OPINION COLUMNS

A watch, a lady doctor and horse apples

By Gerre Joiner | Published Saturday, August 29, 2015
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Some days at the coffee shop are funnier than others. Today was average.

Bobby Wilson told the story about how he got the watch he wears today.

On his death bed, Bobby’s grandfather whispered, “Bobby, I’ve always wanted you to have my good watch.”

Bobby leaned over more closely to the dying loved one.

The grandpa then said, “I’ll sell it to you … cheap.”

We all laughed.

Then Bobby said, “I wrote him a check.” Then he added, “It’s got 17 jewels, and it’s bored for two more.”

THE LADY DOCTOR

I got a cell phone call from a Stephenville friend while we Decatur sippers were drinking today. Al Locke and I visited on the phone while the Decatur guys chatted. Al and I were almost through with our conversation when he remembered to tell me about his recent surgical procedure.

Two features of Al’s story are memorable. No. 1: the procedure involved a part of his body that is not generally seen in public and No. 2: his physician is a female. When Al and I were finally ready to sign off, I said, “Al, I’m going to tell your story to my friends here at the coffee shop. I don’t figure you’ll ever meet any one of them.

“Just in case I get the opportunity to introduce you to my friends, I want to be able to ask them, ‘Guys, remember the story about my Stephenville friend and the lady doctor?’ Then I’ll say, ‘This is the guy!'”

HORSE APPLES

We talked for a while about horse apples. Here are a few interesting facts regarding the fruit of the Osage-Orange Tree (better known as a bois d’arc).

  • A couple of the guys said that the ugly fruit could be used as a natural repellent for insects, especially fire ants. Didn’t take long for someone to mention his failed attempt to put the horse apple to this use.
  • In many parts of the country, the trees are planted in rows and used as a living hedge.
  • The wood is very hard, heavy and durable. It’s used for everything from fence posts to furniture. The term “bois d’arc” literally means “bow wood.” Looks like two French words to me. I wonder if the French constructed a lot of bows. I wonder what the Native American words for “bow wood” are.
  • We talked a little about how one plants a bois d’arc tree.

Here’s what the Dirt Doctor says:

“Very easy, can be grown from stem cuttings cut from branches or rather large limbs. Can also be grown from the fruit. The fruit can be crushed and the seed after drying can be stratified by soaking in water for 30 days and then planted in the spring.”

According to Robert Vines’ “Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of the Southwest,” a bushel of fruit will yield approximately 24,500 seeds weighing about 2 pounds, and if stored at 41 degrees, the seeds will retain viability for three years or more.

I did a little research. Some folks on the internet write that one should not confuse a “horse apple” and a “hedge apple.” In Kansas, for example, they believe a “horse apple” is what one finds smashed in the street after a parade. A “hedge apple” is another item altogether.

I mention definitions of “horse apple” and “hedge apple” for a very specific purpose. Just in case you believe the business about the fruit of a bois d’arc tree being a natural ant repellent, make sure you’re putting a hedge apple under your kitchen sink and not a horse apple. You can thank me later.

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

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