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Fightin' Wasps
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Fightin' Wasps


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Aint Berthie, (sorry 'bout the spellin', but that's the way we talked and still do!), had a Mulberry tree out back of the little house.  And, the wasps were everywhere in that tree.  Now a wasp, or a group of em, can build a nest in just a little while, and they liked that tree as much as Garry Don and I did.

Gary Don, my cousin, on my Dad's side, was the grandson of Aint Berthie Dooley.  We'd crawl around on that tree and eat what we could reach.  The rest would disappear . . .

And we loved climbing to the top of that small tree.  We'd keep climbing until it started bending over then we'd and "ride it to the ground."  And it was so funny to see it snap back up, and sling what little of the fruit that was left on it all over the place.  Sometimes a branch sprouting up would nearly tear our privates off then we'd laugh at the one writhing on the ground in agony.

Garry Don and I went without our shirts most of the time.  Barefooted, and barebacked, and we could go nearly everywhere you could think of just like that.  Well, one fine Sunday afternoon, Garry Don and I was out back of Aint Berthies house at this Mulberry tree.  All the adults were a sittin' on the front porch talkin' 'bout fishin and grownup things.

We had already stripped to the waist getting out of our Sunday-go-to-meetin-threads before cutting out around the back of the house.  We started to climb the Mulberry tree, and immediately saw this huge wasp nest out on one of the main branches.

It didn't take us long to get out of that tree!  We were already well experienced with varmints that back up hard!  Bumble bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, sweat bees, honey bees - we wouldn't tangle with em unless we had a good paddle and lots of clothing!

Now this was not a big tree, the main trunk being only about five inches in diameter, and probably only about 12 or 15' tall.  The bottom branches had all been stripped off by two young terrors (yours truly), so the nest was hanging out there on a branch about two inches in diameter and six feet off the ground, and very vulnerable.

There was only one thing to do.  Knock it down.

So, we grabbed handfuls of rocks to throw at it.  After exhausting several handfuls, we were growing weary with the game, and started picking up the rocks which fell directly below the tree.

Well, with one of my throws I had a lucky shot and Garry Don was directly under the nest which fell down right on his bare back.  He was bent over at the time, and it landed there and stayed there, with wild, angry wasps crawling off it, and all over his back.  They were finding ample skin in which to plunge their stingers, did so with rampant abandon multiple times each.

Needless to say, Garry got stung.  Lots of times.  Instantly!  Me?  I never did get stung.  Heck, I wasn't stupid.  I took off round the side of the little shack Aint Berthie lived in, and Garry right behind me screaming his lungs out.

And I was yelling too.  Not from being stung, but trying to tell everyone out front 'bout Garry.  Garry was still a little ways around the side, and the adults all came running and met him just 'bout the side of the house.

Now, Ant Berthie dipped and chawed, and she started spitting that nasty stuff all over Garry's back.  JG, Garry's Dad, grabbed the snuff can, and was doing everything he could to get the snuff wet enough to spit on Garry as well.

And Garry was still screaming and jumping up and down.  Lola, Garry's Mom, was passing the snuff can around, and one of the Uncles chewed Bull O' The Woods tobacco, and he was a spitting the yellow juice while Aint Berthie was a spitting brown juice.  All were trying to wave off the angry wasps that flew around everywhere, and trying to get him to the safety of the front yard.

One of the aunts what wasn't practiced on dippin' and spittin' got tickled, and and accidently swallowed some 'backy juice.  She was instantly green around the gills, and had abandoned the fight in the attempt to rid herself in private of the deadly juice that had ran down her gullet.  Almost immediately she commenced gagging and was attempting to hurl the breakfast of the last three days, and we could hear her from the edge of the road as the deep throws of violent retching came from what sounded like all the way from her socks.  Yep, she was pretty good at blowing chowder!

Another one of the men smoked Bull Durham, and his jaw was pooched out with a big wad of it.  The bitterness showed on his face as he grimaced with each chomp.  He had an admirable aim as he swooshed the sickly green stream expertly to Garry's back while missing the hands that was constantly smearing it all over his body.

In the meantime mom was turning green just looking at what was coming out of the mouth of all them old hillbillies.  She rushed away from the scene and was sitting in the car to stop the process of blowing chowder.

It was astonishing how quickly this all happened.  It was if a giant vat of tobacco juice fom heaven had been dumped on him, from head to toe.  Although we had knee shorts on, Garry was by this time down to his birthday suit, right in front of everbody.  And, not an inch of his body was left uncovered.

He had the sickly stuff everywhere, even his hair.  He had stings all over his back, his neck, the back of his legs, and the back of his head, but none on the front of his body, or any where his shorts had covered him.  To say he was lumpy would be an understatement.  I don't know how many times he had gotten stung, but he was already swelled and bumpy pretty much all over.

But, the next day at school, it didn't look like he had even been stung.  Yep, that 'backy juice really does the job!

Of course we were admonished to be careful from now on, but that was one tongue lashing we didn't need.  I mean, who would deliberately go and knock down a nest of wasps just to get stung?  Especially, on the back of their best buddy?  But worse than that, who would want their best buddy looking like a giant pat of 'backy juice?

George Cavaness
10-09-1994



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