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That's No Lady
Log Cart Right-of-Way
Copyright © G. Wasdin All rights reserved.
Edwin, get the hell off my road," Miss Lila screeched as she swung her yard broom menacingly at the man mounted on one of a pair of mules pulling a loaded log cart down the public lane. The mule shied and Edwin swung down coiled whip in hand. Miss Lila was upon him, before his feet touched the ground, flailing him with the dusty yard tool. Broom sage flew as he fielded the blows which were more of a menace to catching a clear breath than truly hurtful.
"Miss Lila, stop now, I just need to pass by, I'm not going onto your property, don't make me have to take this whip to you," he threatened as he ducked the broom.
"You get that consarned mule out of my lane. I told you not to pass this way no more; this is MY property!"
Her tirade continued as she threw what was left of the broom down and began to pummel Edwin with her fists. As he attempted to protect himself by blocking her blows she became enraged and started kicking his shins furiously. When he grabbed her shoulders in an effort to stop the shin-bruising, Lila's rage intensified.
She reminded him of a spitfire kitten he'd once owned, all claws and teeth but with most unladylike expressions of displeasure spewing forth instead of growling and hissing.
He realized she was far beyond reasoning and the fact that the lane was a public right-of-way had no meaning for her deluded mind.
One of Edwin's sons had been sitting on a sycamore tree root in front of their house which was just a few hundred yards up the main road waiting for the school bus. He had heard the fray and had run as fast as his seven-year-old little legs could to tell his Mama to "call the sheriff, cause the crazy lady's tryin' to kill Daddy!"
It wasn't the first altercation Edwin and other neighbors and passer-by had experienced with Miss Lila. In years to come Lila Redding might have received medical intervention that would have relieved her tortured mind and allowed her to relate normally but this was 1942 and the only option for Miss Lila's paranoia and mental illness was to shut her away in the state mental facility.
More than once Miss Lila had lobbed bricks, rocks or pecan tree limbs at passing cars without much effect. One day, though, a particularly well-aimed rectangular clay missile shattered the windshield of Mr. Ryman Sutter's windshield. He was the wrong man to pick on. With the assistance of his passenger and friend, Miss Lila was carried kicking and screaming towards the nearby mill pond.
"Lila, you old witch, you've had it now! You ain't gonna be messing up nobody's cars no more. We gonna drown your sorry self in the mill pond and let the ‘gators eat you," Ryman threatened as his friend grinned gleefully.
Lucky for Miss Lila, Edwin had happened along and dissuaded the vigilantes from their inappropriate dispensation of justice, not that Lila had any gratitude for her benefactor on this particular day.
The ruckus had now attracted a neighbor's attention and as Wesley ran up to see who was getting killed he was appalled by the site
."Edwin, get off that woman, leave her alone, what you think you doin' holdin' a lady down like that," he said.
"Wes, she attacked me; she don't want me pulling my log carts through 'her' lane and if I let her up she's just gonna go after you."
Edwin had blood trickling down his face and long welts where Lila's fingernails had made contact. His shirt was torn and his overalls were much too dirty and dusty for this early of a work day. Wes began to realize that the hold Edwin had engaged on Lila was definitely a matter of self preservation.
“Get this jackass off’n me and get off’n my land!”
Now Lila began to verbally abuse Wesley and he took a few steps backward.
"Go call the sheriff, now! Wes."
"But Edwin, she's a lady."
"Wesley, I'm gonna let her up and go call the sheriff myself ..."
Wesley took off at a full run almost colliding with a car that was skidding into the lane in a huge cloud of dust.
"Edwin! Get off that woman! You ought to be ashamed of yourself. What do you think you’re doin' sittin' on Lila like that?" Miss Cora Mae shouted as her sheriff's badge sparkled in the light.
It wasn't just any county that could boast of equal opportunities for women and support their claim like they could in Logan County, Georgia, but it wasn't just any woman who could win the respect and votes enough of both men and women to be the first woman to capture the sheriff's office.
The war had taken many of the able bodied men but still, Miss Cora Mae’s position as chief law enforcer of the county was unique and a first in the whole state of Georgia. Miss Cora Mae was an exceptional woman and the confidence of her constituents was well placed. She knew how to keep law and order in her county and a well-respected and upright man like Edwin taking advantage of his size and strength against a woman, well that she was not going to tolerate.
“Okay, Cora Mae, I’m a gonna let ‘er up now but watch yerself,” Edwin warned as he disentangled himself strategically to avoid further injury then jumped clear of Lila’s reach.
Lila was up in a two shakes of a lamb’s tail and she flew into Sheriff Cora Mae like a whirlwind. The sheriff, surprised by her attacker’s alacrity and speed, could only try to shield herself.
“Catch her, Edwin,” shouted Cora Mae as she ducked and sidestepped to avoid Lila’s swings and kicks.
The smirk on Edwin’s face made it clear that he thought Cora Mae was getting just what she deserved. Now she’d understand why he had been forced to overpower Lila and hold her down.
“Get her off me, catch her, heeeeeelp!”
“You told me to let her go, Cora Mae.”
Deputy Ray Thomas was dancing around trying to get a hold on Cora Mae without endangering his manhood. Lila’s fury had only increased with the arrival of the sheriff. Finally with help from Edwin and Wes, the deputy managed to get handcuffs and leg shackles on the maniacal woman. Edwin and the deputy picked Lila up and placed her in the back of the sheriff’s car. There she immediately began to beat upon the windows with her bound hands and feet with blows that would surely shatter the glass.
“Stop her, Ray,” shouted Sheriff Cora Mae.
Amazingly, Ray jumped quickly into the back seat in an attempt to stop Cora Mae’s flailing.
As the sheriff turned the car around and headed back to town with her prisoner, Edwin and Wes could see that poor Ray was going to be much the worse for wear long before the county jail was reached.
That night at the supper table Edwin’s second oldest of three sons was describing the early morning events. “It sounded like Daddy had a wildcat up a tree and it couldn’t get down.” From the looks of Edwin’s face, hands and arms it seemed as if the ‘wildcat’ had gotten down but it must have been wearing shoes. Edwin’s forehead bore the bruised impression of a woman’s shoe heel that brought much comment and need for explanation at church the following Sunday.
Many years passed. As Edwin was sitting down to eat one evening the phone rang.
“Edwin, it’s for you, “ said his wife, Emily.
Edwin took the receiver and spoke, “Hello... why yes ma’am, I’d be honored... thank you, good-bye.”
“Well, that was a short conversation, who was it?” asked Emily.
“You’ll never believe this,” replied Edwin as he sat back down at the table with a rueful smile. “That was Lila Redding. She’s come home to live out her last days with her sister. She wanted to know if I would agree to be a pall bearer at her funeral... when the time comes.”
Copyright © G. Wasdin All rights reserved.