Ricky Harpole column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Traveling example learns true nature of Crowley’s Ridge 911 emergency

 Y’all are all familiar with 911. Of course you are. It is a nationally sanctified emergency number. And it’s a system that works pretty good.

That being said, I must apologize for missing last week’s lies (oops, I meant column) ‘cause I was visiting old friends in Arkansas.

At this time of year my presence is requested (or required) at a lot of strange places so I can be an example of what children should not grow up to be. My own children haul me around on these sabbaticals to reaffirm the purpose of the trip.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“See, this is the way we turned out. And look at our old daddy. We don’t set much of a better example than he does.”

As you can see, it’s a rough trip but it is done in the interest of saving humanity and cutting government funding for reform schools.

Well, on the return leg of the trip, so as to soothe my tattered nerves and clothes, we dropped in on the “hog, hell and children-raisers” that I described in a previous column. (“Arkansas traveler recalls family’s specialty: raising hell, hogs and children,” March 23, 2010)

You’ll remember Ms. Sukie’s clan. They wuz in the process of raising nine kids by raising hogs and moccasin venom. They were totally self-sufficient and used Grandpa’s old ‘51 Chevy pulpwood truck for financial emergencies (just in case the hog and snake market dropped).

We “four-wheel drove” through the treacherous layout of swamps, switch backs, red clay hills and a flooded creek and arrived in a condition that could only be expected after such a journey. As our original appearance was somewhat diminished, we were a sorry sight to see by the time we arrived.

Ms. Sukie, being the old “Mountain Gal” she was raised to be, met us at the last gate with her shotgun and invited us into the house.

“We have a 911 problem, Ricky, but we’ve got time for the moment to sample the recipe,” she said as we approached the settlement.

Now, I thought, if it’s a 911 problem, we ain’t got time for social libations in the meantime. Most of the knotty crew I was riding with are certified EMTs, and I am (or was)  O.S.H.A.-certified for on-site emergencies.

“What happened here? Who’s hurt?” I questioned. “When will the ambulance be here? Does anybody need CPR?”

She drew a blank look for a second, (I thought she might be going into shock) but when her eyes cleared up she laughed and said, “I’m sorry, but you misunderstood the nature of a 911 emergency on Crawley’s Ridge. It ain’t got nothing to do with medical situations. It concerns household hygiene,” Ms Sukie explained.

“You see, we’ve got nine kids in this house and one bathroom in the house and one old standby down by the creek. The one in the house froze and busted last night, and we’re fixin’ it now, so if anybody needs to go, the creek’s down yonder,” she said, pointing to the south fork.

“In the meantime, y’all come on in and test the recipe while the pipes get wrapped.”

(Helpful hint: Old inner tube rubber works good for pipe repairs.)

Well, at least I got enlightened on the 911 business on Crowley’s Ridge and cleansed my palate on the recipe. That took the taste of the first part of the trip right out of my mouth, along with one of my tonsils. I doubt it will grow back.

We all bypassed the creek for the moment and tasted the recipe while the nine kids squirmed around under the shack practicing up on their plumbing skills.

Come sunup the next mornin,’ the faulty number 1 was back to work. After the switchback got dry and the creek slowed down to a minimal roar, we began our departure loaded down with two cured hams, four pounds of processed rattlesnake filets, one pound of homemade Sulpher Creek gunpowder for fireworks and, of course, a clear thumbring jug of 140 octane whiskey. (Oops, I mean tuning fluid for the guitar)

The last leg of the journey was well worth the trip.

Might get home for Christmas,

Ricky Harpole

P. S. 9 kids plus 1 busted bathroom plus 1 outhouse = 911. In case of emergency, call Ms. Sukie. She has the means and ambition and also the experience to handle most situations.