The black horse and a time gone by

By Gerre Joiner | Published Wednesday, March 12, 2014

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This little story won’t mean much to you unless you: (1. know retired banker/rancher Jimmy Cunnius, (2. knew Chock Longmire or (3. grew up marveling at the fine art of horse trading in the 1950s.

Here’s the story:

Gerre Joiner

Gerre Joiner

Jimmy and Chock traded one stud horse for six horses and two jersey heifers. Turns out there wasn’t one good horse in the bunch, and one of them was especially bad. Chock made it his life’s work to talk up the merits of the especially-bad black horse.

After several days of Chock’s “chumming,” a fellow showed up and looked at all the horses in the Cunnius pen. Finally, after pacing around in the corral like a horse tied in an ant bed, the unsuspecting bidder bit: “How much do you want for the black?”

“Gotta have $235,” said Chock.

Immediately, the visitor said, “I wouldn’t have him for that kind of money.”

Chock countered, “Well, you’d give something, wouldn’t you?”

The guy says, “I’d give $35.”

Immediately, Chock said, “Two hundred’s not too much to take off. I think I’ll take the $35.”

Not long afterward, the snake-bit black horse buyer came to the bank and told Jimmy, “I sold that horse. Lost five dollars and the hauling.”

Jimmy recalls a certain telephone pole near present-day Sweetie Pie’s restaurant. In the mid ’40s that pole served as a hitching post for the horses of Frank Wood (James’ dad), Chig Reiger and Clemmie Howard while they whittled and spit chewing tobacco with their like-minded friends.

The guys would sit on the shady, east side of the Square all morning, go home for lunch, take a nap, then come back and tie up on the shady west side where they spit and whittled until quitting time.

Drew Bruton was in the bunch at the church when Jimmy told about the spitting and whittling. We talked about how slowly things moved in the ’40s compared to today.

Drew mentioned the era during which his mother (and my mother) were reared. Mrs. Bruton was born in 1903, the year Wilbur and Orville Wright made their first powered, new-fangled airplane flight. It lasted about 15 seconds.

Retired career Air Force pilot Drew flew our nation’s finest and fastest jet-powered airplanes for up to 14 hours before heading for the house. Some of that time, he was getting shot at.

I wouldn’t go back to the “good old days” for anything – but I think we need a little more whittling and lot less shooting. A little sitting/spitting time might not hurt anything.

What say ye-all?

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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