Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
The Boy and Spot
The day time summer heat had cooled somewhat as the sun started down toward the horizon, the young boy in coveralls and barefooted sat on the steps of the front porch of the old wooden built farm house in the rural country of Alabama, not too far from the Mississippi state line.
It was early 1950 but the boy had little thought of that as he stared off into the sky where a jet plane was leaving contrails across the clear blue sky. One hand held a piece of sweet gum tree stick he was chewing on while with the other hand he petted his dog spot.
A typical friendly good for nothing mixture of many dogs sometimes referred to as a “Heinz 57 Variety.” He was mostly white with some large brown spots and now half asleep with only one eye open, but he suddenly stirred as he heard the sound of an automobile coming from the direction of the old red clay dirt road. There were not a lot of cars back then in the sparsely populated section of the country.
The dog took off down the lane, an extended drive area in front of the house, about a hundred yards by maybe 40 feet lined with cedar trees that were from Christmases past. Then the tree was dug up in the woods and planted in a bucket or old wash tub, decorated in the house and kept watered until about January 6 when the Wise men were supposed to have found baby Jesus and visited him and gave him gifts, then it was taken out planted on one or the other side of the lane. They were usually named after one of the grandchildren that still lived there.
The dog arrived at the road near the same time as the car and darted about barking and nipping at it, but he must have stumbled for he was hit. Yelping in pain and crying as the boy got to him, he fell on the road. Naturally the automobile did not stop not that it would have helped any, other than an apology, but then the driver was not responsible, although he could have shown concern.
Struggling with the weight the boy scooped up the dog in his arms and hurried up to the house where his uncle and grandmother came out to help tend the nasty torn skin at one of the dogs’ back legs. They tried in vain to put a bandage on it made out of a salve and a rag. Of course it would not stay long at all. There was probably a veterinarian in the county but no one worried about a dog back in those days. They did most of their own doctoring of animals and sometimes humans too.
The boy stayed close to the dog until it was his bed time, it was the summer vacation time so he had no school.
The next morning as the rooster woke up all in case they were still sleeping, fat chance since living on a farm required all hands so to speak to their chores early, the boy went down to see about his pet. Alas he was not to be found.
He searched; his grandmother and his sister looked all around. They had to go to feed the chickens, pigs, they only had two; the cows stayed in the barn yard at night but they were not locked in unless there was going to be rough or snowy weather the next day. All the steps they made did not turn up the dog.
The entire next day there was no sign of the dog and the boy became more depressed. He walked what he called miles around the place hunting him.
The second day after the disappearance Mr. Williams, the man who owned the land across the red dirt road came to the house with news that he had found the dog not far into the woods on his side. The boy went across the fence with the man, directly in a line behind the mailbox where the mailman put the mail, near where the dog had been hit.
They came upon the dog lying beside a small stream of water. He tried to get up wagging his tail, but lay down again apparently sore and hurting. The boy after thanking the man ran back to the house and begged left over hamburger meat and bread from his grandmother, not even stopping to breathe much he hurried back and fed the dog. Sitting beside him he petted and talked to him. Then forgetting his head was on his shoulders he went back all the way out to the corn crib beside the barn and retrieved and old feed sack for a bed for the dog and carried it back to where he lay.
After two more days the dog returned to the farm house mostly healed. Later as the boy thought of it all he remembered a book he had once read where an old Indian thinking it was his time to go to the place of salvation called the Happy hunting grounds according to the movies went off on his own where no one could find him and died there.
Now he thought that maybe the dog had done just that. Now he was just so happy his friend Spot was home.
Written January 11, 2009
Talking to a Chicken 410 words
Could be the worse piece of chicken to eat is the neck. All little bitty bones and skin, but is it easy to cut?
As a child I often had to do things I considered absurd to say the least. I was born the eldest child of three; all girls, and my mom and dad both worked all the time to make ends meet.
We lived in what was then rural Louisiana, where we had a garden and various animals, including chickens. Therefore I being twelve years old at the time was most often told to do the cooking, not to mention cleaning, washing clothes, sew, iron and a million, I thought, other things.
The chickens we had were for the eggs which we sold from a huge chicken house. So having so many they naturally became food for the table. But then they had to be caught, killed and put in a pot of boiling water in order to remove their feathers. Then after plucking them, I removed their insides, cut up and cooked (most often fried in flour and lard). Quite a job for a delicate maturing young lady such as me.
So as most all the farming people know the proper method of killing a chicken is to catch it, grab its head and using the body weight of the chicken rotate it until the neck breaks completely off. Then you’re holding the head in your hand while the chicken flops around all over the ground dying and spraying blood everywhere.
The choice is that or take it by the legs and bring it to the wood chopping block that is there to cut things like wood for the kitchen stove or the fireplace since we had no electricity in those days. This block also used to cut heart pine wood for kindling to readily start fires with because it contains turpentine sap, that is highly flammable.
Being too weak to swing it around and around, I take the chicken to the block and get the axe to try to lay the chicken’s neck on the block. But sometimes it would not cooperate at all. I would lay the head on the block, raise the axe then the chicken lifted its head back up…….do it again……..same result.
So I said, “come on chicken help me out here, lay still there just a second while I chop off your head.”
By: Ross Martin 7/11/2009
Here I am down here working on a ship
Wondering if I have made any kind of slip
Last time on land I did so much
Going around so fast that I lose touch
Did I smile a whole lot every day?
And try to help someone along the way
Or did I neglect the important things
And think of myself, as one of the Kings.
I shall always remember to try to share
To show everyone that I do really care.
Working in Mexico has its pros and cons. You get to see lots of historical things and of course, some things more modern. Some things fantastic and amazing take place sometimes. There are also the rich and the very poor. One thing I have noticed, the life of a fisherman must be pure hell. They have the big commercial boats and of course the usual shrimp boats, but the small people in the industry have the hardest life. They have these 16 to 18 foot open hull fiberglass or wooden boats that look like discarded life boats off a ship somewhere and who knows, maybe they were. I work on a 240 foot vessel, which is huge to them. It is a supply boat in the oil industry out here. Some days the seas to us are rough to very rough. We look out over the waves and there are these very small boats bouncing up and down out here where it is almost too rough for us. Usually two adult men and two younger men are in each boat wearing waterproof clothing, but sometimes only a coat made from plastic garbage bags. Out here around the oil rigs, fishing with hand lines, (a piece of monofilament with a weight and some hooks, no fishing reels), they come out each day to try to catch enough fish to sell and make a living from doing this. We are roughly forty miles off the coast and so are they. The boats are equipped with an outboard motor as a means of propulsion. Of course one of them is usually sitting with a can bailing water out of the boat that splashes into it from the waves.
Many times, although we are not supposed to, we trade them food for fish. It seems these people are always hungry. This morning, one of the little boats called us. They usually have a small VHF radio. They told us one of the young men on their boat had hurt his ankle and could we help him or them out? So, we picked the little lad up. Some of our people are somewhat trained in medicine and physical ailments. Finding a heavily sprained ankle, possibly fractured, we gave him some pain pills and a shot for immediate relief. After we had placed him back on the little boat, I started thinking of how rough life is for some of these people and realized how fortunate we are; truly we are more blessed than they. We should daily thank the Lord for his graciousness in letting us live the way we do, but also not to forget to pray for people like this, that someway their daily lives might be enriched in some way to lighten the burden that they carry through life.
HUMOR OFFSHORE IN THE GULF OF MEXICO Words 1731
So I have started: I could write about supply boats going across the Gulf of Mexico like other boats and the things that happen on them. But mostly humorous stuff, cause the other doesn’t do to talk about.
We came on a boat once on crew change day and there sitting beside one of the commodes in the head (toilet) was a bottle of Spray & Wipe'. I immediately looked to see if there was any toilet tissue.
Once had a Captain on an offshore supply boat who dipped snuff or chewed it (whatever). One day as he was backing the boat into a rig to tie up and unload the cargo we had for them, with the rest of the crew on the back deck waiting to catch the ropes to secure the boat, the boat suddenly stopped. We could hear tapping noises coming from the public address system in the pilot house. We all looked up and saw him waving at us, so we made signs to him asking what was wrong? Finally one of the crew ran up to the wheelhouse to discern what was wrong. There he was with a mouth full of tobacco juice and no cup to spit it in. He had left it on the front console and was about to choke.
And a cook we once had who loved television too much! If we are too far offshore to pick up any reception he was fidgety all the time. As soon as we started the boat toward shore, he would turn the TV on and sit and watch the snow waiting for something to come in. If you walked in front of him, he'd lean to one side or the other like he was missing something, although there was nothing there. It was said that he had five televisions in his house and a mirror fixed up so he could watch it while he was on the toilet.
There was one guy who was found talking to the TV set on the boat and the set wasn't even turned on. He was talking to Elvis Presley and his long dead mother in the set. Found out he was going through DT's from drinking too much on his time off.
And a payroll officer over in a foreign country where they paid in cash dollars, who when stepping from one boat to another dropped his briefcase in the water where it sprang open. We had about six divers who spent two days hunting the money and trying to recover it. What they got we dried in ovens in the galley, about $17,000. They never found the rest about, 23,000. The beach was only 1/2 a mile away, so I bet some beachcombers and fishermen got happy a lot especially since this was a generally poor country.
We had one fellah who went out on deck one night when it was about 18 degrees Fahrenheit wrapped only in a sheet and was dancing on top of a pile of pipe we had there, and yelling like a wild man. He went home the next day and we never did find out what he was so happy about----.
One night our cook had put out three chickens to thaw overnight that he would cook the next day. When we woke up the next morning we found one of them in a commode. Guess somebody didn't like chicken. We didn't do an autopsy on it!
One man from I don't remember where, possibly Southern Louisiana would put bread on a fish hook and throw the string and hook into the air trying to catch sea gulls.
Another of the same type would shoot at them (sea gulls) with the line throwing gun, which is supposed to be used only during personnel rescue operations. This caused the company to remove all those guns from the boat.
Playing poker and a French game called Bouree is sometimes a pastime on these vessels. So one night while we were playing and the pot had gotten quite large (about 100.00 dollars) suddenly the lights went out! Apparently the generator had stopped running for some reason, talk about flicking' some Bics! When the lights came back on a few seconds later seven men had their arms around the pile of money!! It was not going anywhere!!
We had another of those guys that was exceptional in that he used to tell us war stories complete with the sound effects, like boom! Boom! And rat a tat a tat, bang, bang and all that. he had been in every branch of the service that there was or had ever been including the National Guard, and Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air force, Marines, Seabees, Special Forces, Paratroopers, Green Beret, etc. He had been in every war and skirmish, and uprising all over the world, both present day and past since the Second World War. This was in 1982. He had been offered the Presidency of over half of the countries he had fought in and was the Navy's worldwide' number one diver and trouble shooter. Any time they had a problem they could not solve they would call him in to fix it. He was only 33 years old and a cook on our boat, with a salary of about $65.00 a day. He should have been in Ripley's Believe it or Not.
Two guys once gathered sea shells and coral from offshore (about 200 pounds of it) and stored it in their car until the time came for them to get off two weeks later. It was summertime and the heat was about an average of 85 degrees every day. You could smell the car a half a mile away from it. I don't know how they drove it home without becoming a deathly ill.
A young man who owned two bars in Mobile, Alabama talked about them the whole trip and we just had to see them and meet all the pretty girls he had working there, so we took him home as he didn't have a car. By the time we got to Mobile the bars were shut down and being remodeled. So let's just drive by and look at where they are! Oh no we can't do that either, he said for some reason. So the bars stayed where they had always been, a figment of his imagination.
The deckhand from North Central Louisiana who had 200 marijuana plants growing in his back yard, talked about how much money he was going to make off them, all the time. Yeah, growing some top of the line stuff he said, until he called home one day and his Mother told him she had cut them all down with a bush hog because she saw some helicopters flying over! Helicopters are common place in Louisiana. So easy come, easy go.
I once went to the home of a guy that I worked with all the time just for a short visit. Showing me around his home he said, "How do you like my new sofa?" I said, "Fine it's very nice". He said, "It's an Early Dumpster". I had heard of Early American and Early English Walnut and so on, so I acted very impressed, trying to be nice of course. Then he said, "Do you know what that means? An early dumpster special?" Of course I didn't. He said, “That’s when you go out early in the morning near these nice apartment complexes
Pick up furniture they put out by the trash dumpster! I was both amused and stunned.
Two guys who lived in Florida were getting off the boat on the same day but one was leaving about 3 hours before the other. This was back before I-10 was finished and the people going east had to drive on highway 90 and they had to travel on the coast road through Mississippi. One drove a medium size nondescript car while the second one to leave had a baby blue Ford convertible. When they got back to the boat two weeks later they told this story. The first guy got a speeding ticket in Biloxi, Mississippi, so when the guy in the convertible who was driving at a high rate of speed was stopped by a patrolman in Biloxi and he said "I've been waiting on you", the guy scratched his head in question. 'What do you mean you have been waiting on me?" he said. "Well", the patrolman said, "I caught your friend coming through here about 3 hours ago and he said that if I thought he was going fast, I should wait on that baby blue Ford convertible that would be coming through here in about three hours!" With friends like that you don't need any enemies!!
Then there was the youngster who was very proud of his new job as a deck hand on a boat. He was very happy he was working, so while the captain was sleeping, he was painting with red primer on the outside of the boat which was a gray boat. He painted in huge letters on the side "I luv you, bot". Luck was with him for his shipmate saw it and painted over it with gray before the captain woke up. He was lucky he had a job after that day.
We are often asked how the weather out here is when there is a low pressure over the gulf and high winds and seas, usually by our kin folks. We just say it in good old Cajun French; Ruff in de Guff!
Or when the weather is especially bad like when a hurricane or a tropical storm is out there, we say it's so rough the Seagulls are looking for life jackets, ha.
One week when we had not been able to go to the store on the day we should have, groceries were getting very short. One of the crew in the wheel house said, "I'm going down and get me something to eat". The Mate asked him, “what are you going to do make a wish sandwich?" "What is that the man asked?" “Why that is when you get two pieces of bread and wish there was something between them!"
Written and compiled by
Chester R. Martin
NO HUNTING AT ALL 823 words
What would you do if you came upon a deer in the woods which had been shot at close range and left there?
Such was the case about a year ago. My parents owned some land in a section of the country where deer are plentiful every year. The land was had been leased by a hunting club for several years and I thought they were responsible people.
My parents had been worried for some time about the lines of the property and the survey stakes and wanted their children and grandchildren to walk over the land to make sure we knew where the lines were. At the time they were getting up in age and wanted to leave things clear when they passed on to a better world.
I, my sister's husband and his son and my nephew took off last January to do their bidding. After going over one of the four lines, we left to get some food and drink from our vehicles which we had left on the main road. As we walked through the brush we came upon a recently killed doe. It was dead, of course. It was not doe season at this time and we were shocked to see it lying almost in the middle of a well used path. We decided to try to get the lease cancelled after hearing from the hunters they had not picked it up because it was too skinny.
After talking to some game wardens and the state wildlife board, we found that it was against the law to not recover a killed animal. When I got a copy of the Hunting lease from my Mother, I read that it could not be canceled even by her descendants. That became a factor when I was told that our parents would deed the land to us in a month or two. I contacted the hunting club and asked that the lease be cancelled, but was answered by a registered letter that it would be quite impossible in any case.
I then contacted an attorney in the state capital who was a member of a hunting club himself and explained the situation to him and how we found the doe they admitted shooting. He immediately sent a letter to the concerned club president demanding they give up the lease and all claims to the property, or face a court trial.
Returning to my home in southern Louisiana, I eagerly awaited the letter from the club I expected, but when none came I talked to my sister and she promised me she would attempt to reconcile the problem. Later she told me she had called the President of the club and told him, "I was told by my Mother and others of my family that you were a God fearing man and that you were very active in your church, and that you represented this to my parents when they gave you the lease. Now we, my parents, and my brother and I want you to give up the lease and act in good faith as a Christian man would do."
After conversing a little more, he promised he would see if the other members would concede to this.
When she told this to me I said that I was ready to take them to court and the check for the lease that she had received should be marked void and sent to me so I could forward it to my attorney. She assured me that the man sounded like he would try to let us have our way and that I should let the Lord take control of it and do it his way. I was doubtful but then so have others been in the past. I told her I would wait until the last part of August which was a reasonable time. About the first of August she called to tell me she had received a letter from the President of the club and that he sent his copy of the lease and another paper that canceled it forever. He said that the other members wanted to hold the lease but he was able to persuade them to see things his way.
I immediately tried to take the credit for the accomplishment but my sister and my wife told me in no uncertain terms it was the Lord who should receive all the credit. I did thank Him for his intervention and promised I would try not to be so shallow and neglectful in the future.
I also hope and pray that there will not be another unmerciful
killing of any animal in the future, especially on our land.
I do not consider myself to be an animal activist in any way but I felt compelled to take some kind of action and I am glad I did.
Written by Ross Martin
September 30, 1995
Friday, November 4, 2011
Here was a farmhouse with a chicken house and a fenced yard. Over on one side there is an iron black wash pot used to boil water for washing clothes. It is heated till the water is boiling from wood added around the pot. A wash stick bleached white half the way down, used to stir the clothes and to lift them out of the water where Red Devil Lye has been added to help clean them. “Don’t touch that stick, granny will take a peach tree switch after she makes you go and get it and blister you good.
Then the wash bench built out of boards holding three wash tubs, a number 2 and two number threes. The small one is the soap tub because that is the first one the clothes are put in and it has the rub board in it where all the scrubbing is done. This is also where we kids bathe once a week, after the clothes are finished. The girls get to go first before the boys of course. Still am not sure why.
When we had visitors like in the summer when our distant cousins would come down we use to play outside while the adults were in the house doing who knows what. Playing king of hill by standing on the bench seeing is someone else could pull us off. We used a brown paper sack as a crown.
I still have a picture around somewhere of me with that sack on my head. Then one day I fell off the bench and broke my arm. I was rushed to town to the doctor who put a cast on my arm that I was so proud of and I got it signed by everyone.
Then there was the ice man, who came every week to put a block of ice in your ice box (later named a refrigerator) and when he did not show up for some reason we had to take the butter and milk and whatever else we had there and put in the water bucket and lower it into the well to keep it from spoiling.
There was old water well with the bucket hanging on a well used rope. Nearby the dipper hangs on a rusty nail ready to provide a drink of the cool, almost cold water that can be drawn from below. His well is so wonderfully placed in the shade of a huge oak tree, so it all never gets too much sun in the summer.
The tree trunk was measured two or three times by us kids and it was about 18 ½ feet around. It might have been written about in a local paper with a picture of it too.
The farm was located near a town of about 800 people back then, of course the school was made up of kids from all the surrounding county, I guess the school buses ran for miles to bring them all in. There was a red dirt road by our place that became a quagmire when it rained about a mile long. We called it a mile anyway from the school house which we had to fall, spring and summer. It was only about one car wide but then we did not have a car and there were only an occasional one then that passed. I remember the mail man had an old jeep he drove, probably for the four wheel drive in case he slid off the road. And the red mud was at least a foot deep in places. Walking through it we had to wear mud boots or galoshes’ and bring our regular shoes in a paper sack to school so we could change.
There was a willow tree swamp not far from the lane that led from the house to the road. It was only about ½ mile square and it had water most of the time except when it did not rain in the summer.
Did I mention that we lived on a sharecropper farm, so my sister and I had to get up in the morning and feed the chickens, pick up the eggs, feed the dog, cat and cows after we had milked them. When they had not gone dry that is, because they had not had a calf recently. And truthfully I know what is to cry over spilt milk, after I had a brimming bucket full one time the cow was swatting her tail at a horse fly and kicked the bucket and it went to the ground wasted.
We also had a horse on one time but he died after getting over a fence and eating his fill of purple hull green peas. His stomach blew up like a balloon and my uncle pushed a hole in it and the gas came out whoosh! But it still died. Had to borrow the sharecropper’s mule to pull it off away from the barn where we would not smell it.
Saying all that to say I was starting to walk home from school one day when some school mates pulled up in their car and offered me a ride. The boy on the passenger side jumped in the back seat and I sat up front. It was a convertible Henry J car with the top down. The driver was going down the road at fairly high speed (maybe about 35 which for that narrow curvy road was high speed) for me since I had not ridden in car like that before. I told him to slow down on this bad road. He said you don’t like the way I drive here you drive handing me the steering wheel he had removed. ” I screamed you will kill us all!” then I saw he had a pair of pliers clamped on the steering shaft to control it by then we were pulling up at the front of the lane.
When we were children nothing can harm us, and heaven forbid that before TV. Wal-Mart and Toys or Us noting to entertain us so we made our own as I am sure you have heard. The digital age was not even imagined in comic books.
We had our ever present stick that could be made into anything we could dream up, a rifle, a sword, a flying witch broom, or a cudgel as in Robin Hood.
So wandering about the fields and woods as children we find many fascinating things like bugs, grasshoppers, daddy long leg spiders which we pulled the legs off one at a time; Whee, what fun.
One time we found some real pretty purple berries on some bushes and decided to use them to help make our mud pies look better, so we picked them. My sister and I got the purple and red juice all our hands and arms. I am surprised we did not use it as face paint to be little Indians. But wait! When we went up to the house and grandmother saw us we caught it! Did we ever?
So after bathing and covering up with calamine lotion we go tour rear ends tore up. You could spank kids back then, we had never heard of lawyers or the ACLU. We suffered with the itching and irritation, but oh what fun it was before we knew that it had been poison Sumac.