Monday, July 07, 2008

Uncle Cran's Tall Tale: "Turtle Heart and the Flashlight"

Spiny Softshell Turtle
Able to breathe under water!
(Image from Wikipedia)

My Uncle Cran so much enjoyed my most recent couple of entries concerning him ("Uncle Cran's Heady Claim") and his 'tales' ("Mad Cow Syndrome!") -- the latter of which even drew a link from another Arkansas blog -- that he has requested that I post another 'true' story:
I thought of another story you might store away for the next time you want to degrade your "pore ole uncle Cran."
Eh . . . "store away"? Why would I want to do that? I'm posting it immediately!
You may have to delay this as your faithful readers may be getting sick and tired of the way you pick on me. I recall that Jeanie of the light brown hair wanted me to denounce you and adopt her . . .
Personally, I think Jeanie was simply joining in on the "Lying Contest," but that's just between you and me. So, let's get immediately into your 1940s Ozark story:
"Turtle Heart and the Flashlight"
Years ago when Bradley and I were about 6 and 9 years old, respectively, our older brothers Buel, James and Woodrow decided to do some Norfolk Lake fishing. They promised to take good care of us so Mom gave them permission.

We loaded up our fishing gear in the wagon, put the wagon hoops and canvas cover on in case of rain, a large rain barrel to bring the fish back in, hooked up the horses to the wagon, and set out one fine morning. It was about an 8 mile drive through the field, woods and winding roads through the metropolis of Elizabeth (population about 50 including outlying suburbs), and on to the lake.

After setting up camp, the boys "borrowed" some of the wooden johnboats that the locals left lying there for their own use, and didn't mind anyone using them. (I hesitate to use the word 'lying,' since I have been accused of this in a different sense). We set up "trotlines," by tying one end of the line to a tree limb or stump, and stringing this line with short lines and hooks baited with worms and minnows across the cove and anchoring the other end with a rock. We dug the worms and seined the minnows. We then went back out in the boats with our cane poles to fish.

It was a great adventure for Brad and I and our brothers, camping out on the lake, eating fish we caught, as well as the canned goods and bread Mom sent us, and sleeping out there in the open air, listening to the whipoorwills calling, and other sounds of the night.

Next day we "ran" the trotlines, removing the bass, perch and catfish. We also caught a large softshell turtle on the trotline. My older brothers decided to have the turtle for breakfast, so they opened it, removed the insides, and cooked it for breakfast, to add to our scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits. Then we put the fish in the rain barrel filled with water and fish, tied a "tow sack" over the barrel to keep the water and fish from splashing out as we drove over the rough country roads, and headed home.

Now for the true story of the turtle heart and the flashlight: When Woodrow "cleaned" out the insides of the turtle, I notice the turtle's heart was still beating, so I took it with me, fascinated by it. The heart rate slowed on the long drive home of several hours, until we crossed Big Creek near our home, and Woody made me throw it away.

Years later, while attending Bible College in Ankeny Iowa, I worked at the Western Auto store in Des Moines, I told this story to the other employees. They laughed at me, and accused me of telling a Big One (Mark Twain would have called it a "stretcher"). This hurt my feelings, just as Jeffery's accusations did recently.

But the assistant store manager, Harvey Dock, came to my defense. He told me, "Cran I believe you."

I said, "Thank you, Doc, it's really true."

He said, "Now let me tell about my ice fishing trip in Minnesota. One day I was on the lake ice fishing. I carried a flashlight as we fished until after dark. Just as I started home, I accidently kicked the flashlight into the hole into about 15 feet of water. I could see it shining on the bottom, so I tried to hook it with a fish hook, but being unsuccesful, had to leave it there. Three weeks later, I came back to the same spot, cut another hole, looked down, and there was that flashlight on the bottom, still shining."

I said, "Doc, I just can't believe that."

He said, "I'll tell you what, Cran. If you will stop that turtle's heart from beating, I'll turn off my flashlight."

And every word of this story is true, just like my story you [i.e., Jeffery] recorded on your "lying" blog.
I almost believe you, Uncle Cran -- especially about that eternally-beating turtle heart, for every Ozark hillbilly knows that turtles defy the laws of nature -- but there's one tiny slip-up, a moment when you stretch the 'truth' just a bit too far:
"It was a great adventure . . . camping out on the lake."
Now, I ask you, "camping out on the lake"?! Directly on the surface of the water? I'm supposed to believe that? You must think that I don't know the properties of water, Uncle Cran. I expect that you'll appeal to "surface tension," and that would be reasonable, for I used to hike the lake myself back in my youth without even getting my feet wet, but the lake's powerful surface tension would not hold up under a campfire because the intense heat would cause the molecules of water to grow agitated, breaking their intermolecular attraction, and your entire camping party would be all wet -- just like your story. I'd therefore advise you to leave aside the part about camping out on the lake, particularly if you tell the tale to an audience well-versed in science.

For readers who'd like to know more about the scientific properties of water, follow this link, and you'll never again be so gullible as to believe a story like this one by Uncle Cran.

By the way, Uncle Cran, where can I get one of Doc's flashlights?

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At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Blog Friends:
Please note how nephew Professor Jeffery Hodges, PhD, is so quick to jump on my typos to once again degrade me and hold me up to ridicule. I meant we were camping on the lake SHORE, as I am sure "Nephew Jeffery" realized. Just recently he cynically exposed my work worn fingers hitting the wrong items on the keyboard when I hit Psalm 103:35-27 rather than the correct reference of Psalm 102:25-27.
I believe he is secretly giving me an "F" in large red letters and one day notify everyone on this blog that I am failing his courses. If these "disses" continue, I may reconsider dear Jeanie's proposal to disown him and adopt her as my niece.
Perhaps then she, and also you, my dear friends, will be taking up a collection at my decease to pay my outstanding nursing home and funeral expenses. I am counting on you.
And I am seriously contemplating never writing one of my life experiences, thus eliminating the degradation at the hands of my (at one time favorite) EX-NEPHEW. (With the emphasis on the-PHEW).
What do you suggest?
With great sorrow.

At 5:51 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hmmm . . . should I also work this one up into a blog entry?

Probably, though, I'd better clarify -- for any who might stumble onto this blog entry and its comments -- that Uncle Cran and I are merely carrying on a family tradition of ribbing one another.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 5:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope "ex-nephew" Jeffery doesn't notice the missing word "will" between "and & one). I can almost hear his fiendish laughter as he "grades my just published blog.
I won't even mention the missing word between "never & writing" in the last paragraph, thus {again} giving him the pleasure of correcting my mistakes.

At 6:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Normally, I would point out every error . . . but pressed for time as I am, I've let them slide.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A final word(s):
I have a guitar instrucitonal video by Chet Atkins. On it he hit a wrong note, commented, "All mistakes are intentional," and kept on playing.
I will claim the same thing, and blithly continue on blogging, ignoring any and all typos.
I decided not to disown Jeffery, which would no doubt cause him severe mental suffering. I have become addicted to his blog, and wouldn't want to upset him so much he would discontinue doing it.

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, I think that we can both agree that all publicity is good publicity.

I shall continue to proclaim your Green-Acre actions to the world.

When the tourists begin showing up, don't thank me, just send checks.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

Having been required to dissect a goldfish heart and hope it was still beating to get a passing grade in biology; I am sure the tale is possible. For extra credit we could do a frog's too.

The flashlight is stretching it.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, I agree. The turtle heart is reasonable . . . but the flashlight was surely Doc's amusing way of trying to undermine Uncle Cran's childhood story.

By the way, I've finally trusted Blogger enough to update my blogroll, so you're now listed, under "Political Blogs."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It look like my wonderful nephew Jeffery was sufficiently chastened, as he didn't correct my misspelling of instructional and blithely, although he still questions what he seems to consider my mis-speiling in my truthful and trustworthy stories.
Such is the cross one must bear.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Always loved that hymn, "Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear" . . . though the theme rather continues to baffle me.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 5:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One final comment -- the answer to the question of where can I find one of Doc's flashlights --- probably at the bottom of one of the Great Lakes, as it was the one and only of that kind ever made.
Now I will retreat to my lounge chair, nurse my wounded feelings, and dream of revenge.

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Revenge means having your own blog.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:10 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

Jeffery, be kind to your Uncle Cran. My Uncle Bob used to send out daily fishing reports. Though I don't care much one way or the other about fishing, especially fishing in Florida, when I'm living in Virginia, I loved the daily stories. But then Uncle Bob's better half told him that nobody cared about that foolishness and soon after the fishing reports dried up.

I tried to encourage him to continue to write and even to set up a blog (offering to take care of all the technical aspects), but once an Uncle's feelings are hurt, well, there's not much you can do.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

Well, well, well,
Let me state for the record that this Lady Clairol brown-haired girl was not lying. I HAD sent Uncle Cran a sweet note in reply to his initial accused tall-tale.
I have copied and pasted my reply,

Sun 6/29/08 1:32 PM
To: Cran (

haven't heard from you in ages. I hope this is because it's the heart of summer and you have oodles to do. How is your wife feeling? I do much better now that I can go outside and do things with the yard and flowers.
This is a very impressive picture. I am of the opinion that we should just post younger pics of ourselves!
good to hear from you

Now, I'm sure that all readers of Jeff-er-y's blog will send an ether smite to land gently upon his head should he dare to question "Uncle" Cran and myself again!

Parson Weemes lies about things like cherry trees, but I and Cran Hodges can be trusted!
Yours truly,
Jeanie Desiree Oliver

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

CIV, thanks for the advice. I think that Uncle Cran and I share the same humor, and since he 'challenged' me to post his story . . . well the rest is history.

Just to be clear, I do enjoy his stories, and I believe them, too.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jeanie, you're threatening me with "an ether smite"?

How will I recognize this form of punishment? I expect that I'll be unconscious the entire time, the smite being ether...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


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