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Coming Soon: Tall Tales from Chipmunk Falls

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Don't say you haven't been warned

Can you believe it? I’m writing a tell-all book about our little community of Chipmunk Falls and its people and, yes, you’re in it! To protect the innocent I changed the name of no one, for after living here for over thirty years I have yet to meet someone that falls into that category. The same goes for the guilty and not guilty. 

This is a community that owes its very existence to the land; hunting, fishing, trapping, logging, mining, and stealing. Some may even do actual work, like Junie at the post office. It doesn’t matter if some of these people live dull lives, when I get done telling about it they won’t recognize themselves anyway—but you might!

Take, for instance, the little old lady who lives down the street. When she goes out to fill her bird feeders she talks across the fence to her neighbor’s scarecrow, an old stuffed dress with a bonnet on it. If it’s a nice day she may talk for over an hour. However, her bird feeder is always full without a bird in sight. Perhaps it’s the kind of bird seed she puts out or maybe it’s the eight hundred cats that live with her. The neighbors keep their windows closed even on the hottest summer days because of the smell.

On bright nights when the moon is full, you can sometimes get a glimpse of Chain Saw, the one-legged, Deputy Sheriff, and a couple of his cohorts from down at the local watering hole catching cats with their dip nets back in the alley and castrating as many toms as they can.

“Just trying to keep things within reason,” Chain will say.

“You’d think some one would complain,” I said to Chain one day down at the Mercantile, “because every time there’s a breeze or if it rains you can smell that cat urine all over town.”

“You’re new here, aren’t you?” Chain asked.

“Thirty-five years this spring,” I said, “but I live on the other side of town and never ask about her.”

“Well, back during the big war she started a home for lonely sailors over in Sawdust. Got some lovely young women, too, you know, to hold their hand, maybe dance with them. After all, there was a major Navy base here on Lake Pend Oreille and them sailors was a long way from home. She made enough money to build a nice home over here where most of the men liked her well enough, but the women here felt they were too good to be seen speaking to her. She bought a lot of property here in town, built several buildings, and helped pay for a new schoolhouse, even though she didn’t have any children of her own. She owns the phone company, water company and the electric company. She got mad one time at a city council meeting and dared anyone to try and vote her out. “I’ll cut you off too short to hang up,” she said. It’s run smooth ever since. Of course, when she dies everything will go to the town. Like I said, she never had any kids.”

There are many short stories in my tell-all book; most are humorous, but some have a cutting edge. Like the

Johnston family who lives a short distance out of town on a small farm; they raise kids and hogs. They’ve been married eight years and have either nine or ten kids. Shoat Johnston couldn’t think of a name to call his last kid so he just called him Oink. Bellow is a sample of the Johnston family stories.

As I walked into the Mercantile one morning I noticed Mr. Dribble, the school principle, sitting on a bench next to the west wall. Mr. Dribble was easily recognized as he always wore the same faded brown pants pulled up over his pot belly and a faded plaid shirt with a bow tie. In the winter he also wore a wool sweater with leather patches. I looked down at my watch and noticed it was ten thirty and thought to myself, he should be at school. Also sitting with him was Mrs. Sally Saw, Chain Saw’s wife and the fourth grade teacher. Between them sat a small girl, maybe eight years old. She had been crying and sat there with her hands folded in her lap. Chain Saw, our deputy was kneeling down in front of her, consoling her in a low voice. I crossed over to the post office window and noticed June’s eyes were red from wiping tears on her apron.

“What’s happened?” I asked in a low voice. “Who’s the little girl?”

“She’s one of the Johnston Kids. There’s a bunch of them you know. She’s the oldest. After she came to school this morning, she started crying. Her teacher, Mrs. Saw, took her down to see Mr. Dribble, who finally got her to tell him what was wrong. It seems they were short one kid at supper last night, their two-year-old boy. Can you believe it? The hogs had eaten her little brother!”

Not all the stories in our town are funny. But for over fifty years this story was told as a joke in the South. (I haven’t had so much fun since the hogs ate my little brother), but it originated in truth. Really.

So hold on to your hats, but let loose of your pocketbook, ‘cause I’m gettin’ ready to put Chipmunk Falls on the map!

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Author info

Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

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Chipmunk Falls, books, From the Mouth of the River

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