Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

January 5, 2014

“THE ORPHANS” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:38 am

 

 

It has been said that a dog is man’s best friend.  If that is true, then it should follow that a puppy would be a young boy’s best friend.  I am convinced that the best scenario is when a young boy adopts a puppy and they broth grow up together.  They are companions, pals, and playmates.  I can testify that this can be the case.

In the early 1940s, as an eight-year-old boy, I was presented by the good Lord with an unplanned puppy.  My father, Cecil, was an avid fox hunter, and he always had several fox hounds in a pen behind our house.  I loved those dogs, but they were in reality my fathers, and not mine.  Somehow, it is different when the dog is yours to love, feed, and care for.

neal

Late one summer afternoon strange noises wafted into the house seemingly from underneath the floor.  They sounded much like puppies’ cries which got more frequent as several days passed.  My dad finally felt it necessary to crawl under our house to check out the noises.  He discovered a stray dog, a female that had given birth to two puppies.  He was given a stern warning by the mother dog to back off, which he did.

The little black and white dog was a stranger to us but had obviously adopted our house, and thus our family, to assist her in the rearing of her very cute black and white puppies.  She was quite protective for several weeks and would not allow any intruders near her puppies.  Finally, the day came when the puppies ventured outside and I got my first glimpse of them, and what beautiful puppies they were.  They ventured out more and more, and a bond was developing.

Suddenly, tragedy struck.  The mother dog was struck and killed by an automobile on the road in front of our house.  Now, we had two orphaned puppies on our hands.  They were small dogs; both marked identically, the only difference being that one was short-haired and the other with long hair.  Both were mostly black with white markings.

I adopted the short-haired puppy and named him “Slick”.  My mother fell for the long-haired one and she named it “Fuzz”.  We became attached to our new pets and they seemed very comfortable with us and their new home.  Fuzz followed my mother around the house and yard, while Slick partnered with me.  He was my friend and buddy for a long time.  He greeted me every day when I got home from school.  He romped on my bed with me, and went squirrel hunting and fishing at every opportunity.  He loved the water and, against my wishes, he would jump into the pond when I fished.  I was sure that he was scaring off the fish by playing around in the water.

Several fun-filled years passed without incident. Then our neighbor to the north brought home a large Chinese Chow dog.  He was kept in their back yard perhaps chained to a tree.  Slick was mostly an outside dog and would explore the neighborhood when not playing with me.  One day he apparently wandered up the road and had a confrontation with the large Chow dog.  Being a much smaller dog, Slick came out on the losing end of the fight.  When I returned home from school that afternoon, I found Slick lying in our backyard with numerous bad bite wounds all over his body.

neal_dog

I gingerly picked him up in my arms, took him down to the crib, and placed him on a blanket. Then I ran to the telephone and called my dad at his office.  Dad had always doctored his fox hounds and I was confident that he could save my dog.  I recall telling dad “Slick is either unconscious or dead.”  My dad came home immediately and examined my buddy.  He had already gone to that large fire hydrant in the sky.  We buried him in a corner of the dog pen.

Thus ended a partnership between a boy and his dog.  Several years later I left home for college.  Fuzz seemed to miss his brother for a while but continued being my mother’s favorite human.  Eventually Fuzz suffered the same fate as his mother, being run over by a car on the highway.  The era of the little black dogs that came our way uninvited was now ended.

I did not own a dog again until after I was married with two children.  We adopted a white poodle that we named Curley, who was actually my children’s dog.  He occupied a place in our family for about fifteen years.  But, like one’s first love, it was not possible to replace the little black slick-haired dog in my heart.  After all, we had grown up together.

December 29, 2013

“THE CHRISTMAS SONG THAT ALMOST WASN’T” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:44 am

 

 

Many secular Christmas songs have been written over the years, some successful, but most never made it to the big time.  The second most popular song behind Bing Crosby’s White Christmas almost didn’t get recorded.  Had it not been for Gene Autry’s wife, Ina, the little song may have languished for lack of attention and faded away into the trash can of history.

gene_autry

In 1939 a little poem was written by Robert L. May for Montgomery Ward’s annual holiday booklet giveaway.  It was a story of an outcast reindeer whose “differences” ultimately helped him save Santa’s threatened sleigh ride on Christmas Eve.  To everyone’s surprise the poem sold over one hundred thousand copies.

May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, took the poem and composed a melody in 1947 and tried in vain to sell it to several popular singers, including Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and Dinah Shore, who all rejected it.  By a stroke of luck, Gene Autry’s wife, Ina, heard Mark’s demo record and was enchanted by its “Ugly Duckling” theme. She strongly encouraged Gene to record it as a companion song to his Here Comes Santa Claus record.  But her husband hated the song and refused to record it.

It became widely acknowledged that if not for Ina, there would be no “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry. Carl Cotner, Gene’s musical director also tried to talk Gene into recording it.  Carl had told Gene he thought it would be a good song for him, and Carl did the arrangement.rudolphAt a recording session Gene said, “How about that little song that you are so crazy about?”  They placed it on the music stand and he recorded it in one take.  It was later admitted that Ina had talked Gene into doing it.  Five weeks later, on August 4th, Gene cut two more Christmas numbers, Santa, Santa, Santa and If It Doesn’t Snow On Christmas which had moderate success.

“Rudolph” became a favorite on The Hit Parade and soared to the top of the Billboard Country and Western, and Pop charts, a first for Gene Autry.  During its first year of release, “Rudolph” sold two million copies, selling an estimated twenty-five million more over the next forty years.  For decades it remained the best selling single of all time after Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.  The song also anticipated a new trend for Gene – recording songs specifically geared to the children’s market.  Over the years “Rudolph” would be recorded by more than five hundred artists, but Gene’s version always seemed to be everyone’s favorite.

“RUDOLPH the RED-NOSED REINDEER”

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,

Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen,

But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer

Had a very shiny nose,

And if you ever saw it

You would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer

Used to laugh and call him names,

They never let poor Rudolph

Join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve

Santa came to say,

Rudolph, with your nose so bright

Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

Then how the reindeer loved him

As they shouted out with glee,

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer

You’ll go down in history. *

Composer: Johnny Marks – 1949

December 22, 2013

“THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:48 am

 

 

In December we begin to hear many radio stations play the famous, old Christmas carols that we all love to hear.  Most of these carols or hymns are very old and tell the true story of the Christmas season and the real reason for the season.  One of these songs is “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which predates most of the other carols as it was first published in 1780.  As examples, “Silent Night” was written around 1818, while “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was penned in 1868.

 

Most people view “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as a delightful nonsense rhyme set to music.  It has a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.  But, the song had a quite serious purpose when it was written.

 

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism songs” to help young Christian Catholics learn the tenets of their faith.  Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from any practice of their faith by law, private or public.  It was a crime to be a Catholic.  In fact, you could get imprisoned, hanged, or your head chopped off if you practiced your Catholic faith.

 

The song’s gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith.  The “true love” mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor.  It refers, instead, to God Himself.  The “me” who received the presents refers to every baptized believer.  The “partridge in a pear tree” is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, in memory of the expression of Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem!  Jerusalem!  How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so…..”

 

The other symbols, or gifts in the song, mean the following:

 

2 Turtle Doves – The Old and New Testament.

3 French Hens – Faith, Hope, and Charity, (the Theological Virtues).

4 Calling Birds – The four Gospels.

5 Golden Rings – The first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.

6 Geese-a-laying – The six days of creation.

7 Swans-a-swimming – The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

8 Maids-a-milking – The eight beatitudes.

9 Ladies Dancing – The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

10 Lords-a-leaping – The ten commandments.

11 Pipers Piping – The eleven faithful Apostles.

12 Drummers Drumming – The twelve points of doctrine of the Apostle’s Creed.

 

The twelve days of Christmas actually refer not to the days preceding December 25th, but to the twelve days after Christmas, i.e. December 26th to January 6th, which is the day before the Epiphany.

 

Interestingly, some one has calculated the cost or value of all the gifts in the song in the year 2011, which would total $24,263.18.  Of course, that would be earthly value and not the Heavenly value.

 

So, the next time you sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, you might have a greater appreciation of the lyrics and their true, hidden, meaning.

December 15, 2013

“RED NECKS AND GOOD OLE BOYS” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:37 am

 

 

East Texas is an area of the country in which “red necks” and “good ole boys” live, along with most of the deep southern states.  I know some of them and I suspect that you do as well.  Most people think that the “red necks” and the “good ole boys” are one in the same.  They are mistaken as there are notable differences.  I will list a few of the differences here.

We might begin by defining what a “red neck” person is.  The term dates way back to the early 1800s when uneducated white people worked in the fields all day.  Their skin, particularly the neck area, would take on a reddish hue due to sun exposure.  Thus, they were called “red necks” by the upper class folk.  They usually lived in small, rural towns, were known to drink a lot, and were offensive in other ways.

Around 1920 the use of the term was popular in the coal-producing states of West Virginia and Kentucky.  Striking coal workers usually wore red hankies around their necks to reflect their position to management.  Thus they were called “red necks” by non-union people.

redneck

Jeff Foxworthy has given us a number of ways to describe a “red neck”. You might be a one if:

You think loading your dishwasher means getting your wife drunk.

You cut your grass and find a car.

You think the stock market has a fence around it.

Your stereo speakers used to belong to the drive-in theatre.

You own a home-made fur coat.

The Salvation Army rejected your mattress.

Birds are attracted to your beard.

Your school fight song was “Dueling Banjos”.

You keep a can of Raid on your kitchen table.

The tail light covers on your car are made of red tape.

Good Ole boys, on the other hand, are the sons of Red Necks, usually from eighteen to thirty-five years old.  Good Ole Boys are normally from the Deep South and they like cheap beer, NASCAR, football, professional wrestling, hunting and fishing, and country music.  They usually carry a personal spit cup on their person while chewing their tobacco.

redneck1

They are not necessarily bad persons, but occasionally are portrayed as racist, though many could care less, aside from cracking a racist joke with his buddies.  Good Ole Boys are generally all about having a good time.  They may speed to impress a girl they’re taking on a date, but won’t hit and run.  They may have a few beers to impress her later at the bar, or even get in a fight there, but won’t get so drunk that he can’t drive her home.

Good Ole Boys most often drive a rusty muscle car or a four-wheel-drive pick up.  They are not looked upon as a bad person, in fact most are pretty good-natured guys.  He is a Southern-born boy who is country to the core and proud of it.  He likes to hunt and could not be prouder of his gun collection.  He carries one knife in his pocket, and another one in his boot, in case the one in his pocket gets confiscated.  The Good Ole Boy is a hard-working, honest gentleman who prefers the simple life and is just looking for a girl he can take shooting.

As one single country girl put it, “On our first date, he showed me a picture of him pulling a bullet out of a deer’s heart.  He said he keeps it on his desk.”

So, there you have the low-down on the difference between a Red Neck and a Good Ole Boy that perhaps you had never thought about.  Are you personally acquainted with any of them?

December 8, 2013

“THE UNMASKED MAN” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:32 am

 

One of my very favorite programs when I was just a kid was “The Lone Ranger”.  In the early 1950s I listened to the former Texas Ranger fight the evil men of the western frontier every week.  In 1952 my dad purchased a new Bendix television set from Tom Saunders and I was able to watch Clayton Moore riding his white stallion, Silver, yelling “Hi Yo Silver – Away” and gallop into the sunset.  He never shot to kill the evil doers, but only to disarm them as painlessly as possible. To add a bit of mystery to the program, the Lone Ranger always wore a black mask, and left a silver bullet at the scene of the solved crime.  Someone would invariably ask no one in particular the question, “Who was that masked man?”

lone_ranger

I remember the Lone Ranger’s side-kick, his faithful friend and fellow crime fighter, Tonto.  He played an American Indian who called the ranger “Ke-mo-sah-bee”, which means “trusted friend”.  Tonto did not wear a mask, and little is known of the actor who played this part for many years.  His stage name was Jay Silverheels.  He was born Harold J. Smith on May 26, 1912 in Ontario, Canada.  He was born on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation near Brantford, Ontario, one of eleven children.  His father, Major George Smith, was a Canadian Mohawk tribal chief and military officer.

tonto

Silverheels excelled in athletics and lacrosse before leaving home to travel around North America.  He lived in Buffalo, New York, and in 1938 placed second in the middleweight class of the Golden Gloves tournament.

While playing in Los Angeles on a touring box lacrosse team in 1937, he impressed the comedian Joe E. Brown with his athleticism.  Brown encouraged Silverheels to do a screen test, which led to an acting career.  He then began working in motion pictures as an extra and stunt man.  Beginning in late 1940, he played in several major films under the names Harold Smith and Harry Smith.

Silverheels achieved his greatest fame as the Long Ranger’s friend, Tonto. Being irreplaceable, he also appeared in the films, The Lone Ranger (1956) and The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958).  Silverheels’ movie name Tonto means “wild one”.  He rode a horse named “Scout” along side the Lone Ranger.

When the Lone Ranger television series ended in 1955, Silverheels found himself firmly typecast as an American Indian.  In 1960 he portrayed an Indian fireman trying to extinguish a forest fire in an episode of the series Rescue 8.  Eventually, he had to go to work as a salesman to supplement his acting income.

In the ensuing years he had a few bit parts in low budget movies, usually playing an Indian.  Silverheels spoofed his Tonto character in later years.  He was and educated man, but his part required him to speak using only a few halting phrases which he disliked.

Silverheels raised, bred, and raced horses in his spare time. Once when asked about possibly running Tonto’s famous paint horse, Scout, in a race, Jay laughed off the idea –   “Heck, I can outrun Scout!”  Married in 1945, Silverheels was the father of three girls and one boy.  He died in 1980 from complications of a stroke at the age of 67 in Calabasas, California.  He was cremated at Chapel of the Pines Crematory and his ashes returned to the Six Nations Indian Reserve.

As the first true American Indian actor to gain such fame, Silverheels was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City in 1993.  He was named to the Western New York Entertainment Hall of Fame, and his portrait hangs in Buffalo, New York’s Shea’s Buffalo Theatre.  He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  In 1997 Silverheels was inducted, under the name Harry “Tonto” Smith, into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of fame in the Veteran Player category in recognition of his lacrosse career during the 1930s.

As it turns out, the man without the mask achieved as much or more fame during his life than did the Lone Ranger himself.  Such is life.

December 1, 2013

‘…AND THE CREEK DON’T RISE” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 5:59 am

 

 

I have used this phrase many times, “God willing and the creeks don’t rise”, and I’ll wager that you have, too.  I have understood the phrase to mean that  I would be somewhere, or accomplish some task unless prevented by some unseen circumstance.  Amazingly, there is much discussion about what this really means.  Research shows that there are two different opinions about the saying, and both sides are avid that their positions are correct.

Some people have problems with acknowledging a higher power called God, and that this God does not interfere in the actions of man.  So, to them blaming God for being unwilling that something happen is unrealistic.  However, to those who believe in God do believe that certain circumstances are not allowed by an all-knowing and all-seeing God, for reasons known only to Him, but usually for our protection or benefit.  But, this seems to be the lesser of the two arguments.

To many researchers the main quandary is the word “creek” in the phrase.  To some the word refers to the Creek Indians, and to others it simply means a stream of water.

Those who believe that the work refers to the Creek Indians point to Mr. Benjamin Hawkins who was the General Superintendent for Indian Affairs between 1796 and 1818 for the U.S. Government. He was the principal agent to the Creek nation.  In fact, he became so close to its people that he learned their language, was adopted by them, and married a Creek woman.  Who better to write about the risks of the Creek rising in revolt?

Mr. Hawkins was summoned to Washington D.C. by the president in order to discuss a number of raids carried out by the Creek Indians in an area which is now the state of Alabama.  It is reported that Mr. Hawkins replied in a letter which read in part, “I will be there for the meeting, God willing and the Creek don’t rise.”  It is argued that the word “Creek” is singular, and the “c” is capitalized thus indicating other than a mere stream of water.  People who hold this position on the phrase argue that Mr. Hawkins was a very educated fellow and would not make a grammatical error in his writings.

However, people who hold to the view that the word “creek” actually refers to a stream of water because other renderings of the phrase do not capitalize the “c”, which suggests that they didn’t have the Creek people in mind at all.  That argues for the more mundane origin – the old time difficulties of traveling on dirt roads that forded rivers and streams.  Thus, if the creek don’t rise was a whimsical way of saying that the speaker would carry out some task provided that no obstacles were put in his path such as a flooded creek.  It could be summarized as “if all goes well.”

The saying has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson among others, on the usual principle that attaching a famous name to a story validates it.  In the 1950s the phrase became popular as a supposedly hayseed utterance, sometimes as and the crick don’t rise to reflect a regional form.  It was also used as a sign-off tag line of the 1930s US radio broadcaster Bradley Kincaid.

So, the argument goes on even today as to which is referred to in the expression –  does the “creek” refer to the Creek Indians or just a stream of water?  Since both arguments have merit you will have to decide for yourself.  The message of the saying is the same either way you interpret it.

Source:  World Wide Words – Michael Quinion

November 24, 2013

“AN ARM AND A LEG” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 5:57 am

arm_leg 

 

I am certain that you have heard someone use the phrase, “That cost me an arm and a leg.”  We understand it to mean that it refers to something of great cost or value.  It is in common usage, but where did it originate?  Here again, research reveals interesting data.

Most “experts” tell us that the phrase dates back to at least the 1800s and involved portrait painters.  Since there were no cameras back then, if one wanted a portrait done it had to be done by these painters on canvas. It seems that the portrait painters would charge more for larger paintings and that a head and shoulders painting was the cheaper option.  If one wanted the arms and legs included, the price was much more due to the extreme detail involved in painting the limbs.  Thus the phrase “costing an arm and a leg” was born.

Other “experts” disagree with this and argue that the saying originated around World War one. It is a grim reality that there were many US newspaper reports of our servicemen who had lost an arm and a leg in the war.  It is possible that the phrase originated in reference to the high cost paid by those who suffered such amputations.

Another possibility is that the expression derived from two earlier phrases: “I would give my right arm” and “even if it takes a leg”, which were both coined in the 19th century.  An example in print is from an 1849 edition of Sharpe’s London Journal: “He felt as if he could gladly give his right arm to be cut off if it would make him, at once, old enough to go and earn money instead of Lizzy.”

Consequently, the “experts” cannot agree on when or where the phrase originated, but does it really matter?  Perhaps you have heard of the conversation between God and Adam in the Garden of Eden.  God came to the Garden to reveal to Adam that He was going to give him a helper, or a mate.  Adam was confused and asked God for more information on this “helper”.  God explained that his helper would be a female, something Adam had never seen.  “She will be a perfect companion.  She will bear your children without complaint.  She will make your home into a perfect place to live.  She will never get sick.  She will attend to your every desire, and never have a headache.  She will clean the dishes, wash your clothes, and clean the house without complaint.  She will treat you like a king.”

Adam thought about this new revelation for a minute then asked God a question.  “What is this new creature going to cost me?”  God replied, “An arm and a leg.”  After pondering this information, Adam asked God, “Well, what can I get for just one rib?”  And the rest is history.

November 17, 2013

“THE COMB” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:09 am

I was watching a TV program last week which was identifying the top one hundred inventions in all of human civilization.  Among the top items was the hair comb.  I did a double-take – the lowly comb?  Who would have guessed it?  So, that prompted me to do some research on the matter.

We all know what a comb is, what it looks like, and its intended use.  Back in my day all the guys had a small comb in their shirt pocket to quickly smooth out their hair should a pretty girl approach.  I, too, carried one as I had a lot more hair back in high school.  Being a beautician, my mother used all kind of combs in her work.  She had long ones, short ones, fat ones, some with long teeth, others with short teeth, each with a specific use.

comb

Historians tell us that combs are among the oldest tools found by archaeologists, having been discovered in very refined forms from settlements dating back to 5,000 years ago in Persia.  This is to say that the comb has always been among the most important tools of human civilization.

Combs have been made out of a number of materials, most commonly plastic, metal, cotton material, or wood.  Combs made from ivory and tortoiseshell were once common, but concerns for the animals that produce them have reduced their usage. When made from wood, combs are largely made of boxwood, cherry word, or other fine-grained wood.  Good quality wooden combs are usually handmade and highly polished.

comb1

Surprisingly, combs can be used for many purposes.  Historically, their main purpose was securing long hair, matting sections of hair for locking, or keeping a skullcap in place.

The cotton gin is actually a mechanized version of the comb and is one of the machines which ushered the Industrial Revolution.  The cotton gin was used in separating cotton fibers from seeds and other debris.

Combs are also a favorite spot for police investigators to collect hair and dandruff samples that can be used in ascertaining dead or living persons’ identity, as well as their state of health, toxicological profiles, and so forth.

The lowly comb was the inspiration of the kazoo.  I am sure that most of you at one time took a small piece of paper, or a leaf, and placed it over one side of the comb and hummed a tune.  The comb dramatically increases the high-frequency harmonic content of the hum produced by the human voice box.  The kazoo developed from this activity.

Moreover, the comb is also a lamellophone.  Comb teeth have harmonic qualities of their own, determined by their shape, length, and material.  A comb with teeth of unequal length, capable of producing different notes when picked, eventually evolved into the thumb piano and musical box.

Finally, in recent years more specialized combs have been developed such as “flea combs” or “nit combs” which are used to remove microscopic parasites from the hair and scalp.  A comb with teeth fine enough to remove nits, or lice eggs, is sometimes called a “fine-toothed comb.  This produced the metaphoric usage of the phrase “go over something with a fine-toothed comb”.

Sharing combs is a common cause of head lice infections, as one user can leave a comb with plenty of eggs, or even live parasites and transmit them to another user.  Therefore, combs should never be shared with other people.

So, here you can understand why the comb has played such an important role in the civilized world.  Those of you who still use combs should think of its history the next time you treat your hair to a “comb-over”.

November 10, 2013

“FOOL’S GOLD” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:11 am

 

 

I have always enjoyed exploring the forests of East Texas, particularly the creeks that meander throughout the country.  At the age of twelve or thirteen I purchased my first firearm, a Winchester .22 long rifle from the Western Auto store on the layaway plan.  That rifle, still in my possession and totally functional, was a constant companion as I explored fishing holes, ponds, and creeks, searching for something to shoot, such as turtles, frogs, crawfish, and snakes.  Occasionally a squirrel would chatter and then have to dodge lead from my rifle – don’t worry, I did not hit many of them.

There was a small creek behind my father’s homestead on Highway 147 north of town.  It was responsible for many hours of my exploring.  The creek, Rocky Creek, meandered southwest toward the town of San Augustine.  A wooden bridge spanned its waters when it reached North Milam Street not far south of Johnnie Wells’ home.  At that time a natural spring emitted cool, pure water a few feet west of the bridge.  I would delight in using my hand as a broom, clearing a space to scoop up water to satisfy my thirst.  When I cross this bridge today I am reminded of this spring and wonder if it still exists.

There was one spot on the creek which was wider, and a pool of water about three feet deep congregated approximately eight feet wide – perfect for fishing.  I usually had string and a couple of safety pins in my overall pockets and spent time attempting to catch a few perch.  Yes, you can catch an occasional fish using a safety-pin as a fish-hook.

One day while wading down this creek, I caught sight of something very shiny just below the surface of the water.  I dug it out of the creek bed with my fingers and examined my find closely.  It appeared to be gold, a craggy rock with gold streaks inside it.  I was very excited.  I examined the creek bed closely and discovered several more of these shiny rocks. I could hardly wait to show my find to my Dad.  I was not prepared for his response.

“Son”, he said, “that is not real gold, its fool’s gold.”  Fool’s gold – I had never heard the term before.   “You mean that it is not worth anything?  It’s so shiny”, I pleaded once more.   “I am afraid not, but it would be fun for you to have a collection that you could show your friends.  And that is exactly what I did. I amassed many pieces of fool’s gold for the remainder of the summer.

rough_pyrite_nugget

Many years have passed since my discovery of the mineral “Pyrite”, and I have not seen a piece since those early days.  I can only assume that young boys today do not explore Rocky Creek, nor do they collect the fool’s gold that I assume still exists there.

A check of the mineral Pyrite shows that is a very common mineral. Pyrite comes from a Greek word that means “fire”, and Pyrite definitely fits into this category.  It is a beautiful mineral and extremely interesting.  Its main quality is that it resembles gold.  The only problem is that Pyrite is very brittle and will break away in chunks when fitted for jewelry. While it does not make a good component for jewelry on its own, it does sometimes find itself in lots of jewelry usually under the term “Marcasite” when mixed with silver.

pyrite_flower

Besides ornamental jewelry, Pyrite has certain other uses including industrial uses such as in the manufacturing of paper and the creation of sulfur gas.

So, I was partially correct in thinking that my discovery of fool’s gold was a huge find so many years ago.  It actually is an extremely popular mineral and can be found almost everywhere in the world.  Why don’t some of you guys around Rocky Creek get out there and see if you can locate some fool’s gold for yourselves?  It makes an attractive collection, and I would love to see some of it again.

November 3, 2013

“IT’S RAINING FISH!” BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:02 am

 

 

The residents of a small outback Australian town were left speechless after fish began falling from the sky in March of 2010.  Lajamaru is a town of only 650 residents located in the north central area of Australia and would be on the edge of the Tanami Desert.  It is over four hundred miles from any large body of water.

australia

Hundreds of spangled perch bombarded the citizens when the strange “weather” began.  The locals ran around everywhere picking them up since they were still alive.  This would mean that the perch were alive when they were up there flying around the sky.

Meteorologists say the incident was probably caused by a tornado.  It is common for tornadoes to suck up water and fish from rivers and lakes then drop them hundreds of miles away.  However, this tornado was selective in the kind of fish it sucked up…..all were spangled perch.  The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said, “Once they get up into the weather system, they are pretty much frozen and, after some time, they are released.

The phenomenon of “The Rain of Fish” has been occurring in the Departamento de Yoro in Honduras each year since the mid 1800s.  The occurrence has been puzzling, not only the residents, but also scientists since it first started.  Each year witnesses report that in May or June, dark storm clouds accompanied by wind and lightning will appear over the horizon and move over the region.  The clouds are accompanied by a very heavy rain which will last upwards of three hours.  Once the rain has finished, the city streets are littered with living fish.

National Geographic officials headed to the region in 1970 and were able to witness the event, though they were unable to offer an explanation.  They were able to determine that all of the fish that appeared were roughly the same size, and were all the same species.  What’s more puzzling is that this particular species of fish do not inhabit any nearby waters.  One scientific theory is that the fish are sucked up in a waterspout formed by the high winds.  Others think that the fish may be brought in from as far away as the Atlantic Ocean, which is some 200 miles away.

While science has yet to offer a definitive explanation, the residents believe the annual event is nothing short of divine intervention.  Between the years 1856 and 1864 a Catholic priest by the name of Father Jose Manuel Subirana was living in the region.  Many Catholics, especially those in Honduras, consider him to be a saint.  While he was living in the area, it is said that he spent three days and three nights in seclusion and prayer, asking God to tend to the impoverished nation and provide sustenance.  The legend says that when the Father had concluded his three-day prayer, the first “Rain of Fish” occurred, which has continued to this day.  Upon arrival of the miraculous fish, residents are all too happy to rush to the streets collecting the fish for sustenance and nourishment.

There is a long history of strange objects raining down from the sky.  The following strange occurrences are among the most notable:

1794 – French soldiers stationed in Lalain, near Lille, reported toads falling from the sky during a heavy rain.

1857 – Sugar crystals as big as quarter of an inch in diameter fell over the course of two days in Lake County, California.

1876 – A woman in Kentucky reported meat flakes raining from the sky.  Tests found the meat was venison.

1902 – Dust whipped up in Illinois caused muddy rain to fall over many north-eastern U.S. states.

1940 – A tornado in Russia brought a shower of coins from the 16th Century.

1969 – Gold balls fell from the sky on Punta Gorda in Florida.

1976 – In San Luis Obispo in California, blackbirds and pigeons rained from the sky for two days.

So, how do we, living in the modern age of technology, explain the events such as those just mentioned?  I realize that tornadoes can cause unusual things to happen, but can they suck up fish of the same size and species only, leaving all others, and transmit them still alive for hundreds of miles?  As one eye witness in Australia stated after the rain of live fish, “Yes, I had a couple of beers, so none of my friends believed me.  I have rung heaps of people to let them know I was not drunk back then.  It really happened.”

So, what do you think?

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