Coon Hunting

An excerpt from forth coming book:

Seneca Seasons: A Farm Boy Remembers

Coon Hunting    part 4 of 4

Then there appeared a glimmer of orange light on the distance horizon. The moon was coming up over Lynch’s farm up on Highway 27. Big and bright, we could see the outline of Lynch’s barn against the moon yellow-orange glow. Now I could see where I was, could make out our own farm buildings, the Big Barn, the Small Barn, the granary and the big oak tree out by the road.

            Soon, the whole moon was above the horizon. We were now crossing the Oak Tree field, approaching Oak Grove Ridge road that would take us to our farm buildings.

            On our return Dad again talked about hunting and growing up on a farm in Springbrook, Iowa when he was a kid. We liked hearing these stories, although I believe we forgot most of them, remembering only bits and pieces. He talked about the hunting accident in which a friend and neighbor was killed. About cultivating corn in the river bottoms near Green Island, Iowa located a dozen miles below Bellevue.

            Dad talked about how mules would plow and cultivate all day, with no complaints, and that a farmer got a lot more out of mules, than horses. But come noontime, those mules knew when it was time for lunch. They just took off for the barn. No need to try to stop them.  If you have one more row to cultivate, and wanted to extend the working time another 20 minutes. Well, you can just forget about it. Those mules knew how to tell time.

            This was before the time the dams were put in on the Mississippi River.  The river was narrow and faster, not the large pools we have now behind each dam.  Dad talked about laying sod in a gully on his Dad’s home farm south of Springbrook, and how a storm came up and washed away two days of hard work.

            We were getting a glimpse of our Dad’s past, that he did not often share.  Years later, our uncle Florian, Dad’s brother, hinted widely that their father, Mathias Scheckel, was not always the caring and loving father depicted in his obituary.

            Regardless of that relationship, the Scheckel boys on Oak Grove Ridge never experienced such ill feelings. We were most fortunate.  It seems that every year the following passage from Colossians 3:21 would be read in Church, “Fathers, do not anger your children, lest they lose heart”. It is one of few Bible quotes that I can remember.

            Dad told us about the time when some bootleggers took him and some other Iowa lads out in the woods at night. The bootleggers showed Dad a whiskey still.  The bad guys were toting machine guns. We peppered Dad with questions. “Why don’t we have mules, instead of horses?” No real answer, except “mules are harder to get”. “Did the bootleggers shoot their machine guns?” It was well after 10 o’clock when we got home.  What a great adventure that evening!

            Dad skinned that coon the next day.  He stretched its hide over a board. Coonskin caps were big at that time. I remember seeing in our Weekly Reader at school that a Tennessee guy named Estes Kefauver ran for President and went around campaigning wearing a coonskin cap.

            Some Sunday evenings we would walk up to the Fradette family that lived on the Kuntz farm.  We Scheckels didn’t have television, but the Fradettes did and we watched the NBC program Davy Crockett at 6 o’clock. Fess Parker wore a coonskin cap and so did his sidekick, George Russell, played by Buddy Ebsen.  The tail of the raccoon hung down over the frontiersman’s back.

            I don’t recall how much Dad got for that pelt. But that hunt was worth a million dollars to his sons!


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