The Christmas coat revisited again
Hope you won’t mind a Christmas repeat out of Magnolia Blossoms and Bad Tasting Water published in 2011 mainly written for and about folks in and around Marengo County, and I’d sure like for anybody with any connections to the county or connections to those ‘40s and ‘50s to get hold of one of the remaining copies I have.
Anyhow, from the end of Chapter 17 comes a shorter version of the Christmas coat story. We’d always travel from Linden up to visit Gran, aunts, uncles and cousins in Selma on Christmas Day back when we had a bunch of those kinfolks still around to enjoy each other. One Christmas we were all gathered at Aunt Sassy’s. Daddy made a big production out of telling everybody about the new coat he had bought for Ma. It was a white one. Now, the truth of the matter is I don’t think it was anything special atall, but it was new, and sorta fuzzy and all. Matter of fact, Daddy made such a to do ‘bout that coat, it got a little funny after while.
Well, Sir, that coat was laid down over a chair in one of the bedrooms, while the kin were visiting around in the rest of the house. Now, also abiding in that house were four mischievous boy cousins by the names of Thomas and Billy Boggs and Ken and Jim Elliott. I think Little Joe Williams was there, but he was not as rambunctious as us other four. Anyway, we four would go out of our way for a good joke if the opportunity presented itself, and one did present itself that Christmas Day.
Sassy had a bird dog by the name of Blondie, and Blondie stayed in the house a heap of the time. Daddy had already made it his business to scold Blondie ahead of time about getting too close to the new coat as he carefully laid it over a chair in the bedroom.
Cousin Ken, who was probably the worst of the lot when it came to trouble making, just happened to have one of those rubber make-believe pieces of dog do. Real looking. I’m talking ‘bout real, real looking stuff. Of course, you already guessed what comes next. We slip in that room, slide the end of the Christmas coat down on the floor a little bit, plant that nasty looking blob on top of it, and then we holler, “Blondie! What have you done?!”
Well, here comes Daddy and the rest of’em to see what all the commotion is about, and when Big Tom, which is what the nephews and nieces called my daddy, sees the horrible deed that has been done on his pride and joy, there is no stopping him from taking charge. First, he glares at Blondie, and that poor birddog looks as forlorn as a danged old droopy eyed Basset Hound. Next, he pushes the crowd out of the way, fetches him a piece of cardboard and a stick, and commences to clean up that mess.
I never will forget the look of triumph on that man’s face when he managed to scoop up the poop without leaving a single trace of it on Ma’s new garment, and the whole time the kinfolks were just about falling over laughing since they had been let in on the charade. As the master scooper got close to the commode with his cargo, we tried to stop him and explain, in between belly laughs, but the old man would have none of that.
Ken attempted to reach around to save his poo, only to get rudely pushed aside by the man with the mission. Just as the toilet flushed, Ken managed to slip by, reach down in the murky water and retrieve the prize, all to the amazement of our hero, who had so beautifully removed it without a smudge left.
By that time, the whole house was rocking, and finally our hero caught on, looked somewhat sheepish, and somewhat stern for a moment, and then permitted himself a little chuckle about being the brunt of a daggum pretty funny holiday joke, but his next move was right straight back to the bedroom, just to make sure all was well with the new Christmas coat.
Hey, laugh when you can, and have a Merry Christmas, Dear Readers.
— Tom Boggs is a columnist for the Demopolis Times and a native of Marengo County. His column,“Days Gone Bye,” appears weekly.
(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, December 19 issue of the Demopolis Times.)