Stories from the holler part II

Erica Wilder Eldridge - Contributing Writer

All of you that know me know how fond I am of the Pine Mountain area, mostly because that is where I grew up, but also because that is home, it will always be home. No matter where it is that I hang my hat Pine Mountain will always be home. Several people that read my articles have told me how much they enjoy my stories, and how they can relate to them. So I thought I tell a few more stories from my childhood.

Well you all know by now that I was adopted when I was about two years old, and I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents. My papaw was recently retired and my mamaw was a cook at the Pine Mountain Settlement School.

One Saturday morning I woke up and mamaw had a pot of boiling water on the stove, and lying on the counter was a chicken that she had already done away with. She lifted that chicken in and out of that scalding water, plucking feathers as she went along. She was humming her favorite hymn” O how I love Jesus.” I remember wondering how she handled that scalded chicken with her bare hands without getting burned.

Once the task was finished, she headed for the door and I asked her if I could come. She paused for a minute and said she guessed so. I followed her out the door. When she reached the chicken lot she reached in and selected another chicken and we made our way back to the stump in the middle of the yard. Right before we got to the stump, mamaw started to swing that chicken in a circular motion and by the time we made it to the stump the chicken was lifeless in her hands. I was standing there across from her in shock, but I did not open my mouth. Her experience with that process was proven as she calmly picked up the hatchet that was lodged in the stump and with one swing of the hatchet she removed the head.

Three more times I watched the process and she explained to me that this was why she raised the chickens. She explained that the chickens were a trifold benefit. Of course they provided meat, eggs and also their manure was a wonderful fertilizer for the plants in the garden. Well as the third chicken went through the final stages of the process and mamaw laid it to the side with the rest of the chickens in the pile and she began to walk away, that last chicken jumped up and started running…HEADLESS now mind you, around and around and around. I was in the middle of that circle and the faster that chicken danced around me the more blood was sprayed onto me. I was screaming every breath and by the time the chicken stopped running I looked like someone had dumped a bucket of blood on me like in the movie Carrie!

I know if someone had witnessed that scene other than me and mamaw, that it would have been hilarious. Just to be completely honest after the chicken died for the second time and mamaw made sure that I was okay, she started laughing. She laughed at me ‘til the tears streamed down her face. I remember being a little miffed that she laughed like that, but looking back on it, it was hilarious and I would have been compelled to laugh as well if I had been in her position. Oh, but that was not to be the end of it! Every time someone new came home that day the story was relived over and over. I stood there stone-faced with arms crossed thinking to myself that I didn’t see the hilarity of it. I think mamaw laughed more over that than anything that ever happened at her house. It was a couple of years before that story got old, but me and younger siblings were always right there to make sure that there was always something funny to tell about.

For instance, once my papaw had an old coonhound out in the yard that had a litter of pups. Oh and I loved those puppies better than anything. I carried those poor little pups around like rag dolls. Wherever I was, usually there was one of those little hounds. I guess at some point my mom and dad got to looking for me and they could not find me anywhere. They searched the whole property from the pond all the way to the cow pasture and both the upper and lower gardens. I was nowhere to be found. Just about the time my mom was about to call the police and report me missing, my mamaw happened to notice a little leg inside the dog house. Yes, I had climbed into the dog house with all those pups and fell asleep. I never knew I was lost, all I knew is I woke up to hugs and kisses, but when the happiness wore off that I had been found that’s when the “You better not ever pull a stunt like that again” started. Honestly, I deserved it. Later, and even now, they tell the story and we laugh and reminisce. Those days are gone but of course we have the memories. Don’t forget that it is okay to laugh, in fact copious amounts of laughter are good for you….at least that’s what they say.

Erica Wilder Eldridge

Contributing Writer

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