Collected by Merlin Mitchell Ben Howell
Transcribed by Mary C. Parler Austin, Texas
Reel 71, Item 5
In my young days—you know a feller wants to travel. And being
a farm boy and a broke boy, I rolled up my overhalls/and pulled out
and found me a side-door sleeper. And went up-the-county.
I got up there—some little town in Arkansaw—and I got out and
went down to the water tank to get a drink of water. Apple pickers
was pretty scarce; and they had all the deputies looking out for
freight-train riders. And they picked me up, and told me that I
could either go to jail or pick apples. Well I like to pick apples. So
they turned me over to an old farmer with an old wagon there. And
we rode for about four hours over them old rough red roads. And he
come up to a farm house and said, "Well, this is it."
So I got out. And he said, "We'll feed the team and milk the
cows, and supper'll be ready in a little bit." So I jumped in there
and helped him milk and slop the hogs and one thing and another. We
had supper and went to bed. Next morning we got up 'fore daylight and got
all the work done and started out for the apple orchard. Well, he
had three or four days of this and he said, "Well, the apple pickin's
"Well," I said, "are you going to take me back to town?"
He said, "No, sir. I'm going to pay you off in Arkansas legal
Come to find out, legal tender was squirrel hides, coon hides,
rabbit hides, fox hides—all types of hides. They meant different
denominations. He give me all those hides, and I put my foot in
'Long about noon I begin to get hungry. I struck a fellow coming
Reel 71, Item 5
up the road .and asked if there was a mercantile store of any kind.
He said, "Down at the cross-roads down there you'll find one."
I went down there and I got my cheese and sardines and crackers
and eat them. And I pull out a hide, and I told this old fellow, I
said, "I don't know how to make change with this."
He said, "Well, give me a possum hide and I'll give you a coon
hide and three squirrel skins back. That'll be your change."
So I went up the road with this roll of hides, and I got thirsty.
And I met an old woman on an old mule, and she had a bushel of potatoes
in a sack.
And I said, "Granny, where can I get a drink of water?"
She said, "Right back up the road aways, there's a trail leading
down to a good spring of water."
"Well," I said, "I'm gettin' sore-footed. I wonder what you'd
take for that mule." I said, "I got these hides and I don't know
how to make change, but if I've got enough to pay for that mule, I'd
like to have it."
She got down and checked my hides and give me a fox hide back, and
says, "I'll th'ow in that bushel of potatoes."
She started off afoot. And I turned the mule back and we rode
down to the spring. And after I got down there, I just dumped these
taters out—the mule was hungry—and let him eat 'em.
And I laid there and went to sleep. And I woke up, and there was
a woman standing there with a big bundle of clothes, and my mule was
a-groanin' and a-rollin'.
She said, "What's the matter with your mule?"
I said, "I don't know."
Continued Page 3
Reel 71, Item 5
She said, "What have you fed him?"
I said, "I fed him a bushel of sweet potatoes."
She said, "My gosh! you want to kill your mule?" She says, "Gas
is about to bust him." She said, "I'll tell you what. You built a
farr 'round that pot, and I'll go to the house and get a box of Arm
and Hammer wody and a fox horn, and we'll drench that mule."
So I built the fire and filled the pot, and she come back with the
fox horn and we drenched the mule.
And she said,"Now, get him in a lope." And I taken this horn and
stuck it down his throat as far as I could and tied it to his bits so
he couldn't th'ow it up, so he'd get rid of that gas.
And ever' time he'd hit the ground, he'd blow that horn. And I
rode on in to this little town in Arkansas. And if there was one
doz a-follerin' the mule there was a hunderd. And they had me
arrested for stealing everybody's dog in Arkansas.
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