Jake Buys a TV Set
By: Garland Davis
The era is in the late nineteen fifties.
It was getting on toward evening. Hank and Jake had arrived at the country store simultaneously. The store sat back off a dirt lane. The store was a house that old man McGregor had converted into a one-room store. His clientele consisted mostly of the farm families that lived nearby. A front porch ran the width of the building and usually had two or more men in overalls, brogans and a variety of caps or hats sitting around on the two chairs or pop crates.
A widow woman that lived over on Dippen Road had started calling the store the “Buzzard’s Roost.” She said that when you drove up to the store, it was like a venue of buzzards sitting on a tree limb watching you. Sometimes it was akin to running a gauntlet, just getting into the store.
As they arrived at the porch, Willard came out carrying a bottle of RC and a Moon Pie. He was wearing denim pants, a logger’s shirt, and a straw Mexican sombrero. He said, “Howdy Jake, you too Hank. How’s you fellers doin’?”
“I jist stopped by fer a drank and a plug a t’baccer. I gotta git home fer supper. Mah Ole Woman gits kinda persnickety if Ah’s late.,Jake answered.
“Me too said, Hank. I wonder iffen thay’s got tha Beechnut t’baccer yit?, Said Hank.
Jake said, “Ah hopesthey got’s that Beechnut floor sweepins. Ya ‘bout chewed up all mah plug t’baccer.
Hey, Willard, whar dji git that there Mescan hat?”
Ah got it throwin nickels over at tha Stokes County fare. It is real good fer shadin yer eyes.” Willard answered as he stepped off the porch heading for an old rusty ’49 Dodge. “Ah, got to be goin’. Ah tole Miz Ferguson I’d come by and split some far wood fer her. See ya fellers tomorrow.”
Hank and Jake move into the store, make their purchases and return to the porch, pulling the two vacant chairs near the edge so they could spit into the dirt.
Hank says, “Jake, ya been complainin’ bout me borrowing your plug t’baccer. Here ya can have tha first bite a my Beechnut.”
“At’s okay. That ole Beechnut jist ain’t got no taste. Ah gots me a fresh plug. Ah thank we gots time fer a chew ‘fore time ta go home fer supper.”Jake replied to the offer.
“Jake, some feller told me yistiddy that you done gone and got one of the television movin’ picture thangs. Is that so?”
“Yeah, mah Ole Woman’s cousin was gonna buy him a new one, so he let me have the old one fer twenny dollars. I had ta give him one ole Duke’s and Sadie’s puppies ta boot. We got that television thang last week. Ah declares, Ah spent haf a day on tha roof a tha house ‘justin tha antanner thang ta make the pi’cher right. Ah was hanging on ta tha chimbly an mah Ole Woman and dotters was all hollerin’ at me to ‘turn it more, turn it back, turn it more.’ Ah swear womens cain’t make up their min fer squat.” Jake went on at length.
Hank asked, “What kinda stuff ‘ave they got on it?”
“Well Sattidy night tha Long Ranger and Tonta was on and they was some rasslin. That was purty good. Sundy night that Elvis feller was sposed ta be on a show by some feller name of Ed somthin’. Well we had that big thunderstorm and tha electric was knocked out an’ we couldn’t see hit. Mah dotters carried on somethin’ awful. They was cryin’ lak somebody died. An mah oldest one was mad at Duke Power. Ah din’t know that girl knowed all them cuss words.”
“ Tha Gran’ Ole Opry is sposed ta be on at eight ‘clock tonight. Why don’t ya brang your woman and younguns over ta watch it. But tell them boys, I won’t put up wi’ no foolin’ round with my dotters. I’se got mah eye on them, specially that oldest un.
Hank said, “I might do that. Iffen mah wife wants to. Iffen yore girls ud stop cuttin’ their eyes at mah boys, they wouldn’t be no problems. You watch yore gals and Ah’ll watch mah boys.
“Allright. Ah tell ya younguns takes a lot a lookin after. ‘Specially dotters. Not like when we was younguns. Mah Pap would ware mah ass out with a plow line iffen Ah didn’t do right. Mah Ole Woman says it ain’t right ta be whoopin’ no girls. She tells me ta talk ta them. Ya tells em right and it jist goes right thru their empty heads.”
“All they thanks about is buyin dresses and shoes. An Dam’ if they don’t want ta buy a record player so’s they kin buy them Elvis fellers records. Ah tole them they kin listen fer them on tha radio. Ah told them Ah would blister their butts if Ah ever hear ‘bout them doin’ that rocky roll dancin’. An Ah told them that Ah better not ketch them doin any a that belly rubbin dancin’. That’s tha kind that gits ya in trouble.
Square dancing’s okay, Ah tole ‘em., Jake finished.
Jake went on, “I fergot ta tell ya ‘bout Square Curly and Aunt Beccer up in Possum Holler. Square had him four gallons a moonshine that he had done made up at his still and was brangin’ it down that mountain ta sell in Possum Creek. He seed tha revenuers comin’ up tha path. He knowed iffen he got caught with that much white likker, tha jedge would give him eighteen months on that road gang. So he ducked down a path b’hind Aunt Beccer’s cabin, what was all tha way up tha holler. One a tha revenuers seen him and started down tha same path. Ta git rid a tha ev’dence he poured all four gallons a likker inta that sprang where Aunt Beccer gits her drankin water. He lost his likker but din’t git locked up.
‘Bout a quarter hour after all this, Aunt Beccer come out with her water bucket ta git water. She dipped a bucket a water an’ then took tha dipper and had her a drank. Tha water was different. She had another little taste an then another. After five er six tastes, she run back ta tha house an got ever bucket and empty jar she had. This was tha best water she had ever drunk.
After she had all that wunnerful water put in her kitchen, she d’cided to go down ta Possum Creek. It was ‘bout a month since she had been down ta tha store. She put on her Sundy dress what she wore ta church an started down tha path that led outta tha holler.
Well people knowed that sumpthin’ was different ‘bout Beccer. They said she was smilin’ and sayin’ howdy ta everbody. You’da thought Beccer’s face would break iffen she ever smiled. It was Satidy, an as thangs went, hit seemed they was having a square dance in Possum Creek that night. They said that Beccer was completely scandalous. She was dancing and throwing up her dress so high, that ya could almost see her bloomers. Beccer was sick tha, next mornin’ and missed church fer tha first time anybody could remember. They said tha preacher preached on the thang ‘bout demons gittin’ inside a people and making act different then normal., Jake finished.
Hank jumped up saying, Ah got ta go. Hit’s almost supper time. Mah woman’ll be madder than a ole settin’ hen if ah’s late. She’ll be accusin’ me ah drankin’ white likker er sumthin’.
Me too. Ah’ll see ya after while fer that Grand Ole Opry. Bye.
The two farmers went to their trucks and left the lane, one turning left, the other right.
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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.