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Tarkington man gored by a bull - Redneck Tale # 65

Updated on June 27, 2012

Not bored by a gull

The hometown "Cleveland Advocate," a local newspaper of some substance, recently ran an article about a fellow who was gored by his neighbor’s bull.

I truly hesitate to admit this to you, but that newspaper story about so painful an event brought the memory of several far more frivolous happenings to mind. One episode in particular stood out among the lot.

Coining a new headline, sort of a takeoff of the bull-goring story from the "Cleveland Advocate," this memorable headline certainly stands out.

To wit, "Publisher’s goofy wife not bored by a gull."

Now there is a headline of some substance. Let’s see what that substance might be:

To the south and west of Cleveland, Texas, are Galveston Island and the City of Galveston. Once the main seaport to the west of New Orleans, Galveston served as the landing place for large numbers of immigrants to the United States and for export of Texas goods, notably cotton, shipped all around the world. Earlier, Galveston had been the home port and hideaway for some notorious pirates.

Galveston is today mostly a tourist town, and the island serves as a beach vacation spot for folks who enjoy getting their hides roasted in the sun, scoured by sand, and bitten by the overly numerous sand fleas and biting flies that there await vacationers.

So it was for Mrs. Frances Goodman.

Her husband, James Goodman, owned a small and reasonably inconsequential printing and publishing company. The company had various names, among which was "Larksdale Publishers." When asked about that choice of name for his publishing company, James was forthright. "I started the thing as a lark," he would say, "and that is why it is of no great moment that our publishing business produces virtually no income – not for me, not for my dear wife, nor for anyone else, come to think of it."

The best place is at the back of the hall
The best place is at the back of the hall | Source

They meet on days, nights, and weekends

One pleasant aspect of the non-profitable publishing company business was that Mr. and Mrs. Goodman could escape the humdrum aspects of going deeper into poverty. Instead, they attended publishers' meetings, conventions, exhibitions, book signings, and the like. The proviso, of course, was that the affairs had to be held close enough to home such that attendance was affordable.

The old Flagship Hotel, Galveston, Texas
The old Flagship Hotel, Galveston, Texas | Source

...or else !

Until it was demolished in 2011 after being smashed around previously by a hurricane, Galveston’s old "Flagship Hotel," the hotel on a pier as it was known, had once hosted a gathering of book publishers. Presumably, the publishers were in congregation to communally celebrate mutual poverty or the like. Galveston was a short 50 miles down the road from Larksdale Publishing, The Flagship Hotel rooms were cheap enough, and Frances Goodman had enough swat with James to convince him that attendance at the meeting was as inexpensive for two as it was for one – or else!

That is when Frances was spotted on the Flagship Hotel’s long pier, the pier on which it sat right over the waters and the seagulls of Galveston Bay.

Everybody - duck !
Everybody - duck !

Careful there, Frances. Feed 'em and they'll breed

She was out on the pier that early morning and seagulls were all around her, swooping down and careening back up into the air over the pier. Frances was tossing something up into the air. Each time she did so, several gulls would dive down and catch whatever it was in midair. Between each toss there was a pause during which Frances would fiddle around with something she removed from a big paper sack. Once the fiddling around was done with, up into the air would go whatever it was, and the waiting gulls would dive down, catch the thing in midair, and then wing it back up to await more tosses.

What was Frances tossing? That was the question.

So, with little else to concern myself, I approached fiddling-and-tossing Frances.

"What are you tossing to the gulls, Frances?"

"Hi, Gus! I am feeding the gulls some bait shrimp I bought from the stand at the end of the pier."

So many legs - so little time
So many legs - so little time

"Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a gull may be somebody's mother..."

"Frances, you are truly a kind-hearted lady. I’ll bet that there have not been so many seagulls dive-bombing over this pier for the last hundred years or more. They really like those shrimp, don’t they? But what are you doing with all of that fiddling around between each shrimp toss? You really have brought my curiosity up to the top?"

"Gus, I am peeling the shells off of the shrimp. I’d hate to think of one of the gulls getting hurt by me leaving the shells on."

Peeled back, the result of all of this is...

And now no one has to be bored by a gull, do they?


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