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Buster, a pit bull, or why I left the farm . . .

In my posting on March 20, 2010 regarding parched peanuts and skin crawling, I told how I left the farm for a few days to visit my mother and sister in Mississippi, some 30 miles west of the farm, and in my absence my cousin Ruby’s husband killed my dog, an American Pit Bull Terrier. I never learned how he was killed but I know why, and the purpose of this posting is to tell the heart wrenching story of Buster’s untimely demise. Click here to see the relationship between parched peanuts and crawling skin, and how my dog and I became farmers.

My most heartfelt hope at the time—a hope that has consistently remained with me over the intervening years—that hope was, and still is, that before the deed was done Buster was able to remove a few chunks of meat from his killer. Please don’t fault me too much for that hope—Bonnie had considerable meat to spare, and I have never wished that Buster could have reached his throat, even if just for a few seconds. Oh, okay, if it will make the reader happy, I probably would have been very sad had Buster taken him out—hey, I disliked the farmer, but I really loved that dog.

Buster was valuable, and several purchase offers had been made for him by surrounding farmers, all of which I declined. Bonnie knew that the dog was valuable, and I would like to believe he sold Buster to some kind farmer that needed him for watch dog services, or perhaps for breeding purposes, and that he—Buster, not the farmer—enjoyed a long and pleasant life, whether barking or breeding or both. Of course I wish the same for the farmer, provided that he had the same proclivity for similar activities.

Shortly after I left the farm to visit my family for Christmas, Bonnie—I’ll call him Bonnie because that was his name—killed my dog. I suppose it’s alright to out Bonnie now. Sixty-two years have passed since the hog/dog/ear/Bonnie incident. My guess would be that by this time Bonnie has gone to that heavenly farm where all farmers go, a place where no crop ever fails and market prices are always sky high (so to speak). Whether he was received or rejected on his arrival to that heavenly farm is, of course, a matter for conjecture. Whether received or rejected, I wish him well.

On a cool cloudless day in October of 1948—a day typical for west central Alabama in the fall—Bonnie and I walked a short distance from the house to cut wood for the kitchen stove. We found a suitable pine tree, felled it and cut it into stove-length blocks, and returned to the house to hitch up the mules and use the wagon to haul the blocks to the house. There they would be chopped into pieces suitable for stoking the kitchen stove.

Yep, that’s how it was done in those days—no electric or gas stoves or heaters because neither gas nor electricity had found their way to that rural area. Cooking and heating homes was strictly a wood-burning process. Our work in the woods was accomplished with a crosscut saw, a two-man-power item in use at the time. I am not aware whether power saws, electric or gas-powered, were available at the time. They may have been, but we would have needed a really long extension cord because the nearest plug–in was several miles distant. Ah, those were the good old days!

As we approached the house, Bonnie’s prized Poland China sow—a female pig— entered the picture. She had managed to escape her pen, and was apparently enjoying her new-found freedom, probably searching for acorns among the fall leaves covering the ground. Leaving her enclosure was a big mistake, both for Buster and for her—she should have stayed in the pen.

This was a young hog, not a piglet but a hog approaching adulthood, a hog probably somewhere in its teens. This was an attractive pig, attractive at least as pigs go, that Bonnie intended to show at county fairs and perhaps breed to raise pigs for the market. The Poland China breed, then and now, fetches good prices at  auctions, and some say that its meat is superior to other breeds.

Buster went with us to fell the tree. Everywhere I went, my dog went. I always felt that he was looking out for me, protecting me. I could leave him for any length of time, telling him to stay, and he would faithfully remain at that spot until I returned. I only needed to leave something of mine with him, anything—it could be my bike or cap or jacket, anything with my scent on it, and heaven help anyone that tried to relieve him of his guard duties. My dog and I understood each other, and he responded to a variety of commands from me.

Just as an aside, Buster had a strong dislike for cats and he periodically brought them home for my approval—dead, of course. Any neighborhood in which we lived had very few roaming cats, at least not after we had lived there for a significant length of time.

On this day he was ranging a short distance in front of us as we walked up the hill toward the house, and the hog was rooting in the leaves just ahead. Startled when she saw the dog, she squealed, snorted and took off through the leaves, obviously frightened by the dog. Buster reacted to the sights and sounds and charged, clamping down on her right ear and pulling her off her feet.

Bonnie and I tried to pull him off—I applied pressure to the pads of his feet with no effect, then actually put both hands around his neck trying to cut off enough air to make him release the hog. Bonnie picked up a fairly good sized limb from the ground and struck him with it several times, without any apparent effect.

Buster never released the ear—with the precision of a surgeon he separated the ear from it owner, leaving a smooth but bloody head on the right side. Then he seemed to lose all interest in the animal, and the hog did likewise—she ran several yards away, stopped and looked back wondering, I suppose, what part the dog might decide to remove next. Bonnie stopped beating him and I stopped trying to choke him, and after the surgery Buster was as docile as I had ever seen him.

I can’t say the same for Bonnie. I fear he lost some, perhaps most, of his religion given the string of expletives that followed, along with statements such as I’ll kill that #&*(@! dogI should have already killed him.

I tried to reason with him but he stalked off to find some medication for the hog, after ordering me to lock the dog up in the corn crib. I did as I was ordered, and kept him there for several days before leaving the farm for my visit with family for Christmas—the rest is history.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2010 in Humor, pets, Uncategorized

 

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Bus driver, or cowboy . . .

Preamble: A preliminary statement, especially the introduction to a formal document that serves to explain its purpose.

A preamble is normally written before a document—I’m adding this preamble after I posted the document below. My daughter, the one that lives, loves and works in Northern Virginia, the one that I love best, but don’t tell the other two daughters I said that—tasked me with answering several questions concerning the person in this photo. In the interests of levity, I assumed the character of a criminal investigator in analyzing the photo in response to my daughter’s request. I identified her merely as a relative in Virginia, and she took umbrage—this addition to the posting is my attempt to correct my blunder.  And in the interests of full disclosure, I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be a criminal investigator, not in Washington DC or any other location. I merely presented myself as such in order to bolster my analysis of the photo.

The photo is an accurate depiction of my mother’s youngest son—me—and virtually all of the information I posted is true. The only time I seriously strayed from the truth was the part about  studying photos from various high school yearbooks while working in the Washington DC area—I freely admit that it was a real whopper! However, that I worked in that area for three years is a true statement—so help me, you know Who.

Here is the original posting, unchanged. The only difference is the addition of the preamble above—my search for an antonym to preamble was fruitless. I suppose we could call it a postamblewe could run that term up the flagpole and see who salutes it!

I recently received this photo from a relative in Virginia, accompanied with a request for me to apply the training I received over many years in the field of law enforcement and answer as many of the questions below as I could, with the answers based on the expertise I acquired—expertise in the use of observational techniques and in the questioning routines I used in conversations with subjects suspected of various crimes.

These are the questions:

Tell me something about this fella—-where he was mentally and physically at this time…How old was he? What was he was thinking about? What aspirations did he have?  He looks so pensive and serious. What was he dreaming about?

It was an unusual request, but it posed a challenge for me. There are, of course, more visual and physical traits to be observed when faced with the actual suspect, but some definitive conclusions can be reached simply by studying a photograph.

This young man, for example, has an exceptionally well-formed head with an Adonis-like visage. Each feature—eyes, ears, nose, mouth, cheekbones and chin—are in perfect harmony with the other features. Any observer would view him as a handsome young lad, undoubtedly popular with the girls and envied by his male peers. That beautifully coiffed hair places the boy in the company of Narcissus, and at this age the lad undoubtedly spent lots of time looking into a mirror. Narcissus, of course, fell in love with a reflection in a pool, not realizing it was his own. The photograph reflects no doubt—this young fellow knows exactly what he sees in the mirror and he is well-pleased with the image, a pleasure bordering on self-adulation.

Whether this teenager ever enjoyed any significant contacts with the opposite sex based on his looks would be pure speculation, and an investigator never, ever speculates—any investigative conclusions must be based on demonstrable facts.

Some conclusions may instantly be made—the photo is that of a young boy, perhaps in his early to middle teen years—he is white, Anglo-Saxon, with perhaps a bit of the old Irish in him. His age is  somewhere between fourteen and fifteen years. He has a delightful sprinkling of freckles, indicating that most of his years have been spent in sunny southern climes in a state, or states, well below the Mason-Dixon line. The hair style is representative of those affected by youths in the middle to late 1940s. I believe this photo was taken in late 1946 or early in 1947.

The source of the photo can often be helpful. One can deduce that the photo is not the work of a professional portrait studio. If it were, it would show the company’s name and logo near the lower edge—Olan Mills, for example. By an unusual coincidence, I worked in the Washington, D.C. area for three years, and on an unrelated assignment I studied student photos in the yearbooks of  several schools in the DC area—although some 13 years have passed since the assignment, I still vividly remember the photos.

This photo, judging by the pose of the subject and the clarity of the portrait, matches very closely the attributes of yearbook photos taken of students at Suitland High School in the city of Suitland, Maryland—the photo in question was published in that school’s year book for the period cited.

An astute observer will instantly be drawn to the left eye—it’s ever so slightly squinted, caused by a deliberate but subtle lowering of the eye’s upper lid. No definite conclusions can be drawn from that squint, but  here are some possible causes:

It could be that the photographer is an attractive young female, and her subject is speculating on his chances of getting it on with her, a term similar with today’s term of making out. It could be that the photographer is a school staff member, one for which the subject has no particular fondness—the squint could be saying, “Don’t screw it up—either do it right, or don’t do it!”

That squint is, perhaps, in imitation of some Hollywood actor favored by the subject, and is thus used in such situations. I must confess that I use it, but infrequently, and I believe that one of my own three offspring also utilizes the squint as needed in certain situations.

This unusual and interesting habit of squinting one eye is sometimes reflected in a person or persons closely associated with the squinter—a brother or sister, or a relative of the squinter, perhaps a daughter or son—daughters and sons sometimes tend to imitate one or more habitual physical traits exhibited by their father.

That squinted left eye leaves me with the thought that this lad did, for one reason or another, not complete the current school year at this high school. He probably dropped out of class near the end of the second semester. His failure to complete the year may have been caused by having to relocate in a distant city, or because he converted his thoughts concerning the photographer into action, or perhaps he broke his leg while playing in an American Legion Little League baseball game, or for some other completely unrelated reason.

As for this lad’s aspirations for the future, that’s very difficult to discern. My best guess is that his aspirations at that time were similar to those of Jethro, of Beverly Hillbillies fame—Jethro vacillated between becoming a brain surgeon or a short-order cook.

I believe this lad, at this time in his life, vacillated between becoming an old-time cowboy, broad of shoulder and tall—yeah, good luck with that—and lean of hip, with steely gray eyes perpetually squinted from checking the horizon for Indians and badmen—either that, or a bus driver.

Of course I could be wrong.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2010 in actor and acting, Humor, PHOTOGRAPHY, sports, Writing

 

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