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Friday, May 6, 2016

Walking With Jackie the Ripper

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A few weeks ago my companion animal and I made a trip back to Mississippi for a visit with my daughter and her husband and while there we continued with our daily walks. (I like to think it helps us both in our unending effort to control our weight, but I don't know.)

Have I ever mentioned that Jackie seems to think she is as big and mean as any of the dogs we encounter here in the Ark-Mo area? Well, she does, and most of the ones we come across are gentle, kind and considerate and put up with the foolishness of her constant yipping and chasing them around. They have never yet taken her head off in one bite as they so easily could.

On our trip south she had another kind of unhappy experience when she encountered a large black lab who was not inclined to be chased by a short brown creature with extremely bowed legs and he snapped at her. Just once. That was all it took. She ran to her mama and stayed really close to me until we were out of such a savage neighborhood where the big ugly dogs didn't know how to behave.

Folks, I laughed till I cried. It was so funny, but funnier still was my thought that it sure didn't take my baby long to look at a horseshoe, a family saying which I'll explain.

During the '30s our Uncle Mel worked as an apprentice blacksmith which could not by any stretch of the imagination be considered a choice job, especially during the summer months, but it was the only employment available when family needs forced him onto the job market. He made the best of it and even enjoyed some of the odd events which took place while he was adding to the financial health of the Cash family.

Lots of people frequented the smithy, he told us, and stopped at the open door to view with satisfaction the hearth and open flames. (I always thought it looked like the Hell described by visiting evangelists, and my dreams were disturbed more than a little for I knew full well that no one exceeded me in pure evilness.)

Most of the visitors would just peek in, pass the time of day and go on about their business, but not so one old gentleman, retired and hard put to find a suitable use for his talents. He almost drove them crazy, Uncle Mel said, moving tools around, losing stuff, offering advice which was completely and totally ignored and just making a general nuisance of himself by asking all manner of questions.

One day Uncle Mel (who swore the story was true but I don't know) had heated a horseshoe over the forge until it was malleable and after beating it into the desired shape, plunged it in the tub of cold water kept for that purpose which cooled the shoe considerably. But it still retained a vast amount of heat.

About this time the inquisitive old gentleman entered, picked up the intensely hot shoe and immediately flung it as quickly as he could, seeking to save his already pained hand from further injury.

Uncle Mel, stifling his laughter, asked, "What's the matter? That horseshoe hot?" He knew full well the old fellow was nursing a handful of blisters.

"No sir," was the quick reply. It jest don't take me long to look at a horseshoe."

Down through the years when anyone in the family rids themselves quickly of an item, be it hot or cold, or just unpleasant, someone is apt to remark, "Sure don't take you long to look at a horseshoe."

Martha Cash Bennett's books, Home By Suppertime and Where Golden Apples Grow are available by calling 870-625-9939.