|As I Was Saying
By Opal Toney
Days gone by...
This week’s column was pulled from the As I was Saying archives
Some folks claim the older we get the more we talk about days gone by.
Today, I’m thinking of how our youngest son was something of a “Pied Piper”
We never knew what kind, or how many, he would show up with. He loved ‘em
all, and expected us, his family, to love ‘em, too.
Late one afternoon, as I was ready to leave the Mabank Banner office, the
phone rang. I answered and heard a voice, drowned in tears, say that
somebody was about to bleed to death.
Trying to get a hold of myself, I heard, “J.V. and that she had been found
hanging by her toes, upside down on the dog pen fence. Then I knew the
victim was one of my son’s female Beagles – and I relaxed a little.
(We figured he had come up with that name because it was his Daddy’s
initials even tho it didn’t make much sense to us.)
(Later, when I learned he had named one of our cows “Miss Opal” I didn’t ask
Anyway, I rushed home. All the time wondering if a dog could bleed to death
from its toes and how long would it take.
Well, I found J.V. not too bad off.
In fact, she was doin’ quite well – all wrapped up in a blanket that had
been left on my bed when I got up that morning.
She was baskin’ in all of the attention, even tho I noticed one toenail did
seem a bit lop-sided.
She didn’t seem to be aware of it and I didn’t bring it to anybody else’s
After being persuaded she was going to survive and told, “No, she does not
need my blanket for cover,” J.V. was taken back to the pen.
I gathered my wits the best I could and started supper.
‘Bout that time, the back door burst open and in my son staggered with a
stricken look on his face, and his arms filled with another Beagle.
This time it was “Curl,” that had no idea what a rabbit was suppose to mean
in her life.
Knowing this fact did nothing to lessen the great love her 10-year-old
master held for her.
I knew if something bad had happened to Curl, it was another great calamity.
I asked, “What happened now for heaven’s sake?”
He dumped her on the floor and said, “Look!” And she sprawled all over my
I yelled, “Get her out of the kitchen!” Those were my yellin’ days, before I
learned, “This too shall pass.”
By the time he gathered her back in his arms and made it to the back porch,
Curl was doin’ all kinds of weird things.
I yanked my child back inside, minus the dog, and slammed the door.
‘Bout that time, the dog expert of the family made it home from work.
(While he was known as Daddy to his children, I often thought of him as
Doglover – for that’s where my two sons got such great love for four-legged
Anyway, by whatever name, I was thankful to watch as he took one look and
wasted no time giving first aid.
Just as he managed to get the last of the coke bottle of melted grease down
her unwilling throat, poor little Curl gave a big kick and stretched out.
Showing an unusual amount of compassion for a fox-hound man toward a rabbit
dog, he lifted her up, took her out to the garage and gently laid her down.
We all gathered ‘round and tried to console her heartbroken master.
A little later, Doglover Daddy slipped outside and came back with wonderful
“Guess what?” he said. “Curl is sittin’ up lookin’ around!”
There was much rejoicin’. I heaved a sigh of relief and went straight toward
my bed, well drained from all of the commotion.
But, just as I was beginnin’ to feel a little relaxed, I heard voices – that
could only mean one thing.
“Lady,” the German Shepherd-looking stray, had shunned her nice maternity
bed so lovingly prepared for her.
Instead, she was busy deliverin’ her new family under the house, directly
below my bed.
I spent the rest of the night listening to her motherly overtures and her
offspring, of how many I didn’t know, squall their responses.
And I greeted the dawn with Poncho, the little black cur, of an unknown
mixed breed, as he yelped with sheer joy at bein’ alive.
I did my best to get in the same mood. But I had a few obstacles to
I was just too dog tired to feel the joy.
As I was saying, some folks talk too much about days gone by...
View From Here
By Katherine Veno
“We need the cold weather to kill the bugs,” my grandpa said. It must have
been around 1958 when I heard these words for the first time.
While packing a mixture of mud and a little bit of snow and ice into balls
in Palestine, he explained as grandfathers do how the world works.
In those days of my life seasons lasted forever and seemed to have actual
lifetimes of their own. One season did not just jump into the forefront like
they seem to do now. For example, there are lots and lots of hot days of
summer and very few spring days, and then before I can unpack my sweaters
winter just jumps across the falling leaves and it gets cold while I am
digging through a storage trunk.
So as a pre-teen I knew that winter came to kill the insects because grandpa
said so, but then with my first mosquito bite in April, the reality of the
situation set in with a big, red, itchy whelp on my arm.
It would be so nice if the simpler times could sort of still hang around a
little bit. I often wonder what grandparents can tell their grandchildren
today. Obviously for most of us who are grandparent age, we might could
explain a computer or a cellular telephone, but I doubt the ones with the
big numbers like I use are as complicated as the ones the children already
know how to use. I know I could not be smarter than a fifth grader.
My grandpa explained things about the baby calves, and showed me the chicken
eggs, and how the squirrel cage turned inside the water-cool fan. He helped
me collect insects for a school science project, all the while explaining
there would not be such a bounty of beetles had we had a hard winter.
There were soft winters and hard winters, and most of the hard ones had
already happened in his life, but had not showed themselves to me yet. That
would all be ahead of me walking miles and miles through ice and snow in
deep East Texas. And each time he told me about the worst winter where
people froze to death, and he walked to school, the tale became more
It took me years to figure out we got zero snow, or just sleet and a little
bit of snow. No wonder in all those photographs in black and white my
snowmen look like they are wearing big black patches of dirt, because they
This winter would be termed a hard winter on the grandpa scale of weather
memories. It has snowed heavily, melted, turned to ice and caused lots of
havoc in people’s lives. That is one of the good things about retirement. I
don’t have to go to work someplace else. No longer does my car spin out of
control on the ice and scare the living wits out of me and everybody around.
I have the luxury of staying off the road because I am old enough to do so.
Grandpa said this was what he loved most about a hard winter. He could stay
home on the small farm and interact with his cows and hunting dogs.
So, while the voice on the television in my home mimics the voice on his old
radio in his kitchen by the wood stove, I look out the window as the ice
forms on the trees. I watch the birds gather at the feeder I filled with
millet yesterday. I watch my cat sleep by the fireplace. I know the hard
winter will kill the bugs because grandpa told me so.
I know the insects are all safe for summer, even if it has been a hard
|Escapades of Emily
By Emily Gail Lundy
such a strong word...
Hate remains at the top of emotions that hurts the hater. Hate will eat the
insides of the one with bad feelings toward someone. Unfortunately, maybe, I
do have a “hate” list, a short one, and the people on it will never know me
or even care how I feel. If I have bad feelings for someone near, I usually
can work through it and forget.
But I’m not ashamed of the first on my hate list. She does not seem sorry
for her actions and shows no outward harm from doing what she did. Jane
Fonda is her name. In the Vietnam War, she used “Freedom of Speech” to the
highest degree and received no reprimand. In fact, upon her return from the
war front, Hollywood rewarded her with an academy award. She wore Vietnam
uniforms, sat on their defensive weapons to pose for pictures, and gave
anti-American speeches within ear range of our own prisoners of war. There’s
more, but I have to prepare a meal tonight and need my coolest mindset as I
My list is short. Most are women, but one man remains because he simply
cannot learn. He humiliated a hero of my family’s decades ago. Character
seems to be a handicap to choosing some around him. I thought he could
change, but no more.
As for those in proximity, there is always the chance a reversal in life
will occur. It did in my own life once I had gotten over my sick, terrible
feelings. This person became a new persona, and I learned a valuable lesson.
Also, I learned to like her.
We say we hate communities or government groups, but usually a deeper
analyzation reveals we’re whistling Dixie. Students and adults have a hate
rivalry with a school in sports. But many in that town are friends, putting
their shoes on the same way we do. In time of crisis, hate can dissolve into
empathy and love.
In this category of the hate list comes another list – one of annoyance in
other people. My brother and I bonded as adults because we each could not
tolerate people who pop or smack chewing gum, open or closed mouth. I move
in theaters, leave scenarios, play a radio loudly, anything possible to keep
from embarrassing myself in retaliation. Maybe chewing gum should go on my
“hate” list. Tried lately to get this stuff out of a child’s hair or off
your best shoes?
My other annoyances which can find me hypocritical are verbose people, men
or women, who talk and talk, and make me want to insert something, anything.
And I really detest arrogance in anyone. Some friends of ours have become
wealthy and changed friends, activities, habits while humility at having
such luck would be appropriate. There are many who become big in life and
stay the same but more generous. I may be a hypocrite here, too, but really,
what ever could it be about?
Then , to end this embarrassing account of the real me, I think my eating
out days are over. Always having a weak stomach, I am the one who suddenly
leaves a room for other quarters to lose what I’ve recently eaten. Even
hearing someone else being nauseated sends me on my mission.
One problem to deal with in this area is men who cough productively and
continue to sit as though a butterfly flew around the room. It is said when
the American Indians met the early immigrants from across the Atlantic,
their comments were about the strangeness of these people. First, there had
to be containers available with privacy for bodily elimination. This amused
the Indians. Then these strangers from abroad, especially the men, carried
white cloths in their pockets. They would blow their noses, squeeze the nose
with the fabric, and place all back into the pocket to save it? Why?
I know habits with coughing and sneezing can make us miserable. I try to
remember to excuse myself for another destination to handle these nuances
privately, but we forget. Please remember around me, or I might retaliate in
a way I cannot help. Then I would sob.
What I’ve written in a way goes with the times of speaking out more freely,
dressing freer, being more natural or not caring what the world thinks. But
I have recognized a good with all this if we don’t “mess” it up. I witness
respectable, ordinary people who can now stand in church or a group and
announce, “I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Please pray for me.”
Men talk about their problems, even prostate cancer. Not eons ago, some were
afraid to be around these ill people, didn’t want to wear their clothing or
use their furniture. Persecution has been done by those to children who had
illnesses that with care could not be contagious or diseases no child could
be responsible for. When I’m smarter, I’m going to tie these ideas together
in a way that makes more sense.
Right this moment, though, I’m going to take someone off my mental detest
list. She is no longer in the same office or capacity.