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05 October 2009

Addie Shot A Man


For those who do not understand the context of this story, it took place many many years ago in the late 1890s in rural Eastern Kentucky. I do not even know if the story is true. I relate it as it was related to me.

Anyone who would read this story (and it is just a story) as my approval of violence is clearly not very bright. In addition to being obviously ignorant about the art of storytelling, they are completely in the dark about the culture of Appalachia.

So to those who criticized this story as glorifying violence, you are ignorant.

The story is Copyright 2009 H M Bascom, All Rights Reserved. Permission is not granted to any person to copy or distribute this story in whole or in part without written permission. So stop violating my copyright.

This is the story that started it all:

Growing up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky was not an easy task. Children faced the same trials and tribulations that the adults faced, and we grew up fast. There weren't a lot of jobs outside the coal mines. Boys grew up and went to work in the mines. Girls were expected to get married, and if they were lucky they got to be school teachers or nurses. We girls were expected to work on the farm, to be tough, and we were taught to shoot a gun. The little girls of the hills are tough, and they grow up to be tough women. Maybe it's the hardness of life that toughens the soul as well as the skin.

There are great story tellers in the hills, and my mother was among the best of them. I never met my great grandmother, my mother's mother, she died before I was born. I never grew tired of hearing stories about my great grandmother. I remember one story in particular, and if I close my eyes, I can hear my mother telling it right now. . . .

Addie and her husband, Clancy lived on a small farm that was bounded on one side by the Big Sandy River. They grew corn and tobacco, and raised chickens and hogs. The Big Sandy watered their crops and served as the highway to transport the goods to market. Back in the day before interstate trucking companies, and before the State built Highway 23, everyone used the River to move goods by barge. Clancy was a sick man, and bedridden. He fell ill one day and took to his bed never rise again. He languished this way for years, while Addie worked the fields, cared for the animals, and cared for him and her children.

All manner of folks from all over the region traveled up and down the River on the barges. Addie was well known as a tough woman. She did not tolerate disrespect and she had no time for foolishness. Addie was all business all the time, and she always had a shotgun handy just in case anyone had it in their mind to be up to no good.

Addie was hoeing the corn on the river bank one day in early Summer as a barge, laden with tobacco slowly drifted by. There were several men on the barge, probably the fellows selling the tobacco and the barge owner. The men were rowdy, horse playing and laughing. Most likely they were drinking a bit. Back then, women always wore dresses. A decent woman never wore pants. As the barge drifted by, Addie was bent over chopping weeds from the roots of the corn. A playful summer breeze lifted the skirt of her dress exposing her bloomers to the men on the barge. Of course, they could not resist a bit of fun and flirting.

'Them sure is some pretty bloomers you got there!" one of the men called out to Addie.

Addie dropped the hoe and picked up her shotgun.

As she drew down on the barge riders, she demanded "Which one of you likes my bloomers?"

The men jostled each other about, pushing each other forward as the guilty party. They acted more like school boys than grown men. Addie kept her shotgun steady, patiently waiting. Finally one of the men spoke up.

"I like your bloomers, ma'am," one of the men admitted. "I would sure like to see them off of you though!"

The men all laughed and jostled each other around playfully. Addie did not laugh but drew down on the man who admitted he liked her bloomers. Suddenly the air erupted with a BOOM and the fellow who liked Addie's bloomers flew backward off the barge and into the murky waters of the Big Sandy River.

"She shot him!" shouted one of the men.

They fished their buddy out of the water and dragged him onto the barge. Addie traded her shotgun for the hoe and went back to work in the corn. The barge drifted on down the river while the men hollered and carried on about their friend's wound.

A few days later the sheriff came for a visit. "I heard you shot someone the other day," he said.

"Yes I did," she confessed.

The sheriff asked for the details which Addie provided.

"Now Addie," the sheriff said. "You can't just keep shooting folks because they act disrespectful."

"Won't have to," Addie said. "I expect they learned their lesson."

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