Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Mountain Man

This story is based on a factual event that happened to me while deer hunting with my son on a Tennessee ridge. It still makes me wonder who the "Mountain Man" was but I took liberties with the event to make it into my first writing int the 'Fantasy' realm of writing. I submitted it to a couple of magazines and got favorable reviews but no writing contract.
Unexplained events have always fascinated me so I just had to write this one. I really enjoyed the process of building the story line(s).
Building a story line is a lot like solving a case for a client as a PI. Both processes are result driven have an ending. That's my goal as a writer and as a PI.

What follows is a draft where all grammar has not been edited and corrected. This is about my fourth edit but I still see areas where I could improve with a better word here and there.
Hope you enjoy!!!

The Mountain Man

For most of his life Nick never believed or even considered the possibility of time travel or anything remotely resembling it. In all his life experiences nothing had ever happened to cause him to rethink his beliefs regarding strange happenings. If he was driving late nights he often amused himself listening to the “nut calls” on late night AM radio. Never would he have considered any of what he heard being possible before this particular hunting trip. Some of his long held ideas were about to require rethinking.
In the southern Appalachian Mountains hunting was a rite of passage used by young men to move to manhood. Hunting was lived and breathed from early childhood so outdoor skills were honed to a razors’ edge. This was who you were. Even though Nick’s corporate job kept him inside most of the time he still enjoyed being back in the wild. I guess you could say the corporate world was his living but out here was his life.
His son Jason was also a skilled hunter and a dead shot with a muzzleloader, bow, or a rifle. For a young man less than twenty years old his outdoor skills were second to none. He could track and follow blood trails as good as anyone who had ever grown up in the Tennessee hills.
Since Nick was not a kid anymore he preferred to hunt from either rock ledges or amid heavy brush while his son preferred a tree stand swaying high above the mountain trails.
This particular day as Jason was climbing to his lofty perch in his tree stand; Nick was looking for the best route up the ridge to where he planned to set up. As they gave each other the thumbs up sign he quietly started up the ridge in the pre- dawn darkness. It was a chilly, but not cold, winter morning as he carefully and methodically moved toward his destination. He could hear the distant low hum of large diesel trucks navigating the winding main highway artery in the valley below. As Nick glanced up at the moonless cobalt sky his eyes caught the flashing of a jet liners lights high above the mountain ridge. As he stopped for a moment to catch his breath he imagined the passengers comfortably resting as the “red eye” glided through the early morning blackness.
Nearing the halfway point of the trek he moved through an area that was strangely cold – in fact much colder than he had felt during the earlier part of the climb? This puzzled Nick as he thought that he had never felt anything like that in his entire outdoor experience? He also thought it was odd that during the balance of his climb up the ridge that no trucks were heard on the highway below nor were any more airliner lights noted on the normally active Atlanta/Nashville corridor?? Arriving at his rock ledge he set up and quietly waited for first light on this weirdly strange morning.
With maximum concentration focused on the surroundings he intently watched and listened for deer movement. As dawn broke he sensed a movement down ridge and through his riflescope a nice buck was noted in the distance through the leafless trees. After the monotony of waiting he was glad to finally have some activity. With senses coming to pinpoint edge Nick positioned himself quietly to wait for the right moment to squeeze the trigger and send the powerful projectile on the path toward his trophy buck.
As he timed his breathing for the shot another presence was immediately sensed off to his
right side. At the same instant the big buck bolted into the nearby underbrush. Nick quickly moved his vision to the right to see what had caused the buck to be spooked.
He was startled to see a strangely dressed man standing about twenty feet away.
They must have seen each other at the same instant and both appeared wild eyed and startled to see the other so close by!
Nick’s heart skipped several beats as he observed the man. Two thoughts immediately entered Nick’s mind, “How in the heck did someone get that close to my hunting spot without me knowing it and why was he dressed as he was?”
The intruder was outfitted in worn buckskin jacket and pants with leather moccasins on his feet. He was carrying what looked like an old 50 caliber muzzleloader. His beard and hair were long and unkempt. A floppy wide brimmed leather hat completed his wardrobe. He was truly authentic 1800’s.
He was also seriously checking Nick out at the same time.
As for Nick he was wearing present day woodland cameo with a .357 stainless steel Smith and Wesson in a shoulder holster plus his trusty scoped 30.06 bolt-action deer rifle.
After the initial shock of seeing each other Nick decided to try to break the ice and start a conversation. Nick felt more embarrassment than fear at that moment. Allowing someone to get that close, unnoticed, was something he would not want made public. He would never hear the end of it if that story got around.
They finally nodded to each other and Nick said to him, “Nice choice of outfits. It’s really authentic looking.”
Nick added, “You really caught me by surprise just now – I had no idea that anyone was around.”
The mountain man had breeched a major hunting etiquette rule so Nick spoke in a friendly tone because he knew how some hunters react if you accidentally walk through their kill zones when they are on stand.
He nodded but really didn’t seem to comprehend what Nick was saying.
“That’s a neat old antique muzzleloader you got there.”
Looking even more perplexed and confused, he fearfully stared at Nick’s rifle and sidearm.
As he inched closer to Nick he pointed a grubby finger at his stainless steel sidearm and said something regarding handgun that Nick found to be unintelligible. From his use of language Nick figured this guy was a “few bricks short of a load.” Nick just smiled at the questionable comment and did not even consider a reply.
Nick then asked him jokingly, “Are you up here with a film crew making a documentary or a pioneer movie?
This seemed to totally confuse the mountain man. He didn’t seem to comprehend anything that was being said to him?
Nick said under his breath, “Strange people are not just limited to the corporate world – I guess the woods are also full of them.”
After a few minutes of silence and mutual staring the mountain man gestured and grunted some mixed syllables to indicate that he was heading down the trail.
“Watch for my son in a tree stand down the ridge,” Nick said as the stranger started down the ridge.
Nick received another confused look as the man walked off down the mountain trail.
As Nick watched the mountain man skillfully move down the mountain trail he was wondering what Jason would think when he observed him moving virtually underneath his tree stand?
As Nick was gathering his gear after the encounter he noticed a small hand-made leather drawstring pouch lying in the area near where the man had been standing.
Nick picked up the drawstring pouch and noted that it contained some fresh homemade jerky and a small piece of bread. Evidently the mountain man was preparing to have a snack when they were startled by each others presence. He took the pouch and placed it in his jacket pocket so he could give it to the man if he saw him again on the trail.
On this note he decided to call it a day and started down the ridge to meet his son.
As he arrived at Jason’s location he expected to hear his son describe the mysterious mountain man but he surprisingly did not mention him. As they walked out of the
tree line to their truck Nick finally commented about the strange “mountain man” that he met up on the ridge. Nick told how the mountain man walked down the ridge just past his tree stand location less than an hour ago.
Jason looked at him with wonder and asked what he was talking about?
Nick related the story in detail and Jason firmly stated that, “No one came past me on the trail.”
Nick wondered, “How was this?”
“How could I plainly see someone when my son, who usually sees everything, could not?
They were a long way from the nearest homes and Nick knew most all of the people who lived in the area. This guy on the ridge was none of them.
The thought then occurred that this “mountain man” might not be a costumed modern day hunter.
Could he truly have been someone from a different era?
Even though Nick immediately discounted this possibility – it stayed in his mind.


Later that evening in his study beside a warm fire with a steaming cup of coffee Nick’s mind again was on the events earlier in the day on the ridge.
Now that he was warm and relaxed he would approach this mystery as he did problems in his day-to-day manager’s job. Shouldn’t logic cover the outdoors as well as in corporate life?
Nick’s mind started processing the data and as he always did – he conversed with himself about the problem or mystery in this case.
“Where had he come from?”
“Why was he dressed in early 1800’s attire?”
“Why did Jason not see him when he walked right past where he was on his tree stand?” “What was a logical explanation or, was there an explanation?”
“Maybe the mountain man was a person from another time?”
“Who am I trying to kid?”
“Could time travel actually happen?”
“I believe it more than I did yesterday.”
His mind again wondered, “Why did Jason not see the man?” The man had to walk within a few yards of where Jason was on stand. If the mountain man had traveled to the
present time and Nick could see him – “Why could Jason not see him?”
This thought continued to nag him.
Then he left the questions and just let his mink wander a bit.
“If the mountain man was truly from another time - I wonder what he thought of me?”
Even though the mountain man’s 1820’s attire initially shocked Nick – at least he was familiar with that era’s clothing. Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone movies had made most everyone aware of frontier clothing.
For the mountain man it was an entirely different scene. If he had stepped through a time portal and the first person he saw was Nick – no wonder he appeared shocked and awed as he looked at Nick’s woodland attire, orange vest, cap, 30.06 bolt action rifle, .357 stainless revolver, and a strange accent and voice tone. He had probably never seen anything like Nick in his life!
“Did the mountain man feel fear as he hastily departed the ridge where we met?
Nick wondered what his thoughts were as he went down the ridge to where he expected to see another ‘foreigner.” Nick imagined that he was probably feeling totally perplexed by the whole episode.
As Nick again sipped his coffee and was hypnotized by the rippling flames on the burning wood – another thought literally slammed his mind!
“What if the reason Jason did not see the mountain man was because Jason was not on the ridge when the buckskin clad man walked down the mountain?”
“That was not possible – was it?
“Jason and I left the ridge together. How could he have not been there?”
Nick’s mind then raced back to this morning on the ridge. He remembered the eerie
silence that prevailed during the approximate three hours he was up there.
The sky above was normally alive with commercial jet activity. He didn’t remember seeing one plane or vapor trail after the climb?
The roar of large trucks in the valley below is normally audible – but he remembered hearing none?
As his mind again raced through the morning’s events he then realized that Jason was not on the ridge that morning!
“My encounter with the mountain man happened in the 1820’s.”
“Jason was not on the ridge until 2006!”
“Holy Crap!!”
Nick wondered how he could logically think this thought? As he continued his thinking the realization hit him!
“Am I losing it or what?”
“The mountain man did not pass through a time portal – I did!!”
Nick’s thoughts continued. “This could account for the eerily cold area I passed through on my climb up the ridge?”
“It would also explain why there were no vehicle sounds coming up from the valley.” “There were no vehicles in the 1820’s!”
“Same goes for the absence of airliner activity.”
“No wonder the mountain man was shocked to see me.”
“Probably no other people lived near the ridge at that time.”
“Who knows how long it had been since the mountain man last saw another person? You know he would be shocked to see anyone as alien appearing as I was.”
Nick then thankfully realized that as he backtracked his way down the ridge after the morning of hunting he must have somehow re-entered the present time.
The other possibility to this statement caused him to shiver in fear.
Moments passed as he stayed with this thought.
Then another revelation hit him!
“The Mountain Man’s Drawstring Pouch!!!!!”
He had entirely forgotten about it! His trembling hand dug into his jacket pocket and retrieved the small leather pouch. It should still have venison jerky inside. He clutched the small bag he picked up this morning - or was it over two hundred years ago?
The once smooth leather was now worn and cracked with the drawstring brittle to the touch.
Nick observed that the contents were now just dusty powder where the bread and jerky had previously been.
He again fearfully wondered what would have happened if he had taken a different route back to where he met his son?
“Would I also be dust or would I be lost and terrified back in the 1820’s?”
He then wondered how many times in the past this sort of thing had happened causing “travelers” to be stuck in another “time”?
What a frightening thought to be somewhere and not know how or why you are there?
As he finished his coffee and studied the tattered leather pouch he thought that he would be wise to keep this story to himself.
“People have been institutionalized for less outrageous stories?!”
As tiredness overtook him Nick blankly gazed into the fireplace. He could see that the fire was now only glowing embers.
He was thankful that he was here, or ------- Was he????

Friday, August 6, 2010


This is sort of a change of pace... In most of my stories where I am 'pokin' fun at country people I am not using myself as an example... Not this time!!! Enjoy......

The Cypress Tree

At the college I attended English composition (English 101) was a required freshman subject. As a historical fact during the early sixties colleges made an effort to weed out undergraduate students who were not serious about higher education. This was a simple time when higher education meant just that. Money was not yet the institutions primary motivator. Many colleges used English composition (theme writing) for this purpose. Failure was as common as average and I really feared this required course. Before college my high school English teacher had drilled us continuously on diagramming sentences and proper use of nouns, verbs, and other grammar rules. At the time I felt all these exercises were a waste of time. How would being able to diagram sentences help me to find a better job? Back at college I struggled through my first couple of themes that first semester with a “low C” and a “D”. One day my straight-laced professor with no visible sense of humor walked into the classroom and immediately wrote the numbers 1, 2, and 3 in descending order on the chalkboard. He was a dignified graying gentleman whose appearance and demeanor told me that he was a stickler for everything being in order. After writing the three numbers he stopped and without saying a work make eye contact with most everyone in the room. He then commanded each of us to take out our theme books and prepare to write a theme on one of the three subjects that he would write by the numbers already on the board. A dramatic way to start the school day and you could have heard a pin drop! I figured this would probably be the theme that finished me since I was off to such a poor start in his class anyway. By number one he wrote “Theory of Thermodynamics.” One down - I had no idea what that was about except that I thought it was an Engineering term. By number two he wrote “Works of Plato.” Strike two against me. Disney’s Pluto would have better suited my brain size. I did not have enough knowledge of Plato’s writings to write more than one line. Even though both of these subjects were quite general I did not have enough knowledge of either to be general. Neither of these subjects ever came up while I was doing my chores on the farm. By number three he wrote, “The Sex Life of a Cypress Tree.” Probably three down as he glared with disgust at the entire class. Many students got up shaking their heads and left the room after turning in a blank signed paper. A few nerdy brainchildren were writing away on one of the first two subjects. (Probably education and engineering majors - was my clenched teeth thought.) I sat in shock for about five minutes reflecting that I knew nothing of the first two subjects and the third one was probably only listed to let us “soon to be failures” know that we were on our way out. I started to think about the professor’s cruelty by listing subject number three. Everyone knows that a Cypress tree has no sex life. As my mind wandered to a happier place my humor kicked in and the little voice inside my head said that a Cypress trees’ sex life was a lot like mine. Nonexistent! I figured what the heck I would have some fun on my way to flunking out of college so I let my thoughts flow. I wrote for the remainder of the two-hour class using a comparison of the sex life of a Cypress tree to the sex life of a young hillbilly college freshman who had never been very far away from home in his life. I figured it would be an automatic “F” but I wrote on anyway. While I wrote I smiled to myself because I realized a powerfully strong feeling of accomplishment. The words flowed through my pen simply and with purpose as I wrote at a fevered pace. Upon completion I handed in my theme book and strolled out of the classroom with my head held high. I had given it my best shot regardless of the outcome.
The next day in my student mailbox was a notice to report to my professor’s office immediately. Well, I figured this meant the end of my short college career so I dropped what I was doing and went directly there. I announced myself to his secretary and waited, and then nervously waited some more. Finally I was called to enter his office and I noted that it was almost completely walled with bookshelves that were neat and orderly just like he was. He pointed to an uncomfortable looking chair and I sat down. I knew that the open theme book on his desk was probably mine. He thumbed slowly through it looking at every page without regard for my presence. The silence was deafening. He then looked up slowly and seriously asked me where I got the idea to write something of this nature in his class? As he asked this question he gestured at my theme book? I started to fumble through a weak explanation of my reasoning. I told him I had no knowledge of the first two subjects and wrote on number three because that was all I could muster from my memory bank. For lack of anything else to add I started to apologize to him but he held up his hands stopping me in mid sentence. To my surprise he started telling me about my easy transition from the Cypress tree to my own life and how my simple writing style reflected my honesty. I then realized that he appreciated my youthful attempt at humor! Evidently I had done something right! After we discussed my theme he handed me my book and it had a large “A” over the title on page one. I went on to make an “A” in his course.
How had I done this? The answer was by being myself and writing simply and honestly. It is hard to imagine the confidence and creative freedom you feel when you use your God given talents! Without conscious effort I had tied my ability for spontaneous humor into my writing and it had meshed perfectly. Heck, I even impressed what I thought to be a humorless professor.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cotton By The Stalk

I'm Back!!!!
Been a while since my last entry but here I am with another one.
This story is true with some added embelishments. Writers priviledge.......
Hope that you enjoy this entry......

Cotton By The Stalk
During your youth were you in contact with people from other parts of the country?
This may sound like a stupid question but in the late 1950’s growing up in the hills of southern middle Tennessee it was very probable that you would not have a lot of contact with other “cultures.” We had to face it – our area was not a favorite tourist destination.
Even thought I felt that I was well read and fairly knowledgeable of the world around me I now realize that I was probably just slightly more aware of my surroundings than the proverbial guy who “fell off the turnip truck” that was passing through.
One day I was in our cotton patch near the county road that bordered our farm. The cotton was getting white and I was checking to see if most of the bowls were opening which would indicate when we could soon start picking the cotton. The one-acre patch I was standing in was shared property with my older brother. Dad gave us this acre and the profits (or losses) were ours. Capitalism was taught early in the hills of Tennessee.
Anyway, as I was standing near the road in the cotton patch – a shiny new car stopped at the side of the road close to where I was standing. A young couple who were probably on their way to “LA” occupied the car. For outsiders “LA” was the local name for the “Lower Alabama” gulf coast or as others refer to this area as the “Redneck Rivera.”
On getting out of the car they just stood and looked over the cotton patch like they had never in their lives seen anything like it. They finally said that they were amazed at how the cotton just hung out of the bowls ready for picking. I guess that I was amazed by their actions. It was obvious that they were not from “around here” and I moved to where I could get a glimpse of their car plate and I saw that they were from Illinois.
They asked me a lot of questions about cotton - how it grows and how does a bowl become the fluffy cotton that was hanging on the burrs? Questions that no one in their right mind would ever even consider, was my opinion. Sort of like the old “which came first – the chicken or the egg” question.
After asking my permission to enter the patch they eagerly ran around touching the locks of cotton hanging down and were really looking pretty silly frolicking around the cotton patch. Looked a lot like the slow motion runs the lovers always take through the meadow in “B” grade movies. I was beginning to think that maybe they had stopped by the local “drug store” but you could not smell anything on their breath. The “Drug Store” was the name the local bootlegger used for his nearby establishment. I guess the name of the establishment reflected the purely medicinal purposes for the “hair of the beast” here in the Bible belt.
Finally after they had obviously used up all their pent up energy the man ran up to me and breathlessly asked me what I would charge them for some cotton? Another question that normally would never be asked. How could I answer a question like that? Could he not see that this was a cotton patch and not a retail outlet? While I was pondering the answer I would deliver to them – the man suddenly pulled out his wallet and took out a five-dollar bill. He waved the portrait of Abe Lincoln in front of me and asked me if I would sell him a stalk of cotton for five dollars? Since one of my dreams in life was to amass a large collection of “portraits of deceased presidents” – he had my full attention. I had trouble believing what he was saying but I nodded my head in agreement. I guess that I was too shocked to verbally respond. Heck, I did farm work for neighboring farmers for three dollars a day. It was obvious that this guy was not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Well, I reached down and pulled up a stalk of cotton with about five open bowls plus leaves and a couple of unopened bowls. He gave me the five-dollar bill and happily placed the cotton stalk in the trunk of his shiny new car.
As they drove off I was left with my thoughts of past cultural history. My immigrant family had not yet arrived in this country during the Civil War but I was seriously questioning how in the world the North won that war if these people were a reflection of their population? On the other side, the South must have been in a pretty sad state to loose to people of this obvious mental deficit? I guess these were thoughts for professors who sit around tables smoking pipes and wearing suits?
Then my mind switched gears and I thought about the sale of one stalk of cotton for five dollars. As a young capitalist I began to calculate what our cotton patch was worth at a per stalk price of five dollars. I did not count the stalks but there could easily have been enough to make our little patch worth at least fifty thousand dollars. If we got Dad to put our whole 200-acre farm in cotton – truck the stalks up North - sell the stalks for five dollars each - we would be filthy rich. Wow, then we would be able to get on of those TV sets for our house! What a brilliant idea! If we would have had the Internet back then I would probably have made an infomercial and asked Kevin Trudeau to narrate it. That guy must really be super smart – he seems to be an authority on everything from hitting a golf ball to medical problems?
Sadly my brother cooled down my enthusiasm for the plan by telling me that everyone up North would not pay a price like that for our cotton. Try to convince a very young entrepreneur of that?
After a while I went back to thinking in more conventional terms about our cotton patch again. Like getting the cotton picked before bad weather and finding the time to do it after school.
We eventually made two bales of cotton, which gave us enough money to buy all our school clothes, get a TV set for our family, and have walking around money for the year.
But I never forgot the two folks passing through who made me ponder deeper thoughts regarding our nation’s history and even to think like a millionaire – if only for only a very short time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Eating Crow?

One mark of being a man in the area of the Tennessee valley where I grew up was being a good woodsman. Reading signs, not getting lost, and living off the land were items for bragging rights. Several of us guys decided to go on an extended trip deep into the nearby mountains and live off the land. We each carried a rifle or shotgun depending on preference. We also each carried a small pack containing roughly a day’s rations and other seasoning and survival items. Since we planned to be gone for several days our abilities to live off the land would be tested. We were definitely Jeremiah Johnson “wannabes.”
The first couple of days were spent hiking deep into the mountains, using our rations, and enjoying roasted rabbit over a campfire. What a life!!!
The next couple of days our luck changed. We did not have any rations left and no small game was to be found. On the fourth day one of the guys “accidentally” shot down a crow in flight. After it was roasted over a campfire and seasoned we each took a piece and proceeded to “eat crow.”
Afterwards, as we hiked out of the mountains with less cockiness about our wilderness abilities we discussed our meal of crow.
The best description of all was from one tired and less confident woodsman who said simply, “Crow tastes like a skunk smells!”

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Funeral

My mother told me this story and was sure that it really happened. I thought it was a touching but also had a light hearted approach to childhood. I hope that you enjoy it.

In the Tennessee hills during World War II military funerals were more than a common event. In this particular service the flag draped casket, the unseen bugler, and the armed color guard were a sadly beautiful sight.
The fallen soldier’s widowed mother was seated facing the flag draped casket. Her emotions were peaked as her daughter and grandson endured the heart wrenching ceremony. Her five-year-old grandson, not really understanding the ceremony, was standing at her side clasping her hand.
As the first volley of the twenty-one gun salute rang out over the countryside the grief stricken mother fainted dead away.
Her shocked young grandson hearing the rifle volley and seeing his Grandma slump into his mom’s arms jumped up and yelled, “My God, They’ve Shot Grandma!”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Field of Dreams?

Have you ever wondered about a person who came into your life, helped you through a difficult situation, and then was never to be seen again?
As a sixteen-year-old high school baseball player I batted for a respectable average and felt that I had better years ahead of me in this great game. I also had enough ego to back up my ability. A certain amount of ego is necessary in athletics, but it should be kept under your cap as much as possible.
I figured when I signed to play independent baseball in the Mountain-Valley League that my success would be even greater than it had previously been in American Legion ball. I was in for a rude awakening.
One of the first games I played was against a team whose starting pitcher was, in my sixteen-year-old eyes, an old man. He had a weather beaten appearance with graying temples. As I watched him “lob” his warm up pitches I figured I should have an enjoyable game on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.
About three hours later I was sitting alone in the dugout with my head and confidence hanging low. I was wondering how I could go 0 for 4 against a 40-year-old pitcher who just threw strikes? All he threw was “junk”.
As I was staring at the dugout floor I heard a pleasant voice ask if he could join me. I looked up to see the pitcher who had humiliated me in my four batting appearances during the game. The field and dugouts were empty except for the two of us. In a voice that showed true interest he inquired to know my age and how much baseball I had played. After detailing my resume I asked about his experience and he modestly told me about his brief Major League career that was cut short by injuries. Evidently he had been a hot prospect when he was younger. Before injuries beset him he had good success in the Major Leagues when he was not much older than my age of sixteen.
At my request he then went into detail as to how he pitched against me. He told me the mistakes that I made that portrayed him to look like a better pitcher than he was. That was an understatement! With four strikeouts and not even a foul tip he had taken me to the cleaners! He also told me in a kind fatherly way that my cocky attitude needed some alteration. He said emotions and feeling should not be allowed to impact one’s play.
For about the next hour or so I was in a sort of Major League mini-camp with considerable emphasis on respecting others and their skills. He gave me tips and suggested changes I could make to greatly improve my game. He also threw full speed batting practice while showing me shortcuts that would make me a better baseball player. He gave me confidence and encouragement to be a much better player than I had ever been before. He also stressed the value of maintaining character to gain respect as a baseball player and more importantly as a human being.
I never saw him again after that day. When we next played his team again he was not there. What was odd was the fact that many of his teammates knew nothing about him. He just came to them and signed to play. None of the players I talked to knew him before he started playing for their team. It seemed that the only game he pitched for them was the shutout against our team. In fact none of his teammates I talked to had seen him since the Sunday they played us. Who was this kind, fatherly and very skilled person? I felt so badly that I never found out his name the day we played them. Regardless of whoever he was I felt that he was my guardian angel. In the many baseball seasons that have passed since that day I have never forgotten that magic afternoon and the life lessons I received.
Now as even more years have passed by and while watching “Field of Dreams” for the umpteenth time I still find myself wondering who, or what might fit better, gave me so many good tips about both baseball and life on that beautiful sunny summer afternoon so many long years ago?
You know what I’m thinking. Is this “Field of Dreams” scenario possible? Who knows? Everyone must pass his own judgment on that idea……

Watermelon Wars

Was I involved in this? I'll never tell!!!

If you grew up in a rural part of the south then you probably knew about – maybe even participated in – a summer night raid on a farmer’s watermelon patch. It was a planned raid that would rival any of Stonewall Jackson’s charges. Distractions, flanking maneuvers, and stealthy attacks were all common. The farmer – on defense – used lights, shotgun blasts, dogs, fences, and just about any other non-lethal means available.
Looking back I really believe that the farmer’s enjoyed the “game” as much as the “raiders” did? One farmer commented years later said that the raiders were not “stealing” his good melons – they were “culling” his bad ones. His theory was that you couldn’t pick good melons in the dark. If he was right then the raiders were doing the farmers a favor. I’m not sure he wasn’t just covering his inability to deter the thievery?
Regardless it was a competition that was normally “friendly.” The “raiders” were careful not to damage the farmer’s livelihood - and the farmers normally were controlled in their defenses.
After saying that – there was one farmer who evidently decided he would up the ante to cease raids on his patch. He decided to change the rules. He knew that after the raid the raiders assembled in a recon area on the riverbank and consumed their spoils in a sort of celebration. Knowing this he decided on a defensive plan that would have been a crime if it had taken place in modern warfare. It was a form of “biological warfare.” During the daylight hours he posted signs all around his patch that said, “WARNING – ONE WATERMELON IN THIS PATCH HAS BEEN INJECTED WITH CATTLE LAXATIVE.” Now, whether or not you understand cattle laxatives - you can imagine if it would “loosen up” a cow it would really loosen up a 160-pound guy! Would it ever!
Now the raiders big question was whether or not the farmer really had injected a melon or was he just bluffing? If the signs were really true then this was a serious escalation that could not be ignored. Who knows, this defense might spread to other farmers and then what recreation would be available for country kids on warm summer nights other than to sit over at the lake with their favorite girl and watch the submarine races.
Since the raiders wanted to err on the side of safety they decided on a maneuver to counteract the farmers escalation. A quick plan was worked out to be implemented that very night.
The raiders did not want to stoop to the farmer’s level and use “biological warfare” so they did the next best thing – they used “psychological warfare.” With a small team and a stealthy approach the plan was carried out over night without ever entering the farmer’s patch.
The next morning the farmer was viewing his field and could tell that no one had entered his melon patch. He was beginning to feel really good about his “biological warfare” method when he glanced at the signs surrounding his patch and noticed that the “one” on each sign had been covered with an “X” and a “2” was written above where the “one” had been x’ed out. His heart sank as he thought about his dilemma. His signs now read :
Without ever entering the melon patch the raiders had won the battle by using “psychological warfare” to overcome “biological warfare.”