When “heirlooms” aren’t identified, and their stories never told, then they often become items that are tossed or sold – as they have no history, no ties to the family. So take the time to identify your family heirlooms history and memories so your treasures aren’t tossed in the trash. They are just as valuable as your family photographs and also need to be documented. Sometimes it’s not even the value of the item in question; it’s the story which holds the value.
Granddaddy McKinley’s Fox Horn
I think my grandfather loved fox hunting more than life itself – the Friday night fox hunting with his Walker hunting dogs was what he lived for!
I remember my mother telling me years ago that this fox horn was given to him by the men he hunted with – but why no one seems to know. It’s not a horn you just pucker up and blow, you really have to learn exactly how to purse your lips to make it blow and it’s a deep sound, carrying a far distance once you get it going.
Sometimes he took the horn with him on Friday nights, but many times he’d just call the dogs – they knew his voice.
After my grandfather gave up fox hunting, she took the horn home. And what did she use it for – to call me home at night; that’s when kids played outside! The neighborhood kids quickly learned that sound and when they heard it, they knew who was being called home – often they’d say, “Jeanne your mother is calling you.”
On the farm, Granddaddy kept it hanging on the gun rack – it had its prominent spot along with his prized hunting rifle. Mama doesn’t remember ever hearing that he actually shot any foxes – so what did he do on fox hunting nights? I remember that it was always on a Friday night when he headed out, and that was the night we usually arrived at the farm for the weekend. I would sit patiently by the window waiting to see granddaddy’s headlights on the old Ford pickup – I’d run through the house announcing he was coming.
On Saturday afternoons, it was the filling station in town were where all the men gathered to discuss, loudly sometimes, their Friday night fox hunts – and when they weren’t talking hunting, well politics could quickly fill in the gaps. If you dared to venture over, you always heard loud talking – as they each tried to out-talk the other, and then it escalated to who could talk the loudest, would be the one who was heard. Mama never liked to let me near the filling station where the men hung out, but it was always a fun place to sneak over and listen.
Mama’s memories: “I remember Daddy brought home a baby fox one time – I guess he found it or either the dogs killed its mother. We raised it and later it even played with his fox dogs and was very friendly.”
“We used to have wild boar on the farm back in the marsh back-forty behind the barns. Daddy used to get really mad when his hunting dogs got off the fox trail and onto the scent of the boar, as those boar were pretty dangerous and could kill your dogs if they were cornered.”
“When daddy went fox hunting on Friday nights he usually had to leave mama by herself, but he’d come back after a couple of hours and check on her, then go back to check on his dogs. He had a rifle that he fixed to repeat, and always told her – if someone broke in to grab it and just keep pulling the trigger, eventually you’ll hit something.”
Hope you enjoyed my Fox Tales….
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© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco