Skunk Oil, Jackrabbits, by
Lois Zook Wauson
and Red Roosters
Aunt Fay Goode Newhouser had the best memory of anyone I know who talks about
the 1930’s. She loves talking about those days they lived on the old Grief place
west of Floresville in
“It must have been around 1931 that
we all got the flu. We were really sick. The whole family, all of us kids. Daddy
was desperate. He and Mama didn’t know what to do. Nothing was helping. We got
worse and worse! I think we were about to die.
Now Rinald and Max Wenzel,
who lived in Wilson County, would go all over the county hunting and fishing.
They were always out hunting rabbits, squirrels, coons, or wild turkeys. Rinald
Wenzel came by one morning. He was out coon hunting. And he said he knew just
what we needed. He went out and shot a skunk. The next thing I remember was he
came back and boiled up a bunch of skunk oil. Daddy made us take it, a teaspoon-full,
it tasted like lard or grease. From that time on, we began to get well. We all
got over the flu. Some people might not believe that story, but it is the truth”
reminisced, “I loved animals and always had pets. I made pets of every kind of
animal. One time I raised a jackrabbit from a baby. We let it run around everywhere.
I named him Jack. That rabbit slept in the house just like a cat. Jack would run
up and down Daddy’s stomach at night, while they were in bed, when he wanted outside.
He could see out that window and wanted out. Daddy had to get up and put him out.
He was a pet just like the dogs and cats, coming in and out of the house. But
he loved to chew on things. And when he chewed up Sallie’s pretty starched organdy
dress, liking the taste of the starch, Mama said Jack had to go. We had to put
him out of the house. He finally disappeared. We were sad. I missed Jack.”
“Now, my sister Sallie, she was jealous. She wanted a pet too. So she found a
little baby cotton tail rabbit. Mama said he wouldn’t make as good a pet as the
jackrabbit. And he didn’t. He kept running away, so Sallie put a purple ribbon
on him. That way no one would shoot him. Well, one morning Rinald Wenzel came
by and his eyes were big as saucers. He said excitedly, "I must be seeing
things! I seen a rabbit running through the woods with a dern purple ribbon on
it.” Mama had to laugh and told him about Sallie’s cottontail rabbit. One
day we found the ribbon out in the pasture, but we never saw the rabbit again.
Never did know what happened to it.”
Fay also had two pet chickens, which she raised from little fuzzy baby chicks.
They also ran in and out of the house. Then they got bigger, and had to stay outside.
They ran with the dogs and rabbits and cats. They were buddies. One was a red
rooster, and the other was a white Leghorn hen. Fay said, “I loved those chickens.
They were my pets. But, one time, we all had to go up north to pick cotton. My
sister, Ada Mae, and her husband, Walter and baby came to stay at the house, while
we all went up to Coleman, Texas to pick cotton. They were taking care of the
farm and livestock. When we got home my chickens were gone. I was so upset and
sad. I missed my pets. I think they must have cooked and ate them! But they never
admitted it! But I know they did!”
Lois Zook Wauson|
shoe horses, don't they?"
2 , 2007 Guest Column
Lois Zook Wauson's book "Rainy Days and Starry Nights'
(2004) is a collection of her stories about growing up in South Texas during the
1930s and 40s.
Days and Starry Nights||