Old Friends

 by Mike Capron
Murphy was my best friend back in the day. We roamed the woods of eastern Kansas where I was born. Wellsville was the name of the little town close to where we lived before I started school. Big old two story frame house on a farm outside of town. It had lots of ground hogs close by and they would upset Mom, because they dug holes in her yard and get under the house at night and make lots of noise. When dad would leave to go to work in the morning, the ground hogs would come out and play in the yard. Mom had a long-tom, single shot 12 gauge shot gun and she would shoot them from inside the house. Through the kitchen door or one of the windows or the front door. She would have me and my little brother Tom go cover the dead ones up with cardboard boxes, so the flies weren’t so bad, while she plugged the holes in the screens with balls of cotton. Then dad would come home and haul them off.  Momma was only 4 foot 11 inches tall, the shotgun was taller than she was. 

This is where I learned to play stick horses. We made lots of rides on our stick horses around and threw the house. There was a big bumble bee nest in the frame of the house above the front door and when the front door slammed too hard it would upset the bees and they would come out mad looking for some one to sting. I would usually be in the lead and not get stung but  Tom would be behind me and he would get the sting. Momma would always doctor it with ear wax. 
We moved to Rantoul where I started school. I don’t remember any of the kids in my class or the teacher, but I do remember learning to run hard to get home before I got roped by one of the older kids. I came home several times with a rope burn around my neck that looked like a big red bow tie. We moved to Ottawa soon after the first year of school in Rantoul. I remember Mrs. Worthington in the second grade but not any of my class mates. The third grade was about the same. I don’t recall much except Mrs. Kerchstaffner, the teacher. We moved across town and changed schools and this is where I started to blossom. I made lots of close friends there in this new school.
Jeeper Deputy was super star back then. He and Mildred Peed were the only ones we couldn’t get out when we were playing work-up baseball during the noon hour. Robert Zook and I were hard core but weren’t very good. Joyce West was playing also, but she was an easy out. She was my first love and the first girl that I ever kissed. Wasn’t much of a kiss, kinda a flea-flicker kiss. Not one of those big smackers with a big hug. More like a kiss on the fly by. She had beautiful long pigtails and was as pretty as a princess. Much to pretty to be a softball player. 
Murphy would go to school with me and we would hunt on the way home. Murphy stayed with me until he got old. Always ready to go hunting. He slept with me in the house at the foot of my bed. I don’t ever remember him causing any problems. We moved to Oklahoma, Texas, and then to New Mexico. Murphy made all the moves and never got tired of hunting. I got older and bigger and graduated from Sling-shots to rifles and shotguns. We hunted hard in Artesia, ducks, rabbits, geese, and varmints. 
We went varmint calling one night not far from the house and called up a set of eyes that looked like  a fox. I shot and killed the fox. I went charging out to get the fox and when I got there, I was so shocked to find out that I had called up my Murphy and shot him. Murphy had gone hunting without us and we had stopped to call close to the house. I never knew if he was coming to the call or just coming because he knew it was us. He was getting very old and I tried to lay the murder off on to mercy killing. But it never worked and it has been a lesson I have never forgotten. 


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