Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mom vs. “Flywheel” Price

(Run originally 4/23/04 on our old site)

Did “Flywheel” Price really exist, despite his unlikely (and unexplained) nickname? Yep, as per the following from ...

Ernie Simpson

There was an incident I recall faintly, regarding the place where we lived in the late ‘40’s, on old 67, that caused conflict for my parents, and brought out the color of my dad’s hair, from where he’d gotten his nickname, Red.

A man named Powell owned the property on which we lived (on what is now called Davis Drive). There was a house directly across the road, on the east side, also owned by this Mr. Powell. The conflict arose around a single source of water, and our jersey cow.

There was a well behind the house where we lived, and none across the road. The family who lived across the road was named .. well, let’s call them the Jukes family. Husband, wife Suky, grandfather, and granddaughter Wildy. Since they had no well, the agreement was they could come across the road, bring buckets or other containers, draw water, and carry it back across the road. The agreement was cordial, with no problems. The well bucket and rope belonged to the Jukes across the road.

We had one old jersey cow, which was a good milker. She provided enough milk for our little family, and my brother, Jim, who was just a baby.

Our old cow, though, was bad about getting a horn in the fence and then getting a head through it. We had repaired the fence two or three times, but she was persistent.

One day in late spring, she got through the fence again. My mom was at home, but did not realize the cow had gotten out. The cow had crossed the road, and was in the middle of the Jukes’ garden. A shot rang out, mom heard it, and she saw the cow run by our back window towards the barn, bawling, and with her udder bleeding. Mom chased her to the barn, inspected her, and found birdshot, with her milk sack bleeding profusely.

She waited till Dad came home, then they went for a vet. The vet said the cow’s udder had been shot with a shotgun.

The cow got well, but two quarters of the udder withered and did not produce milk as a result. Dad tried to talk to the Jukes about it, but they could not find a resolution, and there was only one other way to handle it, so dad decided to sue.

The defense attorney was a lawyer called ”Flywheel” Price. I never knew his real name. Until the trial, there had been no confrontation between my dad and the Jukes, other than dad asking them what happened and them denying any knowledge of anything at all taking place.

On the day of the trial, Flywheel Price convinced the jury that my mom could have heard a car backfire, and not a shotgun blast and, indeed, did not know for certain the Jukes shot the cow, since she was not a direct witness to the shooting. Everything, according to Flywheel, was circumstantial.

The elder Jukes was acquitted. Dad decided at that point that the last straw of the good neighbor policy had been broken. He took down the bucket and rope, carried it across the road and threw it on the porch of the Jukes, told them they would have to get their water elsewhere. Of course, they were indignant, and said that Mr. Powell told them they could get water anytime they wanted. Dad said not from here, you’re not.

Dad went to town and picked up a new well bucket and rope, and was about to get in the car. He was with his sister, Ruby, on the corner by Moye and Young Mercantile. The two Jukes were in town and approached Dad and Aunt Ruby. One of them said something about the water and how Dad couldn’t keep them from getting water, when he turned and said, ‘Here, Ruby, hold this bucket.”

The Jukes beat a hasty retreat, as soon as they realized he was about to kick some serious ass. I am confident, to this day, that their decision was the smartest part of their valor. I think they figured that, with the two of them, he would not make a challenge at all. However, that’s where the redheaded part came in. Dad, and his brothers and a couple of uncles, were known to have engaged in fisticuffs many times as young men, at the drop of a hat. I recall Uncle Robert: when a man broke Uncle Robert’s arm with a baseball bat, he grabbed the man with his good hand by the throat, and had his ear in his teeth. It took two guys to get Uncle Robert off the victim, even with his broken arm.

Shades of Mike Tyson.

So much for the violent Simpsons, The Jukes had to get water from another source; the cow healed, but never gave milk except from the two quarters ever again.

It was an unfortunate incident, one of which my father was not proud, but that was also an honest time, and folks knew where you stood.

We soon moved over to Route 5, and from there moved to, and spent many years on, North Main. That was the last place my dad and mom lived, North Main, by Rocky Branch, a long time ago.


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