From goat to hero

Posted by : Press release | On : March 16, 2012

Back to Rockdale, living with Dave and Nettie. It was early spring; Dave and I had been in the Bottom grubbing out persimmon sprouts since daylight. Our water jug was empty and we were hot and thirsty. Dave said, “Let’s go to the house and finish up tomorrow.” I was ready for that. We had a mule hitched to a slide and we were both tired enough to just get on the slide and ride back to the house.

Nettie called to us, “That old momma cat hasn’t been here all morning and her kittens are hungry.” Dave replied, “Aw, she’s probably at the barn, or the crib, or maybe just out hunting.” I must have been the dumbest kid the world has ever known, because I said, “Nettie a hawk might have caught her or maybe a wolf.” Nettie started crying, because “old momma” was her favorite cat. I said, “Nettie it’s just a dumb old cat.” That was the wrong thing to say. Nettie responded with a high pitched voice, “I don’t want to hear another word out of you Buddy Hazell, just shut up.” She had never used that tone of voice with me before, and I decided I had better go look for the cat.

I searched the barn, no cat; looked in the corn crib, no cat; looked in the hull house (that’s where we kept cotton seed hulls), no cat. I went to the Plum Orchard, no cat, and finally gave up and went back to the house. I was hoping Nettie had simmered down by then.
Suddenly, I heard Nettie holler, “Dave, Buddy, come here, come here quick.” She was at the well, which was about 100 feet from the house. I took off running, with Dave hobbling right behind me. “What’s wrong,” I asked. “Be quiet and listen,” Nettie said. Dave and I stood there a few minutes, and Dave said, “What are we listening for?” “Be quiet and listen,” Nettie said again. “The cat, the cat; the cat is down in the well.” The well was about 30 feet deep, and held four or five feet of water and was four feet wide. “What are we going to do,” I asked. Dave said, “Somebody has to go down there and get that cat out.” They both looked at me. Dave had a messed up shoulder, and Nettie was a woman. Guess who had to go down into the well?

Dave made a sling with a rope to lower me down into the well, and the plan was for me to put the cat in the well bucket and they would pull it up. The cat had another idea, about halfway up, she jumped out of the bucket. And was she mad. Nattie had another plan. Here comes the bucket back down with a tow sack in it. Put the cat in the bucket and bring the sack up under the bucket and tie it over the top of the bucket. Two minutes later the cat was out of the well, but there was a 14-year-old boy wet and cold at the bottom of the well. Nettie took the cat to the house to get it warm and dry. I’m still in the well and Dave is not able to pull me out. Here is the end of the story: Dave hadn’t put the mule up yet so he brought it to the well and tied the well rope to the single tree and said “gidd-ap mule,” and up I came, wet, cold, tired but a hero and Nettie was happy again. We never did figure out how the cat got in the well.