Farmerville Gazette, November 9, 1939
Written by Edna Liggin as Uncle Lige
Horns wer a blowin’, cars war a-rumblin’, things a poppin’ an’screechin’ tootin’, roarin’ and a boomin’.
“Wal, Ma”, I said happy as a dead pig in the sunshine, “hyar we be in Shreesport. You satisfied?” Fer nuttin’ would do Ma and them thar adopshuns but thet I take ’em to Shreesport arter we sold the fourth bale uf cotton. So hyar we war, in the model T with no tellin’ whut would happen.
Ma begun her naggin, “Pa, you shore be careful. They say these hyar cities are awful wicked, en they as soon – Junyer, put thet bean shooter up, this minute.” Junyer like to have jumped outa the car on Red River bridge. “Why, Ma, I allus shoot ’em.”
Ma hed gone blum off’n her head. “Can’t you git in yore noogin this yar’s a city? Suppos’n you’d hit one uf them that thar gangsters? He might mow us down with un uf them thar machine guns. Why, not any tellin’ whut he’d do.”
I begun to laugh. “Ma, you do have sum uf the most redlickluss ideas!” At which Ma shot back at, “Pa, you watch that car ahead uf you er they’ll be a-pickin you up in redicklus pieces.” Junyer butted in “wal, far heaven’s sakes, stop arguin.” I’ve done put up thet bean shooter.”
Ma plumb didn’t know whut he wuz talkin’ about. “Shooter? Oh yis. And Sis dragged back, “Why Ma, you think I want to look like a country girl?” Ma said, “Huh! If’n I so much as ketch you flirtin’ with one uf thse here city slickeds, I’ll smack you down.”
“Oh, Ma, be yore age,” said thet smart gal, “I’m gonna noo me a city feller before I leave town.” Ma begin to splutter. “Sis Liggs!” Here Junyer cum in agin. “Oh, Luvadee, lookit all thet water en them tall houses. Oh, Luvadee. Ma, Ma, I see an airplane! Ma, I thought people flew in airplanes. This’n ain’t no bigger’n a bird. Oh. Ma!”
“Shet up,” said Ma. “Wal fer cryin’ out loud. Whut in the Sam Hill air you stoppin’ fer Pa?’ Ma kin ast sum uf the darndest questions. “I dunno, all the cars ahead uf me are. I have to.” I didn’t know myself, but I warn’t gwine ter tell Ma. “Mighty slow town,” said Ma. Now they be movin’ up.”
Then Ma lit in tre givin’ orders. “Now, kids, afore we git out uf the car, you beshore yore money is safe. Sis, put yor’n in yore stockin.” Luvadee, put yor’n in the pockit uf yore coat thet has the hole in it, so’s it’l fall in the linin’.”
“Ma, make Luvadee quit gawpin with her head outa the winder.” said Sis. Ma let Luvadee have it. “Luvadee, quit actin’ so countryfied an give them city folks a taste uf thar own kind. Wal, Pa, whut are we stoppin’ fer agin?” “Drat it.” I tole her. “Them wimmin jest walked out in front uf me. How’d they know I’d stop? The fella across frum me hed to do the same.”
“Don’t be sillie, Pap.” Sis had had a great light. “I’ve heerd they had things over heer called traffick lights. Thet’s why we haf to stop. Sum people is so dumb!” “Bet you don’t know, Sis,” said Junyer and let out a fearful howl. “Hey, Ma, make Sis quit pinchin’ me!” “Then Tee Hee, Ma look at Luvadee puttin’ on sum uf Sis’s lipstick.”
She liked to haf had a fit. “Ma, Ma, make her gimme my lipstick. Make her now. Luvadee, you little prisslike!” Ma shut Sis up. “Luvadee, if you don’t git thet lipstick off yore lips. I’ll tan you right here in the middle uf the street! The idee!” Luvadee give in. “Oh, all right, but I don’t see why you let Sis wear it and not me. After all, she’s only three year older, and ain’t got no fella neither and I…Ma shut her up agin.
Junyer began to tee hee agin. “Wouldn’t I laugh if’n Ma Tans Luvadee right here in frunt uf them thar traffick lights and everybody’d see her.” All uf a sudden his lafter was nipped, with a howl. “Ma, Luvadee stuck thet ole safety pin in me.” Ma gived Luvadee a dark look.
I dast put in a word now. Wal, I guess thar ain’t no cars around this big buildin’ we’ll leave the car here. So we stopped. Ma agin give her orders. “Now, Pa, you take this basket uf eggs and trade fer groceries while I take this’ un and trade fer dry goods.” Hyar Sis revolted. “Well, I’m not goin’ with you all eggs tradin’ dry goods-Bah.”
Ma got her tole. “Sis, you stay right here with me. Now, Pa, you take the boy and I’ll take the girls. Here, take this and put this here.” She began to get settled. Then she spyed Juyer. “Stay outa thet lunch.” But Junyer tole her he wuz hungry and wanted a piece uf fried chicken and a biskit. “No,” Ma said, “we’ll meet back here fer dinner. Here’s a nickel, you boys git yore pa to buy you an ice cream cone. Luvedee, didn’t I tell you to git thet lipstick off? Whar’s sis?” Nobody seemed to know and she warn’t in sight.
“Oh, merciful heavens.” Ma set up howling. “She ain’t hyar, Pa! A city slicker’s got her! Oh my pore gal. He’ll ruin and wreck her. Oh, why did I ever cum to this wicked Babylon? Oh, so sumpin’ Pa! Lige Liggs! Tem’s yore adopshuns. Do sumpin! OOOh…”
“Luvadee,” I yelled. “Do sumipn!” Fer right then it wub too late, Ma hed fell in a fit en mashed all the eggs?
Wal, sir, thar stood Ma arter awhile, a-moanin’ and a -drippin’ squashed eggs. I decided I hed better git out and hunt Sis afore anything else happened. Tellin’ Luvadee and Junyer to watch Ma, I started up the street and it warn’t long afore I spied Sis and whut looked like a city slicker. I eased up on ’em, wishin’ to observe un uf ’em close-hand.
His hair shone like my shoes after a shine and he looked as slick as a eel with a mustash so little any decent man’d be ashamed uf it. He hed on a red necktie en green socks en a gold frunt tooth. I walked up jest in time to hear him ask Sis whar she’d bin all her life.
“Sis turned her nose up in the air, “You’s be surprised.” then, “big boy, I’m out to wow this town.” The city slicker grinned. “Hey, baby, you don’t mean it. Beautiful, I could show you sum things.” Sis ast him ef he’d lived here all uf his life. “You bet,” he sez, “Say, sweetheart, let’s git sumpin’ to drink.” Sis begin to put on, her still in the air. “You needn’t offer me water either, I can hold my own with soda pop.” The city slicker fergot to shet his mouth. He looked at Sis kinda funny.
They begin ter ease up the street an’ I slinked along behind. “Wanta cigarette?” he ast. “Oh, no,” Sis still hed er nose up in the air. “Thet’s too countryfied fer me. Back home we wimmin allus smoke pipes.” The city slicker looked like he’d swallowed too many pills. He didn’t look so cockeyed now. “Er, I suppose you pet back home, eh, good looking?” I could see he had Sis thar fer a minnit, but thet is one more smart gal. “Oh, yis” she said. All the dogs are my pets. They’re all crazy about me. They even lick outa my hand. I treat ’em all alike.”
The city slicker stopped dead still and gazed popeyed. Sis saw me about that time. “Pap,” she sez, “whut do yer mean follerin’ me?” As soon as thet city slicker heerd the word “Pap” he hit a shuck. Sis got mad. “Uf all the nerve sum folks have. Jest I wuz fixing to git him to buy me a soda pop. I wish sum folks would mind thar own biziness!” Oh, me, this biziness uf being a parent will drive me crazy yit.
“Lissen hyar gal.” you git on down thar back to thet car. Ma’s dun fell in a fit and busted all the eggs.” She looked at me kinda sassified and I told her if she didn’t git a move on I’d call me a policeman. “Wal, cum on then,” she said, but I tole her to go by herself, I’d be on in a minnit. I wanted to go inter sum of them places and git me a soda pop.
Ma tole me whut happened next after I left Sis. When Sis got to the car Ma grabbed her and fer the fust time kissed un uf the adopshuns. “Oh, my darling, yore safe and whole! To think whut a narrer escape you had. And how I did worry.” Then Ma changed her tune. “If’n I iver ketch you doin’ thet agin I’ll tan yore hide even ef’n you ar sixteen!” Sis said she didn’t care, she wuz tired uf niver havin’ no excitement and havin’ to stay under sumboby’s elbow all the time.
Then Ma missed me. “Junyer, you seen Lige? Drat that man, he ain’t got the brains uf a billy goat. I’ll be glad whin these hyar eggs git off’n me.” About this time Luvadee ast Sis if the city slicker kissed her. Sis said, “Wouldn’t you like to know?” All the while Ma was getting more agitated and Sis said I wuz drinkin’ a soda pop and Ma said “Huh, indeed” to that. I wuz about in one uf them you know whut places a showin’ off my ignorance.
“My goodness,” said Sis, “can’t pap take keer uf hisself? Even if I can’t leave yore coattails.” Luvadee put in a low voice to Sis askin’ if he hugged er neck. Sis wanted to know who. “Why, the city slicker,” said Luvadee. “Fer goodness sakes, shet up,” said Sis. “Here cums Junyer and a policeman.” Mat lit in to tellin’ my subscription. “No Mam’am, I ain’t seen nobody whut looks yore husband.”
“Oh, officer, find him. Pa ain’t no good by hisself. Oh, whut’ll I do. Sis kidnaper by a slicker, the eggs all busted and now Pa runs off. Oh, why did I iver cum to this Babylon uf wicketness?” Ma admitted later the poleecmun did look a little disbusted at her howlin’ so over sech a little thing as loosin’ her husband. Cause he tole her this: “I’m shore I don’t know ma’am. Ever bin in Shreesport afore? You’d better find yore husband cause you gotta move this car.”
“I can’t drive. I can’t drive! I gotta find Pa. Oh, why did I iver cum.” … The poleecemun give in. “Oh, will, he sez, “I’ll see if I kin locate him fer you and you kin wait here fer me.” Sis tole Ma to quit makin’ sech a fuss. I’d cum in a minnit. Johnny wanted Luvadee to walk on the purty grass nearby, but Ma said “kids if you dasten leave my side I’ll tan yore hides.” Junyer decided he warn’t havin’ no fun so he took a shot at a fat man bending over trying his shoe laces with his bean shooter. Junyer almost got a tanning right then by both the man and Ma.
Sis with a fresh coat uf lipstick helped Junyer out. “Er-hello,” she said to the man. “How I’m doin,” The had begun, “Say, when did you–” when Ma said “young man, you git outa here!” And he got, when she added she’d tan his hide too. “Well,” said Sis, “there goes prospect number two.” “And heer cums the poleecemun,” sez Junyer.
“Madam,” sez the poleecemun, “thar’s a man at headquarters who says he’s Lige Liggs. He’s bin beaten and robbed and picked up unconscious–” “Whut!” yelped Ma, “jext wait’ll I git my hands on thet man. I’ll tan his hide.”
Her’s whar I cum on the sene agin. I’m back at the car and Ma ha questions poppin’ out all over her. She finally got un uf them out, “Wal, you might at least tell us whut happened.” “Now don’t git riled, Ma,” I tole her, “but I stepped inside a place to git me a bottle uf soda pop.” Ma only said, “Huh.” I went on. “I met up with a fella and he axed me to go ridin’ wif him to see the town. Thar wuz two purty gals with him.”
The exploshun cum. “I’d mighta knowed you’d do sumpin’ like that.” “Now wait a minnit.” I tole her. “We’d only gone a short piece when we cum to a railroad overhead and a dark place when the man sez ‘yore money or yore life.’ Naturally, I give him every sent I had.” Junyer wanted to know ef’n he had a gun. “Be quiet, Junyer, who’s tellin’ this? No, he didn’t hev a gun.” Junyer wanted to know why’nt I fight.
I got riled. “Becpz he wuz a beatin’ me over the head with a bottle.” “Soda pop?” asked Sis. “How’d I know, let me tell this. One uf the wimmin wuz drivin’, one uf them got my pocketbook and the last thing wuz thet bottle hitting me over the head. I woke up in policemun’s quarters.” Luvadee wanted to know if it hurt. I begin to feel brave. “I reckon it did. I woke up down thar and they said a man had picked me up unconscious in thet dark place. I shore made a stir down thar. I was quite a sinceesashun. I wuz.” Ma cut me off. “Wal, wal, I allus knowed tharn’t no good in pickin’ up strangers.” I took thet with a swallow. After all I couldn’t afford to git het up now. Hyar we wuz a hundred miles frum home. I tole ’em this. “Say,” said Sis cumin’ to my aid. I’ll go git annuder city sticker and gold dig him whutever thet is. I’ve read about them girls who dig gold outa city slickers.” Ma give Sis a hard look and squelched thet. “We are in a pickle.” said Junyer, “and thet poleecemun said we had to move the car, but he ain’t cum back.” Thet tickled me. “I ain’t got mor’n enuff gas to git to a fillin’ station. And no money.”
Luvadee said sumpin about being hungry and thet made things wuss. Ma wuz so down and out she forgot to wonder why she iver cum to this wicked Babylon. My head hurt. Oh, me. Whut wuz I gonna do? Everybody had a face long nuff to touch the ground. I saw Junyer eying a bird up in a tree and pullin’ on his bean shooter. Fer once I wuz glad uf thet bean shooter. “Wing him, Junyer.” I whispered. “We’ll sneak a fire sumwhar and cook him.”
Jest then a young man walks by lookin’ as blue as we war. He wuz draggin’ hisself along with his head down, lookin’ as ef he wanted to cry. So did I right then. He had a smallish thing slung on his arm. Probably a hobo, though he wuz dressed right neat. I remarked out loud to Junyer thet he looked about as hard up as we did. the young man heerd us and pricked up his ears. He stopped dead still. “What’s the matter?” he stares.
I felt sorry for him. “You look like you’re broke and a hundred miles from home,” I said. “And can’t wow a man,” said Sis. “And bin bunged up,” said Junyer. “Nuttin to eat,” said Luvadee. Ma only hissed in my ear, “He might be a gangster. See that quar lookin’ objeck on his arm?” “Shet up idiot,” I tell her, but she won’t shet. “Young man go about yore biziness,” Ma tole him.
I ain’t niver seen a dead man cum alive, but thet is the way thet young man did. He woke up. His eyes lit up. “It’s a pip. It’s a humdinger! It’s a natural, fulla human interest. Oh, boy!” He did a jig in front uf us. “Is it really true? Whar are you frum?” I tole him. Sis found her tongue. “Pap hes been robbed, and we are broke.” Ma found her’s. “Yes, en my darter almus kidnapped and me squashing all the eggs.”
The young man become a hot wire, “wait a minnit; I’m a reporter. Let me git my pencil and note book. This is a honey of a story.” But while he is sayin’ this, quick as a flash, he reaches toward his pocket and Ma bein’ dumb don’t understand. She thinks he is going after a gun, she’s bin stupified all the time. Quick as a flash she lets the car crank fly at the man, yelling “Don’t shoot, city slicker!” And he dodged jest in time. I grabbed Ma.
The young man jest laffed. He fumbles with the box on his arm en it took all uf us to hold Ma. He’s gonna murder us.” she yelled all over town. I stuffed my hanky in her mouth and answered the reporters questions, naturally understanding whut he wuz up to. He explains he only wants to take our picture. When he said thet Ma jerked away frum me and made a dive fer Sis’s lipstick. He shoots us.
Then Sis wanted to know whar thet got us. We wuz still in the same condishun. “Why’se you are,” said this nice young man. “Here, will five dollars git you home?” “You bet.” I said. Now he sees Sis fer the first time and wants to know ef she is the one thet got ketched by the city slicker. She said she almost had one wowed. He laughed and said I oughta use a hair brush on her. I tole him of frequent use uf the razor strop, but Sis blushes and begins to cry.
“Sister” sez the reporter, “Don’t let it git you. You’re all right.” I tells him she is purty good in the cotton patch and she cries on. She looks right forlorn and lovelorn with her yaller hair tummelling and her lipstick all wiped off. The reporter puts his arm around her and completely ignores Ma’s baleful glare. “Listen, sister, I jest remembered an assignment my paper is sending me on up in yore parish. How about seein’ you sum more?” Sis begins to smile. Luvadee began to sing out “Sis got a beau. Sis got a beau.”
All this wuz boring me stiffer’n a hollow horn. I wanted to tell thet reporter all about my reporting and writing stuff, but he is too bizzy pettin; Sis. Ma is bizzy puttin’ Junyer and Luvadee in the car and yellin’ to go home. So we thank the young man and of we go get sum gas and head toward home.
We wuz all thankful. “Thank goodness I’ve wowed a man.” said Sis through tears. Junyer thanked goodness he could use his shooter again and wishin’ he had the guy who robbed me. Ma thanked her stars she wouldn’t have to go to Shreveport agan. I wuz mightly proud I got one bottle of soda pop.
We wuz so thankful we got tickled out loud all the way home.