A while back one of my loyal readers (thanks again to both of you...) began to leave pithy, snark-worthy comments under some of my posts, and she soon became a friend of mine. Cynthianne and I haven't actually met, but we've communicated via email, and she's even bought some of my original photography for her home. That makes her a member of a very select and elite club, and as such she enjoys benefits few others have even dreamed of. (ahem....)
She recently hinted that her family tree has had more than a few nuts fall from its branches, and offered to tell the following tale for your entertainment. I don't doubt a word of this story, mainly because she's related to a woman who threw knives at drunken Irish rednecks...
Here you go, folks. This is Cynthianne's contribution to your Monday morning:
Squatlo asked me to recount the following family legend for the diversion (and derision) of his readers, so here it is, a heartwarming account of life on the frontier in Central-East Louisiana some 150 years ago.
This tale comes down from my father compliments of his mother, my grandmother Annie. Grannie Annie was a wee bit of a gossip, and if she didn't have a juicy anecdote available to relate and exaggerate, she would make one up. She single-mouthedly managed to start at least two shootin' family feuds that I know of. (Luckily, I'm nothing at all like her.)
Little Log Cabin in the Woods
My great-grandfather, Amos Greenpea, Grannie Annie's dad, was an Irish immigrant, a refugee fleeing the potato famine of the mid-1800's. As a young man seeking his fortune in the new world, He came up through Louisiana along the Red River and stopped in a small, rough-and-tumble settlement known then as Robber's Lane, or, as the French traders and merchants called it, Robeline, located in the hill country away from the river. The area was then covered in heavy old-growth forest, with many small creeks and ponds, good soil, and abundant wild game. Amos purchased a homestead a few miles outside of Robeline. The homestead had a small log cabin and a log barn not too far from a creek and a pond. Amos settled in and started logging the land with a mule team. He also started looking around for a wife, with, at first, no luck. The few unattached women in the settlements were not interested in living in the backwoods with an Irish redneck.
There were, however, small family groups of Indians scattered through the area, having escaped the Trail of Tears by being too few and isolated to round up. The women tilled small garden plots, trapped rabbits and other small varmints, and gathered various wild eatables; the men hunted wild game. They would occasionally go into Robeline to trade furs and skins for cooking pots, knives and other manufactured items, but for the most part kept to themselves.Amos wound up marrying a young woman from a group living near his homestead. Evidently she felt that a two-room log cabin was a step up from a wikiup. Before marrying Amos, she insisted that he get her store-bought dresses and shoes. She also started putting her long black hair up in braids wrapped around her head in the style favored by the western women in Robeline, and took the name of Sarah. Guess you could say she went UN-native. She was a small, dark, quiet woman who rarely spoke- I suppose she did not speak much English.
As this was somewhat before the invention of TV, Amos, after logging all week, saddled up his mule and rode into Robeline on Saturday afternoons, to have a drink (or two or three and sometimes four) at the saloon and catch up on the news with the other settlers. When it was getting on toward full dark, he'd meander out of the bar and mount up for the trip back to the cabin. The mule, hungry, and tired of standing at a rail for hours, would briskly single-foot off on the trail towards home, with Amos half-asleep in the saddle. The cabin was on the other side of a small creek, and the track looped about a mile to the south of the cabin to a shallow ford. The mule usually stopped for a drink in the ford. Then it usually tried to buck Amos off into the creek. Usually it didn't succeed. But upon occasion, if Amos had had one too many, or if he was almost asleep, he got flipped into the creek, and the mule took off, riderless, for the barn. Being waked up, and/or sobered up by a full-body baptism does not promote a cheery, upbeat outlook on life, so after his dunking, Amos crawled out of the creek and squelched along the trail towards home, muttering and cussing and fuming. When he reached the cabin he slumped down at the table, taking off his wet duds and flinging them on the floor in front of the fireplace, still fuming, while Sarah quietly dished up his supper and put it on the table before him. Usually Amos shut up and ate, but if he was in an exceptionally bad mood, he would slowly escalate into cussing out Sarah, who completely ignored him. She did not try to answer him, or react in any way... Until she had had enough.Then she would turn her back on Amos, walk deliberately over to the counter beside the fireplace that served as the kitchen, and slowly start taking her knives from the rack on the wall and lining them up carefully on the counter. Now this was a woman who routinely butchered deer and small game. Not exactly the person you would like to see thoughtfully inspecting a very sharp knife with a glint in her eye... When she picked up the first knife in the line, Amos suddenly got very quiet and started edging toward the door. When she turned around with the knife in her hand, he made a dash for the door, just as she threw the knife at his retreating back. The knife slammed into the door post and stuck there as he catapulted through the door and into the yard.
Sarah methodically picked up and threw each remaining knife on the counter, lining them up neatly along the door post. Then she picked up Amos' wet clothes, draped them over the chairs in front of the fireplace, banked the fire, turned down the lamp, and went to bed, leaving the knives stuck in the doorpost.
Amos, cladsocks and skivvies, lurked in the barn with the mules for a while, then tiptoed back into the cabin past the row of knives, ate his now cold supper and sneaked into bed.
At the crack of dawn, Sarah got up, put the knives back in the rack, then stirred up the fire and started breakfast as usual. No more hard words were spoken and domestic tranquility reigned. Until the next time... According to Grannie Annie, the doorpost was full of holes.******************************************************************
Squatty, again. Let that be a lesson to all of you gentlemen. If you're married to a woman who has skills with sharp objects, try not to be an abusive drunk. One of my buddies forgot about his wedding anniversary and awoke that night to find HIS wife sitting on the edge of the bed with a meat cleaver in her hand. He managed to get to his car without getting "cleaved" but she bounced a heavy piece of firewood off the hood as he pulled out of the driveway. True story. That was their last anniversary together. I'm told he misses her...
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned (or a mule ignored at feedin' time).