Dad was an avid outdoorsman and a member of the Coon Hunter’s club. From the time I could walk he wagged me with him when he went to meetings and field events. Times were different back then, I ran loose at these gatherings because everyone knew I was Jay’s baby girl and everyone watched out for me. That is when and where I developed a very colorful vocabulary that would haunt my Dad for many years to come. I was safe in a cocoon of loving adults, though Mom would have raised country hell had she known that I was ever out of Daddy’s sight.
In my wanderings, at one such field trial, I ran across a man that had a pen full of cur pups. To my young eyes they were the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. I climbed over the little fence erected to contain the puppies and was in heaven playing with them when the man returned and caught me red handed. I was sitting on the ground and trying to pile all of the puppies onto my lap at one time. There were more little fur balls than lap, so they kept falling off. I’d just pick them up and put them back only to have them tumble off again..
“Whatcha you doing, little ‘un”, he kindly inquired?
“How much for these pups”, I asked. I knew how to ‘deal’ because I’d seen my dad do it a million times….I was about two and half at the time.
The old gentleman looked at me with a grin, “How much ya got”?
I dug around in my overall pockets and dragged out a nickel and a pair of nail clippers. I had a button twister and a pretty rock too, but I knew from watching Dad that you didn’t tip your hand too soon. I was holding them back for ‘boot’ in case the negotiation went poorly.
“A nickel and clippers, huh”, the old guy asks between barks of laughter?
“Yep, though these pups ain’t very big and probably cain’t hunt a lick”, I reply to drive the price down.
“Well, that’s not enough for the big ‘uns, but I got this one little runt that costs just about that much”, he chuckled. His pointing finger denoted the pup I’d had my eye on from the start.
“Deal”, I said! Holding the five cent piece and nail clippers out before he could change his mind.
“Deal”, he echoed! He reached out and took my prize booty.
I picked up my new puppy, wrapped my little arms around him and went to find my dad to show him my new dog. There has never been a prouder little tyke than I was that day!
I found my dad and told him all about my ‘business deal’ and he just laughed and asked me what I was going to name him. It was January when the big deal went down, but I couldn’t say it real plain so he was dubbed Janry. I was young enough that I still had a lot of problems with certain words.
That dog and I were inseparable for the next year and a half. We had exciting adventures and fought many imaginary foes together. Right after I turned four years old my folks decided to move to California. Life would be easier there, they said. Daddy broke the news that Janry couldn’t come with us and my Uncle Ishmael had agreed to take him and give him a good home.
I was beside myself with grief at losing my best friend, but I had no voice in the matter. The day came when the car and trailer were pack and we were ready to leave. On our way out of town we dropped the dog at Uncle Ish’s house and then drove away to the sound of the old V-8 revving and a broken hearted four year old squalling.
There were a lot of kids in my family so we had to share bedrooms. When we got to California things didn’t change much, I still shared a bed with my older sister. She hated having me in her room and tormented me mercilessly.
One night I was playing the ‘don’t touch me’ game. That’s where your sister tells you not to touch her because you have nasty baby cooties and you put your finger as close to her as possible without actually touching the flesh. This game, when accompanied with a big self satisfied grin, is guaranteed to make even the calmest sibling go ballistic! She wanted to kill me when I did that to her, which I did at every opportunity. She thought of a suitable revenge and lost no time implementing my punishment.
“Do you hear that”, she asked, suddenly listening intently?
“No, what is it”, I whispered, forgetting all about my bid to put nasty baby cooties on her.
“It’s Janry! I heard Daddy and Uncle Ish talking when you weren’t there. Dad told Uncle Ish that the minute we were out of sight to take Janry out in the woods and dump him! Uncle Ishmeal said he would ‘cause he didn’t want the ugly old mutt anyway. Listen, you can hear Janry calling for you and saying ‘I’m cold and hungry. Please save me Jude’! He’s barkin’ and cryin' and whinin' and scared”! She was really pouring it on now.
“Oh oh! Did you hear that, Jude”, she asked? “He’s saying he loves you and why did you leave him to die in the woods”, she was enjoying herself so much by then that she didn’t notice I was tuning up for a major squall.
When I let out the first wail of tears they could have heard me for at least five miles away. Mom and Dad came running from their bedroom sure that something was killing me.
Daddy grabbed me up in his arms and repeatedly asked me what was wrong, had something bitten me? When I could finally talk I screamed at the traitorous parent, “You left Janry to die, you put me dowwwwn! I don’t want you”!
I was screaming, crying and kicking to get loose from him. Of course, my father had no idea what was going on. “Sister, did you have a bad dream or something” he queried trying to calm me down? I usually crawled up in his lap every time he sat down therefore he really was at a loss as to why he had a squirming badger in his arms.
“NO! Annie told me you and Uncle Ish put Janry in the woods to die, you mean old sum bitch”, I sobbed at him in a shrill siren voice. I was pushing against his chest with hands and feet to get away from the once worshipped daddy turned monster.
Ann was trying to slide off the backside of the bed and make a clean getaway rightly figuring that a whipping was headed her way. The bed was against the wall and she couldn’t fit down the crack. She had no choice but to face the music.
Mom and Dad turned to her in unison. Daddy had to spun me around in his arms until my back was against him where he had a better chance of dodging kicking legs and flailing arms.
“Ann”, Mom cried! “How could you tell your sister that? You’re fixin' to see how much fun it is to make the baby cry”!
“Sister”, Mom said to me in a soothing voice. “Ann was just making that up to be mean and make you cry. Daddy did no such thing! In fact, we talked to Uncle Ish last week and Janry is fine. He even has a wife now. His wife is going to have puppies tomorrow and he said to tell you he loves you. Sister, where did you learn that kind of language? Have mercy”! If I hadn’t already been so close to hysteria I would have been in big trouble for swearing.
“Really Mama”, I snubbed? “He’s gonna be a daddy? And he gots a wife”? I was enthralled with the mind picture of my beloved dog with bouncing puppies and a wife.
I settled down pretty quickly after that and turned to put my arms around dad’s neck. He quietly whispered in my ear “Don’t you dare tell mama where you heard that and if you ever call me a son of a bitch again, I’ll blister your bottom good and proper”.
I wasn’t going to tell mama on him, he was my hero again and I would protect him even if they tortured me! Daddy was once again my best loved buddy.
Ann, on the other hand, was not to get off so light. She got the spanking of her life! Mom and Dad took me in to sleep with them for the night and I was, once again, a happy child. I didn’t even get spanked for swearing…..that time.
I have never forgotten that stupid dog or the worst whipping my sister ever got.
I don’t know what the moral of this story is or if there is one unless it’s “If you want to torture your little sister, you should take her to the woods where you won’t get caught doing it” or perhaps “Nasty baby coodies aren’t nearly as painful as a butt whipping”.