Wednesday, June 29, 2005


(Originally run 1/9/04 on our old site)

Ernie Simpson

I sometimes wonder, as I get older, how my dad viewed things in his last years. He was very philosophical in some ways, and had a ‘feet on the ground’ type of attitude that always seemed to be there. He had a common sense approach to just about everything, for which I had great respect. However, I remember stories he told me of his being a young man, and some of the funny stuff he pulled. So, when he was younger, he was ‘one of the boys’ who liked to horse around with friends. It sometimes got him into trouble.

In the early ‘30’s, entertainment was the type that was created or at least required creativity, and sometimes the greatest form of entertainment was the practical joke. This was especially true with the young men who lived around the Four Mile Hill community or Holly Springs, north of Searcy.

He told me once about the time he and a friend decided to play a practical joke on an ‘ol boy who had just begun to date. This guy thought well of himself evidently; dad said he was kind of a ‘dandy’ with a cocky attitude. He always dressed very stylishly, and always wore boots with a semicircle metal tap on the heels, that made a loud clicking noise on gravel or concrete. Very cool in those days.

One night the guy went to see a girl down the road, and dad and his friend decided to scare the suitor. They took a black slicker-type raincoat, and tied it to a rope with a wire brace through the arms, and laid the slicker flat in the road. They then ran the rope over the limb of a tree overhanging the road, and waited quietly in a ditch.

Few people had cars, and when all else failed, walking or horseback was the transportation for dating. So the victim had walked to the girl’s house that evening.

It was a dark night, you could barely see in front of you , dad said, and pretty soon they heard the guy coming down the gravel road, the taps making a lot of noise on the gravel, clip, clop, clip, clop. He approached close to where they were, when they slowly began to raise the black slicker up from the road with the rope.

As the slicker rose to its full length, the guy saw it, and stopped short in the road, and shakily uttered, “Whoaaaaa, by God!” There was total silence for a moment as he tried to make out the scary shape that rose up from the roadbed. Finally, he issued a challenge.

“I don’t know who you are, but by God, if you don’t speak up, I’m going to let you have it!” He picked up a large rock and drew back. “One, two…” and let go. The rock hit the slicker, made a loud rattling noise, and the guy wheeled around and took off at full speed the way he came. Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop!

Dad and his friend started laughing and kept on until the guy was out of earshot with the sound of the heels taps fading in the distance. He said they laughed till they hurt, finally able to get to their feet, stomachs hurting from laughing so hard. He told me they kept that story a secret for many years. No names were ever mentioned.

EDITOR’S NOTE: My dad grew up on the Ohio River. When I was young, I listened to him Remembering When with a high school chum of his. This included such little items as their gangs stealing a couple of rowboats, loading them up with as many big rocks as would not quite sink it, going out in the middle of the river, and then each boat load trying its best to pound a hole in the bottom of the other boat and sink it.

Dad summed it up by saying, “You know, if today we caught our kids doing some of the things we did at their age, we’d probably kill them for it, if whatever they were doing didn’t do it first.”

Seems that some things never change. –tlp-


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