Funny Story

Many times in the fall we would go to Grandma and Grandpa's house there on the oil lease near Susank, KS so my father could hunt pheasants. Normally dad would hunt with Curly and some friends from the Oil Field. That gave them a wide group of friends with places to hunt and they loved to get out and walk across a field of Milo or plant stubble to shoot at the birds eating there. If you have never seen acock pheasant up close, or have seen a cock flying with the sun shining on his plumage, you have missed a treat. If the kids went hunting with the men, we would generally get dropped off on one end of the field and used as blockers as the men came our way. More than once I had to drop so someone could shoot a bird coming my way.

For some reason or another, one year my Grandfather came to Wichita during the week for a meeting. I think they were a good excuse to swap tales and drink but he was there none the less. Curly was headed home on Wednesday so dad decided he would take a couple of days vacation and go back up to get in an extra day or two hunting. On Friday night, we all piled in the car and Mother drove us to Susank, by god, Kansas. You remember don't you. Right smack dab in the middle of "no and damned where." It was a nice trip from Wichita and always a good reason to stop and eat Hamburgers in McPherson or some strange place.

When we pulled up in the driveway there in Susank, the faintest odor of skunk was in the air. The wind blew from the south and right past a big oil well with its smells. The fact you first smelled skunk meant that there was or had been a skunk nearby. Normally it was one of the dogs had met a skunk as they hunted but the dogs were in the house so that wasn't the case. Skunk meeting for the hunting dogs was a cause for banishment to the yard.

It was dark and getting late when we got there so most of us kids crashed on either the couch or a bed or a pallet on the floor. Early the next morning Grandmother was up and fixed us a big old breakfast. There was always bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy. I can remember that Grandma liked to squeeze her own orange juice and man was it ever good. About the time the food ended, I was off to explore the yard and the off limits water tower. There beside the garage was a freshly marked grave with a cross and it was marked RIP. At the tender age of 8. I didn't know an acronym from apple butter so Rest in Peace or Rank has it privilege was not what I thought. I went back in and counted the dogs. Whitey and Kate (or spot) were there so it wasn't a grave for one of the dogs.

The typical thing for a kid to do is to "ask your parents." When I asked Dad, he said "never you mind that damned grave" so I did what any normal red blooded kid would do I went to the expert and asked Grandma. She was still in the kitchen and she had to look for a chair. As she sat down and wiped the tears of laughter away, she said it was a grave dug for daddy's game he shot on Thursday. It contained mostly the coveralls dad had been wearing because of the skunk spray. While walking down a row of Milo, he had met a skunk and they shot each other at the same time. Several of the guys from the oil field had come over that evening and held a mock funeral (No, I didn't have a clue what the hell a mock anything was but I do now) Dad had been a good sport to the guys but early in the morning (while nursing a hangover) he was in no mood to be teased by his kids.

With little or nothing else to do, we in typical kid fashion did not let it die and it wasn't until we were threatened with a shooting of our own went back outside to play.

Erma and Curly Fruits of Susank, KS were the host to many great meals there in the evening. During hunting season it wasn't unusual to find several pheasants in the kitchen sink being soaked with salt water overnight. Sometime in the afternoon, grandma would cut them up and bake them low and slow in the oven for a couple of hours. I didn't understand why then but I do know now why she did that but then she would take the pieces and dip them in batter and fry piles of pheasant to feed the masses. She had a big fry pan that fit over several burners and lord only knew how much she cooked. About six o'clock several people would show up and bring cases of beer. We would eat, and eat and eat. I had no idea that pheasant was a treat for rich people. We ate it all the time. Grandma's technique of soaking them and pre-baking the parts made then so tender that they fell off the bone. Great eats. Sometime I will tell you about the shrimp boils they held or the 20 chickens they cooked on the homemade grill covered with garlic and butter. I can tell you that good times were had there in the middle of Kansas and some of the best people came to eat with my grandparents. I hope I was considered one of them. May they all RIP.


1 comment:

  1. MUD, that is hilarious! Seriously!!!

    Even though I'm a few years younger than you, I well remember my Great Grandma boiling up squirrels (that Daddy and Papaw had shot while me and my brothers tagged along...trying not to get killed, or kill somebody) for dumplings. And one of my Grandmas baking pheasant.

    I really never did appreciate Midwesterners too much until I lived in Colorado for four years. Oh, Pam had Okie kinfolk, and I have a girl cousin that lives right near you. But, it didn't really strike me as a younger man just how close to what I know and love that y'all in the heartland also have experienced.

    But, when I was living in Colorado I made a great friend. He was a Rancher. He introduced me to the greatness of truly sturdy folks that live in CO, KS, etc. We spent many, many long times together. He was from Pagosa Springs, but his wonderful wife was from Sterlington, WY.

    He once told me, "Joyce is not from the middle of nowhere. She's from 10 miles the other side of that." Man, I laughed like crazy.

    Good story MUD. Really good.