A while back I got a letter from Sharptownite, Rip Templeton. Sharptown, by the way, is a few miles southeast of Charleston and just south of Longridge. The letter was interesting to me and hopefully you will like it also. Several years ago Rip vacationed in Colorado and enroute stopped at the Clayton, New Mexico Dairy Queen. Around the walls were several pictures of the wild west days. One of the pictures showed some gallows (Do you say some gallows, a gallows, or a set of gallows?) with three men in black suits staring at a fourth man laying on the floor of the gallows. The man on the floor was minus his head. It was the famous Black Jack Ketchum.
Seeking help understanding the picture, Rip received assistance from the DQ manager who explained there was a formula used that involved the weight of the man to be hung, the length of the rope, and speed of the falling person when they reach “the end of their rope.” For some reason there was several months delay between making the calculations and hanging day. One idea is that Blackjack, due to inactivity, gained a lot of weight while in jail. Another possibility was the inadequacy of the hangman’s mathematical proficiency. Black Jack had hit the end of the rope so hard it just ripped his head off. A couple of years later Rip was back in Clayton and stopped to see the picture again. Shucks, it was gone. The manager said it was noticed gone soon after a bunch of rowdy youngsters were in there one night.
On another more recent trip Rip stopped in the tiny town of Mobeetie in the heart (or maybe the kidney) of the Texas Panhandle. In the 1800’s Mobeetie was the hub of the Panhandle justice system. The old jail is now used as a tourist attraction and is unusual in that it is a two story jail with a hole in the floor so hangings could be held, performed, conducted, or whatever, indoors. Seems very practical to just build a trap door instead of having to make the entire gallows. Thanks, Rip, and everyone watch for a copy of the picture where the hangee lost his head. Rip and I both want a copy.
In high school biology, our teacher Bennett Jeter, required us to keep a binder, folder, notebook type thing. By the end of the year it was very thick and was very useful when reviewing for tests. Parents could also see the quality, or lack thereof, of our work. Before each experiment Mr. Jeter gave us a cover sheet where we wrote our name, date, title of experiment, and such. At the bottom of that cover sheet was written, “Grade” and was followed by a blank. Would you believe I put a ten in that blank, thinking he wanted to know what grade I was in. When I got it back there was a nice, short note explaining that blank was for him to put my score type grade in.
Seems like that notebook was two inches thick by the end of the year. Each six weeks we would turn them in for Mr. Jeter to check and he would give us a grade on it that counted two or three times as much as a regular “daily grade.” Somebody in my class decided there was no way Mr. Jeter could glance over every page of those thick notebooks. On a blank sheet of paper they wrote, “I bet you a Miller’s milkshake you don’t see this page.” As notebooks were passed back out, the bettor quickly flipped over to the milkshake page and in big letters was written, “You lose.”
Hey classmates, if you were the one that had to buy him a milkshake let me know. Mr. Jeter was one of our favorite teachers and years later I required my science students to keep a notebook similar to mine in high school. It is very handy for use in review, in parent-teacher conferences, and makes a good keepsake. Students were encouraged to write little notes, similar to a diary, in the sidelines. Like what happened after school, ballgame scores, and who is presently “going with” who. Each six weeks the notebooks would be “weighed” on our triple beam balances. The heaviest ones received the highest scores. Some of my “old students” from time to time tell me they still have their notebook.
Grover Nabors at Charleston once had the smartest dog in fourteen states. The dog knew which kind of varmint to look for when they went hunting. If Grover wanted squirrels the dog went out with his head up. If rabbits, he went out with his head down smelling the ground. Grover used a .22 rifle for those two. If he had his shotgun the dog knew they were after quail. Sammy Miller, one of Grover’s neighbors, came over one day with a fishing pole, trying to confuse the dog. The dog took off running out in the woods and Sammie really laughed because the dog apparently didn’t understand about fishing. After a while they were curious about the dog and went out in the woods to find him. There he was, digging worms.