PRIMITIVE WEAPONS
copyright Sam Elmore


When someone mentions 'primitive weapons', most hunters think of muzzle-loadin' rifles, or mebbe bows an' arrows; that's only natural. But the primitive weapon I'm talkin' about don't fall under the regulations of the BATF, or even Wildlife & Fisheries. It ain't seasonal like bows 'n arrows and muzzle-loaders; it can be used year-round without any restrictions (that I know of). Another thing....it don't never need reloadin'.

A share-cropper farmer, in southwest Arkansas, had a family of twelve kids. Down to'ards the 'young end' of the seven boys and five girls, there was one boy who grew up with an aversion to Doctors (an' anybody else wearin' a white coat.) The boy's aversion to white-coated people stemmed from an injury he experienced back in the middle '30's.

Still too little to work in the fields, that boy and two of his brothers (one older, one younger) were playing one day in the empty mule lot. In response to a double-dawg-dare-ye', the boy climbed up and jumped off the roof of the barn. Soon as he'd jumped, he knew it wasn't a real smart idy; so he tried to change directions in mid-air. Reaching out, he attempted to grab onto the top pole of the corral fence.

The boy impaled his wrist on the dull point of a sixty-penny spike that'd been drove through the top pole then bent upwards. The spike played havoc with his hand, near-'bout rippin' the thumb clean off! The boy hit the ground and run to Miz Hattie. She re-arranged the mutilated parts of his hand as best she could, took off her apron and wropped the hand real tight with it; then she saturated the whole thing with coal-oil.

Meanwhile, she'd already sent the older boy to the Bulger Field, about a mile off, to tell Papa and the older brothers what'd happened. Barton, the oldest brother still living at home, hollered "Whoa" to his mules, threw down the plow-lines, and took off a-runnin' for home. When he got there, he cradled his injured little brother in his arms and started walkin', fast as he could travel, towards Magnolia....17 miles away. The family had no transportation, except for a wagon, and all the mules were harnessed to plows over in the Bulger field.

Barton made it about four miles before he heard a car comin', from the direction of Taylor. He stood spraddle-legged in the middle of the gravel road an' flagged the vehicle down. The driver, a traveling salesman, loaded them into the car, and took off for town as fast at that car would go. Hustlin' into Dr. Jordan's office, Barton laid his little brother down on a table. With one glance, the Doctor could see that the boy was in a severe state of shock, and he said:

"There ain't no time to put him to sleep, boys....y'all have to hold him down while I work on 'im."
Barton and the salesman pinned the boys arms against the table while the Doctor unwrapped the bloody, coal-oil-soaked, apron from the injured hand. When the salesman seen't how bad the boy's hand was tore up, he fainted....flat out on the floor! The Doctor paid him no heed, an' kept on with his ministrations.

As a result of Doctor Jordan's medical expertise, a timely ride from a kind (but faint-hearted) travelin' salesman, and the gallant efforts of his big brother, the boy never had a single problem with that injured hand. He had full use of it from the minute the Doctor took the steel clamps out. But, he come away with an abiding disenchantment with people that wear white coats.

Not long after that incident, when the boy was about nine years old, some sort of epidemic threatened Southwest Arkansas. The authorities geared up to innoculate everybody in Columbia County. Folks in our area were told to assemble at my uncle Henry's place on a particular day, so the County Nurse could administer the preventive inoculations.

On the appointed day, Papa and Mama lined up their brood, counted noses from oldest to youngest, and marched them the mile or so down the road to uncle Henry's place. There they joined fifty-odd other people shufflin' around in uncle Henry's front yard. The County Nurse laid out her utensils, bottles of serum, and alcohol swabs.

The Nurse was a beautiful young lady, and all the local 'Lotharios' commenced to jostle each other, wantin' to be first in line to get their shot. One of 'em, a big strappin' feller in his mid-twenties, was the boy's first cousin. To save time, the Nurse asked everybody to go ahead and roll up their sleeves. Instead, the cousin shucked out of his blue-denim shirt, tied the sleeves around his waist, and strutted around the yard flexin' his muscles, trying to impress the Nurse.

I think it would be fair to say that no one was all that keen to have a needle poked in 'em....but the boy's cousin acted like he was eager! The Nurse loaded up a hypodermic syringe with that yeller-colored serum. She held the needle straight up, squinted at it, and mashed the plunger....squirtin' some of that yeller stuff up in the air.

When the boy saw the size of that needle, he scooted back under the edge of the porch and shut both eyes real tight. His cousin, determined to impress the Nurse with his masculinity, flexed his shoulder muscles just at the moment she was injecting the serum. The needle broke off of the syringe, and remained imbedded in his arm. A rivulet of bright red blood went dribbling down towards his elbow.

At that point, the boy under the porch cracked open one eye, to see if things were as bad as he thought they were. The first thing he saw was that broke-off needle and all that blood, and the ashen face of his cousin (who appeared to be through trying to impress anyone). The boy scuttled backwards like a craw-dad. When he got under the middle of the house, he wrapped an arm and leg around a cypress house block, and shoved his other hand down in his overall pocket.

The line of people shuffled, unwillingly but steadily, past the Nurses table, as she deftly administered the inoculations. Hardly anyone, includin' the girls, gave any sign that the needle hurt all that much. As the number of un-shot people dwindled, Papa Abb tried to cajole the boy out from under the house to take his shot. The boy silently declined to participate.

One of the neighbors, a gre't-big farmer, sidled over to Papa Abb and said:

"I'll git 'im out from under there, Abb."

"Naw....better not mess with 'im. He'll come out direckly; he's jest skittish, 'at's all."

Without another word, the farmer dropped to his all-fours and crawled under the house. The boy complacently watched as the man approached....didn't say a word or make a move. The man reached out to grab him by the arm and....the kid took a swing at 'im.

The farmer thought the boy'd missed 'im....'til he seen all the blood runnin' down his shirt-front, and started feelin' the hurt. He scuttled backwards until he was clear of the porch, then he stood up. His face was split open from the side of his nose all the way across his cheek and up into the hair above his ear.

"Dang-nation, Abb! That boy of yore'n has gone an' hurt me! What-in-the-world did 'e hit me with?"

Papa knelt down and looked under the house at his still-complacent, block-huggin', son. Clutched in the boy's fist was the handle off a rusted-out wash-tub. A little flange of the tub was still attached to the handle; jagged, rusty, and....razor sharp! The kid had wielded that tub handle like a 1920's Chicago gangster would have used brass knucks.

The County Nurse spent a good bit of time and effort stopping the flow of blood on the farmer's face, whilst he wildly milled his arms and blistered the air with invectives. (To this day, no one in the family knows whether or not the boy ever got his shot that day....an' he ain't never said.)

A little while back, I received a phone call from my sister "Jack", who lives over in Texas. She told me that her husband had found an old rusty wash-tub out behind the pasture. Recalling the tale of the boy and the shots, he twisted a handle off the tub and brought it home. He said he wished he'd found it sooner, so he could have mailed it to the boy....before he went into the hospital for surgery.

I wish he had found it sooner, too. It prob'ly wouldn't have changed the outcome any, but I sure would've felt a lot more 'complacent' if I'd had that tub handle in my pocket when I checked in at that hospital....where ever'body (except me) was wearin' white coats.