Wednesday, 6 February 2008

An Uncle Bob Story

Uncle Bob lived next door but he spent most of his life on his father's farm in King County. His pride and joy was a little paint pony. He used the pony to patrol a line of skunk traps on neighbouring farm properties along Highway 9 in King County. Skunk pelts fetched a lot of dough in the 40's, I guess. Did they make coats out of them?

After he harvested the traps, he slung the carcasses over the pony's flanks and headed home.

On wet days, the pony stunk. After all, when you wear skunk, you're gonna smell like Eau de Skunk after a while. Especially when it rained. Maybe Uncle Bob noticed, but perhaps he got used to the funky odour. The pony was still pretty, even if he stunk occasionally.

One sunny (dry) day, Uncle Bob ambled along Highway Nine on his striking steed minus their usual odious cargo. He heard the crunch of tires on gravel behind him, but didn’t take notice.
A large automobile with sleek lines passed him and slowed.

Bob and his pony drew alongside, and a gentleman inquired through the open passenger window, "That's a mighty handsome mount you have there. Is it for sale?"

Bob regarded the stranger and spit tobacco into the ditch. "Nope."

A low murmur of voices drifted from the interior of the vehicle while it rolled languidly beside the ambling horse, and the man in the passenger seat said, "Mr. Elliott here will give you fifty bucks for that pony."

"No thanks. He's my only horse, and he's worth more than that to me." Uncle Bob kicked the pony into a trot.

The long, black automobile appeared beside him again. "A hundred bucks," said the passenger.
Bob simply shook his head and kept his eyes trained ahead.

The car hummed behind him for the full two miles to Bob's father's farm, and it followed them up the long dirt drive. Uncle Bob was someplace between annoyed and amazed at their persistence.

As he unsaddled the pony and prepared to lead it into the barn, the driver slid out of his car and strode up to him. He held a roll of bills and began to unravel them. He waved them around like a fan. "I'll give you two hundred dollars right now, and arrange for my groom to pick him up this afternoon."

Well, Bob was a shrewd businessman – he knew a fantastic price when he heard one, so he said, "You've got yourself a sale."

They picked up the pony within a few hours.

Two weeks later, Uncle Bob strode toward the barn and noticed the sleek black automobile heading up the driveway. The gentleman approached him, his fedora tipped over his eyes. After a few pleasantries, the man said, "Listen, Mr. Jewitt, I noticed something strange about that pinto you sold us. After the rain a couple of days ago, he started to smell a bit. In fact, he stunk to high Heaven."

"Well," said Uncle Bob, taking a pouch of chew from his pocket, "I say, I say... (Bob always talked like that) did you leave him outside at all?"

The gentleman looked at him with narrowed eyes for a moment. "Well," he drawled, "He spent a few days outside."

"Hmm." Bob tucked some chew into his cheek. "Maybe a skunk got 'im. You gotta watch them skunks; they're all over the place. One got my hound last week."

It didn't occur to the man to ask WHEN the skunk got the pinto. "I guess you're right. I should take care of those skunks."

Bob smiled and spat. "For five bucks, I can take care of those skunks for ya."


Stephen Parrish said...

Nice work. You kept my attention.

ChristineEldin said...

You got me. Is this a real story?

I learned how to ride on a pinto. At the age of 39. I'm going to take lessons again starting in a few days, but since it's been a year, I'll be back at walk/trot.
With the same pinto. Her name is Treasure. She's so big and wide it's impossible to fall off unless you jump!

I wish you would tell more horse stories!!!

Ello said...

Sandra, that's a great story! I was smiling through it all!

And great news on a good review for your book!

Chumplet said...

My neighbour Bob Jewitt passed away a few years ago, and I knew him since I was twelve. He was like a surrogate grandfather to me.

He had lots of stories like this one. Whether they're true or not... well, I believed him.

Retelling our elders' stories keeps them going, and now we have a new tool.

Now let's see if I can remember the one about the turkeys.

The Anti-Wife said...

This is a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it.

BernardL said...

LOL! Very entertaining.

Bernita said...

Uncle Bob was a canny one!

Chumplet said...

Yes, Bernita, he was clever, all right. A savvy investor. When he passed, his two children fought over the inheritance. Now that's another story!

John Elder Robison said...

I just left the skunks alone, everywhere I lived. The only thing I ever did was shoot the occasional rabid animal.

Chumplet said...

John! Thanks for dropping by!

Skunk and Raccoon rabies wasn't common in Ontario until the 90's, and the Ministry of Natural Resources introduced an edible vaccine program that's been pretty successful.

I don't imagine Uncle Bob had that problem in the 40's but I'm sure he shot a few critters.

Just a few years ago he insisted he saw a lynx just across the street.

wordtryst said...

Great story! Has the ring of truth to it.

Chumplet said...

That's because it's true! I think...