OLD TIMERíS STUBBORNLESS MULE

By Norris Chambers

             Youíve probably heard the expression, ďStubborn as a mule.Ē  If an old timer accuses you of that he means you are pretty stubborn. Mules sometimes exhibit a very strong streak of stubbornness. A donkey can be even more stubborn than a mule. I once knew a little boy that was about that stubborn. When he was asked to do something that he didnít want to do he spoke loud and clear and said, ďI not!Ē  When he said that it meant that no amount of coaxing, threatening or punishment could change his mind. That little boy grew up to be a School Superintendent and was considered one of the best in the country.

            Youíve probably heard the tale about the mule that was hitched to a buggy and decided to be stubborn. He wouldnít move at all and the driver was in a hurry. Finally, after trying all the tricks he knew, he decided to build a fire beneath the beast. He kindled a nice fire and crawled back in the buggy to await the results of his latest persuasion tactics. The mule did move when the fire began to get a little too warm. He moved just enough to bring the buggy over the fire. The poor driver barely had time to unhitch the mule and move the vehicle before the fire enveloped it!

            Of course there were good mules who were not stubborn Ė maybe a little slow, but not really stubborn. Our old mule, Jack, was one of the good kind. Clifton and I used him for just about everything that could be thought of. He was very patient with us and we really appreciated that old mule.

            When a Model T wouldnít start on a cold morning old Jack was hitched to the front axle for the purpose of pulling it down the road and getting it started. Model T vehicles did not have a bumper, so the axle was a convenient place to connect the singletree. On one particular cold morning Clifton and I needed to get the car going and of course the starter would not do the job. Trying to crank it was not a good idea so we harnessed old Jack to do the job. I took hold of the bridle and started leading Jack down the road and Clifton sat comfortably behind the steering wheel waiting for the engine to start.

            The engine started rather suddenly and before Clifton could find a neutral position the car jumped forward and brushed Jackís hind legs rather harshly. He didnít appreciate this and he immediately retaliated by kicking at the nuisance behind him. I held the bridle and got him calmed down eventually. We didnít find any serious damage to the mule or the car. There were a few dents in the radiator but no leaks. Jack didnít seem to be bleeding. I led him back to the barn and Clifton drove the car back to the shop and left the engine running to let it warm to an operating temperature. The Model T started and operated well for the rest of the day and after we fed Jack a few ears of corn he decided to forgive us for starting his day in a bad way.

            Jack didnít mind a saddle and was glad to take us wherever we wanted to go. On one occasion I rode him into the lower pasture one evening to bring the cows in for milking. One old cow, I think her name was Toadie, acted a little stubborn and made a quick turn to the left. I coaxed old Jack as quickly as possible to block her turn and persuade her to travel in the right direction.

            Old Jack did his best and quickly passed old Toadie and made a quick right turn to make the correction. I donít know exactly what happened, but for some reason Jack tumbled to the ground and fell heavily on my left leg. I tried to pull my leg out and get up but it was pretty well stuck under old Jack, the saddle and the ground. I began trying to persuade the mule to get up. He must have been a little sleepy because he didnít make much of an effort to arise. I punched him again and told him in rather plain language to get up. I guess he decided I meant business because he began trying to get up. But he was trying on the wrong side and wanted to roll over me to make the adjustment. I had to use a little more language and a little persuading with my hands before he decided to arise on the other side.

            Neither of us suffered any serious injuries so I remounted and old Toadie cooperated by heading straight to the milking lot.

            Old Jack was still around when we scattered for the big war effort. When it was all over he was gone. I never knew what happened to him. We had a lot of fun with old Jack. If you get an old mule to have fun with donít try to start a Model T by having him pull it, and take your curves a little slower when riding him!