The sixth of seven blogs
HERE COMES RALEIGH
My recollections of Raleigh and Pickensville are many. Although I was not privileged to make the trip while young, later in life I made a number of trips to Pickensville to see Raleigh, especially enjoying the trip to fish in the Tombigbee. The ferry stopped operations at night so after the last car departed at dusk, Raleigh would load us on the ferry and go to the middle of the river where we would fish. We caught catfish and lots of eels. At times, we would go to a sandbar, build a fire and spend the night-Raleigh keeping us entertained with his tales. Before locks backed up water to form the Tenn-Tom waterway, the river at times would get quite low creating many sandbars which provided an idea camping and fishing area.
My brother, Kenneth, remembers the episode with the mule. We were the proud (snicker, snicker) owners of “Ole Dock.” I remember Dock as being a mining mule. Kenneth elaborates to say that he was originally a wild mule, captured out west to be used by the military but the end of the war negated the need for beast. How the animal ended up in a wagon mine in Walker County is a mystery. When Dock proved less than being the ideal mining mule, my Dad got him cheap. We needed a beast of burden to pull a plow. Dock didn’t take to that eagerly either, but Dad managed to get him to “gee” (right) and “haw” (left) after some effort. Dock, however, simply refused to allow a body on his back.
Raleigh contended that there was not a horse (or mule) that he could not ride. We expressed our doubts that he should attempt to prove this contention regarding Dock. Raleigh insisted! It wasn’t pretty! Raleigh mounted the mule and as was Dock’s m.o., he allowed him to sit on his back until Raleigh was comfortable. When he insisted that Dock move, he did so--in a flash and violently. Raleigh hit the ground hard-on a rock. In his old age, Raleigh admitted that at times he still suffered from the results of that challenge.
Garland, Jr. stores a treasure of Raleigh memories. Get him started and he tells tale after tale. In addition to the memories of Dock, Garland recalls an occasion when Raleigh was helping us cut pulpwood. In the process, a swarm of yellow jackets were stirred up from their hole in the ground. Raleigh had a hole in the seat of his pants and yellow jackets took advantage of it. If only video would have been available to record the scene! It surely would have made America’s Funniest Home Video-except for the nudity. The pants came off! Video was still decades away but memories have replayed this scene many times.
The story does not end there! Raleigh’s solution to the yellow jacket problem was to pour gasoline in the hole and burn them out. This worked as far as stamping out the yellow jackets. The problem was that he did not fully extinguish the fire as he had at first thought. It caught back up, causing a forest fire. We were then forced to stamp out the fire which proved to be a far greater challenge than getting rid of the yellow jackets.