You Can Tell Mama But, Please Don’t Tell Grandma
By W. P. Sissell
The Bird Hunter
Several days ago, as we shopped for “Stump Killer” in Lowe’s, we were helped by Gilbert Pegues. He was our Gilbert from out on Hotophia Ridge, son of Walter Pegues whom I have written about several times.
Walter and his brother, John, and their families were/are our neighbors on the west side of our farm. John, with his exceptionally well trained bird dog and his brother Walter, took me on a yearly bird hunt. Walter always hunted the bottom of the draws (healed gullies). When a bird got up and went across the draw Walter always hollered, “I got that one” if the bird fell when John shot.
That well trained dog used above comes about because (and John pointed this out to me on several hunts) sometimes when the birds were scattered that small dog would disappear. When this happened John would tell me that she would be back in a few minutes. When she returned we would follow her to a position—always down wind—and point.
The spring is grabbling time to a lot of folks. Walter almost always came by to take me fishing. John never went along on these trips for he, like me, was a non grabbler. I often asked Walter about snakes and he gave the same answer that they can’t bite you under water. I stayed on the bank anyway and strung the fish that Walter handed to me. I must say that he knew where all the holes with the bigger fish were, even in the new canal. Of course, I already knew, from experience on O’tuckalofa, that the bigger catfish travel upstream when the water gets high. Most everyone on the place out on the Mud Line kept set-hooks to put out when the water was high in the creek.
In the conversation that ensued with Gilbert he retold the story about Mama’s switches—except that this time he said mama had those switches in every room so that one was always handy. Today one of the grand children told our daughter Susan, “Tell Mama but please don’t tell Grandma.”
In the conversation Gilbert told us that he was retiring from the armed service after a couple of hitches in Europe. When he said Europe I immediately asked where. To this he immediately answered, “Mostly Germany.” When he began to name towns and cities, I asked if he ever heard of Gotzingheim, Driesingheim and Darmstadt. He knew the location of all—saying they were down the autobahn from Frankfurt. We were at Gotzingheim when we guarded the autobahn for President Truman to ride by—the only time I have ever seen a real live president of the United States.
Frankfurt was our big town to spend off-duty evening in the months we were stationed at Gotzingheim. It was in the association with Opah Lindhart there that I learned enough German to “get along.” I can hear him now saying, “Vus bis dos” (that’s my own Americanization of the German words—“What is this?”).
I had learned that some of my aunt Myra’s folks had been stationed in Stromberg where I would be stationed later. The thing that catches my imagination here is the fact that Gilbert and I ,who live about a mile apart here, frequented the same areas many years later. In addition I have been asked by readers about several other places in Germany—Idar Oberstein in particular where we gave up our big guns to set up a civilian internment for the French. There we became very knowledgeable about the Holocaust with all the displaced persons of Europe where people were worked to death, literally, as slave labor.
You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879. Thanks for the encouragements and let me wish all of you a Happy Valentines Day.