Skunk Oil, Jackrabbits, and Red Roosters
My Aunt Fay Goode Newhouser had the best memory of anyone I know who talks about the 1930’s. She loves talking about those days they lived on the old Grief place west of Floresville.
“It must have been around 1931 that we all got the flu. We were really sick, the whole family, including all of us kids. I think we were about to die. Daddy was desperate. Nothing was helping. We got worse and worse! Now Rinald and Max Wenzel, our neighbors, would go all over the county hunting and fishing. They were always out hunting, maybe rabbits, squirrels, ‘coons, or wild turkeys. Rinald Wenzel came by one morning. He was out ‘coon hunting. And he said he knew just what we needed. He went out and shot a skunk. The next thing I remember was he came back and boiled up a bunch of skunk oil. Daddy made us take it - a teaspoon full, and it tasted like lard or grease. Do you know from that time on we got well? We all got over the flu. Some people might not believe that story, but it is the truth”
Fay reminisced, “I loved animals and always had pets. I made pets of every kind of animal. One time I raised a jackrabbit from a baby. We let it run around everywhere. In the house, outside the house, it was just a pet like all the dogs and cats. That rabbit slept in the house just like a cat. Jack would run up and down Daddy’s stomach at night, while they were in bed, when he wanted outside. He could see out that window and wanted out. Daddy had to get up and put him out. He loved to chew on things. And when he chewed up Sally’s pretty starched organdy dress, liking the taste of the starch, Mama said Jack had to go. We had to put him out of the house. He finally disappeared.”
“Now, Sallie, she was jealous. So she found a little baby cotton tail rabbit. Mama said he wouldn’t make as good a pet as the jackrabbit. And he didn’t. He kept running away, so Sallie put a purple ribbon on him. That way no one would shoot him. Well, one morning Rinald Wenzel came by and his eyes were big as saucers. He said excitedly, ‘I must be seeing things! I seen a rabbit running through the woods with a dern purple ribbon on it” Mama had to laugh and told him about Sallie’s cottontail rabbit. One day we found the ribbon out in the pasture, but we never saw the rabbit again. Never did know what happened to it”
Aunt Fay also had two pet chickens, which she raised from little fuzzy baby chicks. They also ran in and out of the house. Then they got bigger, and had to stay outside. They ran with the dogs and rabbits and cats. They were buddies. One was a red rooster, and the other was a white Leghorn hen.
Fay said, “I loved those chickens. They were my pets. But, one time, we all had to go up north to pick cotton. My sister, Ada Mae, and her husband, Walter and baby came to stay at the house, while we all went up to Central Texas to pick cotton. They were taking care of the farm and livestock."
She went on, "When we got home my chickens were gone. I was so upset and sad and I cried and cried. I missed my pets. I think they must have cooked and ate them! But they never admitted it!”