Charles Sims, Feather Painter

Wildlife and Indian art painted on turkey feathers

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Cock of the Walk

Posted by charlessims on January 28, 2015 at 4:55 PM

 

 

Cock of the Walk

In the spring of 1956, our family moved from my grandparents farm to the outskirts of Headland. We rented a house from Mr. Joe Parrish. This particular Saturday, mom was cleaning and dad was off with uncle Tex fishing. They left it up to Wayne, who was ten, to look after me and Benny. I guess for a while he did pretty well, but since he was all macho man, we had to head off to the Cock of the Walk fertilizer building. It was the largest building I had ever seen. One hundred feet high and wide and three hundred feet long. It was made out of asbestos sheets for the roof and sides. It had a walkway at the top that ran the length of the building, with a row of windows on each side. Most of the panes were broken. Not by us, we could throw rocks pretty well, but they were too far off for our young arms. The train tracks were on the other side, and the loading dock ran the length of the building, with piles of pallets and cardboard.

 

The big doors were locked, but as small children, we could slip between them and the building and go inside. There it was, on the inside, was our personal playground. The white powder bat guano was piled to the ceiling. Three different piles, each just a shade different. Wayne had been there before and knew to bring a piece of cardboard from the loading dock. Motioning for us to follow, he headed up the stairs to the cat walk. That was the best thing we had ever done. Our hearts were pounding from the excitement of breaking in and the height of the stairs. We could barely contain ourselves. The bat doo-doo was about five feet below the catwalk, and sloped to the bottom in a cone shape. Wayne jumped with the cardboard, hit with a smack and started sliding downhill fast as lightening. Benny and I jumped onto our cardboard sled and followed after him. The dust from the commotion we caused was billowing up all around and made it hard to breath. Wayne was going so fast that we couldn't catch up, and he couldn't stop. Just as he reached the bottom, he rolled off head first, only feet away from smashing into the wall. When we reached him, all we could see were his legs sticking out of the bat crap, and kicking like crazy, up and down. We grabbed a leg each and pulled him out. We were laughing at him and embarrassed as he was he bounced each of us on the side of our heads. Smaller and younger, though we were, we bounced back.

 

When we tired of blood and bat crap, Wayne showed us some dynamite that they used to break up the guano when it clumped together. Now at this moment, fifty eight years later, I know what happened to the windows. It also explains why we could slip inside the doors. Wonder if the building is still standing. Wayne was smart enough to take only the blasting caps and fuses. I think he knew that the dynamite was too dangerous. On the loading dock was a three foot length of 2" pipe, a cinder block and an unlimited supply of rocks from the train tracks. And every kid worth his salt, had a cigarette lighter. Well, with all these ingredients for a fun filled Saturday afternoon, what could possibly go wrong?

 

Instead of aiming the primitive mortar across the tracks to the empty field, Wayne pointed it at the red house, a quarter mile away. Wayne lit the fuse to the blasting cap, dropped it into the pipe, Benny dropped in a big rock and I got the hell out of the way. No need to worry, the rock came out the end of the pipe pretty as you please. You could see it flow through the sky and land on the tin roof of the red house with a loud bang. The folks in the house

 

scattered out of there like red wasps coming off the nest when you hit it with a corncob. They heard thunder and the sky fell on them. They were hauling ass somewhere, but where? They never figured out what happened. Are you going to tell them? I sure as heck ain't.

 

 

Photo: Cock of the Walk In the spring of 1956, our family moved from my grandparents farm to the outskirts of Headland. We rented a house from Mr. Joe Parrish. This particular Saturday, mom was cleaning and dad was off with uncle Tex fishing. They left it up to Wayne, who was ten, to look after me and Benny. I guess for a while he did pretty well, but since he was all macho man, we had to head off to the Cock of the Walk fertilizer building. It was the largest building I had ever seen. One hundred feet high and wide and three hundred feet long. It was made out of asbestos sheets for the roof and sides. It had a walkway at the top that ran the length of the building, with a row of windows on each side. Most of the panes were broken. Not by us, we could throw rocks pretty well, but they were too far off for our young arms. The train tracks were on the other side, and the loading dock ran the length of the building, with piles of pallets and cardboard. The big doors were locked, but as small children, we could slip between them and the building and go inside. There it was, on the inside, was our personal playground. The white powder bat guano was piled to the ceiling. Three different piles, each just a shade different. Wayne had been there before and knew to bring a piece of cardboard from the loading dock. Motioning for us to follow, he headed up the stairs to the cat walk. That was the best thing we had ever done. Our hearts were pounding from the excitement of breaking in and the height of the stairs. We could barely contain ourselves. The bat doo-doo was about five feet below the catwalk, and sloped to the bottom in a cone shape. Wayne jumped with the cardboard, hit with a smack and started sliding downhill fast as lightening. Benny and I jumped onto our cardboard sled and followed after him. The dust from the commotion we caused was billowing up all around and made it hard to breath. Wayne was going so fast that we couldn't catch up, and he couldn't stop. Just as he reached the bottom, he rolled off head first, only feet away from smashing into the wall. When we reached him, all we could see were his legs sticking out of the bat crap, and kicking like crazy, up and down. We grabbed a leg each and pulled him out. We were laughing at him and embarrassed as he was he bounced each of us on the side of our heads. Smaller and younger, though we were, we bounced back. When we tired of blood and bat crap, Wayne showed us some dynamite that they used to break up the guano when it clumped together. Now at this moment, fifty eight years later, I know what happened to the windows. It also explains why we could slip inside the doors. Wonder if the building is still standing. Wayne was smart enough to take only the blasting caps and fuses. I think he knew that the dynamite was too dangerous. On the loading dock was a three foot length of 2" pipe, a cinder block and an unlimited supply of rocks from the train tracks. And every kid worth his salt, had a cigarette lighter. Well, with all these ingredients for a fun filled Saturday afternoon, what could possibly go wrong? Instead of aiming the primitive mortar across the tracks to the empty field, Wayne pointed it at the red house, a quarter mile away. Wayne lit the fuse to the blasting cap, dropped it into the pipe, Benny dropped in a big rock and I got the hell out of the way. No need to worry, the rock came out the end of the pipe pretty as you please. You could see it flow through the sky and land on the tin roof of the red house with a loud bang. The folks in the house scattered out of there like red wasps coming off the nest when you hit it with a corncob. They heard thunder and the sky fell on them. They were hauling ass somewhere, but where? They never figured out what happened. Are you going to tell them? I sure as heck ain't.

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