TexasEscapes.com Texas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1600 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Book about old-time expressions evokes story

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
Some of you might not know that lines of flying geese are called "skeins." Those same geese walking on the ground are called "gaggles." This information comes from the book "The Cracker Barrel" by Eric Sloane a well-known author/expert on old-time expressions.

This brings to mind an Old West classic story with this disclaimer. The following story might be more "Trew" than "true."

An early settler couple raised two sons to maturity who along with their father worked as cowboys on neighboring ranches. The mother passed away, and sometime later the father married a nearby widow with six children. Along with his new family, the father acquired a large menagerie of poultry including a gaggle of geese. Geese were an important part of frontier life because their down and feathers provided feather mattresses and pillows for more comfortable sleeping.

The family lived on a creek bottom where wild plums and grapes grew in profusion. They milked several cows, fed hogs, raised a large garden, fed and processed their own meat. The new wife was a hard worker and frugal in her ways, never wasting a morsel or a penny.

During that summer, the annual grasshopper crop arrived, forcing the father to mix a mild poison with wheat bran and scatter it about the garden and yard to help eliminate grasshoppers. A day or two later, while the men were away working, the children came running to the house yelling, "Mama, come quick. The geese are all dead." Sure enough, down by the creek the entire gaggle of geese lay scattered about in wild abandon. It was a terrible loss to the woman who had taken great pride in her poultry dowry when she married. Her frugal ways kicked into gear.

Instantly, she blamed the grasshopper poison. The geese had ingested so many dead grasshoppers the poison had killed them. Next, she suspected the meat from the geese might be poison to her family. However, the down and feathers could be salvaged without a complete loss. She ordered the children to gather the dead geese and bring them to the yard where all were quickly picked clean of down and feathers. The product would be washed in tubs, dried and packed into gunny sacks and stored in the barn loft to make pillows and mattresses next winter in the family's spare time.

Late that evening, the father and sons returned to find the mother and children standing in complete bewilderment, surrounded by extremely upset and completely naked geese, honking their displeasure at being plucked of their feathers. It was a weird sight to behold.

The mystery of the dead geese was solved when the two older sons examined their cache of fermenting wild grape wine, hidden up the creek in heavy timber. Somehow during the day, the geese had pushed aside the lid and drank enough of the brew to become falling-down, passed-out-dead drunk. Their debauchery had cost them their down and feathers.

I guess the moral of this story could be this: "If a gaggle gobbles too much to waddle, it might be their luck to get plucked."

Delbert Trew

"It's All Trew"
September 26, 2006 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.
 
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES
Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South |
West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII |
History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books | MEXICO
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters |
Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators |
Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Corner Stones | Pitted Dates |
Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us
Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE
Website Content Copyright 1998-2007. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: September 26, 2006