Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Excerpt from "Little Home on the Piney"

This is a story my father, Farrel Dablemont told me. It is part of a book I have written about his childhood entitled, “Little Home on the Piney”. This is a true story which took place in 1940, when he was about 14 years old.

We started going to the ‘Methadess Church’ in Houston in August, and the preacher just zeroed in on me. He told me I was going to hell just as sure as God turned green apples red, if I was to die. I didn’t figure I was going to die, but I didn’t want to take any chances so I went up to the front of the church with some other sinners to be ‘saved’. Truthfully, I don’t think that I was near the sinner, at my age, that some of them folks were.

But in order not to go to hell, you had to do that, and let the preacher pray hard over you and pronounce you good enough to go. Then if you died you would go to heaven and float around in the clouds and live in a house made of gold. The clincher though, what you had to do first, was to go out some Sunday afternoon and get babtized. I did, and the Piney was really cold that October afternoon when the preacher pushed me under.

I never knew what was going on much, but it made Mom and Zodie happy. They both cried and cried. I wondered at the time why they would cry so much about me escaping the devil. It looked to me like they ought to really be happy. I reckon maybe they was thinking about my brother Norten!

So what it came down to was me all confused about everything. Somehow, there was a God who took care of us and he had sent his son who was killed but didn’t die, to show us that if we are killed we don’t die either.

I thought and thought about it, and tried to read the Bible Mom had but I couldn’t hardly make heads nor tails out of it. I had seen some stuff wrote by a guy named Shakespeare in school and it was a lot like that. Some folks must have known what it meant, but I didn’t.

The afternoon in late October that I went out to try to get a squirrel after I got home from school was one of the biggest turning points in my young life. We had three squirrels and Mom wanted to make squirrel and dumplings because Jim Adey was going to have supper with us. She wanted another squirrel to make sure we had enough. Pop and Jim were sitting trotlines, and Norten was up there on the Meramec River so I was the one the job was left up to.

I didn’t mind that, I loved hunting squirrels. But we didn’t have one shotgun shell in the whole house, so I had to take a little Stevens Marksman .22 rifle, something Pop had took in for a trade for a boat paddle. It had a bent barrel enough to where you had to aim about a foot to the right of what you were shooting at to hit the target, at 25 or 30 yards. Pop was going to straighten it but he hadn’t gotten around to it. Somebody had painted the stock and forearm yellow!

I can’t remember ever seeing a day more beautiful. The trees were turning red and gold and orange, and the fields were full of bright sumac bushes. I wondered if heaven could possibly be as pretty as the Big Piney. I hunted for an hour up the river, in the woods bordering the fields, and then I crossed the shoal above the Paw-Paw Bottoms and found about the most perfect woods you could ask for.

Sitting there waiting for a squirrel, I got to talking to God. I told Him that I was awfully confused about what I had been told, but I was willing to do my best if He would just show me He knew who I was and wanted to help me be less of a sinner. I just flat told Him right then and there I wanted to see some proof of things. Asking for a squirrel wasn’t much of a request.

I sat on that fallen log beneath big oaks and hickories, watching colored leaves drift down around me while the late afternoon sun sent bright shafts into the shadows between the tree trunks, “God,” I said beneath my breath, “if you are real, just show me, by letting me get a squirrel for Mom.”

About five-thirty that afternoon I headed back to the old mill, squirrel-less. I hadn’t seen one, I hadn’t heard one. I was pretty disappointed. There I had went up to be saved and had been dipped in cold water to show how much faith I had, and God wouldn’t even let me have a squirrel. My fragile faith was being tried, my beliefs strained.

There are going to be folks who won’t believe this, but I had left the woods only about 200 yards from the mill-house and I wasn’t paying much attention as I grumbled along. And suddenly I looked up to the old broken down fence I would have to cross and there was a fox squirrel sitting on a post, eating something. I can’t say I thought about aiming, I just cocked the hammer, shouldered that little short rifle and pulled the trigger. The fox squirrel, thirty-five yards away, tumbled from the fence post, shot through the head.

When I picked it up, I was expecting to hear God scold me, but I heard nothing. I just sort of got weak-kneed and it hit me that wherever God was and whatever He was, I was important to Him. He knew about me. And finally I knew a little bit about Him.

I looked up into the fading blue and grey skies blue over the high bluff above the Mill Pond Eddy and I said, rather meekly… “Thank you God for this here squirrel.” And then I said agin.. “Thank you.” Somehow I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I would be saying it. He was real and we’d have enough squirrels for supper just to prove it.

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