Did I tell you about the time my Uncle Mumford broke the Hammer? Not what you are thinkin’. Uncle Mumford an Aunt Louise live over to Rye Cove, Louise were a Boxley, you know from over to Pennington Gap. The Boxleys quite prominent, they was. Own the grist mill, have a bakery and run the general store over there. Prosperous, too, they were. But Louise, she fall hard for Mumford. Meet him at a community sing. Mought be his mellow voice win her over afore she even get to know him. I dunno. Anyways, they been wed now over fifty year, so I guess things work out.
But the time I speak of now, Mumford were still a young man, oh, not all that young; had teenage kids ‘n all. Now he work for Carter Boskin. Carter were the Hammer. That’s whut I call him, on account ever’body look to Carter like he is a nail needin' ta be driv. Demandin’est, meanest, onriest ol’ skinflint ever come through the Gap. Like the Boxleys over to Pennington, Boskin own up most the main bidness in Rye Cove. But he nothin’ like the Boxleys who is the kindest, honestest folk on the face a th’earth. Anyway, Carter, he think since Mumford work for him for fifteen year that he had him pretty well hammered, could tell him to do whatever he want. Now Mumford, he run the shoe shop for Boskin, an’ he were a fine craftsman, make leather goods and shoes the envy of ever’one. So Boskin get it in his head to open another shoe shop over to Big Stone Gap, an’ he tell Uncle Mumford to go on over to the Gap two days a week and work out that shop.
“Say what?” my Uncle ask. How I’ma get to and from Big Stone Gap?”
Carter not used to being questioned, roar, “What good is that new Ford you got, you don’t drive it? You take your car, of course."
”What kind travel allowance I get for thet?”
“I give you two dollars a week. More’n enough to pay fer the gas for two trips. You come out ahead.”
“I come out ahead? Whut about the tarrs, an’ whut about th’ wear ‘n tear on my vehicle? Whut about th' extry time? I cain’t do that fer two dollars a week.”
“You cain’t do that?” Carter raises his voice even higher, shout, “You cain’t do that? You will do that. You work for me, ‘n I give the orders around here.”
“Whut did you say?”
Very calmly, and with no rancor in his voice, Mumford reply, “I say ‘No.’ I will not do that for two dollars. You add hours to my week, you give me no raise, an’you jus’ tell me to wear my car out to make you e’en richer’n whut you already are. No.”
“That, Mr. Miller,” in his iciest tone, “is insubordination.”
“Yer farred! Get offa my propity.”
So then, you mought ask, were you attendin’ to my tale, how did Mumford Miller break the Hammer? Mumford start a shoe shop in his home, a back-alley operation ya mought say. Warn’t hardly weeks gone by twel Mumford had all the bidness he had over to Boskin’s store, ‘n Boskin with the new shoemaker he had harr’d, youngster fum Kingsport, had nothin’ goin’ on in his store. Couldn’t pay the he'p, whole place a drain on his re-sources. Carter were some mad, but he swallow his pride and go to Mumford, beg him to come back, offer him more money, no foolishments about travelin’ ta Big Stone Gap.
“No,” said Mumford. “I have a thrivin’ bidness my own now, I don’t need ta work fer any old penny-pinchin’ skinflint, and thet 'specially means you, Mr. Boskin.”
“I understand. But, truth be told, thet store is killin’ me. Tell you whut I’ll do. I’ll sell you the equipment an’ the building as she stand. Nothin’ down, say $90 a month twel you pay me off.”
“I din’t hear anything about how many months this $90 go on.”
“Why a bargain like that, you will want to retarr in twenty year. So, until you retarr. Then I will pass the deed over to you. You sell or rent the buildin'. Nice nest egg fer your old age.”
“So again I am workin’ for you.” Tell you whut I will do. I’ll move my bidness into thet building, change the name to “Miller and Boskin,’ give you one American dollar, cash money, an’ in exchange you will give me the deed to the buildin’ and a bill of sale for the contents. Your name will still be in the eye a the community ‘n you will have nothin’ whatsoever to do with the bidness outside a thet.” Take it or leave it.”
He tuk hit.
© 2014 David W. Lacy
© 2014 David W. Lacy