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MY FATHER'S STORIES by Robert Hewett Sr
MY FATHERS’ STORIES
My father raised four boys, by himself, in very hard times. He sometimes had my two sisters as well. He was gassed and wounded in WWI, yet he was full of humor, music and storytelling. Each night at bedtime, though dead tired and sore from working in the fields all day, he would tell another story with adventure and mirth. His animal characters roamed the Hurley Woods day and night creating adventure, danger, goodwill and fright. Some characters were real and known to everyone who lived in the woods. Other characters, seemingly real, were just his creations. Every story had friendship, danger, rescue and an ending. A favorite character was the rabbit pictured on the can of a popular syrup in Texas. This was a cottontail rabbit dressed up in formal clothes. A typical Brer Rabbit story would start like this:
“Brer Rabbit would get up on Sunday morning, put on his striped trousers, white shirt, bow tie, black top hat, and split-tail coat. He would take his walking cane. look at himself in a polished knot on his tree home and then Hippity Hop, Hippity Hop over to Miz Molly’s house. Miz Molly lived in another hollow tree. Rap, Rap, Rap went Brer Rabbit’s cane on the hollow tree. Miz Molly came to the opening in her tree wearing a pink dress, pink bonnet, pink belt, pink shoes and pink socks. Brer Rabbit would tip his black top hat and say ‘Mawnin’ Miz Molly”. Miz Molly would give Brer Rabbit a sly look and then say “Well, Brer Rabbit, I do declare, but don’t you look fine. “
And through the woods they went, skipping along, visiting their forest friends, and maybe getting into trouble. Trouble usually meant the farmer’s dog found them in the garden. “Hello Brer Rabbit; Mawnin’ Miz Molly, a fine day isn’t it.” “Mawnin’ Brother Squirrel, nice to see you.” “Hello Brer Rabbit, Miz Molly, where are you going today?” “Hi Mr. Owl, we are just out for a stroll, you look well Mr. Owl.” “Stay out of the farmer’s garden, Brer Rabbit, Ol’ Buck the dog will surely get you.” “We will be very careful, Mr. Owl, have a good day.”
Of course, Brer Rabbit and Miz Molly headed straight for the garden. “This lettuce is really good, Brer Rabbit, I hope ‘Ol Buck don’t hear us.“ “Don’t worry Miz Molly Buck is too slow to catch us.” ” Woof, Woof, Woof, big feet pounding on the garden path, and Buck clearing the fence and landing in the garden. The chase was on, with the help of Brer Fox, they got away, to live another day.
I never tired of my father’s stories. He was a master at it, with stories featuring good and bad Snakes, birds, Opossums, foxes, and imaginary Creatures like “Old Cutter”, a half good, half bad animal with razor blade like protrusions all over his body. Whether he was telling a story about animals or acting out a song, my Father made everything into a story. During his final hospital stay at the Veteran’s Hospital in Topeka, Kansas, the nurse’s aide was trying to get him to eat. “Mr. Hewett you are worse than my 4 year old.” My father looked at him and gave one of his classic explanations. “Wal, you know how it is, a man is once a man and twice a boy.” Now, as I am nearly 80 years old, my father’s stories and his wisdom are still as fresh in my mind as when I was 9 years old and going to sleep every night with one of his stories. I have kept some of his characters in my stories and, of course, the Hurley Woods are home to many of my characters.
Robert Hewett Sr. aka Cottonwood Published Author