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An Ordinary Man: The Autobiography of Harold Cunningham
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The reason I didn‘t like him was because one day he and one of his friends were hunting
squirrels they came by the little house where we were living. Earl had a shot gun and he
told me to put my hands out and he would give me something. He turned the barrel of the
gun down to my hand and out come a baby snake. We called that kind of baby snake a
coach whip. Actually it was a blue racer. They were non poisonous, but it scared the hell
out of me.
Anyway, back to the pie. Earl kept sliding his hand over to make me believe that he was
going to steal my pie. My mom told Earl, ?You had better leave that boy alone.? But, he
didn‘t and slid his hand over like he was going to take my pie. He got his hand over close
enough to touch my pie and when he did I stabbed him in his hand with a fork. He
wanted mom to give me a whipping, but she told him he was the one that should get a
whipping since she had told him several times that he better not be messing with that boy.
Anyway that put a stop to that and I never ever had anymore dealing of any kind with
After all the men had eaten dinner they gathered up on the front porch. Some were sitting
in chairs and others sitting along the edge of the porch. Smoking was the big thing for
men in those days. So they all put out there ?ready rolls? and lit themselves up one and
also comparing the different brands with each other. They only smoked their store bought
cigarettes on special occasions. They would smoke one up then thump the butt out into
the yard. I would make like I was playing with my snuff bottles, I was using as cars until
I could get close enough to one of the longer butts. Then I would pick it up go around to
the back of the house where Grandmas two holer outhouse was. I would go inside the
outhouse take a piece of the old catalog paper, wrap it around the end of the cigarette
light it up and make like I was smoking. I was bad about playing with matches.
On one of my trips to the outhouse I lit up my make believe cigarette and the paper I had
wrapped around it caught on fire. It burned my nose, so of course, I threw it down. It fell
inside one of the holes where I couldn‘t get to it, set the paper afire at the bottom of the
hole, and then all hell broke loose as it set the outhouse on fire and burned it down.
All the men were trying to put the fire out with a bucket brigade but it didn‘t work. I saw
mom heading for the peach orchard to get her a good switch to give me a gook licking for
playing with matches. I remember a couple of my uncles trying to get mom not to give
me a licking because by this time they were all laughing so hard because I had tried to
smoke and burned the shit house down. Their pleas got nowhere as mom gave me a real
good whipping telling me, ?I‘ll teach you to play with matches!? That was the third and
last whipping I got that day.
By this time my brother had joined the CCC and was stationed at Bastrop, he was
learning about building things with wood. He got to come home once in awhile, and one
weekend he came home cut down a big black jack oak tree out back of our little house.
He cut this up into lengths to fit into the wood cook stove and also the fireplace for the
winter that was coming on down from the North.
Mom and my brother piled the limbs that couldn‘t be used as fire wood in a pile about
one hundred feet from our house about two months later he came home again and I heard
my mother and him talking about the brush pile being dry enough to burn.