By Jim “Pappy” Moore
Twenty years ago I began writing about many tall tales and intriguing stories I had heard or originated in my life. As the new century and millennium emerged, as the era of limited reading took hold, I felt a need to make certain the East Texas tradition of storytelling survived. Thus began my writing about such matters, ultimately resulting in my weekly newspaper column. “Somebody orta do it,” I reasoned.
Here we are nearly twenty years later, and that need for good stories remains. There is an art to telling a good story, and it’s pretty amazing how a good story can get utterly destroyed by a bad storyteller.
When I was in high school and working at Massingill’s Meat Market in Lufkin during the 1960s, I had the pleasure of working for B.G. “Red” Massingill and his equally red-headed wife Molly. Their family owned-and-run business originated in 1954, and I began working for them in 1964.
Out in the country the Massingills had a good-sized tract of mostly undeveloped land where cattle were raised, and where the slaughterhouse facility was located. There were many wooded acres where wildlife thrived.
Red’s older brother Glen worked in the business. Red hardly spoke at all, and his brother Glen was even more prone to long periods of silence. If you asked Glen a question, you might think for a minute or two that he either didn’t hear you or wasn’t going to answer you. Then he’d break the silence with “welllll, Jimmy ….” Then some brief but on point response would follow.
Red and Glen both had many hound dogs. They were hunting dogs. To be clear, Red and Glen didn’t actually hunt game. They would go out to the property, make a fire, then sit in the darkness by the fire. They’d release their dogs, and off the dogs would go, hunting on their own. Red and Glen would sip coffee, as they heard their dogs chase foxes, or racoons, or such. Red and Glen knew the bark of every one of their dogs. They could tell which dog was barking, what kind of animal was being chased, and whether said animal was treed.
No animals were killed or harmed in the process, but some animals did get the daylights scared out of them. Afterward, Red and Glen would load up their dogs and take them home.
Being the dogs of two butchers who had access to untold bones with meat on them, and many scraps of meat, the dogs of Red and Glen always ate well. The same cannot be said of all dogs which were owned and kept as hound dogs, however.
There was a fellow in the community who had probably a dozen hound dogs. This guy worked on a crew that cut down trees and hauled the logs to the local papermill. One day he invited a friend to stop by his place in the country and see his dogs. Like Red and Glen, he too had a large pen for his dogs. He did not have access to the meat and bones Red and Glen had. The fellow’s friend surveyed the big pen with hog wire holding the dozen hound dogs the logger had.
Now, the dog owner did not make a lot of money, and feeding that many dogs had to be an expensive proposition. While friends don’t usually intrude on the finances of others, the friend couldn’t help but ask “how in the world can you afford to feed all these dogs?” His buddy the logger replied “I feed them onions.” Incredulous, his buddy replied “they’ll eat onions?!”
“Not for the first six weeks,” deadpanned the logger.
Copyright 2023, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.