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  Texas : Features : Columns : N. Ray Maxie :

Coalie and
the Speeding School Teacher

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie
I've wanted to tell you about this for a long time.

As a young preteen country lad, I grew up with my two older sisters in NE Texas, near McLeod in Cass County. The family nickname for me during those years was "Noley".

My Dad always kept pets for us and for a few short years, I had a big black dog named "Coalie". He was three or four years old and must have weighed 50 to 60 pounds; a real loyal and playful pet. I rolled and tumbled and wrestled with him, playing in the grass for hours on end. Coalie would chase stray cats and wild rabbits frequently. When we grew tired of playing, I could lay my head on him and take a nap or maybe just daydream, watching giant clouds go by for awhile. Coalie and I were best buddies about the time I was in second and third grade at McLeod Elementary School. He was my companion and my protector. Coalie took it upon himself to go everywhere I went and seemed distress whenever I was out of his sight. Memory has dimmed on many things, but there was a certain "dog smell" about Coalie I'll never forget.

Living in a remote rural area near the Rambo Community, we were several miles from our school. My sisters and I would walk about half a mile each morning, to the school bus stop over on the main county road. There we boarded the bus to school each day. We waited at the pasture gate and a large metal cattle guard entering the road to our house. Coalie always tagged along and waited with us until the bus had come and gone. Often, wanting very badly to get on the bus with us, he didn't understand why it wasn't allowed. The bus usually arrived about 7:30 each school-day morning and brought us back about 3:45 in the afternoon.

Southward, over the hill about a mile and around a curve in the dusty gravel road, was a rural "black" elementary school. It was the Rambo Community neighborhood school. We lived nearby on the Rambo Oil Lease where my Dad worked for many years. It was while living there, I had a great, laid back, country upbringing. When I was about 12, we moved two miles north; up on the main state highway where my Dad had bought a few acres that he could call all his own.

Every morning as we three waited there for our school bus, a fast and speeding car would zoom down the gravel road passed us. It was very annoying, scary and often startled my sisters and me. The car would stir up a big cloud of dust and was usually the only car to pass while we waited. The dust always took several minutes to settle and we kids were breathing a lot of it and going to school with dusty clothes, lunch pails and books. My Dad had cautioned us, that on occasion, he had seen the car speeding along the road. He wasn't very pleased about it either.

On this particular crisp fall morning in 1948, as we waited for the bus, Coalie just happened to be crossing the road when the speeding car came by. The driver never even slowed down or tried to avoid striking my dog. Never blowing his horn, swerving or nothing! The car was too fast for Coalie. It hit him and rolled him up under the car and he slid out across the road. Coalie came to rest, lifeless, near the feet of three very frightened and screaming schoolchildren, each one in severe emotional shock. The speeding car never stopped and we three siblings stood there mourning the death of our one and only beloved pet. It was a pitifully sad sight, beside that lonely dusty country road.

Since my Dad worked about the oil field in the immediate area, he soon came by and saw what had happened. He loaded the dead dog into his pickup truck, tried to comfort us kids and then put us on the bus for school. He later told us he buried the dog and went down the road looking for the speeding car.

That evening at suppertime, Dad reported to the family that he had found the offending car and its driver. It turned out the driver was a schoolteacher at the Rambo Elementary School and passed our location each morning, hurrying on his way to work.

My Dad reported to the school principal what had happened that morning and registered an official complaint about the speeding car. In the following days, we never saw the speeding car pass our location again. We could only assume the driver had been relieved of his teaching duty or better still, had found another route to the schoolhouse.

Over the years since, I have had several pets, but none other like Ole Coalie. No others ever met the violent death he did. I often recall many hours spent with him in joyful childhood play and remember how he could romp, run and fetch. When need be, Coalie became "big time" vicious toward strangers, intruders or stray animals while protecting us children. I truly missed Coalie for many, many years afterwards and greatly lamented his demise. Family and friends around our area would often affectionately refer to he and I as "Noley and Coalie".
N. Ray Maxie
piddlinacres@consolidated.net
"Ramblin' Ray" May 1, 2006 Column

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