Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trick or Treats of long ago...

When my dad was a boy in southern Missouri in the 1940's, he, his brother and some of their friends decided to play a trick on their Uncle Bill.
Now Uncle Bill, who just happened to be the judge of Oregon County, was a cranky old man who thought he was better than everyone else and he would tell you so to your face. He was a fair judge but lacked personality.
These were the days just out of the depression, the war was over and the boys that survived had come home. They had no tv and still rode horses to get to town on Saturday nights. A few had cars or farm trucks, but my dad and his brothers had a horse.
Uncle Bill, who also had a farm, the self sufficient kind, had always had wooden gates. He had eyed the new metal ones and finally let go of the money to put one up. The first one in the area and it shined like new money. He was so proud.
This was late in the spring and the leaves had just filled in the tree tops. These boys thought ahead. They did that back then. So, one night they all crept through the woods, tethered the horse far enough back that he wouldn't be heard, and snuck down a small hill toward the gate. They had a bag of tools and some rope and soon went to work. They had one guy as a look out. They very quietly took the gate off the post and then hoisted it straight into the air and lodged that shiny new gate in the big fork of the tree right there beside the fence post that they had taken it off of.
Now this was a very dangerous mission. Uncle Bill lacked a sense of humor, especially when it came to his property. At anytime, he or his son that was still living at home could have wakened and would have been loaded for bear when they stepped out on the porch. My dad has no doubts whatsoever that they would have been shot in their tracks if they had been caught.
In the morning, Uncle Bill discovered his gate had been "stolen". He spent the summer letting everyone know what would happen to the ones who took it when he caught up to them, and he would catch them. He looked all over the county for his prize, new, shiny gate to no avail.
It was the longest summer for the boys...they waited but didn't dare breathe a word to no one. Uncle Bill would have locked them up after he had beat them silly.
Finally, the fall came around...and as in all falls...the leaves turned colors and silently, one by one, fell to earth. By doing so, they gave up the secret hiding place of that shiny new gate.
If you thought that Uncle Bill was mad before, boy you hadn't seen nothing yet. He was so mad, because someone had played him a fool, which is worse than stealing a shiny new gate. Legally it was never "stolen". It had never left his property. It was not damaged at all. It had simply been moved 75 feet. Straight up.
The whole town had a good chuckle, because anyone who could pull the wool over Judge Staires' eyes was a hero in their books. It's too bad the boys couldn't take any credit for it. Not for years to come anyway. They had to wait until Uncle Bill had died and was buried deep before they let on that they had done it.

this morning...