Poppadezutt – (Verhaeghe)

1942 Mom & PapaBack in about 1938 my mother lived on a farm and had a dog that she had gotten from a neighbour. She had named him Sport and took care of him.

Now Papa wasn’t a huge fan of Sport and always called him Poppadezutt which meant Crazy Dog. When Papa did the morning chores Sport would follow him everywhere and one of the things that Papa would do was open the huge barrel that sat in the corner, dip his finger in and give the dog a taste of the molasses that was kept there. This barrel of molasses was used to kill the tobacco worms that would destroy a crop if not taken care of. It was mixed with poison and applied to the plants but what was in the barrel was just pure molasses, no one would mix it until it was needed.

Now today was the family’s day to go to town. Mamie, Papa and Mom would take their car and drive to Delhi to get the week supplies. This would be a day trip which included visiting, errands and even more visiting. It was something that Mom really looked forward to as in those days, one didn’t go shopping or anywhere for that matter so it was pretty exciting to go to town. This day was no different and it was dusk when they pulled back into the driveway on the farm.

Mom was worried as she didn’t see her dog running out when they arrived home. He usually came from wherever he was to greet the family as if they had been gone forever. As Mamie began to take in the supplies Mom and Papa went looking for Poppadezutt. Mom calling Sport looking under the porch and anywhere she could think of. Papa went into the barn, looking everywhere he could think of ā€“ no dog ā€“ just as he was turning he saw the lid of the barrel open just a bit and in the dim light of the barn when he pulled back the lid of the molasses barrel he could just make out the black nose just poking out of the molasses.

In those days, one dressed up to go to town and Edmond Verhaeghe was no different. He was in his good suit. He tore off his jackets, tie and shirt, reached deep into the barrel, into the molasses and grabbed hold of Sport and began drawing him out of the molasses. Out of the barrel came a molasses covered dog. Barely moving at all. Papa ran with the dog to the horse trough. He put him in and got the first part of the molasses off the dog. Wiping him down with straw and then washing him with soap and a hose until the dog was free of the molasses, he then wrapped the shivering dog in a blanket and stuffed him in a straw bed in order to keep him warm. As Mom sat beside her dog, talking to him she knew her dad had made it better. Sport was going to make it.

In fact, the next morning Sport was back to his old self and following Papa as he went about his chores with one change. When Papa dipped his finger in the barrel Sport took off. He did not want anymore molasses probably for the rest of his life.

Delhi 1938


Story Note ā€“ All stories will have a title for easy finding and which family it is about in brackets. Stories take place from the beginning of the 1900s to present and therefore there will be things that may not go over well in a present day mind. Spankings were only a couple of swats on the bottom. Pets were not the fluffy pampered animals of today but working animals who earned their keep as well as being loved by the children. Smoking and drinking was a normal part of life even if Moms were pregnant or kids were present in the car or room, especially smoking.

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