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Remembering two words that just seem to pop out

I find myself thinking more and more about dear passed on friends, and some of the language they might have used from time to time.  Pondering on departed former Red Devil teammate, Dwain Brown, remembered by his nickname, Nellie Brown. Nellie played end, but he didn’t catch those footballs with graceful hands. He grabbed ‘em in his arms, and held on. Pretty daggum good at it. He was also the punter. Every now and again, Ol’ Nellie would decide to take off running instead of kicking that pigskin. Coach Golden, although being a good Baptist, would mouth a couple of words from the sideline that sounded a lot like “Aw Shoot,” but usually all ended well with Dwain picking up a first down or better.

Nellie Brown and I ran the Linden swimming pool one summer. We neither one had a car, so we’d walk to and from our houses to work. One day, up about the high school, Dwain asked me if I believed he could knock out that street light with a rock. I allowed I didn’t figure he could. Well, he up and chunked that rock, and did just what he said he would. We both let out with some words sorta like  “Aw, shoot” or some such similar verbiage, and we lit out. Never did “fess” up to Mayor Willie Gray Little what we did. I reckon the statute of limitations has run out on that deed by now. (Sixty five years.)

I was thinking about something sorta funny the other day. Least ways it’s funny now, some 66 years hence. My brother was in a certain lady teacher’s class down at Linden Elementary at the time. That certain school marm up and asked the class if they knew of anybody who didn’t like her. Well, dang if Billy didn’t raise his hand, and report that he knew two who didn’t like her … his brother and Tommy Mack Jones. Although I was way past her class by that time, when I heard about it, all I could think to say was, “Aw, Shoot,” or some such words as that. Don’t know why come Billy gave her that information, but from then on whenever I saw that lady walking toward me in the hall, I thought about that “Aw Shoot” utterance.

Hate to admit it, but one time I took off running from my daddy, who was all set to whup me about something I had done. Well, Sir, we ran all the way from the house up to the school grounds. I ran around to the back of the old elementary school building, which has long been torn down, and scampered up the outside back steps, without thinking that the door would be locked. There I stood trapped as Daddy came puffing up, and all I could utter under my breath was “Aw Shoot!” Well, when he caught his breath, Daddy got tickled, and told me if I promised not to tell Ma, he would  not whup me, but would meet out some other punishment, to which I agreed, and we walked home, neither one the worse for wear.

Finishing up with an army story that will forever tickle me. First Sergeant Glenn Stringer and I were running the gas chamber training exercise down at Camp Shelby back around 1965. We had a sho nuff high concentration of eye burning and nose running from the CS gas filling that chamber.  Anyhow, those recruits had been instructed to walk up to me in that tear filled enclosure, take off their masks, and give me their name, rank and serial number. That was designed to let them understand how well the masks worked in that hostile environment.

Well, it turned out that every last one of those fellows had the same last name, and none of ‘em hung around long enough for a serial number when they got a whiff of that potent CS gas. They, each one, walked up, took off the mask, and began to follow orders by saying, “Sir, Private…Aw Shoot,” or some such words as that, then out the door they would scoot. No stopping ‘em, but Stringer and I were laughing too hard to try anyhow.

Ain’t life fun … and kinda funny a heap of the time?

— 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, March 4 issue of the Demopolis Times.)