Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dancin' at the Grange

Did I ever tell you 'bout the time Shorty Jenkins whup Nate Skinner?  Shorty, ever'body call him Shorty so long, twel no one rightly know him by ary other name.  Waal, he were short.  Sometime people tag a moniker like "Shorty" on some tall drink a water, or they mought call a man-mountain "Pee Wee," sorta sarcastic in a funny kind a way, ef you know whut I mean.  But Shorty, he were short.  Stand maybe five-two in his work boots.  Prolly weight 97 pound, but he warn't a weaklin', no sir.  He were a powerful man, an' ever'one in these parts know thet.  I one time saw him move a upright pi-ana offa his truck into his house by hisself.  Offered to he'p, an' he on'y grin and say, Stand back, Gramps, 'n I'll l'arn you a thang or two.

So anyhow Shorty's wife, Tressa, even now in her forties, is a moughty fine figger of a woman.  She know hit, but she is modest, don't flaunt herself none, and Shorty know hit, and he accept thet the fellas is gonna wanna spend time talkin' to Tress when they are out to a social or whatever.  'N he don't mind, on account he know she is goin' home with him.  She never give a fella any wrong notions, an' she never give Shorty any cause to worry.  They got four boys, 'n ary one an 'em could pass for "Shorty, Junior," an' they got that girl, Alana, right in the middle a'n 'em, 'n she is purtier than a pitcher, her mama all over again.

So Nate, he come over here f'um Wichita, or maybe Tulsa, I fergit right now, but the thing is he warn't f'um around these parts.  Now Nate was a bit of a looker, an' he fancy hisself to be the cat's pajamas, doncha know.  So he been aroun' here oh, maybe five-six months, not long enough to know much, or to be much known, 'n he decide to go over to the dance on Sattidy night, a good enough thing to do, on account a near ever'one would be there.  Waal, to shorten this up a bit, Tressa dancin' with Jake Waters, 'n at the time, Shorty was sittin' in with the band, Prairie Ramblers, hit were.  Shorty play a right mean fiddle, an' all the bands around know him and ask him to he'p them make some music.  So Tressa capture Nate's eye as he were awatchin' the merriment.

So after th' number, Tressa havin' some lemonade and laughin' it up with some a th' gals, Nate saunter over and inject hisself into the group, so to speak.  After awhile amongst much laughter and banter, a number or two gone by, the band strike up one a them waltzy thangs, 'n Nate say to Tressa, he say, "Mought I have the honor of this dance?"

"Why, certainly, Sir, I would be delighted."

So then they are on the floor dancin', when of a sudden Tress break away f'um Nate and flounce offa th' floor.  Shorty f'um the stage see that purty yella dress, the teeny, tiny waist, all those crinolines underbeneath a th' skirt, the one allus make his heart go pit-a-pat, go a swingin' over to'rd the punch bowl.  Nate just ahind her; but Shorty get to her afore Nate did.

"What's goin' on?" Shorty ask.  Now he know hit ain't usual fer Tressa to leave the floor middle a dance.

"Nothin', really,"  Tress smile at him, but he ha'n't been married to her twenty-five year an' he not know somethin' happen out there.

"Aw, c'mon now," Nate clomp up 'n chime in, "you know I was on'y funnin' with you."

"Okay, Mr. Fun Times, whut did you do yonder?" Shorty.

"Let hit go, Godfrey, hit were no big deal."  I never hear Tress, nor nobody else, fer that matter, call Shorty "Godfrey."  Godfrey.  No wonder ever'one call him Shorty.

"No," Shorty assert, "I will know right now what happen."

"He only suggest we go outside and 'get some air,'" say Tressa, looking Nate square in the eye when she say it.

"Yeah," Nate say, "an' whut bidness is it of your'n anyhow?"

Shorty square his shoulders and rear up to his full five foot two, look up a foot into Nate's eye an' say, "You invite my wife outside, you invite me outside.  Le's go.  Now."

"Wait a minute; wait a minute."  That's Preacher chimin' in.  "No use anyone gettin' hurt.  Apologize to this fine couple, Oklahoma."

"Say whut?  Apologize to this meddlin' fiddle sawyer?  I'll stuff him down the middle hole in yon outhouse!   Ow-w-w-w!"  For by this time Shorty had Nate's right arm twist ahind Nate's back, hand plumb up atween his shoulders, and was amarchin' him to'ard th' door.

As the two combatants plunge thoo th' open door, Shorty use his left boot to pro-pel Nate eight-ten feet ahead, where the lummox land on his face in the dirt.  Shorty atop him in a trice.  "Who is astuffin' who where?" holler Shorty as he pull the left arm up, up, "Ow-w-w-w!"

"Sorry!" holler Oklahoma.  "Hit won't happen again."

"See thet hit don't.  An' be keerful who you messin' with aroun' these parts.  Learn to mind yer manners, if'n you have any, an' you'll get along jes' fine."

Shorty go back into the hall, walk up onto the stage and pick up his fiddle.  As he pull the bow across the strings, he look across the floor to spot thet gorgeous thang in the lovely yella dress, she a sashayin' with Rex Wilson.

I reckon Nate went on home.

© 2014 David W. Lacy

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Grammar Lesson Comma Again

For one who aspires to write, yet one who largely ignored the instruction offered in his various English classes in his youth, it seems it is never too late to learn.  Commas, their usage and placement, have long been a mystery to me.  I have used them freely when the need seems apparent to me, and I have used them on occasion when I was in doubt, though as a general rule when in doubt I leave them out.  Now, however, I am working at the task of learning proper comma usage with respect to appositives.  It seems, one may learn if he applies himself to a grammar text, that there are two types of appositives: non-restrictive and restrictive.

In the case of the non-restrictive appositive commas are required to set the word or phrase of which it consists apart from the rest of the sentence.

  •   Example:  The dog, a brindle shepherd, greeted us at the gate.

As you see in this example, the phrase “a brindle shepherd” serves to describe the dog, but it is not necessary to the sense of the statement, for the sentence “The dog greeted us at the gate” makes sense without the descriptor.  Non-restrictive appositive.

In the case of the restrictive appositive, the sentence requires the appositive in order to convey the thought. No commas are used.

  •   Example:  The book The Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown is based on a false premise.

Here we have that the appositive “The Da Vinci Code” is required to convey the writer’s message.  Dan Brown has written many other books.  Restrictive appositive.

(Or is the appositive "The Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown"?  Oh, snap.  Well, no commas in either event.
(Or is the phrase "written by Dan Brown" a non-restrictive appositive within an appositive? And if so should the sentence read: The book the Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown, is based on a false premise."?

Thus I have demonstrated my lack of grammatical knowledge.  Do you see why I paid little attention in class?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Rabbits

Sometime during that time frame in which I was between seven and ten years of age, Sister always two years my junior, we had rabbits.  My clever male parent, I see in retrospect, determined to raise rabbits for the purpose of consumption of same at our dinner table.  Ever the one to kill as many birds as he could with one stone,  Dad acquired two adult does of breeding age.  I think in the case of rabbits that that is almost anytime after the bunny is weaned.  But I digress.  Now the father had constructed two very nice hutches and placed them at the back of the property, next to the outhouse.  But he did not throw the rabbits into their new homes and start raising bunnies.  No.  He "gave" a doe to me and one to my sister.

How wonderful is this?  Now, each child has a "pet" rabbit, along with the requisite care one must bestow on a pet.  You see how this works? Already, Dad not only has breeding stock for table meat, he has caretakers for the project, caretakers who can "learn" responsibilities and the routines that accompany them.  Oh, no one ever said my father was not a clever man.

Now, you might ask, "But how, with only two does, are you to obtain offspring?"  Why that is the easiest thing in the world.  The neighbor directly across Seventh Street from our house had rabbits of his own, and he had a buck!  This buck would visit our rabbits, betimes.  And always, always a month after the visit, both does would have a litter of offspring.  These were not pets, no matter how cute they were.  They were Dad's property.  The upside of that is that he took care of turning them into meat, stretching and hanging their hides and so on.  And after Mama worked her magic, we enjoyed them at the dinner table!

My pet was a beautiful gray rabbit, blue eyes and of the sweetest disposition any animal ever had.  Sis's rabbit was a white doe, pink eyes and schizophrenic.  That is not an official APA diagnosis, it is my conclusion in retrospect after observing her behavior for two or three years.  The night she had her first litter, she gnawed her way out of her hutch, carried her babies to the nearby sweet corn patch and buried them.  This warned Father that in future he would be required to remain alert to the birthing process so that he could remove the infants from harm's way.  This also meant that my lady bunny had to double up on nursing responsibilities, and sometimes that meant as many as 22 children to care for.

Fortunately, we took no rabbits with us when we moved.  But chickens were in our future.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Red Baron

I have never been a fan of "war stories"and have read little on the topic outside the history books.  I have not been unaware of the human proclivity of man to off his fellow-man.

At any rate, as the anniversary of the death of the noted "Red Baron" approached, I did a bit of reading, just to remind myself that war not only is, but has always been, hell.

Curse you, Red Baron!

Manfred von Richthofen had 80 certified "kills" and probably many more, totaling perhaps more than one hundred.  This is the most kills of any WWI fighter pilot on either side of the conflict.  The next five had, respectively, 75, 72, 61, 60, and 57 confirmed "kills"  with probably a significant number more not confirmed by the records.

What does it tell us?  Six men destroyed more than 400 planes, and each man was regarded as a hero. Killing is heroic.  Some killing is heroic.  Whether one is a hero or a villain when he kills is dependent not upon the taking of a human life, but upon when and where, and how, the killing took place.

Von Richthofen met his demise over the Somme on April 21, 1918.  Whether the shot that took his life was from the ground or from the air has been disputed and debated for the better part of a century, and books have been written about it.

Allied Major Blake organized a funeral  with full military honors for von Richthofen.  One of the wreaths presented by a fighter squadron was inscribed "To Our Gallant and Worthy Foe." 

The baron lived twenty-five years.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

O! Happy Day!

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose!

Hallelujah! Christ arose!

--Robert Lowry, 1826 - 1899

Pedro, Juan y Maria Magdalen en el sepulcro vacio
Jaime Dominguez Montes

He died that you might be saved. He arose that you might live with Him eternally!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Low in the grave He lay—
  Jesus my Savior!
Waiting the coming day—
  Jesus my Lord!

--Robert Lowry

Friday, April 18, 2014

 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. --I John 3:16