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Life and death of a town. Marysville, Indiana is a small town about 25 miles northeast of Louisville. My grandfather grew up on a farm near here (young Colonel Sanders was his neighbor). Back then, Marysville was a prosperous place. Then the railroad died. Next I-65 was built a few miles west, allowing traffic to bypass Marysville. Finally, a 2015 tornado almost leveled the town. Now it reminds me of a tree stump trying to regenerate, not dead, but no longer a tree.

Lord of the Caves Part 27

“Oh-koh-rah and Hah-nah-pah, come with me,” Oh-see-rah commanded.

Spear throwers and torches in hand, they quickly joined him.

He filled them in. “Fan out and we’ll go to the creek in search of Lol-non.”

Oh-see-rah didn’t have to point out that Lol-non was likely already in the alligator’s belly. Did the wee man have no sense in his wee head?

Between the torches and the moon, Oh-see-rah could see a few paces ahead. Even the blazing bugs were hiding. Oh-see-rah took the center, Oh-koh-rah on the right and Hah-nah-pah to the left. They slowly combed through a meadow favored by deer.

“Come quickly!” shouted Oh-koh-rah.

Oh-see-rah rushed toward Oh-koh-rah to help, though he had little stomach to view the remains of Lol-non. Curses on the alligator kind. The stink of fish hit Oh-see-rah. Either he was closer to the creek than he realized, or the alligator was busy eating their fish. He slowed and peered through the dark.

“See the wee lad?” Hah-nah-pah asked.

“I’m looking,” Oh-koh-rah replied.

Oh-see-rah tiptoed to the fish. No alligator.

The net full of dead fish wiggled toward Oh-see-rah. He jumped back.

“It’s me.” Lol-non’s voice.

Smiling, Oh-see-rah picked up one of the nets.

Lol-non stood up. “I am sure happy to see you all.”

“Why are you hiding under the fish?” Oh-see-rah asked.

“Hiding from the alligator.”

Oh-see-rah hoisted Lol-non to his shoulder. “Why are the fish away from the creek?”

Lol-non laughed. “You all ran off, so I tried to drag them to the cave. The alligator chased me, so I hid.”

“Lucky for you the alligator didn’t eat our fish…wait…why were you following us?” Oh-see-rah had a mind to spank him.

Lol-non squirmed. “I wanted to fish, too.”

Hah-nah-pah squeezed Lol-non’s calf. “You’ll make good bait.”

“Not funny.” Lol-non squirmed. “I rescued the fish for you all.”

“And that will save you a spanking from me,” Oh-see-rah said.

Hah-nah-pah and Oh-koh-rah grabbed the fish, and they headed back to the cave.

“Thank you for coming back for me,” said Lol-non. “It won’t happen again.”

“Be more careful,” Oh-see-rah ordered.

Lol-non sighed. “It is hard going from being a chief’s son to being not much bigger than a Dell Folk baby.”

Oh-see-rah squeezed Lol-non’s knees. “What are you complaining about? You get to ride around on the Lord of the Cave’s shoulders.”

“The cave!” Lol-non bucked his body.

Two guards with torches stood just outside the cave just as Oh-see-rah had ordered with the new safety drills. Oh-see-rah was so glad to reach the safety of Tiger Rock Cave he decided not to humiliate Lol-non with a spanking.

At the mouth of the cave, he handed Lol-non to Oo-tah-nah. “Here’s your baby man. Let him tell you what he did.”

Lol-non closed his eyes. “It won’t happen again.”

Oo-tah-nah shook her head. “Later, I will punish you.”

Lol-non winced.

Oh-see-rah stood on the Great Flat Rock and raised his hands high. “Listen up!” He told everyone about the whisker fish and the alligator. Then he told them about Lol-non saving their fish catch.

Everyone cheered, “Lol-non!”

AHOOOON! One of the guards sounded his ram’s horn.

AHOOOON! The other guard sounded his ram’s horn.

“You know the drill!” Oh-see-rah shouted.

Spear throwers ready, the two guards backed up to the paling stakes.

WHOOOOOAN! The alligator leapt at them.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

John Kelly Riley was at the Hominy Holler General Store the other day. At his doctor’s urging, he picked up a bottle of olive oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil. He wasn’t interested in the olive oil’s personal life and remarked that either it was virgin or not virgin, extra was out of the picture. He muttered, To heck with it, and bought a tin of lard—lots simpler.

Fretless joy

Once upon a time, banjos were made by poor people, fretless like fiddles. Companies made them with frets. Fretless banjos are back, used for country and blues. Fretless banjos can play blue notes, notes a quarter step above standard pitch, allowing blues banjo players to match fiddles. Jazz next?

Mystery solved! With the help Facebook friends, I believe I have a solution for Kop, the red used to color Beothuk skin red. Bloodroot grows as far north as Nova Scotia, and the root was used as a red dye. It is mixed with red ocher, a mordant (mordants combine with dyes to make them permanent). It not only dyes the skin red, the mixture is an insect repellant. [bloodroot without a mordant is toxic]

Tiptoeing: Toe walking (walking on the balls of your feet) is common in children I just learned. It is idiopathic (no abnormality) and goes away on its own but can be a sign of problems. It seems to run in families and be more common in girls, possibly because of an interest in dances such as ballet. [I do well to walk on my feet, but I am way over 5]

Lord of the Caves Part 26

Jaws opened impossibly wide, the alligator shot towards Oh-see-rah. Dropping his fishing line, he fled. Aimed right at him, the alligator’s enormous body blotted out the moon, making Oh-see-rah even blinder, making him move all the faster.

The others were yelling something, but Oh-see-rah couldn’t understand them as he waited for the alligator to slash his back open.

He barged into a blackberry bramble, countless thorns ripping his flesh, but he kept moving, desperate to evade those huge jaws and knife-like teeth. Where was the alligator? He glanced back—it had stopped, likely unwilling to rip into the thorns.

“Over here,” whispered Hah-nah-pah.

“Are you alone?” Oh-see-rah wished it wasn’t so very dark.

“We’re all here, waiting for you,” Hah-nah-pah replied.

Oh-see-rah went through a maze of bambles and joined him. They hurried off, the others joining them.

Oh-see-rah thought of the whisker fish. “Did anyone get the fish?”

Hoh-koh-rah chuckled. “We were too frightened to think of fish.”

Oh-see-rah sighed. “Now we have nothing for the morning meal.”

Hoh-koh-rah pointed left. “A bog over this ways has a good stand of cattails.”

“Why not? Better than starving.” Oh-see-rah veered left, the others keeping up with him.

Just in case something was lurking in the shadows, they scouted around the bog. Nothing.

“Go ahead,” said Oh-see-rah as he got his knife out.

WHOOOOOAN came from behind him.

He started and turned around. The alligator was racing toward him.

“Run,” yelled Oh-see-rah as he tapped one of the men on the shoulder.

The entire group bolted from the bog, the alligator scrambling after them. After a while, they could no longer see or hear the alligator.

Oh-see-rah slowed to a walk. “Halt. Did anyone gather cattails?”

Hah-nah-pah joined him. “No. But I’m tired of cattails.”

“We lost the alligator, so I suggest we stop at a blackberry patch and pick blackberries,” Oh-koh-rah said.

“Unless you picked blackberries in your brambles.” Hah-nah-pah laughed.

“No, I didn’t.” Oh-see-rah asked, “Does anyone know of a blackberry patch nearby?”

One of the new men raised his hand.

“Lead on,” said Oh-see-rah.

A short time later, the same man, said, “Look to your right at the cliff.”

“Hah-nah-pah, check for the alligator,” Oh-see-ra said as he led them to the blackberry vines.

Hah-nah-pah trotted off, soon returning. “No alligator. But we’re too far from water. And alligators don’t run far.”

Everyone started gathering blackberries. Oh-see-rah had made a meal off blackberries many a day, so the night was not a total waste of time.

WHOOOOOAN! Came from behind him.

“Run!” he yelled.

By then everyone had already fled, no one stopped running till they reached the cave’s welcome mouth.

As ordered by him, the two guards were on duty.

As Oh-see-rah passed the guards, he said, “An alligator chased us away from the blackberry patch. Watch out.”

Oh-se-rah and his men stopped just passed the paling stakes. Everyone was watching.

“Giant alligator,” he told them. “I think we lost it.”

Oo-tah-nah came to him. “Little Lol-non got out.”

“Why?”

“To follow you,” she replied. “He never came back.”

Out of the cave with the alligator on the prowl? Oh-see-rah grabbed a torch and a spear thrower.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

Taino sport!

Batey is a Taino, Caribbean ball game similar to the pok-ta-pok of the Mayans and Aztecs—Ceremonial Ball though it has many names. The plaza or stone court is also called Batey—the hard rubber ball is a batu.

Party Taino style!

Areyto was a Taino religious ceremony from pre-Columbian times. It involved singing melodies and chanting tales while dancing—usually in a religious context. Instruments included whistles, flutes, log drums, and sea-shell horns. They were often held on stone dance courts as they worshiped their gods—Cemis. This involved most of the Caribbean islands, especially Puerto Rico (Boriken). I believe private Areytos are still done for funerals.

NEVER FORGET

Slave quarters, Liberty Hall, Frankfort, Kentucky. About 100 years ago.

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