Transcribed by Rae Wayne
June 2, 1949
* CAL’S COLUMN *
In our recollections of the Pleasant Shade section we have already recorded a number as given in our last two or three articles. However there are others that perhaps will soon be forgotten and lost if they are not recorded in print and here goes again.
One April 1st, many years ago, which is sometimes called All Fools’ Day, our uncle by marriage, J. P. Shoulders, commonly known as “Doctor” Shoulders, left his home on Towtown Branch about two miles west of Pleasant Shade and went to “the store” as going to Pleasant Shade and other small towns used to be called. Soon after he arrived in Pleasant Shade, he was told by some prankster that there was a snake 40 feet long at the Bob Cleveland Store. He went to that place, to be told that it had been carried up to the next store which was operated by Sanderson and Parkhurst. Here he was informed that the hugh snake had been carried over to Mann Sloan’s Store, which was then across the creek from the main part of town. On arrival at Sloan’s Store, he was told that the big reptile had been carried to still another store. After he had gone over Pleasant Shade two or three times he realized that it was only an “April Fool.”
J.P. Shoulders was a remarkable man in several ways. He had fine memory and was the best informed man we ever knew in law, not to be a lawyer. He was a farmer, but his mind inclined toward law. Had he been educated and his mind trained in law, there is not a doubt that he would have made a highly successful attorney. We often wondered if his was not another instance of a man’s missing his calling. We recall one funny incident connected with his life. Many years ago, “Uncle Doctor” as we called him, had a habit of asking his acquaintainces as they passed along the road near his home where they were going. One of these was our good friend, Elder Henry Oldham, who died a few years ago. He was at the time to which we refer a young boy getting nearly grown. He sometimes did not like to tell Mr. Shoulders where he was going, although he had been frequently asked by Mr. Shoulders who wanted to know young Oldham’s destination. Mr. Shoulders’ house was than about 75 yards from the road. One day as young Oldham approached the Shoulders home, he called out, “O, Mr. Shoulders, come down to the road a minute.” Mr. Shoulders left his home, and walked down to the road, arriving as Oldham rode up. Oldham, without stopping his mule said: “I just wanted to tell you that I was going to Dixon Springs.” Mr. Shoulders who felt that he had been let down considerably, replied, “Heep, you’re mighty smart.”
On another occasion Oldham and other boys were out at Christmas time to “throw water on innocent parties,” as they had opportunity. On this particular night, the weather being extremely cold, they had two of their number to take a two-gallon bucket of water each and post themselves besides the door of a prospective “victim” while others remaining some distance away would call their intended victim to the door. As soon as the party called opened the door to answer the cry or call, he would be struck by four gallons of water, half of it coming from one side and the remainder from the other side. On the particular night referred to “Uncle Doctor” was called to the door twice and almost drowned with the icy water. This kind of “fun” would not be tolerated in this day and time, but it was common 40 to 50 years ago in the Pleasant Shade and other sections. One of the party, who is still living, and whose father was then alive, said after Mr. Shoulders had “gotten the works,” “Boys,” let’s go call Pa out and wet him.” His father was then an old man, but it was considered great fun to dash a few gallons of water on even old men. However, in this instance, they did not call out any other victim that night.
Another custom of that day and time was to get folks “ready to move.” Let a man leave home at Christmas time, his neighbor boys would go to the mans house, take a wagon down, so as to carry it into the house, then re-assemble the wagon, and load everything in the house in the way of furniture on the wagon and leave it in this way when the family returned home. We recall a number of instances of this kind, one of them being an occasion when the boys did not use a wagon, but dragged a ground sled into the house and loaded all the contents of the house on the sled, including the cook stove. On another occasion, some boys took a man’s buggy wheel off the vehicle, climbed a tall, young sycamore tree carrying the wheel to the very top of the tree which had numerous limbs. The top of the tree was removed with an ax, then the top or stub left of the tree was trimmed so that the buggy wheel would fit over it and fit tight. Then the prankster climbed down the tree, cutting off every limb smoothly and so near the tree that it was not possible to climb it. When the owner of the buggy returned home, he discovered the missing buggy wheel at the top of the tree. Having no ladder long enough to reach the wheel and perhaps being “hot under the collar,” he seized his axe and began chopping down the tree. When it fell, the force of the tree tore the buggy wheel into numerous pieces and the wheel was ruined. We have perhaps already related an episode of the long ago that involved our father’s first cousin, Gabe Beal. Gabe was then a young man, he and his wife, the former Betty Shoulders, living then on the hillside above the homeplace of our old great grandfather, Big Tom Gregory, on the waters of Nicojack Branch, and about four miles from Pleasant Shade. Gabe and his wife left home one Christmas Eve to spend the night. On returning home next morning, Beal looked toward his house which stood on the hillside and noticed that his horse, old Charlie, was standing with his head out of the open kitchen window. His reactions were manifested in his words which were as follows: “Confound it if they ain’t put Old Charlie in the kitchen.” The boys who wanted some fun had taken the horse out of his stall, carried him to the upper said of the house where the ground was on a level with the kitchen floor, opened the kitchen door and led the animal in, right among the things in the kitchen, including the stoves, chairs, table, and even the flour barrel. The lower end of the kitchen was perhaps three or four feet off the ground, and the window was the old, open type that had no glass in it and which generally stood open. Some times a shutter was used on such windows. The wonder was that the horse’s weight did not crush the floor through and break the animal’s legs. But no real harm took place, although we have an idea that a prank like that today would bring an order for an arrest.
In Pleasant Shade, there lives today our father in the ministry, Elder C. B. Massey. He was not above some pranks in his early life and he did not get over some of them until he was 75 years old. We recall one that took place many years ago. He was passing a man’s home with a drawing knife in his hand, and noticed that a wagon wheel was lying on the ground. Not far from the wheel was the stump of a small tree which had been cut down. The idea came to the Captain’s mind that it would be great fun to trim the stump and leave it. He took his drawing knife and soon had the stump trimmed down to a nice fit for the thimble of the wheel. Then he took the wheel, placed it over the stump and drove the wheel down with perhaps all the strength he then had and he was a strong man. By and by the owner returned home, to find his wagon wheel fastened hard to the stump. He tried to work the wheel off, but to no avail. Finally as a last resort, he took his grubbing hoe or mattock and began to dig up the stump on which his wheel had been placed. Hours of hard work were required for this task, as the owner of the wheel had to dig our a hole wider than the wheel and as deep as the roots of the tree went down. Perhaps a half day of time was required to get the stump out of the ground.
On still another occasion many many years ago, the same man, then young, with a company of his buddies, came upon a man’s one-horse wagon. The owner not being around, these boys decided to have some fun. Nearby was a small tree and there were enough of the boys to bend it over. This they did and while it was bent over, they fastened the man’s wagon to the tree so that it would resume its normal position. It took with it the man’s wagon, which was then high enough in the air that when the owner found it, he was afraid to cut the tree down to recover his wagon. He finally had to call in enough neighbors to let the wagon down in a careful manner. Perhaps we have said enough about the pranks for this article.
We mentioned Towtown Branch. We often wondered how this stream which runs into Peyton’s Creek about a mile below Pleasant Shade, got its name. We have finally been told by Judge Webb Allen of Dixon Springs, that in the long ago, the salary of Methodist preachets was paid in part in tow, which was part of the flax plant, which was ready for spinning. Those living in pioneer days on what is now called Towtown Branch, took their tow and went to town, wherever that was, to pay their church dues. So the stream today bears the name of Towtown Branch.
One other incident of the long ago has come through our family. As a boy, we used to hear the expression, “As mad as Joel was when ‘Hashun’ died.” We heard this perhaps a hundred times in our youthful days. But we did not know of its origin until a few years ago. Our father and his people were continually saying, “As mad as Joel was when ‘Hashun” died.” We once asked our father what it meant, and he did not know. Later we learned that Joel Gregory, who was a brother of our great grandfather, Major Gregory, married a Miss Hesson, then called “Hashun.” This marriage was blessed with a number of children, one of whom later became the mother of Bill Sam and John Sam Jenkins. There was also a son and the story centers around the son, Gregory’s wife is said to have had a brother, who is reported to have died perhaps unexpectedly. The son, young Gregory, was in Pleasant Shade when he heard that his uncle was dead. On learning of the death of his mother’s brother, the youth said: “Pap will be made as hell. He owed Pap $5.00 that he never will get now.” So this became a saying that continued for perhaps nearly a hundred years in the writer’s family. This will be enough for the present. But we plan to take up other items later and perhaps next week.