Ol’ Tom’s Cabin
The old cabin has remained unchanged since the passing of her owner over fifty years ago! Memories flooded my mind, of the cabin’s inhabitant, on our first meeting many years ago – still one episode in the progression of my youth that will forever be etched as an altering event in my then and now march through life! Ol’ Tom will forever be one individual whose actions were real and impactful both in their memory and the formation of my attitude toward life!
Our small patch of hill farm bordered Tom’s property, a wild and inaccessible stretch of timber and growth more suitable to the wild things than human encroachment. Also bordering his property was a wealthy landowner, his son and spouse who were all spoiled beyond imagination and their actions toward the locals reflected their attitudes.
One opening day of deer season many years ago, I shot a giant deer succumbing to the shot but making the land near the joint border of the three landowners. After trailing, I found to my dismay the snobbish landowners’ son, over my deer claiming it as his own, although no shot had been heard from that direction! The boy’s dad arrived and told me to get lost while threatening me with his firearm! My anger was so intense over this predicament – I am not sure how this episode may have ended having my slug gun in hand!
Suddenly, a booming voice intervened from behind my position, “the deer belongs to him the man said with conviction!” This was my first encounter with Ol’ Tom and his legend was confirmed instantaneously! His size was immense, his one arm, the size of a white oak, held his walking stick, his odor was even dominant! I was reminded of the large Bucks in pursuit of the hot doe when the alpha Buck arrives on the scene when his smell, posture, physical size, and attitude including his headgear define dominance!
The boys’ father feigned aggression while holding his gun! Ol’ Tom approached knowing his sheer dominance over the father’s bluff, grabbing his gun literally from his hands smashing it into pieces against a small sapling nearby!
These words from Ol’ Tom will be forever engrained in my mind, “the buck belongs to the boy, and you will let him take it – if any trouble is made of this, the catfish will suck your remains from the river bottom like relish from the bottom of a jar!”
You see! Ol’ Tom was not a go along get along, submissive liberal thinking individual – He through his life events was of strong conviction and as I found very humble man but quite capable of forceful action if needed! Tom helped me drag my buck back to my home with few words, but one statement remains indelibly remembered, “if you want to shoot big bucks, never shoot a small one!”
Later determined, Ol’ Tom was dying of Cancer, his arm lost years ago from saving a life in a saw-mill accident while grabbing a young boy who had slipped on the log pile only inches from the spinning saw blades until Tom grabbed him and tossed him away as if a spent handkerchief saving his life but ending Ol’ Toms work as a Bridge Worker on the then L&N Railroad down in Tennessee. He was a mountain of a man but well-read although leading a solitary existence in these hills of western Illinois.
Upon his passing, quite unbeknownst to me, a letter arrived from Lawyer Weinzapfel’s office indicating I was to assist in Ol’ Toms burial on his property and that I was the sole heir to his property and belongings! This task has been taken with serious endeavor since, upon maturity my power in both body, mind and attitude is modeled after my experiences and although the jack-assed neighbors still exist and despite attempts to intimidate me – I recall Ol’ Tom’s actions from the past!
I have personally invited my neighbors, their kin, buddies or both – they are welcome to visit me anytime! So far, they have not complied as they undoubtedly know the consequence! The cabin remains as a physical reminder of years past and the lessons learned.