By Norris Chambers

       My nephew's name was Clifton. He was about three or four months older than I and we were together just about all the time. My brother lived across the drainage ditch, and helped Papa on the truck farm. We played in the ditch and on the barn and in the okra patch and just about everywhere else. We often fished from the little bridge over the drainage ditch for crawfish or crabs. There were crabs in the ditch after a big rain or a high tide. They came up from the Galveston bay. We used a piece of string with a little meat tied to the end. They would grab it with the pinchers, and we would pull them up. We learned quickly that the pinchers were to be avoided. I was rather scared of them, especially the crabs with the big, long claws. Clifton learned to pick them up by holding them across the back behind the pinchers.

            One day we caught a tremendous crab - he must have been at least six inches wide. Clifton managed to pick him up and hold him at arm's length. I shied away cautiously and it occurred to him to chase me with the crab. He held it toward me and I started running. About the time we got to the house he got careless and let a big pincher grab him in the side. He started screaming and dancing around while the crab held on.

            My mother came running out of the house and rushed bravely to the rescue. She grabbed the crab and tried to pull if off, but it held on and managed to catch her arm with the other claw. She jerked her arm back. Blood was running down toward her hand. She told me to run and get Tom. Tom was my brother and Clifton's dad. He was plowing in the south field, about two hundred yards away. I ran as fast as I could to get him. He walked along with me to the house. We could hear Clifton screaming, even from that distance. Mamma was jumping around like a chicken with a fresh wrung neck.

            "Get it loose!" she exclaimed. Tom took a good look at the predicament and went to his tool box on the fender of the truck. He came back with two pairs of pliers and managed to get the pincher pried apart. I looked on with interest. There were two nice holes with blood oozing out where the crab had been. Clifton was still bawling like a scalded dog.

            Tom took the crab and threw it in a tow sack and told us to take it and lay it in the water, with the top tied, and to get all the crabs we could and that we would eat them for supper. That sounded like a lot of fun so we started fishing and caught a sack nearly full - it was so full, in fact, that we had to have help in getting it to the house.

That night they put water in the wash pot and built a big fire around it. When the water was boiling vigorously Tom took the sack of crabs and emptied them into the hot water.

            "Did you like to see that old big one go in the pot?" he asked Clifton. Clifton felt lightly of his side and grinned from ear to ear.

            "Yeah!" he answered.

            Another time, years later, Clifton got careless with a 'possum that we had caught in the hollow of a tree. At that time we were hunting possums and skunks and selling the hides. We were carrying this one and looking for a likely place to build a fire and skin him.

            You always carry a 'possum by the tail and hold him upside down, keeping a healthy distance between you and the ’possum’s teeth. Clifton was walking along and not watching his 'possum. The old fellow reached over and clamped down on his knee. A 'possum has long sharp teeth, and can even bite through a shoe and into your foot. This one bit through the overalls and into the flesh of the knee. Clifton was too big to cry now, but he sat down quickly and began trying to get the varmint to turn loose. I scouted around and found a heavy stick and rushed back.

            "Lay down," I instructed him, "and let me get the stick in position."

He saw what I was trying to do and helped me get it in position. I put the stick over the varmint’s neck and a foot on each side of the head, pinning it to the ground, then pulled up on the tail until I broke the neck. This was the usual method of killing a 'possum before skinning. This did not damage the hide.

            Our examination revealed a nasty, but not fatal wound. When we got back home, Mama insisted on putting chlorine bandages over it and soaking it for at least half an hour. It healed without making much of a sore.

            This tale’s moral is obvious – when dealing with vicious animals be cautious. This same warning might also apply to some people!