Note: Norris R. Chambers - Author of "Old Timer's Tales" passed away March 22, 2013.
OLD TIMER'S LAST TALE
By Norris Chambers
This is not the Old Timer’s last tale because there are no more tales to tell. Old age, bad health and failing fingers make it harder to convert the tales into readable literature. Probably none of the hundreds of my tales could be considered real literature but they did describe a way of life as it was lived many years ago. It might be interesting to those who are curious enough to wonder what things were like back then! An old timer might not remember what he had for breakfast this morning but he can tell you the full name of his second grade teacher and who sat at the desk in front of him.
Have you ever wondered why the poor old dogs of long ago got so much praise or dislike, or just plain notoriety? It must have been because there were so many of them. A simple expletive, “Dog gone!” used by some old women to serve as a mild form of emphatic expression! Just about everyone possessed at least one dog. Many kids had about as many as they could count!
A “sundog” sometimes appeared in the sky. When we saw one of these it looked like there were streams of light protruding from the sun and heading toward earth. The old timers said that the sun was just “drawing water” and that there would be rain the following day. Sometimes they were correct and sometimes it seemed to mean nothing.
When old timers mentioned a “firedog” they were referring to a metal shelf in the fireplace on which to stack firewood for a better flame. This structure was sometimes called “andirons”.
A person who stirred up trouble was often referred to as a “firebrand” or “dog burner”. A firebrand was also a small portion of a fire that was taken to start another fire.
Another proper expression, at least with Clifton or me, was “Dog my cats!” I suppose dogging cats would be having the dogs take care of the cats in a proper manner! There seemed to be about as many cats as there were dogs.
One nice December morning Clifton and I were doing a little ‘possum hunting. We didn’t use a dog when hunting during the day. If it were a night hunt a good hunting dog was a necessity. Suddenly we heard a dog barking.
“I don’t recognize that sound,” Clifton commented, then continued, “I think he has something treed. It wouldn’t be a ‘possum, though. ‘Possums are already in a tree during the day.”
“He might have a bear or a panther!” I exclaimed, even though we knew there had not been any dangerous animals around in many years.
“He might have a lizard or a horned frog!” Clifton suggested, and then continued, “Maybe we ought to see what he looks like and what he’s found.” I agreed and we started walking in the direction of the sounds.
We soon saw a little white dog with his nose stuck in the open end of a hollow log. Occasionally he removed his muzzle, looked around and gave that imploring bark, “I’ve got something treed here that I can’t handle. I need a little help!”
Clifton bent over the end of the log after pushing the small animal aside. “Yep” he muttered, “there’s something in there. I see those beady little eyes looking me over!”
“Maybe his beady eyes are watching your beady eyes looking at him,” I suggested.
“I believe there are more than two eyes in there,” Clifton continued as he stared into the end of the log. The little white dog was whining and seemed anxious to get back to its quarry.
Clifton picked up the log and bounced it a few times on end. Three little fluffy balls of fur fell out and began scrambling around the end of the hiding place. I was a little shocked when I realized what had been in the log. There had been three little white pups.
“What can we do with them?” I asked. Clifton thought maybe the little white dog would take them home and let her owner decide what to do with the pups. That was a good idea, but when we walked away the dogs followed us.