Cigarettes, Buzzards, and Trolls
by Robert Shackles

July 29, 2001

One Sunday morning Bill and Kenneth came home really excited.  They had
half a bread wrapper full of cigarette butts. While they were out snipe
hunting they stumbled upon a whole pile of cigarette Butts behind a
dance hall. It didn't take us long to figure out these piles of
cigarette butts came about when the owners of the dance halls would
sweep up before closing time and dump the sweepings in back of the
buildings.  Bill and Kenneth took off in one direction and Charles and I
took off in another direction because we knew of at least three more
dance halls in town.  We scavenged these dance halls every weekend and
it wasn't long we had more tobacco than we could sell. We kept snipe
hunting on the town streets now and then but having a over supply of
tobacco we started smoking the longer cigarette butts ourselves.  Don't
let the cigarette companies tell you that cigarettes and nicotine is not
addictive. "Bless be Pat" we were all four hooked on cigarettes before
we knew what happened.  Soon we not only smoked the long snipes we found
but we also started getting cigarette papers and  rolling our own
cigarettes.  Mother Marie was not a big smoker but she always seemed
to have a supply of Camel cigarettes and she counted them every day and
they better all be there.  Only one day I can remember when there
were two cigarettes missing and she lined us up and asked for a
confession.  We knew the guilty guy was going to get a flogging but
nobody admitted they took them.  I know I didn't take them and
Charles convinced me he didn't take them. Well I found out a few years
ago from Bill that he and Kenneth took them. With Marie,  if no one
confessed we all had to pay the price. She would send us all out to cut
our own switch and we soon became engineers at doing this.  The switch
had to be just right.  If it was too thin and broke we would have to go
get another switch and mother Marie would start all over at the head of
the line.  Bill first and on down the line.  On the other hand if the
switch was two big and strong [well you get the message]...

I remember one day we were all with mother Marie out in the country
returning from Uncle Johnny's in the old chevy pick-up when we got
caught in a terrible storm.  Mother Marie drove the pickup into some
farmers barn until the storm passed.  She called it a blizzard.  Later
one day when we were all walking to see Mother Maries Aunt Jenny who
lived about 9 blocks from our house a storm came up and the black clouds
were rolling and a big clap of thunder hit. Charles with his bow-legs
started running and hollering there was a Buzzard coming.   I have never
forgotten this moment or this picture and I know the exact place on the
sidewalk where it happened.  He was scared to death but it was
really funny.  Especially the buzzard!

Our house was on 15th. street and 15th street like most of the streets
in our neighborhood was graveled.  The grader ditches had a small
wooden bridge connecting the street with the sidewalk and if one was
small enough he could curl up under these bridges where no one could see
him. Many a time Charles and I would get under these bridges and when
some unsuspecting person walked over them we would say in the loudest
and lowest tone of voice we could muster "Who's that walking over my
bridge"  Some people would stop and look down but most people
[especially the women and girls] would run off the bridge.  We would
laugh or heads off but on occasions we would get a good tongue lashing.
Can you blame them?