Turpentine and Corn-shelling

English: A display of six ears of field corn w...

English: A display of six ears of field corn with dented yellow kernels (Zea mays var. indentata) which won ribbons for “best of show” at the Steele County Fair in Owatonna, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pappaw loved to tell stories under the big maple tree in the back yard (which used to be the front yard until the new highway was built).  He would be chewing tobacco and whittling on a piece of red cedar all the while telling his tales.

One was about a man from Morrison City who had been shelling corn in the fall.  As corn ripens, it finally becomes hard, and in this form is used as a feed for animals or can be ground up for meal.  This man had been shelling corn for several days, and his hands were beginning to crack, and even bleed from handling the dry corn shucks, corn grains, and cobs.  So he went to Uncle Tom Galloway’s store near the state line, and was looking for something to help.  A crew of men who gathered around the p0t-bellied stove told him to try some turpentine.  He went and read the bottle, and saw the words “Soothing, healing, diverting.”  So he purchased this bottle and headed for the house.

After several days had passed he showed back up at the store, with the same gathering of men around the stove, and someone had the nerve to ask him how it had gone with the turpentine.  As Pappaw told the story, the man had a slight speech impediment, so he always gave his answer like this:

“W-w-w ell, you see, I took that bottle home and asked my wife to p-p-pour it on my hands.  After g-g-getting some on there, I  r-r-rubbed my hands together and called the words from the b-b-b-bottle:  ‘soothing . . . healing . . . diverting.’  Then I told her:  ‘P-p-p pour a little more, Maw.’  I’d rub my hands together.  ‘Soothing . . . healing . . . diverting.'”

Pappaw would lay his knife down and rub his hands together, demonstrating what the man was doing.

Matter of factly, he reported that by now the men gathered around the stove were grinning.

As Pappaw told it, this is the point where he would lean over to the side of his chair and spit his amber juice, and pick his knife back up and “commence” whittling.

“Then, directly, it started to burn like everything.”

Laughter erupted amongst the men.

“I took off around the house, just a-runnin’ and a-hollerin’.  My wife come out on the porch with some butter to help the burn.  She tried to stop me and put the butter on my hands to relieve the burning, but I hollered out as I circled the corner of the house: ‘O-o-one m-m-more r-r-round, Maw!'”

The men just hooted and hollered at this.  And the story spread to every corner of the community.

Pappaw would look up, stop his knife, and grin with a sparkle in his eye.  Letting out a little “Ha!” he would repeat himself.  “O-o-ne m-m-more r-r-round, Maw!”

I bet I heard this story a hundred times in the shade of that big old, silver maple tree.


About Brad Scott

An Appalachian CrossFitter who loves Jesus and is happily married to Tammie. I have a son and a fine little grandson. In the peak of middle age, trying to figure out the rest of this journey.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.