Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Saving Skelley

October 27, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Wow, what a week. My teachers have been crazy this week. They must think we have nothing to do but study. Tests and homework and who has time for all that. 

I know. I'm in school. I'm supposed to have time for all that. But I have to help Wes at the newspaper office. And help fold the papers to deliver. And try to keep Aunt Love from burning down the house by forgetting that she put something on to cook. And make sure Stephen doesn't try to escape through the hole in the backyard fence while Tabitha takes a nap. He hasn't been walking long, but let me tell you, that little boy can get away quick. 

All that and homework too is making it hard for me to get Bailey's Bug written. I have to find out if Bailey can rescue Skelley, and the only way I can find that out is by writing the next scene. Homework just gets in the way. But I hurried through it tonight. It was easy. Well, except for those algebra problems. Sometimes all the x's and y's run together and who cares what x equals anyway. Words. That's what I like. 

I did get part of the next scene written. I couldn't leave Bailey facing down that bulldozer monster for another week. So here goes. Remember, you can find the whole story (so far) under the Bailey's Bug link up top. I'm not exactly sure what a "link" is, but maybe you do.

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
   (Continued from last week)

   "Aw, come on, boss." The man who'd been up on top the bulldozer monster stepped closer to the boss. "These guys must be friends. Let me go get the poor old dog."
   "You're crazy, Joe. This old house is going to fall down any minute."
   "We got to do something. I can't knock down the house with the dog trapped in there. It wouldn't be right."
   The boss muttered something under his breath. "Okay. I guess we'll have to call the dogcatcher. Let him shoot the old dog."
   Bailey didn't like the sound of that. He pushed past them and tried to leap up on the window where Lucinda had been sitting. His feet slipped on the broken glass and he fell back with a thud.
   Joe grabbed at the leash as Bailey tried a second time, but he missed. This time Bailey's toenails found some wood and he scrambled through the window. The leash slithered in behind him.
   Inside the house, the dust was so thick Bailey couldn't see. Then Lucinda was meowing. He picked his way through the debris toward the sound.
    "What took you so long?" Lucinda demanded.
   "Never ye mind, Miss Lucinda. He's here now and that's what counts." 
   Bailey stared at Skelley's foot trapped under the big board. It looked stuck good. "Are you all right?"
   "Does he look all right?" Lucinda snarled.
   Skelley spoke up. "I'm in a fix, lad. That's for certain. But if ye could put your nose under that plank there and lift it a wee bit, I think I might be able to free meself."
   Bailey pushed his nose as far under the plank as he good. Dust got in his nose but he didn't sneeze. He lifted until his neck hurt. 
   "You did it, lad." The old dog pulled his paw free and gave it a lick. "We'd best be making our escape now. Me thinks I heard some mention of the dogcatcher. We don't want to be anywhere near here if he shows up." He gabbed his painted stick and pointed his nose toward the window.
   Lucinda was already up there. "Will you two quit yapping and come on?"
   Bailey jumped up into the window after Lucinda disappeared outside. The bulldozer monster was still there, glaring at him but at least it wasn't rumbling. Bailey looked back at Skelley. "Can you make it?"
   "Can I make it?" Skelley said around the stick in his mouth. "I used to jump on old Asaph when he was trotting. One bum foot won't be slowing me down."
   Bailey leaped off the window directly in front of the bulldozer. Then Skelley was up in the window and a cheer went up from the men standing around. Skelley paused in the window to give a bow.
   "Whatever is he doing?" Lucinda muttered.
   "I don't know." Bailey was glad when Skelley jumped down to the ground to scramble after them on three legs.
   Lucinda kept her pace dignified, but Bailey couldn't keep from running as they passed the bulldozer. The worm wheels were higher than his head as they crawled past toward the house.
   Bailey was glad he didn't have to stop it again when all at once the leash jerked him off his feet. His collar tightened around his neck until he couldn't so much as yelp to let Lucinda and Skelley know the leash had grabbed him. They kept walking.
   The nasty leash was teaming up with the bulldozer monster pulling him toward those worm wheels. Bailey dug his paws into the dirt and tried to hold his ground, but the leash yanked him closer to the monster.
   The bulldozer monster slowed when it rammed against the house, but the leash wouldn't turn loose of Bailey or the monster. Bailey jerked and twisted but it held tight.

(To be continued.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

What Would You Do with Lamb's Ear?

October 20, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Well, actually this weekend I've been out visiting Miss Sally on the farm. It's been great October weather. The sun has been shining and the trees are gorgeous. I'm hoping it won't rain for a week so the leaves won't fall off. It's always sort of sad when the leaves fall off. At least until you get used to all the bare branches and the cold weather. 

But look at the plant I found. Miss Sally says it's mullein or lamb's ear. I like the name lamb's ear best. Whoever way back when, maybe even Adam in the Garden of Eden, must have touched one of the leaves and thought it felt like a lamb's ear. The leaves are all soft and fuzzy. Miss Sally says that's why frontier folk used it for toilet paper. At least that's what she heard. Plus, she says it made a great bandage when somebody got hurt out in the wilderness. I think that's really neat, don't you? 

Miss Sally knows all about plants and what they're good for. She says you can even make a tea out of these leaves or boil it for dye. Doesn't sound like something I'd want to drink!! 

Do you like learning about plants and the funny names they have? What's a plant that you think has a funny name?

Now it's time to check in to see what's happening with Bailey and Lucinda. Last week the old dog, Skelley was running back into the abandoned house the bulldozer was about to knock down. Remember, if you missed part of the story, you can read it all so far by clicking on the Bailey's Bug link up top of my article here. 

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
  (continued from last week)

Chapter 7

   "Stop him!" Lucinda yelled at Bailey.
   Bailey looked from the cat to the hole Skelley had slid through. 
   On the other side of the house, the bulldozer monster rumbled deeper, and the house shuddered and groaned. Bailey dodged a shingle flying down from the roof. He stuck his nose close to the hole and barked, but if Skelley barked back he couldn't hear him over the bulldozer's growl.
   Lucinda slid up beside him. "Do something!"
   Bailey pushed his head into the hole, but he couldn't wiggle through. "I can't get through the hole. Not without Skelley holding up the plank for me."
   "Dogs!" Lucinda shook her head. Suddenly she perked up her ears. "Listen. That thing sounds like it's backing away. I'll go find that crazy dog."
   "You can't go back in there, Lucinda. The bulldozer might come back."
   "If it does, you better stop it." Lucinda glared at him, then ducked through the hole.
   Stop the bulldozer! How could he stop that monster? 
   "Lucinda," he called, but she was gone. He whipped his tail around in a circle and tried to think. He had to do something. And fast. The bulldozer's growl was getting louder again.
   Bailey raced around the corner of the house and froze in his tracks. The yellow monster was inching closer, its enormous metal front a hungry mouth. Bailey looked behind him. If only he could see Skelley and Lucinda crawling out of the house, but they weren't anywhere in sight.
   And the bulldozer kept coming. He couldn't let it bite into the house while Lucinda and Skelley were inside. He couldn't. 
   Barking as loud as he could, Bailey ran at the terrible bulldozer mouth and attacked. His teeth wouldn't grab on the slick blade. He slid to the ground and landed on his side.
   He couldn't let it beat him. He scrambled up and charged again, barking louder than he thought possible. Nothing had ever been afraid of him or his bark, but he was sometimes scared of other dogs barking at him. Like the huge, black dog the day before. 
   Bailey tried to sound every bit as fierce. He crouched down close to the ground in hopes that would make his bark deeper, more ferocious.
   He was about to retreat when all of the sudden the monster stopped moving and simply sat there and stared at him with an angry rumble. With trembling legs, Bailey stayed where he was.
   "Hey, I didn't tell you to stop!" Whoever was yelling sounded as mad as the monster. 
   Bailey peeked out the corner of his eyes at a man waving his arms at the bulldozer.
   Someone, maybe even the monster, yelled back at the man on the ground. "A dog's in the way."
   "A dog! You stopped for a dog!" 
   That made Bailey growl.
   "I ain't mashing no dog," the bulldozer said and stopped rumbling.
   With the monster silent, Bailey's barks bounced off the metal mouth and pounded into his ears. But he was afraid to stop because between barks, he could hear the house creaking and groaning. 
   Where were Lucinda and Skelley? They should be out by now and he really wished he could stop barking.
   The man and the monster kept shouting. Then the man grabbed a plank and swung it at Bailey. He barely dodged in time, but he didn't turn tail and run. Even if he wanted to. Instead, he rolled over on his back and stuck his feet up in the air. That had to make the man know Bailey wasn't going to bite him. 
    But the man kicked Bailey in the side anyway. Hard. "Get out of here, you dumb dog."
   Bailey could keep from yelping.

   "Aw, don't hurt him, boss," the bulldozer said. "He's sort of cute. And look there. He's got a collar on with a leash. Somebody must be in the house."
   The boss stared from Bailey to the house. "Guess we'd better check it out."
   Just then Lucinda appeared in the gaping hole that had been a window a few minutes ago. She meowed her best.
   "Look, a kitty cat." A man climbed down the side of the monster. 
    He must have been doing the talking instead of the monster. Maybe all it could do was growl. But it was quiet now.
   "I hate cats," the man who kicked Bailey muttered. Bailey bounced up on his feet, ready to attack again. He wasn't about to let the man kick Lucinda. 
   But the cat disappeared back into the house before the men got to her. The man who'd been on top of the monster stepped up on a rock and peeked through the window. "Hey, boss. There's an old dog in there with his foot caught under a beam."
   "We can't just knock a house down on top of him."
   The boss looked in the window too. "I don't know why not. From the looks of him, it would be a mercy killing." 
   Bailey growled and scooted closer to them. He didn't know what a mercy killing was, but it didn't sound good. Not good at all.

(to be continued next week)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Burgoo Time in Hollyhill

October 13, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Don't you think it's kind of sad when all I have to report on is a pot of burgoo? Even the word sounds weird. Burgoo. I like words and how sometimes they just seem to sound like they should. Like soft. Even the word sounds soft. Or violet. When that word runs across your tongue you just know it's going to stand for something pretty. But burgoo. Just say that word. It can't be good. I looked up what it meant in the dictionary. "A thick soup or stew, typically made for an outdoor meal." 

That's what it is in Hollyhill. There's this one family that has the recipe and they've passed it down from father to son. They build a fire outside and put this huge iron pot on a stand over it. Then they dump in all this meat and onions and potatoes and corn and tomatoes along with some secret spices and cook it all day long. They have big oar like paddles they use to stir it. Can't let it stick to the bottom of the kettle. Then at the end of the day when the stuff looks like red goo (it ought to be called redgoo instead of burgoo), people start lining up at the kettles with sauce pans for the men to dip them some of that hot goo. 

You have to bring your own pan and spoon. Everybody knows that. But once you have your dip, you still can't tell what you're eating. Except that it's got stringy meet in the goo part. And ever once in a while you spot a grain of corn that didn't cook up into mush. 

Dad loves it. Says he used to think about eating burgoo again while he was at sea during the war. Wes says it's not bad for roadkill stew. He just says that to make me go ewww. There's no roadkill in it. At least, I don't think there is. Beef mostly. Maybe some chicken. Could be it's better to not think about what's in it and just eat it if you're hungry enough. And who knows? Maybe someday I'll be hungry enough.

Have you ever eaten burgoo? 

For sure, Bailey would if he got a chance. You can check out the next scene for Bailey and friends below.

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week or you can read it all in the pages the Bailey's Bug link up in the top line.
     “Aye for a truth,” Skelley said. “I’ve been in twenty-two of them meself, but me old master used to promise we’d see them all sooner or later.” The old dog’s face drooped. “But then he died, he did.”
Bailey put a paw over Skelley’s. “I’m sorry.”
“Well, he was old like I be now, but I did wish him more life.” Skelley ran his nose along the painted stick. “This ‘tis all I have left of him. I’ve kept it with me ever since the circus left me behind. Without me master I just couldn’t get me heart into me old tricks, and in a circus tent, every man and beast has to earn his way to keep the ringmaster from giving him the boot.”
“My boy went to the circus once and tried to teach me the tricks he saw a dog do there. You remember, Lucinda?”
“Please. I’d rather not think about that disaster.” Lucinda shuddered.
“Our boy, Reid, talked her into it,” Bailey said.
“What was the trick?” Skelley’s ears perked up a little.
“Lucinda stood on my back while I went in a circle. That was what was supposed to happen anyway. We made one circle but then I maybe went too fast and Lucinda fell kersplat.”
“I did no such thing.” Lucinda lifted her nose toward the ceiling and huffed. “I landed on my feet, I’ll have you know.”
Bailey lowered his voice. “She went up on in a tree and stayed there till dark.”
“Not everybody’s meant for the big top, for a truth,” Skelley said. “But that sounds something like the very trick I used to do for me master. I’d balance on Asaph. That was our pony and Josephine the cat would balance on my back. Old Asaph would trot in a circle, and we’d hop through a hoop and land on his back again.”
“Wow. That sounds like some trick.” Bailey looked at the old dog with new admiration.
“Aye, it was grand. The crowds would practically lift the tent top with their cheers.” Skelley looked at the wall as if he was still hearing those cheers. Then he shook his head a bit. “But it was your story I was hoping to hear. How is it ye plan to find this boy of yours?”
“He has a bug in his ear,” Lucinda said. “If you can believe such a thing.”
“A bug?”
“Not a real bug.” Bailey swiped at his ear with his paw. “But there’s something there. A kind of hum that tells me which way to go to find Reid.”
“I knew a pigeon that could do that. They’d take him far from home and turn him loose and every time he flew straight back,” Skelley said.
“Bailey’s not a pigeon and he’s never been over a mile from home.” Lucinda swatted at a cobweb drifting down toward her. “We will never find Reid. We should have stayed put and let Reid find us.”
“Could be that ‘twould have been the sensible thing to do, Miss Lucinda. But I’m betting the lad here will find your boy.”
Lucinda snarled and went back to grooming her legs. Skelley looked at Bailey. “Which way would this bug or whatever be sending you now?”
Bailey stood up and cocked his ears, but the hum was drowned out by a terrible rumbling noise. He started trembling, but it wasn’t just him. The whole house was shaking.
“Tis only the bulldozer.” Skelley yelled in Bailey’s ear. “It seems the whole street is condemned but we’re safe enough in here.”
“Condemned? What does that mean?” Bailey asked.
“Not for certain, but no people ever come around to bother me here.”
Bailey could barely hear him. The roar was getting louder by the second.
Lucinda pushed her nose against the window and peered through the dusty pane. She shrieked and leaped down as the window shattered and sprayed glass down around them. A trickle of blood appeared on Skelley’s head. Then the big metal dozer blade bit through the wall.
“Run,” Skelley shouted when the dozer pulled its blade back. “Before it comes back.”
The old dog slipped out the hole first and held the plank up for Lucinda. Bailey followed her out, but the nasty leash jerked at his neck and held him back. Bailey grabbed it and yanked until his teeth hurt. It gave up and trailed Bailey out just as the dozer blade banged into the house again.
They were racing to safety when Skelley yelled, “Me master’s baton.”   
Bailey grabbed at the old dog’s tail to keep him from turning back, but he missed. Skelley ran back toward the house while pieces of roof raining down on them. He disappeared through the hole into the house.

(to be continued next Monday)

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Packed Church for Homecoming

October 6, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Whew! Homecoming is over. What a Sunday! Everybody and his brother was there. The church was jam-packed. We even had to set chairs in the aisles and open up the doors to the Sunday School room next to the pulpit to let people sit there. Dad couldn't stop smiling. He was that happy seeing so many people at church. He wasn't preaching. There was a visiting preacher, Bro. Adams, who was the preacher at Mount Pleasant before I was born. He was old. Probably sixty something. He told stories on all the old members. Some about going to their houses for dinner on Sundays. Some about the men taking him fishing or talking him into helping with something on their farms. He had everybody laughing, even me when I didn't even know what he talking about some of the time. Dad says that's a good preacher - on who can get people listening. Then he can pour out the message and people will just lap it up.

After the preaching, we had dinner on the grounds. I made a chess cake all by myself. And it was good. Even Jimmy Wilson said so and Jimmy never likes to say anything good about me. He's always picking on me. Dad says that's because he's struck on me. Funny way to show it, is what I say. And I'm not wanting anybody to be struck on me - especially not Jimmy Wilson. Well, he is sort of cute and he did help me set out the extra chairs. Maybe he's not so bad. Not that I'm in love of anything. No way. But if I did have a little crush on somebody - I'm not saying I do, but if I did - do you think I'm too young? How odl were you when you started thinking about how it would be to, well, you know, to walk around with somebody like you were a couple?

Gee, my cheeks are burning hot. Guess I'd better change the subject and see what Bailey and Lucinda are up to with their new friend, Skelley. Remember, you can find the beginning of the story under the page tab up at the top of this article. 

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
  (continued from last time)

    Skelley ducked under a yellow and black strip of plastic and headed down between two old houses that looked like they might just fall down any second.
    Finally he looked around at them and said, "This is it."
    The old dog shoved up a loose board with his nose to show a hole into the house. "Mind watch your step as ye head on in. The floor has a weak spot here and there."
    The very end of Lucinda's tail twitched back and forth as she stared at the dark opening. At last she tucked her head into the hole and disappeared.
    Bailey followed her, digging with his paws to scoot through behind the cat. The leash jerked back and did its best to stop him. Bailey pushed harder with his back paws and the leash turned loose to meekly slither the hole. Skelley popped in behind Bailey and let the board fall back into place.
    "Come along." The old dog headed across the room. "It's nothing fancy but it be safer than the street. And a bit of sunshine does sometimes sneak into the place."
    At that, Lucinda perked up and began daintily picking her way through the bottles and cans and old newspapers. Bailey scrambled after her. Dust bunnies jumped out at him, but he paid them no mind. Bailey sniffed, but he couldn't pick up even the slightest whiff of Skelley's people no matter which way he turned his nose.
    "Here we are. Home sweet home." Skelley did a little head bow.
    A few empty cans and a red stick with a black knob on the end were scattered on a rug in front of a window so dirty the sun barely forced its way inside.
    Skelley brushed off the window with his tail. "Would you care for the window seat, Miss Lucinda?"
    Lucinda hopped up on the windowsill and began washing her face. It had to be wasted effort with all the cobwebs and dirt around them, but she was being polite. In between licks, she sent Bailey a warning look to mind his manners too.
    So when the old dog pulled his prize bone from under a pile of rags in the corner, Bailey thumped his tail on the floor and even though the bone was so dry he thought it might just be a rock masquerading as a bone, he chewed on the end of it. Nothing at all like the bone Mrs. Robinson had given him a couple of days ago.
    After what Bailey hoped was a properly polite chewing time, he scooted the bone back to Skelley. "Thank you. That was very good, but you better save some for your next celebration."
   "Or rainy day, eh, lad?" Skelley tucked the bone out of sight under the edge of the rug. Then he turned twice and sat down with his paw gently on the painted stick. "Now, let's be hearing your story. How come two pampered pets like the two of ye are on the streets with no human watching out for you?"
    "I'm going to find my boy," Bailey said. "He moved away. Miles away. To another state."
    "And forgot to take you along, did he? A pure shame that was."
    "He was coming back for us. I'm sure of it, but I decided not to wait that long. So we're going to him." Bailey hesitated, then asked, "You wouldn't happen to know how far it is to another state?"
    "That would be according to which state it is ye want, lad. There be fifty of them, ye know."
    "Fifty?" Bailey couldn't keep the surprise out of his voice. He peeked over at Lucinda who had stopped licking her paws to stare at Skelley. When she noticed Bailey looking at her, she went back to washing her face as if fifty states was no surprise to her. 

(To be continued)