bottom end of the pole pass over the Dodge’s hood and then flop unceremoniously back into place. Mercifully, we ground to a halt about sixty feet into the field.

The situation had our full attention. Just as we bounced to a stop, three schoolboys came running up the side road we had just passed over and were headed to the car to “rescue” us. Taking one look at the broken wires lying on both sides of the car, I quickly rolled down the window and yelled for them to get back. Kenny looked okay. I was all right and I knew we could drive away from the wires and then determine whether they were telephone or electric.

One of the boys dashed away to phone authorities. I called after him, “Call the Sheriff.” Hearsay in that area was that a motorist would often get a better deal from a deputy than a “state boy.” It was worth a try.

After an embarrassing wait of about twenty-five minutes a black cruiser appeared labeled “Logan County Sheriff.” The officer was a nice man. He insisted we had missed the phone pole (and it was a phone pole) since it was “still standing.” I assured him it was curtains for the pole. He then reached out and pushed it. The bottom coasted out about a foot and back into place. “Yep, you’re right,” he called. Of course, the broken pole was technically “still hanging,” not standing, since the wires were partially still in place.

The deputy offered to call a wrecker. I noted that the ground was hard, as in frozen, and felt I could drive our injured “steed” from the accident site. I did. This time we turned back west and headed for home. The car growled in objection since the wheel housing was smashed on the right rear and the wheel itself was bent and wobbling on a badly damaged hub.

That day was the end of our ’61 Dodge. We limped into town and arranged a trade. I could ill-afford to trade cars then but at least we were still only visitors to the hospital, not residents as a result of our “slide for life.” Thank the Lord!

The school superintendent had been right. It was too bad to be on the roads that day!

Tale #3 – “The Hopkins Dump”

GRANDPA’S TALL (TRUE) TALES

It happened one evening near Halloween in 1964 but it was no prank. It involved a task the men of our church were to do around 6 o’clock at the parsonage. We were to move a piano.

This was not just any piano. It was one of those monsters musicians call “an old upright.” The huge instrument had presided over the living room of the old Parmalee place near Hopkins, Michigan for many years. Jim Parmalee, the young adult son of the family had been called upon to move it, more than once, I understand. Later that evening Jim’s dad told me Jim hated to move the gargantuan beast. He had said, “This piano belongs on the Hopkins Dump.” The Parmalee family had loaned the house to the church as a parsonage which accounted for our presence there. My wife played it occasionally but I never attempted to move it. (Simpson’s my name, not Samson!)

Our church had just finished its new building. The plan was to donate the old instrument to the church for use until we could get one a little more suitable. On this particular prayer meeting night some of us had agreed to move it out and take it to the church in a truck and the others would gather at the church to move it in.

Chuck Davis, one of the young guys showed up with his red Chevrolet pick-up and backed up to the front porch, a big concrete affair. He dropped the tailgate and it looked like we had a fighting chance to wrestle the piano aboard. After a short planning session we were ready to gang up on the dark walnut finished and beautiful old instrument.

Shoulder to shoulder six or seven of us staggered and strained toward the front door with our greatly challenging burden. Mercifully we made it through the opening and onto the truck’s bed without incident. When we set it down the vehicle seemed to strain an objection as it absorbed the weight. No matter, it was in the truck and we were safe now.

The decision had been made that Chuck, one of the teenage boys and I, the pastor, were to accompany the piano to the church where we were to bring it in, dedicate it to the Lord’s work and hold prayer meeting in the lower level of the church. The other guys rolled away in their cars to meet us there.

As Chuck hooked the heavily- laden pick-up in gear he remarked, “Do you suppose we should tie it down?” Never one to give a bashful answer, I remarked, “Are you kidding? Where could it go, as heavy as it is?”

“Okay,” he said, “We’ll just take it easy.” And we did.

The trip called for about a three-mile run over a “tarmac” road which had its share of potholes. Chuck decided, instead, to enter the 131 Freeway at Hopkins and proceed north to the Wayland interchange and get off there, just yards from the church site. He eased the heavily-laden truck out of the yard and onto the road with our youth, Brian, riding between us on the seat.

The drive over the back road to the interstate was uneventful. The three of us laughed and joked as we made our way toward the Hopkins interchange. That particular junction was unlighted and as we approached the big highway, coming along the side road, we were presented with a gradual grade leading to the ramp. Chuck accelerated slightly to climb the grade but was moving ever so slowly. A slight left turn was necessary to finish the trip to the top of the ramp. Now for what we didn’t notice:

Just at the last turn to the left, the pavement was slightly concave with a small dip to the left. I don’t remember what Chuck and I were talking about but our conversation was rudely interrupted. In a split second the truck rocked violently to the left and just as quickly lurched upright again. At that moment, even with the windows rolled up, we were all aghast by the terrible sound we heard.

The shattering crash was followed immediately with numerous other sounds, both high and low, tinkling and rumbling. I looked at Chuck with a start. “What was that,? I muttered. Of course I knew what it was but I didn’t want to believe. He jumped the brakes and we all piled out of the truck in amazed disbelief.

On the pavement, to the left and scattered all around was “the piano.” No, not a piano but a twisted mess of broken walnut finish wood, wires, broken keys and other debris too smashed to recognize. What happened next is the most incredible part of the story. The three of us stood momentarily in the now hushed darkness and, together, broke out into uncontrollable laughter.

Suddenly our darkened and awful picture was brightened by approaching headlights. A car coming very tentatively up the same grade, driven by a middle-aged lady, moved slowly around our pile of ruin. As the lady passed she stuck her head out the window and called, “Do you need any help?” So help me, I could not come back to reality. I merely blurted out, in my frozen state of stupefaction, between rolls of laughter, “No, ma,am, we’re just working with our piano!” Giving the whole scene an incredulous look, she drove on.

We three stood in the darkness like transgressors presiding over the results of our sin. Together we sounded it out: “What do we do?” Then Chuck came to life: “Didn’t Jim Parmalee say it belonged on the Hopkins dump. Let’s take it there.” We looked at each other and then at our “piano.” I managed a grunt of agreement with Chuck and we slowly began “loading” it into the truck.

Loading went quickly what with the smallness of the largest pieces now that we had “broken down” the job. In only a few minutes we had finished and had arrived at the dump just a mile or so away. As we finished throwing off the debris, I reached down and retrieved a “morsel.”

Like three kids tardy to school we drove sheepishly into the church parking lot. The congregants, assembled on the front porch, were in no mood to look the other way at the empty truck.

“Where ya been?” and “Yer late!” Were the most common calls that reached our ears. But the ones that presented the worst challenge were: “Where’s the piano?” and the one my wife raised, “Oh, no!,” as she held her head.
Once inside, it became my “solemn” responsibility to explain. But, alas, the rolls of laughter again began to spill out. Giddiness took over and I could only stammer as I raised my solitary “souvenir,” an ivory from one key, and blurted out, “This is all we saved!”

No, I wasn’t fired, because, I think, nobody else could stop laughing either. I think that, secretly, everyone agreed with Jim.

Tale #2 “The Snake That Got Dad”

It was a hot spring day, that afternoon in 1946. Dad, my brother, Bill, and I had spent the earlier part of the afternoon picking berries.

Dad was always careful to remind us not to mix raspberries with blackberries as we picked, something about blackberries being of stronger flavor ruined that of the raspberries that have a milder and sweeter flavor. For me, I was just interested in filling my bucket so we could get out of that scratchy berry patch as soon as possible.

Bill, at age nine and I at age eleven were a couple of portly young guys. We loved and admired Dad. So did most people who knew him. Everybody around Newark and Chatham called him “Kenny.” Chatham was the little town about five miles north of Newark, Ohio, where I grew up. Grandma and Grandpa Pierpont had lived there many years. I never knew them to live anywhere else.

Dad, a very sociable man, knew everybody around Chatham, it seemed. His days on a farm where he grew up had gotten him acquainted with all the folk around those parts. When we wanted to go hunting or berry picking on someone’s land, Dad always asked unless he had already received “blanket” permission to be there. That blanket permission led us to recognize several certain places almost as our own, we went there so often.

Places like “Harry Hoar’s Orchard” and “Downey’s, Swamp, The Old Home Place, Ely Wince’s Lane” and “The Down Timber” were household names and places in our home all the years I was growing up. We were in all of them many times in a given year, as I recall.

The present story centers around the place “The Down Timber.” It was there that adjacent undisturbed pieces of land produced patches of grass and berry bushes. Lush berries were always there in abundance. Of course, it took some “scratchy” work to get to them through the tall grass, young saplings and briar patches.

On the afternoon the events of this story took place, Dad, Bill and I had picked our share of berries. Dad always cautioned us to carry the full buckets “softly” so the berries would not crush. If either my brother or I had telltale signs of berry stains around our lips Dad let us know we were not very disciplined in our picking. “Don’t pick and eat ‘um,” he would say.

We had just made our way out of a patch of berries, that afternoon, and were tramping along through “The Down Timber.” Dad called it that, I realized later, because the owner never harvested trees for lumber from any of the woods, so the trees were left lying, for years, where they fell. This made for some pretty imposing brush piles as the tops of trees decomposed over the years they lay there.

As we walked through an unusually open area, one with many tall standing trees, we came upon a large brush pile. Someone, it seemed, had thrown many small limbs, sticks and twigs together forming a brush pile a couple of feet tall and probably ten feet around. We neared it as we walked, laughing and talking together.

Suddenly, near the edge of the brush pile we were approaching, we spotted a large dark-colored snake. As I recall, Dad was to my left with Bill a couple of steps behind and back a little to my left. Bill and I froze in place. Suddenly Dad called, “Lookout!” He advanced toward the big snake cautiously. To say Bill and I were scared would be putting it mildly.

As Dad advanced, Mr. Snake turned and slithered quickly under the brush pile, threshing for a second, and then he was gone.

This paragraph is for you snake lovers who may happen to read this story. My dad was a kind man, law-abiding and especially so when it came to protecting songbirds, game that was out of season, fish that were too small to keep, et cetera. On this particular day, however my dad seemed intent on teaching us a lesson about snakes. Without the facts of what happened next, I could not be relating this story for our enjoyment some sixty years later. Please bear this in mind as you finish reading the story.

As the snake disappeared under the brush, Dad whirled around to us and yelled, “Quick, get sticks and beat on the brush!” In a mix of fear and excitement, Bill and I ran to get the nearest sticks and hurried back with them. As I ran, it occurred to me that maybe we would all be better off leaving the thing where it was. But, Dad’s excited shouts echoed in my head and I ran back and forth only once or twice hitting the brush pile myself, but mostly handing the sticks to my dad. Bill, as I remember, did the same.

After what seemed a long time but was probably less than a minute our big, black serpent, moving at surprising speed, appeared from under the brush and, whipping back and forth, headed away from us. I leaped back and so did my brother. What happened next terrified me.

As the snake gained speed, in his quest for freedom, Dad, half in a crouch chased after him! After several quick strides across the open space, Dad bent down and reached out his right hand. In a flash the snake ascended into the air, twisting and whipping around. My heart stopped beating! I screamed out to my dad, “Oh Dad, has he got you?” I didn’t look at my brother, but I am sure he was as scared as I.

What happened next amazed me. The snake’s tail was firmly in my dad’s hand and Dad began whipping the snake round and round above his head. As he did, the curled body of the snake began to stretch out. This was all in just seconds. Dad yelled out in answer to my scream of terror: “Oh Dad, has he got you” and replied as he continued twirling the snake above his head: “No, but I sure got him!” At that instant Dad violently jerked back on the big snake’s tail and brought his muscled arm to a standstill.

Please remember that these stories though tall tales are TRUE tales! Now, more than sixty years later, in my mind’s eye, I can still see the snake’s head flying through the air, probably eight or ten feet off the ground. Dad tossed aside the snake’s body and we turned to gather our berry buckets.

Yes, an innocent snake died there in “The Down Timber” that day, but two boys’ admiration for their dad soared to a new high. Mr. Snake didn’t get dad there in that woods after all, that spring afternoon, but, I assure you, “Bill” and “Little Kenny” walked a little more proudly when they thought of their dad. I love you, Dad, I’ll never forget you!

GRANDPA’S TALL (TRUE) TALES

Tale #1 – “The Black Paper”

The east entryway of our church is often used for storing things not in immediate use. When our children lived here they fell heir to a van that went bad and had to be junked. However, the back two sets of seats were in fine condition. The kids had set them out temporarily in the east entryway.

With no continuing need again for the seats, and no van in which to use them, I offered to advertise them in the local “shopper” to give to some needy soul who might want them. Shortly after the ad went into the paper the phone began to ring. I could have given away several sets of seats.

When the day came for the new owner to come and take delivery on the seats there was an abundance of snow in our lower parking lot which would normally be used to pick them up. I decided to attempt to bring them to the upper side for transport from the parking lot there which posed no slipping and spinning problem for the man coming to get them.

As I brought the first set of seats in from the entryway to the main fellowship hall I set them down with a “plunk.” When I did, I saw an odd-shaped piece of black paper fall from the back of the one of the seats. It was about seven inches long and perhaps four inches wide. I bent to pick it up and, as I did, I thought “what a strange-shaped piece of paper.”

By one of the corners I picked up the soft-feeling little paper and tossed it into a nearby small wastepaper basket. Its black color looked odd in contrast to the yellowish bottom of the wastepaper basket. I turned away to get the other set of seats with no more thought to the little paper.

It took about forty-five minutes for me to drag the other, larger, set of seats into the fellowship hall and then to get both sets upstairs and into the west entryway. I finished my work and prided myself on getting them into the easier place from which to load. I then went back downstairs to “button up” my work– close the entryway doors, lock them and tidy up the area in general.

As I turned to walk away from the area, I chanced to glance into the little wastebasket. I was startled by what I saw. The flat, black paper was now crumpled up but lying where I had tossed it. “That’s strange,” I thought, “how could the paper be curled, I left it flat?” As I reached down to pick it up and look at it, a thought came to my mind: “that paper had scalloped edges, I wonder why?” Then it came to me!

I thought, “I don’t think this black paper is a paper at all. I think it is something else.” I carefully picked up the wastebasket and carried it toward the furnace room. I entered the furnace room with the basket thinking, “I’ll set it down here and turn it over and we’ll just see what it is.” In a moment it hit me as to what the “paper” probably was. I gingerly carried the basket out the furnace room door and set it down on the concrete just outside. “What is this thing, anyway?”

As a precaution, I stepped back into the furnace room and pulled the hammer from the wall from among the repair tools there. Then turning back to the out-of-doors, I stepped outside and closed the outer door. Taking the wastebasket by a corner, I flipped it upside down and pulled it back out of the way. In that moment “the little black paper” became a sick but hissing bat! Without a thought I delivered three hammer blows to dispatch it.

The moral of the story: watch yourself the next time you pick up a “little black soft piece of paper”!
GRANDPA’S TALL (TRUE) TALES