December 06, 2002

Like a Dog

The summer after we moved to Virginia, my mother Betty Jean and grandmother Bea made the long drive up from Alabama to see us in our new home. We were living in our rambling, drafty old house on a tree-lined street in what seemed like a very small town after moving from Birmingham. I had told my family of the kindness of our neighbors, Euell and his wife, in sharing with us the produce from their garden, honey from Euell's hives, and even giving us firewood in the early months when we were so cold and so helpless in our adopted rural lifestyle.

When he found out mom and Bea were coming, Euell asked if I thought they might like to take a drive out to the cove where he managed several hundred acres of magnificent valley pasture and rolling woodlands. We would take his big truck up into the logging roads where Euell and I often cut firewood together. I thought they would enjoy that, so a day or two after they arrived, we made plans to take this afternoon excursion. My grandmother declined but insisted that mom, Ann and I go on ahead. Bea stood in the shade of our large curved front porch and watched us drive away, Euell and Jill, his black spaniel dog, in his flatbed truck, with the rest of us in my car.

We returned a few hours later after spending a very nice afternoon riding around crammed into the cabin of a rough one-ton truck. My grandmother, of course, wanted to know all about it right away. Mom was still gushing with adjectives to describe how majestic the mountains were, praising the clouds and the wildflowers, everything we had seen. She was gratified and relieved to have learned so many good things about the area where her son and his little family were now living. This was the world we had left home for; now she had seen it, and it was good. She began to describe our afternoon adventure to Bea.

"When we got out to the farm, Freddie and Ann and I got in the truck with Euell and drove way back in the woods. It was just wonderful!" she exclaimed.

"Well" Bea asked "what did Jill do?"

"Oh, there wasn't room in the cab for all of us, so Euell made her get out and run along behind the truck".

Bea appeared horrified at this, but being the genteel southern lady she was, she couched her disapproval in the mildest of negatives. "Well, I don't think that was a very nice thing to do" she scolded.

We didn't see what was so disturbing about this, but tried to assure her it was nothing out of the ordinary. "Oh, its okay. Euell always makes her get out and run when they go out there" I explained. "She needs the exercise".

You could see the indignation rising visibly in Bea's demeanor. "Now Betty, it's just not right that you should come up here a visitor and cause a man to make his wife get out and run along behind the truck!"

In a simultaneous flash of realization, we understood the misperception that was making for such wonderful family humour at Bea's expense. While we laughed hysterically, my perplexed grandmother just grew more and more confused. When we could finally speak between breathless peals of laughter, we told her that Jill was the dog! "Oh, she said. "I thought that was his wife. When you drove off today, wasn't she sitting in the truck next to Euell?"

This remained a family joke for years. Looking into the cab of the truck from behind, sure enought, Jill did look for all the world like a straight-haired brunette sitting there on the truck seat snuggled up extra-close to our good friend and benefactor. Even years later, we'd see Euell and Jill heading off to the cove to tend the cattle sitting side by side in the truck and say, "Well, there goes Euell and his wife. I wonder if he's gonna let her get out and chase the deer around today".

Posted by fred1st at December 6, 2002 05:58 AM

OH FRED!!! That Is SO FUNNY!!! Thanks for the humor :)

Posted by: GL at December 6, 2002 10:32 AM

Tee hee! That's hilarious, Fred! :)

Posted by: Artichoke Heart at December 8, 2002 11:03 AM

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