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A power nap is always helpful when you have a lot of important work coming up.

 

 

 

 Stories for people of all ages , including those with plenty of age.​

HOW MUCH WOOD WOULD

A WOODCHUCK CHUCK

IF A WOODCHUCK COULD CHUCK WOOD?

This is utter nonsense. The animal is a ground hog. The largest of the squirrel family. How they got to be misnamed is the fault of a New England teenager, just before the revolution.

His family had a fine orchard in Pennsylvania and that autumn they had put up an amount of cider for the holidays. Early the next spring Ezekiel, the oldest son, had been rejected by a young lady. He took a jug of cider from the root cellar and headed for the woods to be alone and pine. He had consumed about half of the jug and was looking around for a spot to empty his bladder when he spotted a fellow about half his height.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “This is my father’s farm and you are on his land”

“Hardly!” said the fellow. “My family has lived here for six hundred years.”

Now Zeke’s vision was a little blurred and he wasn’t sure if this was a short Indian (They would have been related to the Delaware.) If that was the case, he knew he was in big trouble because the fellow was correct.

“I’m sorry” Zeke said, “We didn’t know this land belongs to your people.”

“We aren’t people” said the fellow “my name is Charles Marmota (AKA Groundhog).”

“I’m sorry Chuck,” Zeke muttered through the mental fog, “could you explain that, I don’t understand?”

“I am what you folks call a groundhog.” he replied arrogantly, “and the name is Charles!”

“You are trying to tell me you are an animal?! said the drunk adolescent as he ducked behind a tree, “Animals don’t talk”

“Mind if I have some of this hard cider?” Charles asked politely.

“Don’t take the jug,” Zeke pleaded, “It’s all I have since Martha met that other fellow.”

“Oh yes. That happened to me once.” Charles declared. “I was so upset that I crawled into a hole and stayed there all winter.”

Zeke came out from behind the tree. “I thought you did that every winter.”

“Apparently,” said Charles, “and now I understand why.”

By this time Charles had taken a good drink of cider and was feeling a little more friendly. “So, where are you from lad?” he asked.

“Oh, here and there.” Zeke replied as he stumbled back to the stump he had been sitting on.

“I mean, what country do you come from? You don’t look like the people who have been here very long.” Charles inquired.

“England,” the youth replied with firm disinterest.

“A fine country that. Perhaps you know the hedgehog family then?”

“No, never made their acquaintance,” Zeke replied as he tried to stay awake. “What time is it getting to?”

“I’d say late afternoon.” his new friend replied.

“I have to get my chores done.” Zeke got to his feet suddenly.

“Chores?” Charles replied, “You mean work? That could be a problem in your condition”

“I need some help.” Zeke pleaded.

“Well, that’s what friends are for.” the groundhog said cheerfully.

“I have to move this wood I cut yesterday from here to there and stack it before my family

gets home from town!” the youth declared.

“Alright, let’s get started!” said Charles, “You go over there and I will toss the pieces to you so you can stack them.”

When they began to work, Charles thought it was great fun. He threw the wood in the general direction of Zeke. To his credit, he never hit the boy with any wood. He didn’t even come close. Groundhogs don’t do a lot of throwing, or at least Charles didn’t. After a while it got pretty tiring. Zeke was stumbling all over picking up the wood.

“Don’t you know how to chuck wood, Chuck?” Zeke said, trying to sound angry, but he couldn’t help laughing at his own joke.

Charles did not think it was funny to be called ‘Chuck’. “Give regards to your mother and father from Charles Marmota” he stated as a goodbye. He turned around and walked out of sight.

Zeke went home and went to bed. The rest is history.


 

image.jpg

This is my great grandfather Alonso Hayes. It was probably taken about 1920 when he was living at the soldier's home in Orting Washington.

My great grandmother Alice Teagarden Hayes. She appears to be young in this picture.

Stories for people of all ages especially those with a lot of age

December 22, 2021

This story is part of a collection of stories related to my family. However, except of the circumstances leading up to the creation of the story, any resemblance to the truth is purely a coincidence.


Bartholomew Hayes

This story is made of whole cloth, at least that is what I have come to believe. When I was a child, I frequently asked about my distant relatives. When I was about eleven years old, I asked my dad who his grandfather was and what he did.

He told me at that point that his grandfather’s name was Bartholomew Hayes and that he was a “rum runner” on the Great Lakes. My aunt, his sister, said she didn’t know of any Bartholomew and of course neither of them had ever been to Wisconsin. Their grandfather was Lonso and he was very old when he came to live with them. Research has revealed that Alonso Hayes died in the Veteran’s home, in Orting, Washington when he was quite aged in nineteen twenty-six. (he was a corporal in the Union Army) He was married, for many years to Alice Teagarden and they had several children.

Well, a few things are true. He did have a grandfather who did live in Wisconsin. I do have doubts about the rest of it. My father didn’t give many details, as I remember. I have created the story around what he did share.

He might have been a colorful character or not. He certainly was in my pre-adolescent mind. I now have it figured out so it makes a little more sense.

 

When Alonso returned from the Civil War, he was a changed man. He married and set about having a lot of children. He and his brother started a saw mill and founded a town called Haystown.

 

But Alonso had a secret life. One day he was walking in the woods because he needed to get away from all those children. He became tired and lay down in a meadow to nap. While he was sleeping, a young wolf walked up to him and nipped him on the nose. (It was not a werewolf!).

He woke suddenly and said, “What got into you man? That’s me nose!”

“Sorry,” said the wolf, “I just needed to see how you tasted”

“Well?” Alonso inquired

“Sour and tough as bark!” The wolf declared, as he sauntered off.

“Oh well” Alonso said later, “It was no skin off my nose.”

 

Indeed, the wound only bothered him when he smoked a pipe. However, about this time his wife, Alice (Teagarden) became very involved in the temperance movement. Before long, the town was dry. No one in town was allowed to drink spirits.

Now my family has a liking for spirits, especially the menfolk. Alonso was very compliant, however. Things went along pretty well until some of the workers in the mill started to get restless. They wanted whiskey. Alonso and his brother were able to calm them down by raising their wages. But the brothers were starting to lose money.

 

One night, when the moon was full and the children were fighting, Alonso stepped out to get some fresh air. He walked down to the shore. It was misty on Lake Superior that evening. Now, honestly, he had not had a drink in over a year. He sat smoking his pipe and enjoying the quiet. The smoke drifted down from his wide brimmed hat and in the mist and pipe smoke, he saw a ship. It was not like any other ship that he had seen in those waters.

No sail flew. Its bow was wide and made of steel. No steam poured from the chimney. Its red hulk loomed over him and then it was gone. It became a speck in the distance, shrouded in mist. Almost immediately a familiar sounding voice called to him, “Mate, come and hear us, now.”

 

With no second thought, he pulled the skiff into the water and rowed onto the lake. Soon he was engulfed in mist. As he approached the huge ship, he saw that it was made of mist as well. “what kind of a blessed spell is this?” He asked the evening.

A voice from the deck called down, “We call to you from one hundred years hence, Bartholomew Hayes.”

He ignored being misnamed. “Who are you? If you are.” Alonso inquired.

“We are those of song and story, yet to be told” declared the voice.

“Stop talking like some poet.” said the miller, “What do you want?”

“We have good rum to give” declared the young sailor, “if you will tell our story.”

“Is that all you want?” Alonso declared. He thought he was getting a bargain. That runs in the family as well.

“Now you must remember and tell our tale,” said the voice, “or there will be consequences for many generations.”

“I can tell good tales,” Alonso declared. This was true. It was also a problem, because most of Alonso’s tales were blarney. Alonso didn’t give much thought to the fact that what he would hear had not have happened yet.


They lowered a basket with eight jugs of rum down to take back with him. “you will return for the next three nights for more rum and for you to hear our song and story. You must tell this tale as Bartholomew. Your name is Bartholomew.”


The behemoth ship disappeared into the mist. Alonso rowed to shore. What would he do with the rum? He could not drink it. Alice would know. The basket was heavy. He rowed along the shore until he was close to the Mill stream and then pulled in closer to the mill. He unloaded the jugs one by one into the space under his desk. He brushed the basket out and took it home.


“Where have you been?” Alice inquired.

“I was out on the Lake, my dear” He replied. “I met the strangest ship and they told me an odd tale and gave me the handsome basket to bring home to you.”

She came closer and smelled him. “What have you been smoking?” she asked, “you haven’t been drinking.”

“I bought this tobacco,” he answered. He wondered that as well.

“What kind of a ship? What sort of tale?” She demanded.

The biggest ship I ever saw. No sails and no steam. It had a great steal hull. He declared

“Someone aboard said they will meet their fate one hundred years from now. They said I must come and hear the song and story for the next three nights. They will give me a basket, but I must tell the tale and if I don’t, there will be trouble for generations.” He left out the part about the rum.


“Get your smoking tobacco from your brother Ansel and stay away from the lake” she said.

“This basket is made from something unnatural!” She said, alarmed. “It is just It is just a little shiny and it sheds water.”

(note from 2020: I think it was plastic)


Alonso told his brother about the ship and the rum first thing in the morning. It was a lot of rum. Hays Town was dry. Other towns were not. So, they were able to sell the rum and make some money for the mill. They lied and recorded that as a lumber sale. Ansel did not believe his brother’s story. (who would?) He figured that Alonso didn’t want to share his source. Ansel wondered what he was trading.


That night, Alonso stayed to help Alice with the children and then he slipped out and took the skiff out on the lake. It was a clear cold night. But after rowing out a short way, his boat was surrounded by fog and the bow of the huge freighter loomed above him once again.

                              This story continues next week. 

“We’re rich. Ok let’s hear the song,” Ansel insisted

Alonso (Bartholomew) sang it.

“That’s better than I have ever heard you sing. It’s a good song. It strange the way it almost rhymes, but not really.” Ansel was scratching the hair on his head which was largely missing.

“They gave me some sheet music for Alice to play. Well, I have to take the basket home to Alice, I told her that was my reward.” Alonso said.

“She is a smart girl. She is going to catch on.” Ansel warned

“To what? she doesn’t believe me. Thinks I’m smoking something.” Alonso let the door slam as he walked out with huge basket.

He walked home with the basket. Alice was already in bed. He put“Bartholomew, are you ready to hear the song?”

“I am” Alonso replied, “who am I to tell this tale to?”

“Far and wide, as a wide as a warning,” said the voice.

“Now listen carefully. You will need to be able to sing it many times.” The voice declared.

“I can’t carry a tune!” Alonso shouted

“Oh my Gosh. An Irish Tenor who can’t sing!” The voice retorted.

“I’m sorry” Alonso pleaded. “What are you going to do to my offspring”

“Calm down man. Does anyone play the piano?” The young sailor asked.

“My wife” Alonso said.

“We’ll give you some sheet music, but you try anyway,” the voice said

Over a megaphone (or something) soon music came with a homey sounding voice.

The words to the song made sense. It was about a ship wreck and a cook. He had heard this kind of song before. He thought they must have had a band on board. Amazingly he was able to remember the words perfectly.

Now sing it back.

“I’ll try” He did sing it back.

“That’s almost perfect. But it probably won’t be later.” The voice declared

They talked some more and he tried to explain how people didn’t believe his story. The shipboard beings were insistent and a little frantic. They warned him again.

Ok we have the music and your rum. They lowered a basket. This one seemed to be made of rope and coated with something that made it shine. “Now be faithful to your promise Bart!”

This time he rowed directly to the mill and to his surprise Ansel was waiting for him there.

“Where did you come from brother?” He asked, smiling.

“The Lake,” Alonso replied

“What are you trading with?” Ansel asked, suspiciously

“I have to repeat the tale. That is all they want,” Alonso pleaded

“It must be some story!” Ansel, shook his head in disbelief.

“Tonight, they made me learn a song- a ballad, actually.”.

“We better go inside,” Ansel suggested

Together they were able to carry the basket, with effort. It was a very large basket. They had given 16 bottles. 

“We’re rich. Ok let’s hear the song,” Ansel insisted

Alonso (Bartholomew) sang it.

“That’s better than I have ever heard you sing. It’s a good song. It strange the way it almost rhymes, but not really.” Ansel was scratching the hair, on his head, which was largely missing.

“They gave me some sheet music for Alice to play. Well, I have to take the basket home to Alice, I told her that was my reward.” Alonso said.

“She is a smart girl. She is going to catch on.” Ansel warned

“To what? she doesn’t believe me. Thinks I’m smoking something.” Alonso let the door slam as he walked out with huge basket.

He walked home with the basket. Alice was already in bed

He put the music on the piano and went up to bed.

He woke with a pounding headache. He hadn’t been drinking. But he couldn’t get the song out of his mind. Alice was already up and downstairs. Alonso would have turned over to sleep again but nature called. As he passed through the parlor on his way to the outhouse, Alice was seated at the piano. When he returned. She turned to him angerly “What have you done, now?”

“I went out to the water closet.” He responded innocently.

“This song won’t leave me alone. When I sat on my hands, the piano played it anyway.” She declared staring at him.

“I can’t get it out of my mind either!” Alonso pleaded. “We will have to preform it around, or I don’t know what will become of us.”

Another thing, when I went to put firewood in the basket, it all turned to fine linen. Lord be confounded I don’t need more laundry.”

“It must be some kind of spell cast by the sailors’ ghosts.” Alonso declared.

“I told you to stay off the lake and get your tabaco from Ansel.” Alice scolded. “Now you have lost your mind!”

“How do you explain all this, then?” He asked folding his arms across his chest.

She got up from the piano and walked out of the room, exasperated. Then she screamed, “Lonso, come Now!”

As he entered the kitchen, he saw that there were piles of Irish linen stacked around almost filling the floor.

“What in heaven am I to do with this?” Alice whimpered.

“Take it to the mercantile.” Alonso said brightly.

They took the linen to the mercantile and made some money for it. That pleased Alice.

“Now we will have money to visit far and wide to sing the song,” Alonso declared.

“What!” Alice yelled. “I was going to buy some dresses and hats. “

“I don’t think we should mess with those lads, Alice.”

That night he went out on the lake again and found the ship right where it had

been. He was met by a chorus of jabbering voices. Then the familiar voice

declared, “my men want to tell you about their fate and their lives. They want to be

remembered. You will tell their stories as well.”

“You didn’t tell me it was a magic basket” Alonso said in a questioning tone.

“It is?” the voice sounded surprised.

The crew was getting restless.

“How many are there? “Alonso/Bartholomew inquired.

“They are twenty-nine with myself, Bartholomew Hayes”

Indeed, twenty-nine sailors and crew members told their stories and Bart was amazed. When he had finished listening. They thanked him and he was handed a small basket about the size of a sewing basket. Then they disappeared. When he opened the basket there was a small bottle of rum with gold foil and a role of parchment.

Alonso couldn’t read the parchment because it was dark. He rowed back to the mill. It was nearly dawn when he arrived. He took the basket into the office. Ansel was asleep in the lounge chair. He woke and asked “Where have you been all night?”

Alonso told him and showed him the basket. He read the scroll. “Put this fine Jamaica rum in your safe and check it daily. You will be rewarded. It must age.

Ansel sighed and put the tiny bottle in the safe.

Alonso took the basket home to Alice. When she opened it, it was a sewing kit. She did not question him about where he was all night.

When Bartholomew went to the shore that    evening, he found a golden telescope on the rock there. It was a calm cold November night. As he admired the spy glass, he heard a voice, “Do not venture on the lake this night, Mate. View us with your glass. Keep your promise with us and all will be well. Be neglectful of it to your peril.

The voice faded and the night was clear. There was a new moon and the stars were bight. Alonso was afraid to look through the lens of the telescope. In the distance, he heard voices calling out. He could not hear what they said.

He lifted the telescope to his eye and closed the other eye. It felt like he was transported into the storm looking down on the huge ship tossing in the waves. He saw the men clinging to the open hatch and being swept into the sea. He was a helpless observer. The ship capsized, split in half and sank into the waves. The scene faded and the night was clear again.

Bart stood on the shore. The stories of the men passing through his head. Men who had not been born yet. The words of the song played inside him. It was clear what he had to do. A hot tear rolled down his cheek into his beard. A warm hand slid into his. Alice stood beside him.

“What happened?” She asked

“It sank, will sink. We have to sing the song.” Alonso whispered “It will sink beneath the waters and the men will be lost.”

When he went to the mill in the morning, Ansel sat at his desk holding a bottle of rum. He looked a little dazed. “There were 8 full bottles of rum in the safe this morning. It seems to be fine rum. But look at the label.”

Alonso picked up one of the bottles and read at the label. “Fine Jamaica Rum: Bottled in 1950”


“We can’t sell this.” Ansel insisted. “We will have to hand in down to our grandchildren.” 

Bartholomew and Alice traveled around Wisconsin and Michigan singing the song in churches and mercantile stores. The congregations did not approve of the story that he told with the song. Soon they had to stop signing in churches. Where they were in demand was taverns and Inns. This was hard for Alice. She did not feel comfortable around drinking. After a few years, she took the children and headed back to Haystown. She made a good living selling linen and sewing. Alonso visited his home less and less over the years. His stories and song were enjoyed all over the Midwest. His children loved him dearly.


But all was not well. Alice was weary of all this. Although the people enjoyed his song and story, they did not believe them. He and Alice divorced when the youngest of the children were nearly grown. Alonso followed his oldest son, Albert west to Washington State, in 1900.

During the trip, he became worried about the future of his children and grandchildren. One night standing by a lake in Montana, he heard a familiar voice. “Bartholomew Hayes, you kept your word, but it failed to do what it should have done.” The spirit declared.

“What will happen?” Alonso asked fearfully.

“You have been faithful, but you failed.” Said the spirit. “It was meant to be.”

Alonso was sobbing softly.

“It is not so awful, old man. For generations your kin will be compelled to tell stories. Not this story, just stories, poems and songs. Someone will remember you. But perhaps no one will believe them. Good night, Bartholomew Hayes.”

In nineteen twelve, Alonso sat in his son’s house in Edmonds, Washington, holding his four-year-old grandson on his knee.

“Tell me a story, Grandpa?” asked Clarence (his name was Donald but someone got it wrong when they talked to the census taker in 1910)

“Once upon a time, there was a grandpa named Bartholomew Hayes, who liked to go rowing on the Great Lakes. One night, he saw a great ship!”

Bart (AKA Alonso) brought with him a satchel with a few bottles of his legacy, every now and then he would take a sip. The bottle never seemed to empty. Over the years the story he told young Donald changed, although he never forgot the truth. Knowledge of the song disappeared. We don’t know if it was one of his kin who wrote it out in the 1970s. (The whole concept gets confusing if you think too much).

Anything is possible. (Maybe not)

The facts (or closer to them) as recorded by someone: My Great Grandfather Alonso Hayes and his brother Ansel had a saw mill in Dunn County Wisconsin. They built or acquired the mill in 1888 and founded the town of Haystown. Dunn county is not on Lake Superior. It is in Western Wisconsin several miles south of the lake. There was a mill pond, however. He was married to Alice Teagarden. Although they had several children, in seventy-six they only had one infant son Albert, my father’s father.

I know very little about Alonso. I don’t think my father knew much either. I don’t know when he left their home to go to the soldier’s home. It could be that my father was too young to remember. Or that Alonso’s behavior was troubling or he didn’t understand his departure. It is also possible that this is the story that his grandfather told him, and that is the way I heard it. My aunt was a few years older. Now, no one is here to verify or correct this version,

It’s hard to really know what can happen on an old Mill Pond or what kind of tobacco it was that he bought all those years ago.

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