We had an Indian in the pool hall when I was a kid.
Ol’ Bill jokingly called him “Chief,” but he went by the name of Honus Foxx. He said he was two-thirds Cherokee Indian, but he didn’t look it. Most folks called him ‘Honie’ most of the time.
Mr. Foxx was just like any other farmer along the upper Piney, he had some chickens and hogs and cows and a pair of coonhounds and about 30 grandkids. He’d talk just like any other Ozark backwoodsman when the pool hall was full.
“I reckon one of them danged grandkids of mine shot ol’ Smoky with a dad-blame BB gun,” he’d say. “I can’t get close to him with a saddle,” or “I got to go down to the vet dreckly and get my dog. He got his ear near about tore off in a coon fight the other night.”
But sometimes when Honie stayed late, he would revert to Indian talk, the kind you might hear when they had Indians on Gunsmoke or Wagon Train or other television westerns. One night he came in after drinking a little too much “firewater.” He sat on the front bench with his feet propped under him and looked toward the back of the pool hall.
“Boy,” he said. “Bad winter come ... hard times.” Then he took out a persimmon seed and split it open with his knife. “See fork inside ... it mean lots of cold ... much snow.”
“Rabbit in moon tilted, looking down,” he went on. “That means squaws hard to live with all through winter, meaner than a weasel ... coon pelts no good, goat milk not make good cheese.”
“How could you know all that, Honie,” I asked. “I ain’t never even seen a rabbit in the moon?”
“Indians know these things,” he said, gesturing as he talked. “Lots of rain in July, lots of fog in August not normal. That mean early snow, much snow. ”
We went out and looked at the moon and he showed me where the rabbit was. Sure enough, there was a big rabbit with long ears. While we were looking, Honie stumbled off the curb and fell on the bulky part of his rear, right in front of brand new 1960 pickup. He got ahold of the bumper and pulled himself up, and then kicked the bumper and fell down again. Mumbling beneath his breath, he headed up the sidewalk toward the theater and I heard him say, “Gonna be a gosh-dang hard winter ... you betcha.”
I don’t remember if it was a hard winter or not, but when you are a kid, winters never seem that bad. I do remember though that several of the lady teachers, whom I would not necessarily refer to as squaws, were indeed mean as weasels.
I won’t venture what is to come this winter, but I’ll bet if Honie was here he would know. From the strange kind of summer we have had, this winter ought to be a doozy.
On Sept. 15 a group of us, and at this point it isn’t a very large group, are getting together to try to plan for that big outdoorsman’s event on Oct. 12, which I don’t really have a good name for.
I would like to see that day become an opportunity for artists and craftsmen, woodcarvers, photographers, etc, who do outdoor-oriented work, to display their talent. We could wind up with 30 or 40 of those gifted people attending our get together, and another 30 or 40 tables of outdoor items from vendors who have new and used lures, rods and reels, old guns, camping equipment, etc. My idea is to put the artists on one side, and the swap meet people on the other side.
The whole thing is free to the public, and to the artists and vendors. I think we will have about 2,000 visitors, as our big Lightnin’ Ridge Swap Meet every March draws about 1,500. That’s why we will need help.
One attraction we will have is Don Scott, a Joplin taxidermist, who will take a hanging deer and debone it, a process that takes about 40 minutes. From what I have heard, Don pretty much removes all the meat from the skeleton of the deer, leaving the bones hanging and then shows folks how to best cut up the meat he has removed. Don will start to work on it about 10 a.m. on Oct 12. I can’t wait to see it.
If you would like to help us on Oct. 12, join us on that Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15 at the Countryside Assembly of God church at 2 p.m.
But not only do we need help, we need to get the word out. Think of how important this Oct.12 day can be to a talented young artist or carver or photographer who might get a boost in their career by displaying their work to a crowd of two or three thousand people. We’ll have a hard time getting the publicity for this event, so you might want to help with that.
I have never done anything that excites me more than this project, but as I said, we need help. I’d be tickled pink if 100 people showed up at 2 p.m. at the Countryside Assembly of God church on Sept. 15, saying “Here I am, what can I do?”
I am also praying that we can start some Common Sense Conservationist chapters in a dozen new communities around the Ozarks. We need one in Joplin. If you have been interested in what “Common Sense Conservationist” is all about, please visit our new website of that same name.
If you gripe and complain about the way the Missouri Department of Conservation is doing things, you can be a part of changing it, or quit complaining and live with what we have. You can join our group on that Common Sense Conservationist website. For information on anything in this column, call our office.
I hope you will join me each Sunday morning on my radio program, from 8 to 9 on KWTO (560 AM) or on your computer at radiospringfield.com.
We had an Indian in the pool hall when I was a kid.
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