Not a Tooth In His Head

      Some time at the end of a hot summer around1948 on the Nicholson place I was fast asleep in bed with my brother J.D.on the old farm near Ash Grove Mo. (I was about 8 or 9 he was about 13). When Ol’ Major (part hound and German Shepard and Teddy a red colored Chow that uncle Eldon gave us because he was too mean for the city life) started a ruckus in the front yard under an old pear tree. Everyone was trying to sleep but the dogs wouldn’t shut up no matter how much dad yelled at them. Finely I hear dad say J.D. get up and see what them damn dogs are up too. He came back in just his jeans and said they had a Raccoon treed in the old pear tree and he couldn’t handle ’em. Dad got up slipped on his pants cussin’ under his breath and the two of them went out to the tree. Dad looked up in the full moon light and saw the biggest coon he had ever seen, half way up the tree. He looked at JD and said well we’re going to have to let ’em have it out if we’re ever goin’ to get some sleep ’round here so get a stick, climb up there and knock him out and lets see what happens.
When that coon hit the ground the fight was on. Now this was many years ago and it may seem cruel to let two big dogs attack a single coon but that coon was as tough as a boot and mean as a bobcat and he was not going to go peacefully. He would jump on top of Ol’ Major and Teddy would pull him off then he would jump on top of Teddy and Ol’ Major would pull him down . Now Ol’ Major was not Old he was in his prime and he was a huntin’ dog and no coon was goin’ to come into his territory and get out with out a fight. Teddy didn’t know what this thing was, but he was not going to let him go either. And so it went on and on; Dad was whoopin’ and hollerin’ at the dogs sick him Major, come on Teddy get ‘im….ahhh look at you two, that coon gonna chew you up and spit ya out; sick ‘im (dad always liked a good tussle you could tell by his nose bent a little to one side). They fought their way back to the old chicken house about 30 yards away. The coon backed up to the old chicken house and stood up and when a dog came in at him he would slap him down and it would yelp and back off then the other would try his luck and get slapped and scratched with a right cross or a left hook. The dew on the ground was heavy and the temperature was dropping and Dad in his bare feet and stepping on a Missouri flint rock now and then an’ J.D. starting to shiver and gettin’ cold even though the heat of the battle kept him jumppin’ around like he was right in there with them. Dad noticed there wasn’t much blood on any of the combatants but the dogs couldn’t finish off this coon and so he found a stick and knocked the coon out with one blow and pulled the dogs off (who by this time had, had enough anyway and didn’t protest too much). He picked the coon up by the tail and put him in the empty old smoke house and said “we’ll sort this out in the morning”.
The next day dad carefully opened the old smoke house door fully expecting to see a very capable and very mad adversary but instead found the animals lifeless body…… He was bigger than he remembered from the night before. He knelt down on one knee to look him over feeling a little sorry he lost and discovered he didn’t have a tooth in his head that wasn’t worn down to a nubbin and so must have been very old. He put the coon in the trunk of his old Ford as he went to town to get some feed and showed him to the local farmers from the area; he told the story and they all agreed “that’s the biggest coon we ever saw” and Dad said yep and the toughest too. He told the story many times for many years after that, because his last battle was his bravest and his best and should be told over and over again…..

Mom Aunt Marie with Rick Wanda Larry and J.D.