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Sunday, November 20, 2011

No. 87 " ... a goat in the bed with me!"

What Daddy said he heard that morning was the succession of a clap of thunder, the shattering of glass, and the hollering of my Uncle Louie ...

After the passing of his wife, France (Rebecca Francis Guthrie b. 1895) in 1941, my Uncle Louie was left alone at home with his young son, Louie Hallas. His three older boys, Linwood, Guyon, and Norman by then were married and on their own. My uncle, called “Big Buddy” by us, was more than sixteen years older than my father, and their relationship was more like father to son than brother to brother. Since our houses were adjoining, and less than a hundred feet apart, it was almost as if the two families were one.

A 1935 Ford with a "rumble seat" in the back like the one
used to get and bring home the goats for the boys.
My older brothers Ralph, Tommy and Bill were close in age to Louie Hallas, and the four of them did almost everything together. Once, the four of them decided that they wanted a “billy goat” for a pet, and so their fathers conceded to buy a pair from a farmer in North River, at a place called “Thomases Turn,” near what is now East Carteret High School. Early one Spring morning  Daddy and Louie, along with Tommy and Bill who nestled together on the rumble seat in the rear set out to make the purchase. By dinner time they were all home, including two young goats that the boys held in their arms all the way back to the Island.

For a while, the whole neighborhood was excited and the goats were the focus of almost everyone’s attention. But after that brief period, as so often happens, the boys soon lost their interest. The much-desired pets became simply another part of the neighborhood menagerie that also included pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, and sometimes a horse (see post no. 60 “Harkers Island Cowboys”).

Because Uncle Louie always maintained a large garden, the goats passed most of their time there and amid a grove of fig and persimmon trees. They usually spent nights on his back porch, next to a hand-pump and a tin can full of water used to prime the pump when it was empty.

That’s where the goats were resting one summer morning when a pre-dawn thunderstorm ended with bolt of lightning and a loud clap of thunder. In less than a second, one of the goats bolted away from the light and noise, and directly through a window pane that was beside the bed where Big Buddy and his son were sleeping. The whole neighborhood was awakened by the clamor, including my father, who jumped from his own bed and hurried to see what had transpired.

He found Uncle Louie still in his underwear and standing on his back porch while trying to clean up the glass that was strewn almost everywhere. Before Daddy could even ask him what had happened, his older brother blurted out to tell him.

“I don’t really know other than I woke up and found a goat in the bed with me!” By the next weekend, both of the goats were gone.

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