I heard my mother call me. I could tell by the tone of her voice she had something for me to do. I moved slowly because I didn’t want to stop playing.
When I heard mother call me the second time I knew I had better get moving. I arrived at the back of the house where mother was standing. She said “Charles do you see that little red bantam rooster over there in the chicken yard?” I replied, “Yea ma’m.”
I want you to catch that rooster, take it back to Arzella and tell her to clip its wings so it can’t get out any more.
I protested because I was playing and didn’t want to go.
It only took one look from mother for me to know it was time to return the rooster.
I took an old wire coat hanger, made a hook on the end and slowly crept upon the rooster and hooked its right leg. It started flipping and flopping but I was careful not to get hit by its spurs.
I got hold of both of its legs and holding it with its head pointing down I was headed to the other side of the hollow.
I stopped and called to my cousin, Barbara Raynor, and ask her if she wanted to go with me. She said she did. Off we went bare footed as a goose.
To get to Arzella’s house I could walk about two miles the long way or I could go across the hollow and be there in ten minutes. I chose the short cut.
At the bottom of the hollow was a creek. It was fed from a spring that was in Oscar Martin’s pasture.
When Barbara and I reached the bottom of the hollow I was still holding the rooster by its feet and its head pointed down.
I looked up at the other side and I could see Arzella’s house and to this nine-year-old it looked like it was a million miles high. I looked at Barbara and said “I don’t want to walk up that hill.”
She said, “I don’t either.”
We were about fifty feet or so away from the spring. I walked over to the spring and pushed the rooster’s head under the water. It didn’t struggle too much. I held it under long enough to see two tiny bubbles rise to the top. It soon was totally limp. I pulled the rooster from the spring and gave it a toss over into some blackberry bushes.
I made a swiping motion with my hands and said to Barbara, “Lets go back and play some more.”
We returned back to my house and mother was sweeping the back yard. She asked if I took the rooster back. I replied, “Yes Mam”. Did you tell her to clip its wing? “Yes Mam.”
Barbara and I returned to our playing.
The next day was Sunday. After church services at the Creeltown Church-of-God the people were milling around outside and I saw Mother talking to Arzella. I walked over to where they were standing and I interrupted mother and asked her to come on and let’s go home. I knew better than to interrupt her and she chastised me and I stood there while they continued talking.
Mother asked Arzella if she clipped the wings on that old rooster. Arzella replied, “What rooster?”
“The one Charles returned to you yesterday,” she said.
“I’m sorry Eunice but I haven’t seen any rooster,” Arzella said.
Mother explained to her how the rooster had flown its coop and needed to have its wings clipped and how she had told me to deliver it to her.
Arzella said, “I’m sorry Eunice, but I don’t know what you are talking about.”
About this time, my cousin, Barbara stepped up and said, “Aunt Eunice I know what happened to that rooster.”
I chimed in quickly, “Shut up Barbara.”
Barbara continued, “Aunt Eunice, Charles drowned that rooster”, and I said again, “Shut up Barbara or I’ll hold your head under the water too.”
Mother turned and pointed her finger at me and said, “Young man you get straight home and I’ll deal with you shortly.”
I turned and headed home. Boy, that was the longest stretch of road I had ever seen.
Mother was right behind me and arrived in the front yard about the same time as I did, except she stopped off at the peach tree. She approached me with the switch in hand. It looked like it was six feet long.
She took me by my left hand and started up my right side at the ankles and went all the way up to the head. I started going around in a circle, screaming and yelling like I was being killed. Daddy came running out to the front porch to see what was happening. He said to mother, “What’s going on?”
“He lied to me daddy, he lied to me,” Mother said as she kept on swinging that peach tree switch.
“Whup him again Mama, whup him again,” Daddy said.
When everything settled down and the sting of the switch was still fresh, mother took me in her arms and told me how much she loved me and she would not have punished me for drowning the rooster because it needed eating anyway but because I lied to her about taking it back.
In the next 53 years that my mother lived, I can honestly say, I never lied to her again. Now, I can’t say that about my daddy. Then, too, that is a story for another day.
— Charles Beersdorf