More memories, warts and all


I saw a kid the other day and I noticed he had a big wart on his knuckle. Boy did that bring back memories.

Back when I was young, it seemed like we all had warts. Well, at least the boys. I think girls must have been naturally immune, or somethin’. I know I had them all over my hands, elbows, and knees. They say a virus causes warts, but I have my doubts.

The toad frog peein’ on you theory makes more sense to me.

Now, getting’ rid of warts was the tough part. I could have gone to the doctor I guess, but we didn’t go to the doctor back then, unless it was somethin’ life threatenin’.

Warts weren’t life threatenin, so we had to use our own remedies. These remedies were things we had heard of, or read about. I’m sure you’ve heard about them too.

One was that you had to steal your mom’s dishrag and bury it under the front porch. When the rag rotted, the wart was supposed to fall off. It didn’t work.

Another was to put some blood from a wart on a bean that had been cut in half and bury it.

When the bean rotted, the wart would disappear. It didn’t work.

My favorite remedy involved “spunk water.” Spunk water is the water found in the top of a rotten stump. My cousin Rex had read about the remedy in a Mark Twain book.

The way he told to me is that you have to go to the middle of the woods in the middle of the night by yourself. Then you stick your hand that had the warts on it in the spunk water and say, “Barley corn, barley corn, Injun meal shorts. Spunk water, spunk water, swaller these warts.”

Then you close your eyes, turn around three times, take 11 steps, and go home without talkin’ to anyone. If you talk to anyone, the spell is broken. The next day, your warts would be gone.

Now, I don’t know if this one works or not, because when I was a kid, you wudn’t goin’ to catch me in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night by myself, much less stickin’ my hand into a stump filled with water.

My cousin Coy came up with a good remedy. One night he came over to my house.

“Hey, guess what?” he said. “Debbie’s cat died.”

“That’s too bad,” I replied.

“Yeah,” he said. “But now we can get rid of some of these warts.”

“Do what?”

“Yeah. I read where if you bury a dead cat at the cross roads on the night of a full moon, your warts will go away.”

“Really” I said. “Well, there’s a full moon out.”

“Yeah,” said Coy. “Now all we have to do is talk Debbie out of her dead cat.”

Debbie was a girl that lived down the road from us. She liked to play dolls, and junk like that. She thought Coy and I were “unsophisticated.” A lot she knew.

We knocked on her door. The door opened, and there stood Debbie. “What do y’all want?” she asked.

“Your cat,” said Coy. I elbowed him in the ribs. “Oooff,” he oooffed.

“Heh, heh,” I said. “What Coy means, is that we heard about what happened to your poor cat and we came over to ask if you would like for us to bury it for you.”

“Oh,” she said, sort of stunned. “How sweet. But Daddy’s already buried Snowball. We had a funeral and everything. It was beautiful.” Coy rolled his eyes.

“Oh, uh, that’s too bad,” I said.

“Oh?” questioned Debbie. “How so?”

“Well, we wuz goin’ to give it, uh, her, an Indian funeral. You know, build a platform of sticks and put her on top, and dance around her. You know, an Indian funeral.”

Then I put a surprised look on my face. “I know!” I exclaimed. “We can dig her up and have that funeral anyway. Where’s she buried?” Coy and I smiled our best smiles at her.

Debbie’s smile faded, and her eyes narrowed. “I’m not telling you and your sick cousin anything,” she said. “And you two better stay away from Snowball,” and she slammed the door.

“So much for that idea,” I said.

Coy gave me a questioned look. “Indian funeral?”

“Hey man. It’s the best I could come up with.”

“Hey!” said Coy. “I know where a dead coon is. Maybe that will work as good as a cat.”

“Worth a try,” I said. “Where’s it at?”

“Up on the road. I saw it yesterday.”

We ran to the spot where Coy had seen the dead raccoon, and sure enough, there it was. Now, this coon was not a big coon by any means, but what he lacked in size he more than made up for in odor.

“Whew!” I exclaimed. “He’s ripe.”

“He’s past that,” said Coy. But, we weren’t deterred. We went home and got a rope. We tried to lasso the coon, so we wouldn’t have to touch it, but he was stuck to the pavement pretty good.

With one hand, pinchin’ my nose, and a stick in the other, I pried him up enough for Coy to get a loop around his neck. When we finally got him pulled loose, it had already gotten dark. We started draggin’ him to the closest crossroad we knew about, which was a couple of miles from where we lived.

“Now what?” I said as we arrived at our destination.

“Well,” said Coy, but he didn’t finish the sentence. The bright lights of a big car surprised us and we jumped for the ditch. The car ran right over the head of the dead coon and then slammed on its brakes. The passenger door opened and out stepped a young yellow-haired lady who was dressed fancier than any woman we’d ever seen. Out the driver’s side stepped a big, older, man with a cowboy hat on.

“Oh my gosh!” said the lady as she looked at the coon. “Look what we’ve done.” Then she looked at Coy and me. “I’m so sorry. I know how awful you must feel.” Coy and I looked at each other.

“Buford,” she said to the big man. “You give these boys some money, so they can buy another dog.”

“That ain’t no do…” I started to say, but Coy elbowed me in the stomach. “Oooff!” I said.

“Fluffy!” Coy cried and looked up with the saddest look on his face you’ve ever seen.

The big man eyeballed the dead coon and then at us and he got a mean look on his face. “I ain’t givin’ them no money,” he growled.

“Buuforrrd,” she said, sort of drawin’ out the name and raisin’ one eyebrow.

“Oh, all right,” he said. He pulled out a wad of bills big enough to stop up a commode, and peeled off two fives. He stuck them in our hands and said, “There.” Then he turned to the woman. “Now, are you happy? Now, git in th’ car.” She smiled at us, got in the car, and they drove off.

Coy and I stood there awhile just lookin’ at the fadin’ taillights, clutchin’ our five dollar bills.

“You know,” said Coy. “Some people just don’t have a lick of sense. They’ll believe anything.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Now, you bury the coon while I hop on one foot and sing the wart-be-gone song.”

Nope. It didn’t work either.


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