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James A. Berry
The following is based on a series of emails from Jimmy Berry of Chillicothe, Missouri. Jimmy lived in Blue Mound from 1946 to 1949 after moving there from California.
It was 1944 and we were living in Long Beach, California. My Mom (Jewell Frances Evans) and Dad (Floyd Ocal Berry) were married on March 23, 1936 in Troy, Kansas. I was the first born (09/18/36). My Brothers, Gene and Richard, and my Sisters, Linda and Anna Mae, were also born in California.
World War II was going on and we lived close to the railroad tracks and I remember troop trains passing by. Dad got his draft notice so he took us all to Maysville, Missouri to live with Great Grandpa Tom Berry in his big two story house. Dad left us there to go into the Navy. We lived there for three years until Dad got hurt and returned home. I sure did love that old house. Carolyn, my Sister, was born in that old house on 09/17/45.
Meanwhile my Grandpa, James H. Berry, bought a farm about 3/4 of a mile south of Blue Mound on the east side of the road. Then, my Great Grandpa Tom Berry sold his little farm in Maysville and bought a 15 acre farm with the white house just about 1/4 mile north of the Mount Hope Church on the west side of the road. So we all lived together in that small house but it did have a basement.
David Raymond and Charles (only lived 5 hours - see below) were born while we lived in Blue Mound. My Brother George was born in Chillicothe and my Sister Jewell Opal was born in Bonnets Mill and my Sister Peggy was born in Jefferson City.
Now, for some recollections while living in Blue Mound.
Our Old Blue Tick Coon Hound
We had an old blue tick coon hound that was gun shy (because some neighbors had shot at him for stealing chicken eggs out of their nests). My Dad knew he was gun shy so he took me with him and left the gun at home. When the dog treed a coon, dad lifted me into the tree, gave me a long stick and told me to climb up and knock the coon out. I was more afraid of dad than the coon so I climbed the tree and poked at that coon until he got so far out on the limb that he just fell out. When he hit the ground that old hound was on him right away. He just loved killing coons. We got three coons that one night. Dad put the first two in a gunny sack, but skinned the third one and let the hound eat his fill. Dad always starved that hound before a hunting trip. He thought that would make him hunt better!
An Evening with Mickey Saunders
The Saunders owned the farm just south of Mount Hope Church. They had three kids, Dean, Billy and Charlene. At that time, there was me, Gene, and Linda. Mahlon (known to us as Mickey) Saunders and Dad were pretty good drinking buddies so we neighbored with them a lot.
This particular afternoon and evening Dad and Mickey had been doing a right smart of drinking and had plenty of time to come up with some meanness to get into. As I recall, there were three separate events - the car chasing dog, the ice cream freezer and the bee tree.
First the car chasing dog. On this afternoon they had been drinking and Mickey was cussing his dog for chasing cars. Dad said he knew an easy way to break him, and Mickey immediately bet him a dollar that he couldn,t. Well, Mickey had an old Whippet car that had wooden, spoke wheels. So, my Dad tied a gunny sack to one of the spokes in a front wheel and told Mickey to drive halfway to the neighbors’ house and come back driving about 30 miles per hour. My Dad held the dog until Mickey got almost there. When he released the dog, he ran out to chase car, got his teeth caught in the gunny sack and broke his neck! My Dad did collect his dollar bet and then Mickey told me to bury the dog in the morning before I got the cows in.
After the dog incident, Dad and Mickey got the idea that they would like to have some ice cream. So, they got the old ice cream churn ready and me and my Brother Gene started cranking away. About that time Mom came out to say supper was ready. As always Mickey said he had an idea (his middle name was ideas!). Well he jacked up the left rear wheel of the old Whippet car and wired the ice cream churn to it. He got in the car started it up and slowly let out the clutch. Dad was watching the wheel which was turning the churn very slowly. Mickey said we might as well all go in and eat together while the ice cream was hardening. Mickey looked out the window a few times while we were eating supper and said it was doing fine. I guess with all the good food we had and with Dad and Mickey doing some more drinking, we stayed in the house too long. When we finally came out the only thing still on the car wheel was the crank of the ice cream churn. The rest of the churn was all broken to pieces. The ice cream in the can was frozen solid. I guess as soon as the ice cream froze, the old Whippet started turning churn and all. It ruined the fender of the old Whippet and beat the churn to pieces. The ice cream turned out great!
Dad took mom and the other kids home, but he and I came back because Mickey said he knew where this bee tree was and that we were going to cut it down and get the honey out. So, we loaded up the crosscut saw, an axe and a long log chain into the wagon. This took forever because Dad and Mickey were completely zonked by now. Mickey got his old ironed wheeled popping Johnny tractor going, hooked to the wagon with the supplies and away we went to the bee tree. We worked really hard cutting the tree down and splitting it up, but we got almost two wash tubs of honey combs. It really wasn't that cold and the bees were all over us. Dad and Mickey were stoned and didn't feel them that much, but I was not and the bee stings were really hurting me! They had one more drink and we left the tree. When we got out of the woods there was a breeze and we soon left the bees behind. When we got back to the house, I put Mickey's half of the honey in his smoke house. Dad took his part and went home.
When Mickey and I went in to go to bed, he reminded me to bury the dog before breakfast! I was having a hard time going to sleep with all the bee stings. About 20 minutes later I heard Mickey bellowing at the top of his voice. He came out of his bedroom shucking his long johns and screaming, "Get these bees off me!" I didn't know whether to laugh or run away.
All in all, it had been an interesting afternoon and evening at the Saunders's!
Desecration of the American Flag
One other incident I remember is the time that the teacher at Blue Mound School had let some of the kids use an old worn-out American flag as a rope to pull the merry-go-round. Roland Berry, my Dad's Brother was visiting from California. He had just gotten out of the Navy. Both Dad and Roland went down and gave that teacher a lesson in proper flag etiquette. They had her bawling her eyes out before it was over.
Working in the Neighborhood
I worked for several farmers in the Blue Mound neighborhood. I worked for Mickey Saunders after school until dark for 25 cents and on the weekends from dawn until dark for 50 cents. That seemed to be the going rate at that time (the mid-1940s). I also worked for old man Shatto, the Zulligs and the Hoyts; all for the same big money. The following story is about working for Mr. Shatto.
It was hay season. When the hay was cut and cured, we raked it up into windrows with a side rake. My job was driving the horses on the bull rake. The bull rake was a wide rake with horses on each side and in the middle there were long wooden runners to pick up the hay. About the middle of the day it was unbearably hot and I was going down a windrow with the bull rake and as luck would have it the windrow of hay was covering a groundhog hole. One of the runners went down into the groundhog hole and broke off. Well, old man Shatto just threw a hissy fit and said it would cost him five dollars to get it fixed. So I would have to work for 10 days for nothing to make it even. So that's what I did. I worked the five dollars off in 10 days. When the hay season was over, and in between times, I had been working for other farmers off and on and I went back to old man Shatto's place and he told me he was having trouble with groundhogs in his corn. He even showed me what they were doing. They would climb up the stalk, break it down and either carry off the ear of corn or eat it right there.
So I got a brilliant idea and asked him if he would pay me to get rid of the groundhogs. He told me he would give me fifty cents a tail. So I went home and I got Gene and the old dog and a shovel and headed back to his place. We dug up two groundhogs that day. I cut the tails off and went and collected my dollar. The next day I was talking to my Uncle Lee and he told us to get a long piece of barbed wire and stick it in the groundhogs hole and twist it up and get the groundhog’s fur caught in it and then just drag them out (that way you don't have to dig 'em out). So me and Gene went back over to Shatto's place and tromped down a whole bunch of his corn taking the ears and sticking them in every groundhog hole we could find. After that the groundhog tail business got very much better because Lee was driving around and finding dead groundhogs on the highway and cutting their tails off and bringing them to me and Gene. So between that and dragging groundhogs out of their holes on every farm around Blue Mound I believe I must have turned in at least forty groundhog tails and old man Shatto just had another hissy fit. He said he knew he had a lot of groundhogs but he never dreamed he had that many. But he paid me for all of them and I figure I came out even on the tooth on the old bull rake!!
Married in Mount Hope Church
My Sister, Carolyn, and her Husband, Donald Dale Keller, were married in the Blue Mound Mount Hope Church on November 2, 1960.
The Goat Killing
We were living in the white house in Blue Mound with Great Grandpa Tom Berry. He always had goats (do you remember the baby goat we gave you and your Brother?).
Mom always hated the goats. They would jump the fence and eat the clothes off of the line when she washed! Finally, one day, Grandpa Tom decided to butcher one of them. Grandpa was about 80 years old then and my Dad was afraid he might hurt himself, so he went to get your Dad (our Uncle Hadley) to help. My Dad had been drinking his home made corn whiskey all day and was about four sheets to the wind. He told me to go get the single bitted ax. I had put the goat that Grandpa wanted butchered in the barn. I went back to the barn and Hadley had the goat by the horns holding his head so my Dad could hit the goat in the head with the blunt end of the ax to kill it. But everything went wrong; my Dad missed with the ax and knocked off one the goat's horns. And, of course the goat was bleating and struggling to get loose and Hadley was holding on for dear life. I was laughing so hard my ribs hurt.
Dad opened the barn door and told Hadley to let go. The goat streaked out of the barn like greased lightning and I was rolling around in the hay by this time. I lost it I was laughing so hard. Then, Dad told me to shut up and go get the shotgun and be careful it's loaded. I got the gun and Dad went down in the pasture and shot the goat with both barrels of his old 12 gauge. That ended the goat slaughter.
Gene and I had to go and get that goat. He looked to me like Dad tenderized him all in one whack!
Going to School in Blue Mound
I remember several of us going to school at the one-room school in Blue Mound. Gene, Linda and I started there in 1946. I was in the 5th grade and Linda and Gene were in the 2nd grade. Richard started 1st grade in 1948. I remember you and your Brother John going there as well as my Cousins Elton Lee Berry and Dale Edward Berry and have a photo (see below) of us and some of the Saunders kids taken inside the school house sometime in 1948 or 1949.
From left to right: On the back row is James Alva Berry holding Butch (Raymond David) Berry, Joe G. Dillard, John David Dillard.
The next row left to right: Henry Lee Berry held by Marjorie Berry, a Saunders sibling held by Dean Saunders, Gene Earl Berry, Elton Lee Berry.
The third row (the four in the foreground) left to right: Dale Edward Berry, Billy Saunders, Richard Marion Berry, Carolyn Louise Berry.
If you would like to submit your recollections, please contact Joe G. Dillard at: 3535 West Arbor Way, Columbia, MO 65203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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