by N. Ray Maxie
BESSY AND BUD'S HOUSE:
East Texas Tale of Puppies and Mosquitoes
old "plank" board house is long gone now, but how well I remember
it. It was set back only a short distance from the main road through
and was an all gray, never-painted wood structure with a corrigated
tin roof and front and back porches that were long and tall. If we
children weren't careful (and sometimes we weren't), we would get
a wood splinter in our foot, leg or heinie from those rough boards.
A water well with curbing was near the back porch and there was a
rope and bucket for drawing water. The well was so deep it seemed
to take five minutes to pull up each bucket of water. Besides this
inconvenience, there was also no gas, electricity, phone or indoor
Bessy Stevenson did a lot of her work out there on that back porch.
Like hand-drawing water from the well and heating it in a wood-fired
cast iron washpot. She used #2 and #3 galvanized wash tubs and a scrub
board to wash and rinse the laundry. Then it was hand wrung (sometimes
Bud would help with that) and hung across a yard fence or wire clothesline
to dry in the wind and sun.
The whole yard was clean, smooth dirt hoed clean of any grass or vegatation.
There were a good many chickens running around about the place. Raised
in a coop, they were kept for eggs, meat, and garden fertilizer. Almost
daily, Bessy and Bud would collect vegatables from their nearby garden
and clean and prepare them right there on the back porch before taking
them to the kitchen. The scraps were thrown in the yard for the chickens
Bessy and Bud Stevenson were our family friends and had no children
of their own. We visited them maybe three or four times a year. Huffines
was about seven miles from my house near McLeod.
and we'd drive over in the 1939 Chevrolet pickup my dad used to work
in the oil fields. I was about six or seven on this particular visit
and this time Bud had some mighty pretty, warm and cuddly puppies.
I wanted one of those puppies awfully bad. So, Bessy and Bud made
a deal with me and my parents. If I would stay the night with them,
I could have a puppy. At first I thought, it wasn't a bad deal; but
a few hours later, I wasn't so sure.
found this picture of me and my family... It was taken in 1942...
The little white dog is Poochy, the subject of my story."
|I remember it
as though it was yesterday. As I lay there on that front porch, listening
to the old Chevrolet pickup leaving down the gravel road, I was left
with those "old" friends, acutely aware of how far I was from home
and family. I remember crying a good bit and Bessy comforting me;
but it wasn't long until those puppies absorbed my attention.
That night at bedtime, it was a whole 'nother experience. Mosquitoes
were bad around that place. Bessy had a bed with tall corner posts
and yes, a mosquito net. The net looked like a large white cheese
cloth and covered the entire bed. It draped from the top of the tall
corner posts to the floor. When Bessy took me to bed with her that
night and enclosed us with that white net, it was sorta scary inside
that big white box. But I was very tired and was asleep in a flash.
As we slept, there was no problem with mosquitoes, but for Bud, asleep
on the floor, it was another story. He didn't have a mosquito net
and it never occurred to me until years later that those Texas mosquitos
probably did a " job" on him.
That was my only experience with mosquito netting until many, many
years later when I found them very useful while camping.
Needless to say, after completing my part of the arangement, I got
my warm, fuzzy and cuddly puppy, which turned into a super good squirrel
dog not many years later when I started hunting.
I got my dog and hopefuly Bud didn't get malaria.....