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Out On The Mudline

Buckshot Not Best Choice For Teaching Mules

By W. P. Sissell


  Perhaps, in the previous week’s writings you have sensed something of the uniqueness of Clayton Kennedy. Today I want to try to make that quality more clear.

  It was Sunday morning and he noticed that his mules were not in their stalls waiting to be fed. He thought (he told me this later in relating what actually happened) that’s strange for that pair was always standing with their heads out of the window of their stalls wanting feed, even on Sunday. Wondering where they were, he stepped out the door and there they were, tramping around in the young cotton patch. Noting that the gate was open—how did that happen, he wondered, as he reached behind the door for his shotgun and grabbed a handful of shells from the mantle.

    He loaded the gun as he ran out the door hollering at the mules, thinking, “I’m “gonna” teach them a lesson they’ll never forget! Bang!, Bang! They’ll remember this sprinkling! That second shot kicked a little more than the first. His intent was to sprinkle them again as they entered the gate but the second shot brought the mule to his knees and then prostrate just outside the gap. Examination of the shell casings showed that the second shell was double aught buckshot. Clayton had recently been deer hunting and remembered just tossing those shells on the mantle beyond the children’s reach.

  He hoped that Ralph Monteith, who lived across the road, didn’t see him as he pulled his fine, but dead, mule out of sight across the bayou before getting his cousin, Lawrence, to help him bury the carcass.

  Ralph didn’t see any of the “going ons” but when I asked him about Clayton having a strange mule suddenly, he agreed that the pair didn’t match anymore.


  Several days later I ran into Clayton and asked him about the mule business. He immediately told me he was sorry, but he shot his own mule (as if it had been mine). He wanted to show me where he buried his mule. Then he asked if Ralph knew about it. When I told him he would have to tell Ralph himself he said he would. He went on to tell about how it all happened and then said he and his cousin, Lawrence, searched into that Sunday night and part of Monday before finding a fairly close match. He didn’t think anyone but Ralph and/or I would easily see the difference.

Coming Home

  Many years ago now I joined a group of friends for an elk hunt in Colorado. On that trip we saw miles of a special kind of fence made completely of poles. Clayton Kennedy told me several times of the time he spent in the C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps). When he asked for, and got, a description of those pole fences he told me that he helped build many miles of that type pole fence in the mountains of Washington State.

  How Clayton got into the CCC and in the west, I never found out, although I know that these camps were scattered over the entire United States. There are pines on our Hotophia farm that were set out by men working in these camps. The hospital in Oxford is located on the site of a former CCC camp.

  When Clayton got out of that western camp he chose to be released at the camp there (took a kind of mustering out pay) and started home to northeast Mississippi, first riding a bus.

  When he came to a town that looked good to him (he gave no criteria for judging good or bad towns) he got off the bus and looked for a job. As long as the work was satisfying he stayed. When the town began to bore him he caught the bus again. I think he said it took about six months go get back to his home town in northeast Mississippi—I think it was Prentiss County. How many of us would dare to travel in a like manner?  After renting our Jones’ place for a number of years he decided to find a home for his family. I’ve mentioned that Clayton and Mildred evidently believed in education for they never saw fit to keep their children, Danny, David and Linda out of school for farm work.

  We’ve gotten just about enough rain—in places—to make the moisture meet. How many of you thought you would ever see the price of cotton as high as it is today—but I don’t have any cotton!

  Thank you for the compliments. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and now let’s think about the day of the Lord.

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