Friday, February 3, 2017

Twin Marksmanship


Chapter 1

Cooter and Scooter Burrell, twin sons  of  Stephen and Elizabeth Burrell, were kicking up dust and general orneriness on their way to school, walking the two miles along with five  of their siblings,  two older, three younger than  their nine years.  They had two older sisters who had already completed their schooling and there were two little Burrells who  had yet to start the experience.

These two  boys were standouts at home and in the community for three reasons.  First, of the  eleven Burrell children they were the only boys; and second, they were red-haired, blue-eyed, freckle-faced  identical twins.  The third reason was that Scooter and Cooter very early in life learned to take advantage of the first two blessings  that the Good Lord had bestowed upon them.  It could go without saying that these little rapscallions were the apple of their father's eye.  Or apples.   One for each eye. Daddy did not believe they could do no wrong, for  they proved often that they could, but he was generous in his application of correction and the boys largely strove to walk  the straight and narrow.  This  is not  to  say that there were not times when Cooter took two  whuppins, one for himself and  one for  his  brother.

Then there was  the time that Cooter laid out  of school "sick" on the day of the big history test.  Scooter, who dearly loved history, went to school, took the  test.  The following day Cooter returned  to  school and when Teacher called  him to do the makeup of the test,  Scooter stepped  forward  and  stood  in for him.  Both  boys aced the  exam.  But  only one  of  them took  it.

Some curious person may be wondering about the names of these children, going so far perhaps as  to think I am making this up.   And perhaps  I  am.  But they were  always known  as  Cooter and Scooter and  always so  called.  The family Bible, though, which was passed down to my grandfather  from his great grandmother, Ardis Wilson, who was eldest sister to the Burrell boys, had the following entries on the "Births" page in  the family section dividing the testaments.

George Washington Burrell, February 6, 1837, 5 o'clock evening, Duffield, Virginia
Andrew Jackson Burrell, February 6, 1837, one quarter past 5 evening, Duffield, Virginia

A particular skill which the twins developed was marksmanship.  Father taught the boys to shoot  with an old flintlock pistol.  By the  time they were  twelve  years old  the  Burrell boys had each acquired a Hall Flintlock Rifle, a massive weapon  for a young  lad, but the boys were strong and determined.   By the time they were  fifteen they were not only "shooting the eyes out" of squirrels for the table, they were winning shooting competitions throughout the Clinch Valley.  At one such meet  "over to" Kingsport, Cooter and Scooter performed so identically that the judges could not pick a winner.  So Colonel Maynard with a paint pot and brush dabbed a bullseye on a sycamore tree.  He paced off fifty yards,  had the boys stand side by side with loaded arms and told them to take the shot on his mark.  "One, two, fire!"  Both rifles spat fire and the red paint spot on the tree disappeared.  But there was no other mark on the tree.  "One of them missed!" someone shouted.

"Nobody missed," stated Cooter, as he lay down his rifle and casually walked to the tree.   He took his knife and dug into the hole, removing not one but two balls.  The lads were declared co-champions. 


Secondary Roads said...

A might fine tale--be it true or otherwise.

vanilla said...

Chuck, thanks. Stay tuned; there's more.

Grace said...

Why does this name 'Burrell" sound familiar to me? Have we heard stories about them before? The physical description of them made me chuckle - I have a photo of my husband's son, age 8 or thereabouts, that would fits to a tee!

vanilla said...

Grace, the likeness is so exactly right! Thanks for sending. I do not know any Burrells, but perhaps, like me, you have heard the Statler Brothers singing "The Official Historian on Shirley Jean Berrell?

Vee said...

Mischievous boys, favoritism, closed little world of twins, schemes and secrets. Must be a true story!

vanilla said...

Vee, you saw all that in this little tale? What an eye! Some truths exist outside the realm of the physical world.