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Archive for July, 2010

I’ve only been in one other contest in all of my 62 years, and I was really trying to get out of this one, because I just didn’t think I had a chance to win, but my friend Donnie shamed me into it. I mean, I had heard that Twinkle Toes Kevin had entered and he was good. Plus Donnie had been bragging how he would win hands down also, so I was ready to chicken out.

 Hey, I remember how tough the competition was many years ago, when I was 13 years old, and I had entered the flap-jack flipping contest at the Boy Scout Jamboree. Those guys were fierce, and I just knew I was going to lose. You see, there was this open wood fire between two Pine Trees with a wire tied 24” above it. To win the contest you had to flip 3 flap-jacks up to the height of the wire, or higher, and have it land on the uncooked side. Each Scout got two rounds to get all 3 flap-jacks to land right. Well we all failed on the first try, with me having done the worst by not getting any right. On the next round I was last to go, due to a reverse order, having been first on the first round. Some of the scouts got one and a couple got two, and it looked like just those 2 would be in a flip off for sure, what with me coming up to flip.

I had almost quit then, because I did not want to look so bad, but my friend Larry urged me on, so I took the frying pan and pour in the mix and sat it on the wire grill. When it started to bubble I took the spatula and loosen the bottom. Then I grabbed the handle of the frying pan and gave it a quick flip. The pancake went up about two inches above the wire and fell back into the pan done side up! Wow! I was so happy, and then I pour the batter in for the next one. Same thing! Now I thinking, at least I will get into the flip off. With my scout troop cheering me on, I poured in the last of the batter. I was as nervous a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I didn’t know then what a “statistical improbability” was or even how to spell it, (still don’t according to spell check), but I knew I wasn’t going to get the 3rd flap-jack, but I was going down flipping.  After the pancake started to bubble I loosen it and flipped it. I was too eager to get it over with, and overdone it. The flap-jack went up about a foot above the wire and was coming down on the other side of it. At the last minute I stuck out my pan and caught it done side up. I won! What a great moment in my life.

And that was the last contest I ever entered until January 31, 2006.

We were having home group night at the church, with singing and fellowship plus a fashion contest for the men. Like I said, I was really wanting to back out. But BJ and I spent all day Saturday in town looking for the right shoes anyway. And we found them, and for a moment I thought I just might have a chance. Actually BJ spotted them in a window as we were walking down the mall, and said that was the shoes I needed. I just had to have those shoes, because I had heard that the shoes make the man. So I bought them.

The next night after the singing and before the fellowship time, Our Pastor Steve was the first contestant, and I was getting worried again because he looked like a sure winner, in his Retro outfit. Then came Donnie, and I got my hopes up again, because he was kind of blah, sort of looked like a modern day cattle buyer. It was my turn and I got into the act to try to influence the crowd, and thought I did a good job of it. Next came old Twinkle Toes Kevin in his sequin slippers with black over the pants socks, now there was a sharp dresser, and I felt he was going to steal the show, Marvin was next, but he looked like his wife had dressed him, So I figured it was a toss up between Kevin and I. The crowed was the judge and we had to parade again for the vote, and you guessed it. The crowd went wild when it was my turn to strut and I WON!

I WON THE UGLY SHOE CONTEST!!!

 

It wasn’t a Miss America Moment, but it was close enough to bring a tear to my eye, and I will cherish it for ever. My trophy was a bottle of Odor Eaters foot powder, a pack of corn cushions, a bottle of Udderly Smooth Udder Cream, and a $10.00 Walmart gift card. Wow. What a night. I have attached a picture of the Shoes that brought me such fame and glory.

David Butler

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Ever had the perfect question asked you? If so, did you ever tell yourself that you must use that opportunity to enlighten the questioner? For me I have never past up that chance to do so, especially when it is one of my children. One day I had that opportunity while BJ and I were on the way to see Mom and Dad in Albany. My daughter Candi called me on my cell phone and asked, and I quote, “Dad, in the grocery store they have Select Pork Brains in the meat department.” I said “Ok”; with a small question mark. She said, “How do they select them? Do they have some hogs smarter than others or what? I mean what do they use for criteria to select them?”

Now, my lovely daughter Candi is a red head, so ‘being blonde” is not a problem with her. No, no, no, she has what we lovingly call, Candi moment’s. At first I fully believe that she was having one of her spells. After I reevaluated her question, I realized that she was searching for the truth. On top of that I also realized that she has always thought that I was superman and that I can do or know everything. Then and there I knew I had to satisfy her thirst for knowledge of hog brains.

Pork brains is something I know about. You see, as a child of Bud and Carolyn Butler, pork brains was on our menu. We had pork brains fried up with eggs for breakfast many mornings. You can now understand how I got to be so smart, (about pork brains). However, BJ never cooked up any brains and eggs for my kids, so they all lack that tad bit of knowledge, and its quite possible they may not be as smart as their dad. Debatable, I’m sure they would say.

So, how do I answer this life changing question? Easy answer says, “I have no idea how they select them.” Half truth says, “maybe they do select smart pigs.” Serious questions require serious answers, and I was in a quandary, but being the father I am, I gave it my best shot.

“So, Dad, how do they make their selection from the different pork brains?”

 “Well, Candi, they make their selection according to the breed of swine. There are many different species of pigs, but the only one that they select from is the “Feral Pigs.” The reason that they choose the Feral Pig is because he has been running free in this country since the 16th Century, which also, kind of makes him smart. Remember the little pig I was chasing when I fell and got hurt? That was a Feral Pig. He certainly was smarter than me.”

“Ok, bye Dad, tell Granny and Papa hello.”

Feeling good about my answer I look over at BJ and see her “texting” away, so I ask her what is she texting and she said, “I am texting Candi and telling her to remember that her daddy lies.”

Ok, so I embellished it a little, so you tell me how they select pork brains?

Gees…

David Butler

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CUTTING FIRE WOOD

Fire places and wood stoves became popular in our community during the 70 and 80’s. We had a wood stove and Uncle I.T. and Aunt Tillie had a fire place. They like to sit around the fire place on cold winter days. And they sat there all day. At their age, that is all well and good. The problem was that open fire place. It burned a lot of wood each week. Lavon and I had to cut that wood. We would cut twice a week to keep them in wood. But that was no problem, because we worked on the farm and just arranged our days to do so.

Since nearly everyone cut wood those days, it got to be a social event. We would all meet at the neck of woods that we were cutting from at a given time, and we would cut wood and fellowship. Wayne in his big two ton truck would plow the way through the woods to where we wanted to go. Keith, Michael, and Craig were usually there. Also, there was George, Richard, and different other men at times. Then there was Lavon and me. Now I moved into the community in the fall of 1974 after I got out of the Army, so I was new at all this farm stuff. But I’m a quick learner. The problem is that some of the things I learned not to do, I learned the hard way.

The first rule in cutting wood is never cut a tree down on the truck, not a new one anyway. Uncle I. T. never taught me how to cut wood, he just said go do it. I’m sure he just figured that after 10 years in the army I would know how. For the most part I did well. One of the first times I went cutting, I went alone, because it was for my wood burning stove.  I cranked the chain saw and cut into this tall cherry tree. I was going to cut a wedge out like I had seen them do in the movies. Only my first cut went too far and the tree leaned and caught my chain saw bow. Oh my, now I’ve done it. Nothing I could do would budge that tree, and release my saw.

Then I had a bright idea. I had a “come-alone” in the truck, so I backed the truck up to the tree and hooked the cable up as high as I could on the trunk. Then I move the truck out as for as the cable and a 20 foot chain I had would go and hooked it to the bumper. The come-alone winched the tree off the chain saw easy enough, so I decided to cut the tree while the cable was still hooked to the trunk. Well it was a “near miss” with the truck. Lesson number one; never cut a wedge too deep. Number two; never cut a tree down when the tree is hooked to a truck.

You see, I did learn a couple of thing that day. Then there was this one day that we all met up in the woods to do some cutting. One of the first things you learn about cutting wood is, once the tree is down you try to get the truck as close as possible, so you don’t have to carry it very far. So after I cut down a tree, I would move the truck as close as possible, then I would cut it into the right lengths for Lavon to load. While Lavon was loading the wood, I notice that there was this very nice oak tree not far away and I want it. So I decided to go ahead and cut it down. I was an experience wood cutter by now and knew what I was doing. I figured which way the tree needed to fall and I cut my wedge on that side. I then proceeded to cut the other side. The tree fell precisely on top of uncle’s new truck. At a loss for words, I just stood there. Everyone in the community was there that day, Everyone. Everyone saw what happen that day. Everyone! Old Lavon just shook his head and continued loading the wood.

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Keith, a friend of mine, had put his “tree climber deer stand” on a tree in the woods behind our house. This is a favorite spot for deer according to the signs. There are “rubs, scraps, and tracks” everywhere. He left it there after the hunting season was over. Tree climbers like this one have two working parts, the top half to sit on, and the bottom half to rest your feet. Once you put it on the tree, you get in and raise the top half up the tree about a foot. You then sit down on the seat and raise the bottom half with your feet. This is done all the way up the tree till you get to the height you want.

One fine summer day I was walking in the woods and came to the tree with the climber. I always like to watch wild life, so I decided to climb the tree with the climber and sit for a while to see if any would come by. This was my first time using one, but I’m not afraid of heights, and always game. Knowing it’s not the sort of thing a 60 year old man should be doing, I did it anyway. To add to the excitement, I was alone. Barbara Jo had gone to town with her brothers Robert and Lavon, so no one knew where I was. Also, I had left my cell phone at home. I am on my own about to do something I had never done before, that had a certain amount of risk to it, like falling out of a tree. Now I have climbed trees before in my younger days, but never with something like this climber. But it looked real easy to do. And it was.

So up the tree I went. I could see the marks on the tree that Keith had left so there was nothing for me to do but go higher than he did. Like I said, I’m not afraid of heights. I don’t know how high I went, but I climbed up there “awhile”. What a great view from that tree. I could see down into the woods and was sure that anything that came by would not see me unless it looked right at me. This was great fun, and I told myself that I should do this more often. I guess I sat there for about 45 minutes to an hour, watching the birds and squirrels, but didn’t see much else. About that time I decided to pick up my feet and let them hang over the leg rest. “Uh oh!” Now I know what that strap on the bottom of the seat was for. It should have been tied to the foot rest, so they would stay together. That foot rest went “a chink, a chink, a chink, a chink” all the way to the bottom of the tree. You talk about been up a “tree with out a ladder”, well I was, with only two ways to get down, and I was too old to jump.

After pondering my situation for awhile I decided use the second way down and reached over and wrapped my arms around the tree. Keep in mind that it is summer time, and I always wear shorts and a tee shirt. The tree had very rough bark on it. Also, I had to bring down the seat. So not only did I have to slide down with one hand on that seat, but keep my 200+ pound body from falling. All of a sudden I am afraid of heights. Plumb scared is a better word. If crying for my mother would had helped I would have done so. Down I go leaving my skin at various spots alone the way. After I was down, I stood there for a minute or two and looked at what I had done and all I could think of was “STUPID, STUPID, STUPID…

David Butler

2004

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It is more jungle than forest along the Suwannee River near home. Triple canopy trees are not uncommon in places. Sink holes abound, and most have a dead tree across it. That’s what we were hunting, because it was just plain fun to walk across on that dead fall. I was all about turning our grandkids and Candi, into a bunch of junior stuntmen. I loved taking them on hikes through our woods as much as they liked going. On this day there was Candi, our youngest daughter, with our oldest grandchild, Michelle, followed by Jodi, Justin, Jason, Joey and little Derrick.

Coming home later, mud covered and scratches all over, we pondered on how to explain what had happen. I opted for the truth as always, and what follows is how I remembered it. Joey as usual was in the lead that day, cutting a trail across the deep woods with the rest of us in tow. Now, unless you have gone trekking through the Suwannee River Basin deep woods, you have missed out on some of the most spectacular trees in Florida. Huge oak, pine, sweet-gum, maple and cypress tree are thick enough to blot out the sun. Most are decorated with gray Spanish Moss, grape vines and some with poison ivy. You will also find an abundance of wild life with wild pigs, deer, turkey, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and several kinds of snakes. The river itself with its brown tea color water is a sight to behold.

Anyway, Joey comes across a deep sink hole with a tall skinny tree right in the middle. But the most beautiful sight was the dead fall lying across it. Fun time! I lead the way across to insure it will hold the weight. Joey, then Michelle came next, with the rest following and little Derrick bringing up the rear. About half way across, Derrick foot got stuck in a knot hole. So, I go out to him and try to free his foot, and as I pulled it out, I lost my balance and fell into the sink hole, with Derrick following me down. I turned and caught him just in time therefore, saving his life.

Joey now rushes out and tries to slide down the tree in the middle to get to us, but falls into the mud also. I had lost my glasses and was in mud everywhere. Justin and Jason tried to come down the side banks, and slid into the mud also. The girls stayed on top and handed down vines for us to pull ourselves up. In the end we made it out and rejoiced that we were ok with only muddy clothes and a few scratches.

Back at home we were greeted with a lot of noise about being so muddy, and what were you doing, and you were suppose to be looking after them, etc., etc., etc.

However, after I told them of my daring rescue of Derrick, and how the boys came to our aid, all was forgiven.

This was a while back and my grandkids memory of how this happen may be a little cloudy, but this is how I recall it, and I’m sticking to it.

David Butler

Late 1990’s

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THE GREAT RAFT RACE of 1985

The first indication that it was more of a war than a raft race was due to the amount of debris that proceeded down the river well ahead of the rafters. The crowd standing on the banks watching for the winning raft to reach the landing and finish line, could only wonder at this sight. After watching bits and pieces of what once were well made Huckleberry Finn Rafts floating by, they begin to show signs of concern. I mean after all these were their husbands, sons and daughters out there.  What had happen on that river? 

What follows is a true story.

It all began several weeks before with the building of the river worthy rafts. The only rule in the construction was no outboard or electrical motors. That in itself was enough to inspire competition that bordered on fanaticism. We are talking pure genius in raft building. However, some of us were not too bright, and that started another game called spying and stealing of plans. I know, I know, you would not have expected that from friends and neighbors, but we kept hearing, “No rules, no rules, all is fair in raft building”.   In the end though, we had no two that looked alike.

Some were made for comfort, others for speed, and then there were those made for war on the river. The ladies raft was quite large, I mean very large, like big, and had flowers painted on it, giving it a nice touch. Keith and Craig had one built for speed with paddle wheels powered by bicycle parts. Glenn, James and Tom’s had oars on theirs, with a chair in the middle where Glenn sat and rowed. Many were just simple designs with a rudder and a box in the middle filled with flour bags. More about those flour bags later.

Michael and I built a raft that would do Ole Huck Finn proud.  It had a cabin for sleeping and a working grill for cooking, a tarp for sun shade, and a rudder and push poles. We had our box filled with flour bags too. Again, more about that later.

The plan was to launch our rafts on Friday evening at Nobles Ferry, and camp there that night, then start the race at 6 AM Saturday morning. It has always been fun camping with the guys in our neighborhood, and it was no different this time. We cooked a fine meal, Corinth style, and just sat around the camp fire drinking sweet tea, and enjoying the great outdoors. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Mike and I had decided to turn in earlier than the rest, and crawled into bed on our raft which was tied up on the bank. We were dozing, drifting in and out of sleep, listening to everyone talking by the fire. It was very peaceful. All was right within our world. There are just not enough days like this in our lives. We had isolated ourselves from the worlds problems. Our kids and grandkids today miss out on a lot of good clean living. But, back to the story.

As we were dozing, I notice how the voices begin to drift away.  Only it wasn’t the voices that were drifting. Mike sat up all of a sudden and said, “David, they have cut us loose”. We were in the middle of the Suwannee River! Yep, my good friend Wayne thought that we needed a head start on the rest of the group. Now, I’m not easily frightened, but out on the Suwannee River in a raft at night will cause you some concern. We finally tied up again and took turns guarding the rope the rest of the night. Not much sleep at all, which I now believe was part of the plan. No rules, you see.

The start of the race came off with out a hitch, so to speak. With warnings to be careful and don’t fall in, we headed down river. In the many turns along the river you always have a spot where there is “Back water”. That is where the water flows in the opposite direction. If you get caught in that, then you go backward. It is best to stay away from such places, so Mike and I head straight for the first one. Steering a raft is much harder than you might think when you have no power.  Anyway, we finally got on the way and soon drifted near another raft, and then it started. We were just minding our on business when Wesley, Kevin and others I don’t remember, started throwing little bags of flour at us.  Now what were we suppose to do? Right, we threw them back.

This went on all up and down the river. Every time we got close to anyone, it was like being in a war.  Somewhere along the way we stopped on a sand bar, and had a picnic lunch. The race was a tie at this point. During lunch things begin to happen. I don’t remember which of the ladies or girls that were thrown in the river first, but I want to think it was Priscilla, then Terri Jo. However, this was just a hint of what was coming. Anytime a girl walked away from the group she got dipped. I believe this where “The Most Reverend Wilber” was baptized also.  But, we had a nice rest while the boys and girls played.

After lunch we embarked again on the race for the finish line, which was at the Suwannee River Camp Site boat landing.  Everyone was in a great mood. Ray was in his fishing boat as sort of an unofficial referee and life guard. Wayne had his air boat and was kind enough to help those that were slower than the rest, by giving them a boost, however, that generosity would soon ended.  I don’t remember who was the first to play pirate, but we soon had a boarding party trying to get on our raft and remove us.  No sooner had we fought them off, when we had others climbing on. The first part of our raft to go was the guard rail. It was snatched off during one of the raids. The cabin was next. Before long all you saw was people floating in the river along with parts of rafts. Wayne got into the fray with his airboat by blowing the rafts into the backwater with his big fan. I think that was pay back for the flour bags that came his way.

If you can only imagine this scene, it would be as hilarious to you as is to me as I think back on it. What were once beautiful rafts were now bits and pieces of wood floating down the great Suwannee River. People were hanging on to the sides, or sitting on what was left. However, some remained in fair shape, such as the ladies raft, along with Glenn’s, Keith and Craig’s. Keith was able to keep out of reach because they had bicycle power!   Those that managed to stay on the boat were covered in white flour. 

Keith’s and Craig’s raft won the day. That bicycle motored paddle wheel really was the state of art in rafting back then. They got the tiny little trophy from “Ken-no-matchey-sockey Parker”. Glenn’s raft with James and Tom on board came in second. They just quietly rowed on down the river and did not get into the war, which was strange for James in those days. The ladies were next in their large raft. The rest of us finally drifted or floated up on what was left to the landing much to the relief of our love ones waiting at the dock.  Somewhere within the community there are pictures of all of this, I only hope that after all these many years everyone remembers those “Good ole days”.

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ANSON ON POINT

ANSON ON POINT

Early 1990’s

 

Alex learned to make booby traps while serving with the Army Special Forces. He could make them with black power, flash bulbs, white flour, and a Pringles Potato Chip tube. They would make a loud noise and cover you with flour, but do you no harm, “That is, if scaring you half to death does you no harm”.

It was one of those camping trips that you never forget.  We always played Fox and Hound with the younger boys. If you have never play that game, then you ain’t a Red Neck. The way it works is you take a group of boys out in the deep woods at night, usually with one adult for safety, and let them try to slip back into camp without getting caught. Men would go out a little ways from camp and set up an ambush. What great fun for all. The boys would make their way back to camp and try to get past the men. Some would always get lost and have to be rescued, others would get captured. And some of the more seasoned fox would make it back ok.

Alex decides to go with us on this camping trip. He said the magic words for me, “let’s have some fun”.  He and I went out early and set out some booby traps. The first one was along the trail that I, as the adult along for safety, would lead them. The other 20 or so were placed in a meadow where I would lead them across. We could hardly contain our glee for what was going to happen.

After a supper of hot dogs and hamburgers, cooked Corinth style, and washed down with ice tea, we set out to, “Out fox the hounds”. It was about a mile and a half to the jumping off point, so we rode there in the back of a pick up truck. In the mean time the men set up on the opposite side of the meadow, and settled down to wait. I told the boys since we had come so far away from camp, we would take the trail to the meadow, because none of the men would set up an ambush on this side.

Anson, being the oldest was assigned point, and was told to lead off. On the trail I caution them to keep very quiet, just in case some men did come this far. The boys were walking very close to each other for comfort, not believing me about the men being a ways off. After hiking for about a half mile, into a low place that had a tree canopy that blocked the moon, Anson tripped the first booby trap. I wasn’t sure of the exact location, and I was not ready. Even if I was, it would still have scared me. There was a loud BOOM, and a large fire ball went up into the tree tops and lit up the sky. The men said they heard and saw it half a mile away. After the Boom, I could not see anything but “white” everywhere. When it cleared, I saw the boys all on the ground. Anson was on his back with his arm and legs spread eagle, not moving. I said to myself, “My God, what have we done”.  “Anson, Anson, are you ok”? “Uh, uh, uh, what happen”. He was ok, thank God, because that would not have been the first time I had a practical joke back fire. It scared me so bad that I lead us down the wrong trail, and we ended up at the river, 180 degrees in the wrong direction. So much for my vast military training.

We finally made it to the meadow, and sat down to look it over in the moon light. Now I was a little worried about the other booby traps, after that, to say the least, but we started across anyway. I think it was Chad that set off the first one, at the first loud BOOM, the men came running out of the tree line yelling. We took off in another direction and BOOM, somebody, maybe Robby, tripped one. Back we went in the other direction and BOOM, again!  Another one was set off. By this time the boys were in a real panic, and running in all directions, with grown men running after them. Booby traps everywhere tripping and going off. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, everywhere you turn BOOM.

Everyday an adventure…

Note:  Today, Anson flys for the Florida Highway Patrol.

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