Hooligans and Skunks

Reader Contribution by Mary Carton
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About 3 a.m., I was awakened out of a nice slumber by the sound of the Hooligans. They were having a big rumble with something. I figured an armadillo or coyote and rolled over and went back to sleep.

The next morning while making coffee, I decided I needed more water to than what was in my water filter pitcher, so I added more. While it was filtering I put the filter in the coffeemaker, added the coffee grounds, and hunted up a plastic grocery bag to hang on the back door knob to remind me I needed to take milk to work.

I poured water in the coffeemaker and, as I almost had enough, the lid came off the pitcher and went all over the counter. After getting ready for work, I took my cup of coffee into my office so I could check my emails. As I reached to turn on the monitor, I hooked the handle of the cup and coffee went everywhere. A bigger mess since this had milk in the flow.

As I opened the back door to go to work, I smelled skunk permeating from under the closed garage door. Oh, man, it wasn’t an armadillo. As the door opened, Blackie ran in and Levi was standing out in the driveway looking sheepish. The odor almost knocked me over. I didn’t see my problem child, but I figured she was in the back garage or on the front porch as she usually is.

When I pulled into the parking lot at work, Mom calls and said that Blackie and Patches were out after something during the night. I told her a skunk. Apparently it had gone into her shed and those two tore up five bags of her mulch and pulled off part of the siding at the bottom. Blackie and Levi were back in the morning like nothing happened.

I asked Mom if she had seen Patches and she hadn’t since she saw Patches running down toward the bottom pasture during the night. After going to the dentist and getting home, only Blackie and Levi greeted me. I got out of my truck and called Patches, and she stuck her head out of the doggie door on the back garage. She walked past me and had what looked like a powder burn between her eyes where the skunk got her in the face and cakes of green up her side. While out she had also visited the horses next door.

I thought Blackie was bad, but apparently Patches got the full spray and the horse poop didn’t help any.

My 80-year-old mother has one of those John Deere zero-turning mowers that she zips around her 1 plus acre yard. She pulled down to my lean-to on the back garage to get some gas and Patches crawled up on the deck with her giving Mom a good whiff from her adventures.

This year is the 200th anniversary of Andrew Jackson’s victory of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812. The battle reenactment and a victory ball occurred in New Orleans in April. A second ball was in May at Natchez and a third ball was in my home town of Tuscumbia this month.

A camp was set up in Sheffield demonstrating blacksmithing, medical practice, and dress of the day. In Florence, Gen. John Coffee, one of the founders of the city who fought alongside Jackson, gave a speech along with representatives from the various tribes. Native Americans from Oklahoma and Mississippi and other parts of Alabama paid a visit to Tuscumbia Landing on the Tennessee River. It is the site of a large removal of Native Americans from the southeast.

Wreaths were placed at the courthouse honoring the Iriah Blue Native American regiment, freedmen of color, and soldiers from the area who fought with Jackson at the battle. Most of the northern battles of the war were losses by the Americans. Jackson promised Native Americans he wouldn’t take their land and slaves who fought with him their freedom. He reneged on both promises.

Gen. Jackson, his wife, Rachel, and son Andrew Jr., left by carriage from the Tuscumbia Depot and rode the streets of Tuscumbia to Locust Hills.

Now, Mary here decided she wanted to get photographs along the carriage route. Temperatures had been in the 90s for two weeks so it was going to be hot trying to outrun the parade on two bad knees. I got my bicycle I rode around Auburn off the wall and pumped the tires up. I haven’t ridden a bicycle since my knee replacement 15 years ago, so I was surprised the tires were still good. It was a used 10-speed boy’s bike that my cousin in the repair business gave me a good deal on. I got on it to see if the gears still worked and the seat fell down while I was peddling. I tried to tighten it up, got back on and almost busted my ankle. I got to thinking I would need to dismount quickly, so I got my newer girl’s 12-speed down and pumped the tires up. It has one of those uncomfortable narrow seats on it and it was also loose. I found one of those fake sheep skin clothes and rubber banded it around the seat and adjusted it.

The afternoon of the ball, I loaded up my trusty steed, parked near Locust Hills and rode my bike down to the depot. Bryant Boswell, Jeanne Anderson, James Jones and driver Thomas Leonard took a few photographs while we waited on our police escort. I gave Chief Logan and Officer Smallwood instructions on which hospital to send me to if I broke something. I found out that Jeanne was a nurse practitioner, so we were good to go.

At my first dismount at the intersection in front of the depot, the sheepskin came off. The parade slowed enough so I got several photographs. The rest of the parade was spent fooling with the sheepskin. When we got to Locust Hill, some of the crowd greeting the Jackson’s walked out in front of me. I almost had a wreck. After taking photographs of Jackson’s speech and his dismissal of the troops, I went outside to find a restroom to change into my victory ball outfit. Officer Smallwood asked where my mount was. I told him I had Red tied up over there by the hedges and don’t let anyone ride off with her. The big question going around town is did anyone get a photograph of me on my bike. So far I’m safe except for a video, but I’m so far in the distance, you can’t tell who it is.

This week is the Helen Keller Festival, and I’ve been in bed with pneumonia since Friday. Mom’s homemade chicken soup with homemade noodles makes everything better.

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