Tuesday, May 28, 2013

All families have shady characters that fall out of the family tree. Some have horse thieves, mine had my uncle Dale. He was an unique character who made up stories that competed with Paul Bunyan's tales and his cursing would have put a ship's boatswain to shame.

Dale Tells Lies

Dale, one of my uncles, had cultivated his crop of profanity until he could not complete a full sentence before a curse word would come tumbling out somewhere. He also loved telling tall tales and outright lies. The bigger the lie and the more cuss words he would use, the better he thought that the story was.
He used to tell the story of a fruitful day of finding and picking morel mushrooms. He had filled a large basket and was carrying it back to the car. The basket was hanging on his arm, but the closer to the car, he thought the lighter his basket felt. When he turned he saw a deer following him and eating those morels out of his basket. (Please excuse me for deleting the expletives to shorten the stories.)
Another story he would tell was about his dogs. The C.I.A. became interested in them because he had taught them to read. The C.I.A. wanted them to be spies for them, to send them behind enemy lines and gather information. Who would suspect a dog? They lost interest when he told them he hadn’t worked out the problem of the dogs relaying to him what they had read.
Deer were involved in another tale he would often share with us. He was in the woods one day and heard this loud crashing and thrashing coming his way. He hid behind a tree to see what was making so much noise. The noise kept moving closer until he saw two does using their heads and necks to push aside the heavy underbrush. Behind them walked a huge buck with a tremendous set of antlers on his head. They were going before the buck so his rack would not get hung up in the thick bushes.
One story that he told I know was true. I saw it with my own eyes. He was a great fisherman. He kept what he caught even if it was above the legal limit, game warden or no. The way he got his fish home was in his old Willys truck. The passenger door couldn’t be opened from the outside and the bottom of the door had rusted out completely. When he had caught his limit, he would take them back to the truck and pop off the handle on the inside that wound the window up and down. (The window didn’t wind down anymore.) He would slip his catch of fish inside of the door and go back to fishing. When he was tired of fishing he went home.
At home he would open the door from the inside of his truck and the fish would fall out onto the ground. He would gather them, gut them and get them ready to fry. My mom took a picture of his one night’s catch. It covered the top of drop leafed, enamel topped kitchen table with both sides up. All but an eight by ten inch corner was covered with fish, lying side to side and head to tail.
Once Dale built a bench and when he saw someone, he would ask them if they could figure what kind of wood it was made of. Everyone would guess wrongly and he would chuckle, but not tell them what it was. I made my guess, and I was wrong. When I didn’t ask what it was kind of wood it was made,  it must have upset him because he blurted out, “It’s made of sycamore wood.” We talked some more and I left.
As I was leaving, my cousin came. We stood outside and talked a bit. I said to him, “If I know Dale. He’s going to ask you about that stool that he made. Make a few wild guesses, then guess, ‘sycamore.’”
I met my cousin a few days later and he told me what had happened. Dale asked him about the bench, my cousin guessed, “Red oak?”
Dale shook his head. I said, “Butternut?” and Dale said, “No.”
"I picked up the bench rubbed it, smelled it and then tasted it. I pretended to think for a few seconds and said, 'It’s sycamore.'”
Dale’s face fell and he looked disappointed that someone had guessed his secret.

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