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Old Nell

Posted by groundhogpeggy on Saturday, June 26, 2010

 ... had to be in her 90s.  Her house was along the L & N tracks, back behind some dark, mysterious bushes.  She sat in a wooden chair back in those bushes with a 12 gauge shot gun laying across her lap, waiting for somebody to make one wrong move...

... she sat there all day and all night, waiting for the L & N to fly by (there was no stop or depot anywhere near there), which, according to her, was never on schedule.  When she'd hear the rumble approaching, she walked up to the tracks.  In the daytime, she waved a white hankerchief at the engineers who pulled the coal cars and blew the whistle for her.  She stood there waving energetically while the thing clacked its way along, dodging any stray hunks of coal that often flew off the piled cars, and then waited for the caboose man to wave and ring the bell.  Then she slowly clutched her shot gun and walked back to the wooden chair in the dark bushes.

... at night, she'd wait for the rumble, often coming a long time before the train approached in the dark, slowly walk back to the tracks, and wave a flashlight to the engineers and caboosemen.  Satisfied when that was accomplished, she clutched her shot gun and walked back to her seclusive wooden chair.

When Aunt Ret and I walked down those tracks together to get to my great-great aunt's trailer on the other side of our farm, Old Nell would hear us coming and emerge from the dark bushes, clutching the shot gun with the hankerchief stuffed into the belt of her old ratty-looking dress.

I stood behind Aunt Ret while they talked, mostly of who she was about to shoot for trespassing onto her property and how off schedule the L & Ns were.  I thought Aunt Ret could absorb most of any buck shot without herself getting harmed and keep me from getting shot, should Old Nell finally totally lose it then and there...

After the discussions ended, we continued on our way down the tracks...

... and what does this have to do with fiddle????

Absolutely nothing... just thought about that today, for some reason.  I'll get that fiddle out in a minute, and then maybe if there's any connection, it'll come to me then.

7 comments on “Old Nell”

OTJunky Says:
Saturday, June 26, 2010 @7:53:06 AM

I'm just glad Old Nell's not in earshot with that 12 gauge when I'm practicing... ;-))


groundhogpeggy Says:
Saturday, June 26, 2010 @8:39:53 AM

you found the connection to fiddle... yes, now we all have these underlying fears of being shot while playing our fiddles!!!!! Great psychiatric work, there, OTJ!

OTJunky Says:
Sunday, June 27, 2010 @8:04:13 AM

By the way - this is a great story.

Thanks for writing it.


bj Says:
Sunday, June 27, 2010 @9:04:34 AM

Old Nell would have gotten along well with Mr. Buono. I think most tiny places had their one person whose day is spent on the porch making sure the world is still there. Nowadays they're not putting porches on new homes.

groundhogpeggy Says:
Sunday, June 27, 2010 @9:28:05 AM

If i ever lived in a place wihtout a porch, I think I'd die. When we lived back in a holler in McCreary Co. for four or five years, we'd come across a 12 x 56 trailer from a construction site that sold it to us for 100 dollars. We had to move it ourselves... tough job since it was a 1966 model, this was about in 1983 and the axels were off the trailer and they didn't make that kind anymore... so... well to make a long story short, my husband is pretty much an expert at rigging and making do... so we got the trailer up and down the steep and winding hills... somehow, and managed to level it up with a bunch of jacks and a couple of come-alongs that we always used for cutting big trees for firewood. That was in Jan.... by April, I really began to notice the lack of porch... hubby cut some scrub pines, we peeled off the bark, and he sawed them down the middle to make planks for a front porch... didn't need a roof because we were shaded in the woods... so i had my front porch. And that's the closest I've ever come to doing without one!!!

Ozarkian DL Says:
Sunday, June 27, 2010 @4:04:15 PM

A house without a like a fiddle without a bow. :-)

robinja Says:
Sunday, June 27, 2010 @7:48:44 PM

There's a song in that story, if someone wanted to try and write it. Probably a good fiddle break in there, too!

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