Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Terry Saves the Day

Bob Harris, Gary Greene, and I had a great time on Nelle Reagan's Talk of the Town radio show today. We visit Nelle once a month, usually on the last Tuesday of the month at noon or noon-thirty. She calls us "The storytellers" and we always tell two or three tales. Sometimes it's all three of us or one or two of us with another teller such as Delmas Franklin. I wish others would volunteer to join us. We probably need to keep it to two or three tellers each time, but it should not be the same three, in my opinion. I want the public to know that Ridge & Valley Tellers is an open group intended for anyone and everyone who loves storytelling.

Today Bob told a great tale -- with maybe some truth in it somewhere -- about a little Canadian girl's providential encounter with a Teddy Bear, and her long lost English grandfather.

I told my version of a folktale about the preacher's false teeth. There are MANY versions of this story to be found by googling "fried chicken" and "false teeth". I call mine "Terry Saves the Day". It might be an example for tall-tellers/fibbers who want to enter the 2015 Big Fibbers Contest. It is a simple five minute tall tale. It is definitely in the public domain. And I have created my own version of it.

Here 'Tis:

Terry Saves The Day

I am a double Methodist preachers kid. My Daddy was a Methodist preacher and my Mama still is. But it goes deeper than that. I’ve got sisters and cousins married to Methodist preachers. I've got at least three cousins who backslid and became Baptist preachers. My great-great granddaddy, Boggan Mask, was a licensed exhorter in the Methodist Church and actually baptized the baby boy who would end up marrying Boggan's granddaughter and thereby get to be my granddaddy, Wilson Baird. And Wilson Baird did some Methodist lay preaching himself.

So you can see how I grew up to be a storyteller. And I know something about Methodist preachers and I know something about dinners on the grounds. When I was a kid every country Methodist churchyard had, besides a cemetery, and an outhouse, a bunch of tables under a shelter of some sort. Every chance the church got in fine weather there was a dinner on the grounds! Un-unh!

Banana sandwiches or even better something called banana croquets, fried okra, creamed corn, greens, and casseroles, and macaroni and cheese, and desserts of all kinds, but always, always, always, fried chicken. My daddy wasn’t a big man, but his plate at those things was always mounded high. He said it was a duty. He had to try a little of everything to avoid hurt feelings.

Well, one Sunday, out at Bethel Church there next to the creek, Preacher Kelley was waxing eloquent, between bites, telling some fine tale. With his plate in one hand he swapped his sweet tea in the other back and forth with a fork full of casserole or a fistful of chicken. Now he did his talking in a strange way. I don’t know why, some medical problem he had, but he talked... [... breathing in.  Like this . Even preaching. I was always fascinated by that.]*  But I reckon he sneezed like everyone else, cause with his hands occupied like that, and in mid-sentence, the pollen got to him and a big sneeze came on him and he turned his head away from us and toward the creek and sneezed explosively. AND out popped his false teeth. They went flying right into the middle of that muddy little creek and plopped down and out of sight.

Well everybody got busy trying to fish ‘em out. There were a few cane poles leaned against a sycamore there and folks were poking those out in the water. Then somebody came running with some rakes they kept there at the church and tried raking ‘em out of the water. But it was all to no avail.

It was then that my Methodist preacher heritage and experience came in handy. I knew those fellows with the poles would never fish those teeth out with empty hooks. AND I knew the bait to use.

Preacher Bailey had a chicken leg left on his plate that still had some meat on it. I grabbed it and snagged it onto the hook on one of those poles. Why, I want you to know those teeth snapped onto that chicken leg as soon as it hit the water and I jerked ‘em to shore in no time.

It took some doing to pry the chicken leg out of those teeth, but after that Preacher Bailey rinsed ‘em a little in his sweet tea and plopped ‘em back in his mouth, and was ready for another plate full of fine eating.

If you want catfish, use worms. For perch, I recommend minnows. But if you need to catch a Methodist preacher, or his teeth, fried chicken’s the bait to use.

* I demonstrate the way Preacher Kelley talked with the bracketed words.

© 2014 Terrell Shaw

No comments:

Post a Comment