Uncle Steve lived in a place called Price’s Falls. It is near Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains just south of Davis, Oklahoma. Steve is Mother’s brother. Mother took Margie and me there to visit for a few days one summer. Daddy’s sister was there with her two kids, Kathryn and David. We were double cousins with them because Mother’s brother, Joe, was married to my daddy’s sister, Cecil. This is what made us double cousins.
I was about nine years old, but it was the first time I had met them. I just remember that David was really a mean kid. Kathryn, who was in her teens, was older and nicer. When I first heard we were double cousins, I didn’t know what it meant. Did it mean I got two cousins instead of one? I sure didn’t want two of David. One was too many for me. I was already thinking hard about what I could do to get him back for the things I was sure he would do to Margie and me.
Uncle Steve’s wife, Helen, and my mother fixed our breakfast. We had eggs and sausage, not oatmeal. What a treat! It was Saturday and market day, which meant the pigs my Uncle Steve raised would be sold that day. There was a whole bunch of them in a big pigpen. I was looking forward to that. I had never herded pigs before. All of us kids put our old clothes on because the pigpen was a mess. We had to get the job done early so he could get them to the sale barn in Davis.
Margie, David, and I had to herd the pigs into the truck. My uncle watched to make sure we did it right. We went down to the pigpen and climbed over the fence. The pigs were bigger than I thought. I was a little bit scared. We all just stood there looking at the huge pigs.
Uncle Steve said, “Let’s get going! Get them pigs on the move!”
I took one step, and I was in mud up to my knees!
David whined, “I don’t want to do this.”
Margie looked terrified, so I said, “Don’t worry. I’ll help you.”
I just took off running as fast as I could in that mud, waving my arms at the pigs. It scared them so they began to run all over the place. I was yelling at David and Margie to help me, to cut them off so they would have to go through the chute and into the truck. I could see this job was going to be harder than I thought. I was not going to quit though. The three of us were running and yelling, and the pigs were running and squealing. We got about ten in the truck, but there were still at least twenty more. Because we had fallen several times during the chase, mud and pig poop covered us! After a while, we actually started having fun. We were laughing, running, and falling down, and the pigs were running from us.
I looked over at my uncle; he had a big grin on his face. Then I saw my mother and aunt watching us and laughing so hard they were about to cry. It took a good hour to get the rest of the pigs in the truck, but we did it. We were really proud of ourselves. What a mess we were with mud and pig poop all over us! We went to the house, and my aunt turned the water hose on us. Mother brought us out some soap and towels, and we washed our hair.
Before long, we were cleaned up pretty well. Uncle Steve was in the truck getting ready to leave for the sale barn. He stopped, got out of the truck, and came over to us. He gave us two dollars each for helping him. We thanked him for the money, but the pride we felt for working so hard was better than the money. We were all scared to death of those pigs when we first got in the pen with them, but somehow we managed to get it done. Since Uncle Steve paid us for helping, we must have done a good job. At that point, the day was good. I just didn’t know what was in store for me later that day from David.
David was the cousin from hell. He was always hitting me or pulling my hair or something just to be mean. He left Margie alone most of the time, but I guess he just didn’t like me. I can tell you the feeling was mutual. He was the only boy I knew who was meaner to me than my brother. We all three went for a hike later. The whole time we were gone he was smacking me and twisting my arm behind my back. I finally had enough, and I picked up a rock and threw it at him. It hit him in the back. I took off running from him, and I almost stepped on a big snake that slithered into my path. Now, I am really scared of snakes, and I screamed!
I had seen a snake like that one at Granny’s house. It was a blue racer. Granny said they would chase a person until they caught him just so they could bite him! I know now that is not true, but, at that time, I just knew what Granny had told me. Well, needless to say, I didn’t waste any time getting the heck out of there. We were not far from the house, and I was running as fast as I could. All the while, David was right behind me, yelling that the snake was about to catch me. I was too scared to look back, so I just kept running as fast as my legs would go.
Then the most terrible thing happened. I fell down! I just knew the snake was going to get me and bite me. Then I heard David laughing and laughing.
He said, “You big dope, that snake is not chasing you.”
My sister was even laughing! David ran up behind me, grabbed my arm, and twisted it up behind my back. I was so mad! He fooled me and made me cry. I was kicking him and trying to get away, but he just held on tight to my arm. He walked me all the way back to the house like that until we got to the backyard where Mother was hanging up clothes. He let me go then so he wouldn’t get in trouble.
We went into the house to have lunch. My mother and aunt fixed us bologna sandwiches and glasses of cold milk. It was good. After I ate, I went into the backyard. I was sitting on the porch just looking around the yard. I saw what looked like a storm cellar, so I went to see it. I didn’t want to go inside. I was scared of cellars. I was standing up at the top of the dirt steps looking in trying to see as much as I could when I felt someone push me from behind. Down those stairs I went! The next thing I knew, I was on the floor of the cellar. I looked up the dirt steps, and there was David. He started to close the door! I tried to get up to run up the steps, but he was too fast. I could hear him laughing and saying he was going to lock me in there. He sounded like the devil himself.
It was so dark I could not see my hand in front of my face. I knew what was in there though. I had been in dirt cellars. They had spiders, bugs, and worms. I could just feel them crawling on me! I was screaming bloody murder for someone to get me out. It was so dark. I got up on the steps as close to the door as I could. There was a little bit of light, and I could see through the door. I was begging David to let me out. I told him I couldn’t breathe, that I was dying. Little did I know that he had gone into the house. I started to push on the door to open it, but it was so heavy I couldn’t budge it.
I prayed to God to save me. I cried and cried. Then I pushed on the door some more, but I had no luck. It was just too heavy. I began yelling for my mother. She didn’t hear me though. I promised God if He would get me out of there and save my life, I would be good from then on. It seemed like I had been in there for such a long time.
I pounded on the wooden door and yelled, “Please, Mother, get me out of here! I don’t want to die in this dark cellar!”
Then- thanks to God – the door opened, and there was my mother. She asked me how I got locked in there. I was crying so hard I could hardly talk. I had been so scared. She put her arms around me, hugged me, and she wiped my tears and the dirt off my face with her apron. She had come out to get the clothes off the line, and she heard me screaming and crying.
I looked at her and said, “David locked me in here on purpose, Mother. He is so mean.”
She got this angry look on her face and just said, “It will be all right. I will talk to his mother.”
We went into the house, and my mother told my Aunt Cecil she needed to talk to her in the bedroom. David was sitting there, and from the look on his face, I knew he was scared.
They came out of the bedroom, and my aunt said, “David, I need to talk to you in here.”
He got up and went into the bedroom. In just a couple of minutes, I heard a sound that I knew so well myself. It was a belt, and Aunt Cecil was really giving it to him. I was so happy to be out of the cellar that I forgot to count how many licks he got. Darn it!
David didn’t come out of the bedroom until supper time. Uncle Steve was back from the sale barn and had sold all his pigs. We had a real good supper. We had ham, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and hot biscuits. Every time I took a bite of ham, I thought about chasing those pigs that day.
Before we went home the next morning, Aunt Cecil made David apologize to me for what he did. I had fun while we were there, but I never wanted to see my double cousin again. The day at my uncle’s pig farm was more than a typical day in the life of little Ruthie. I thank God for getting me out of that cellar!
Janice Sautter is a great great grandmother who spends her time writing, painting, drawing, and playing video games. She lives with her husband Jim and their two dogs, Daisy and Lilly. She writes under the name of J. R. Carter.