The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

John Hayes Hollow - The Trials Of Aunt Texie

By Hazel P. Hedrick © 1985

Issue: June, 1985

Aunt Texie, my daddy's only sister was a natural born comedian and prankster. She was the youngest of a family of six chaps. She was picked on constantly by her five mischievous brothers, but was Grandad's pet. She had to learn how to protect herself at an early age. I heard her tell many stories of her brothers trying to get her in trouble and how she turned the joke back on them.

One day in the fall of the late 1800's, Aunt Texie was about six, seven or eight years old then, Grandad told Uncle Flate and Belo (my dad) to hitch up the steer to the cart and go up on the mountain and fetch a load of apples. Little sister wanted to go along and ride in the cart. Grandad gave his approval and Aunt Texie crawled in the cart. Her brothers didn't wish to be bothered with her, but they knew there was no use to tell Grandad, so they drove the steer through briar thickets and over rocks and ditches until their little sister was begging them to leave her behind.

Leave her behind was what they did, and on to the top of the mountain the boys went, to pick apples all afternoon. They filled the cart with every apple they could get to stay on, then started back down the mountain, moving very slowly and guiding the steer very carefully around all rocks and rough places on the road so as not to lose an apple.

About half way down the mountain, suddenly there came a strange noise out of the broomstraw thicket and little sister's straw hat came flying right over the steer's head. The steer let out a bellow and lit out down the mountain, cart a bouncing and apples flying. The two brothers could do nothing but stand and watch their half day's work and their apples go. When they finally caught up to their steer, there was not one apple left in the cart, and not much cart.

They repaired the cart as best they could, and bribed their little sister not to tell Grandad why the steer ran away and lost all the apples. Darkness fell on two chaps with pails searching for apples in the briars and broomsage.

Another story I recall my Aunt Texie telling had to do with a homemade squirt gun. I don't know exactly how to make one, but I do know it was made from an elder branch that grew on the creek bank in the John Hayes Hollow. My brother Johnny could make a squirt gun so powerful, when he shot you with it, you would feel like you had been out in a rain shower.

Seems like, in this story of Aunt Texie's, Daddy's two youngest brothers found a yellow jacket's nest in the road bank near some ripe blueberries. The bushes were full of the delicious fruit. Everybody liked blueberries and most kids would climb a red bank with their Sunday School clothes on to get a tummy full of wild blueberries.

The two brothers, Flate and David, were always thinking up pranks to play on their little sister anyway, so when they found this yellow jacket's nest, they threw rocks at it until they had all the bees angry and flying around looking for something to sting.

Then they went and found their sister and told her where the ripe blueberries were, but not to bother them or tell anyone else where they were because there was a big yellow jacket's nest close by and she might get stung.

Aunt Texie didn't believe one word about the bee's nest. She thought that was their way of getting her not to go near their blueberries. This was exactly what her brothers wanted her to think. They watched from behind the corncrib as she went straight to the berries and started to fill her tummy. She heard a little buzzing sound and looked around to see all the angry yellow jackets. At this point, she knew she had walked straight into her brothers' trap. She didn't run away, she didn't even let on that she had spotted the bees, because she knew her brothers were somewhere watching her. She moved very slowly away from the bees and kept on eating berries.

The boys soon realized she had spotted the bees, so they went on about their business and forgot about it. But Aunt Texie didn't forget. She waited and bided her time.

Grandad had a houseguest, some real old lady of distant kin. I don't recall her name, but she was a very stern, strict person who thought chaps should be seen but not heard. She saw the boys trying to shoot their sister with their squirt gun, and made them put it up and they were not to touch it again until she went home.

Aunt Texie said she thought, “here is my chance to get even." She watched her brothers very carefully. When they went to the barn to do their chores, she sneaked and got the squirt gun, crawled under the porch, found a big knot hole in the floor and waited for the old lady to walk by. She didn't have to wait long and as luck would have it, the old gal stopped right above her. She put the loaded squirt gun through the crack in the floor and let go the full load.

The old lady let out a yell and started screaming for Grandad. While she was still in shock, Aunt Texie crawled out and put the squirt gun back where she found it, and just in time. She didn't even get out of the room before the old lady came looking to see if the gun had been moved. It had not, so she figured the boys had made a new one and they were in big trouble. Texie just sat back and enjoyed every word and act of their punishment. Her brothers knew she did it, but knew there was no need to even suggest such a thing. Grandad would never believe his little pet would do a mean trick like that.