“Mutt” the Game Warden finally caught up with Everett* on the banks of Cove Creek – his gun in one hand, a pouch full of squirrels in the other. It was lowest point of the Great Depression and – in his desperation – Everett had planned to feed his family with the unfortunate critters.
Reluctantly, my great grandfather tossed four squirrels at Mutt’s feet.
So much for dinner.
Now, I’ve been very fortunate in life. I’ve been hungry, but I’ve never starved. I’ve never looked at a squirrel and thought, “yum”. And my parents never risked jail time because they were forced to hunt wrong animal in the wrong season.
Wrong season? Yes. Squirrels are “small game” – and this was not small game season. Everett had poached in King Mutt’s forest, and for that transgression he was slapped with a hefty fine.
And of course – there was no money to pay the fine.
Mutt escorted my great-grandfather back to his house. Great Grandma Mae wept as her husband packed his shaving kit. (How kind of Mutt to allow that luxury). Grandma, her two sisters, and her brother stood wringing their hands – worrying – not understanding why Daddy was going to jail trying to bring home dinner.
A dinner that was lost somewhere out in the woods.
Thankfully, Aunt Mabel arrived and she did have some money. She paid the fine and saved Everett from a stint in the hoosegow. But it was a close call – one that left the family shaken for quite some time. My grandmother was sent to live on a neighboring farm – where she worked as a laborer before and after school.
Until this weekend, no one ever talked about the incident with Mutt.
despite the taint of injustice
you have grown taller
“There was a big, high wall there that tried to stop me –
The sign was painted; it said, “Private Property”
But on the back side it didn’t say nothin’ –
This land was made for you and me.”
All names are changed. Except for Mutt. I figure he must have earned the nickname.
Linked to Carpe Diem #701: Ancestors. Here is a haiku from Issa:
on the ancestors’ altar
a lucky wind blows
And here is a haiku from our host:
on the credenza
the images of ancestors
lighted by a candle
Here’s another haibun based on my Grandmother’s memories.