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Final chapter in the parade of possums . . .

This posting was prompted by an e-mail from my son-in-law in Wylie, Texas extolling his success in removing a possum from his attic, one that had effectively kept the family awake for many nights. This was the first of two possums he removed from the attic—the first one he captured fared well—that worthy was benevolently released into the wild. The second one that succumbed to the lure of a baited trap would pay the ultimate price for its continued rambling at night in the upper reaches of the house at Seis Lagos in Wylie, Texas.

You can read his description of the penalty applied to the second rambling rodent here—well, possums are not really rodents, however much they may look like a giant rat. They are, in fact, marsupials—much maligned marsupials.

This is my response to his e-mail:

Reading this thrilling saga of the successful conclusion to your PETA (Possums Everywhere in The Attic) problem took me back to the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.

Yep, I was there, except for 1930,1931 and the first eight months of 1932—I began my sojourn on our planet on the nineteenth day of the ninth month of 1932, and so far it has been a great ride. Actually the ride began some nine months earlier. Should your interest be titillated (by my birth, not by my conception), that event and related personal information can be found here, titled “Unto you this day a child was born . . .

For three decades (the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s), the exploits of Frank “bring ’em back alive” Buck dominated the American media. He was portrayed on radio and in newspapers, magazines, movies, newsreel shorts, comic strips, comic books and full-length novels as a great hunter and humanist that preferred to capture wild animals rather than slaughter them and mount their heads on walls.

He also purchased wild animals, probably far more than he captured, and sold them to zoos and any other organization in need of exotic animals, His humane treatment of them, however acquired, won him the sobriquet of “bring ’em back alive.” The term was not conferred on Buck—it was coined by the great hunter himself in a media interview, but was quickly adopted by the media, the American public and the rest of the world.

There is a plethora of Frank Buck information on the internet – just Google “Frank Buck” and you’ll get answers to questions you would never think to ask.

JUST A FEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Born 1894, died 1950 (lung cancer).

Married at 17 (the bride was 41).

Divorced, later married his “soul mate,” used profits from a poker game to finance the wedding.

Was particularly fond (?) of a female orangutan named Gladys – could find no specifics on her age, personal appearance or attributes, but she was reputed to be ‘highly intelligent.” I did learn from “The Free Dictionary ” that, as an orangutan, she was “one of the large anthropoid apes of the family Pongidae,” and that she had “long arms and arboreal habits.” (Hey, no wonder he was fond of her!)

Was a world famous hunter, explorer, author, actor and film director.

Fell out of favor in the ’40s because of his apparent racism and the divergence of the American public regarding the practice of confining wild animals in zoos rather than allowing them to live out their lives naturally in their natural habitats.

Made lots of money supplying animals to zoos – in fact, was commissioned by the city of Dallas in 1922 to populate its entire zoo.

Congratulations on your capture of this magnificent animal, and kudos on your decision to return him (or her, as the case may be) to the wild, even though he (or she, as the case may be) is probably traumatized, confused and bewildered by the abrupt uprooting from familiar and comfortable surroundings.

He (or she, as the case may be) will be drawn towards his former sumptuous surroundings (or hers, as the case may be), and the odds are very high (odds in reverse proportion to winning the Texas Lotto) that he (or she, as the case may be) will be deliberately flattened near the end of that journey by a Seis Lagos teenager exceeding the speed limit in an SUV.

Not really – I just made that up – I don’t believe it for one minute. What I do firmly believe is that your catch was a teenage possum. He was sad and lonely, and that’s why he stayed up most of the night, roaming the attic, pining over the loss of his sweetheart and keeping Kelley awake. His one true love was trapped by your next-door neighbor (remember?) and transported to (are you ready for this?) the same wooded area in which you released your possum.

By this time they will have been reunited and, perhaps at this very moment, are doing everything they can to increase the present possum population in Wiley, Texas (that has a nice alliterative ring—present possum population). And had you released him in Plano it would have increased Plano’s present possum population.

You will hereafter be known world wide, but particularly by everyone in your family and related families in Plano, Austin, San Antonio and elsewhere as  “Bring ’em back alive Brantley” (I’ll see to it by spreading the word). My heart swells with pride at your accomplishment and by your being a significant part of my family.

All seriousness aside, I’m glad you got the rascal–he loved pacing the attic floor above the Dyer Suite also.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2010 in actor and acting, Books, Family, Humor

 

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A shaggy dog story . . .

My mother remarried when I was nine years old, and for the next six years, for varying periods of time I had the privilege of living under the auspices of a stepfather. Those periods varied because several times during those years, for one reason or another, he banished his new family to other pastures. I suspect that each time he had accumulated enough of a grubstake to make it on his own for awhile without having three millstones around his neck, namely a wife and two children, he would precipitate a ruckus that would drive us away, in one instance a ruckus that included these remarks:

“Come on back to the house, kids, I won’t hurt you,” a sentence shouted from the front porch to the two children standing out in the road, poised to run. That supplication was followed by a louder and very sinister shout. He said very forcefully, “I’m going to get my shotgun,” and with that exclamation he disappeared into the house and the two kids disappeared down the road. That was the only time my sister ever managed to outrun me—she managed that by running so fast that she kicked up gravel in my face—yes, Virginia, it was a graveled road. I may possibly be exaggerating a bit, but only a bit—that she outran me is factual—I can neither explain nor deny it. We ran a short distance on the road alongside a pasture to a point where the woods began, then plunged into the forest and hid in the bushes and the underbrush.

And now I will leave my legions of viewers in suspense, undoubtedly wondering what started the fracas and how that episode turned out. I’ll finish that story in another posting because it was not the original subject for this posting, my shaggy dog story.

This is how it began:

My stepfather mandated that everyone in the family be gainfully employed, a mandatory requirement that extended to animals. He allowed no pets—no cats on the hearth and no lapdogs—he felt that if an animal did no work it was not entitled to be fed, and that included human animals. He would feed and groom, and if necessary medicate, a working dog but only as long as it produced. If a watchdog didn’t bark to ward off intruders, it shortly disappeared, ostensibly a runaway. If a hunting dog slacked off noticeably in its production of game, whether rabbit dog, squirrel dog or bird dog, that dog would also disappear and be labeled a runaway.

I have a memory, one dear to my heart and closely held, of a particularly lovely autumn day in the sovereign state of Mississippi. On that day I went squirrel hunting with my stepfather. We were accompanied by a small black-and-white female Cocker Spaniel named Lady, a beautiful little dog my stepfather had borrowed from a fellow hunter. The dog’s owner claimed that Lady was the finest squirrel dog in the state and perhaps the finest in the entire nation. At my stepfather’s request, the owner left her at our house some weeks before the scheduled hunt, and my stepfather courted her religiously during that period—he petted her and groomed her and hand-fed her, constantly assuring me that Lady, or any dog, would work best for a person they loved and trusted.

From this point on, the posting will be brief and brutal . . .

We entered the woods with Lady and began the hunt. For those not versed in the intricacies of squirrel hunting with a squirrel dog, the dog is trained to range far and wide through the woods to pick up the scent of a squirrel on the ground, then follow that trail to whatever tree the squirrel has ascended, and bark furiously until the hunter arrives and blasts the squirrel out of the tree. Our little hunter, however,  stayed right at our feet, so close that we had to walk carefully to avoid stepping on her, and she completely ignoring my stepfather’s exhortations to, “Hunt—hunt, damn it, hunt!”

He finally spotted a gray squirrel running along a high branch, and when it stopped to check us out my stepfather downed it with a blast from his 16-guage Browning, and with that roar our squirrel dog disappeared—we never saw her again. We tramped the woods for hours, but no amount of calling, whistling and cussing (that’s southern for cursing) could bring her back. The calling and whistling soon tapered off, but the cussing went on for an interminable length of time.

I was not privy to whatever agreement my stepfather reached with the dog’s owner, but armed with the knowledge that owners of great squirrel dogs take great pride in the dog and therefore sometimes place an inordinate value on it, I suspect that my stepfather paid handsomely for not returning Lady to her rightful owner.

That’s my shaggy dog story, and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2010 in Humor

 

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