There was about twelve of us kids that grew up together, and mom done all the cooking on an old cast-iron wood cookstove. Lord, was it ever hot in the house in the summertime. Remembering it now, I’d say it was even too hot for flies to come inside. I truly don't know what kept Mom and the older girls from having a heatstroke sometimes. Mom could make everything on that old wood cookstove except pudding, which she burned every time. It would be so hot in the house in the summer time a person could hardly breathe, so by necessity we left doors and windows open all night. I remember several times, Mom cooked outside over an open fire simply because it was cooler to do so.
My Grandad's house, where this story takes place.
With having all the doors and windows open all night, hoping to catch even the faintest of mountain breezes to cool down the house, you know it was only a matter of time before something got in the house…and when it happened, boy howdy was it an experience to remember. You see, one night a skunk got in the house. We heard it walking across the kitchen floor, tick…tick… tick, went its claws on the floor. For those who heard it, they just thought it was a cat, but then we smelled it. Lord Almighty and Katie-bar-the-door was it ever strong, so strong it burnt your eyes.
A cousin of the skunk in this story.
Well being the genius that he was, my Granddad got out of bed and made some noise hoping to scare the varmint away, but instead he only succeeded in getting the skunk to hole up under the kitchen cabinet. The smell was even stronger by then…so strong the smell stuck in your mouth…and something had to be done. Well, growing up he'd always heard if you shot and killed a skunk immediately it wouldn’t spray so he decided to test that old theory out. He grabbed the old 12-gauge shotgun from the bedroom, loaded it and hunkered down on the floor so as to provide a clear shot under the cabinet. After the shotgun blast, and a subsequent skunk spraying, I can vouch that the old theory is simply not true, a skunk does spray regardless!! Lord, how that house stunk, the skunk smell was so strong that the smell just hung in the air and there was even an oily film of skunk spray all over everything.
Having no indoor plumbing everyone had to take baths in the big metal washtub out in the yard, only instead of water we used tomato juice, which someone said would help…it didn't! Finally we'd heard about a newer remedy for getting skunk smell off of you...vinegar and water douche!! I know you must be laughing by now but it worked, it really did.
Of course we still had to scrub down the entire house from joist to joist several times over, boil all the clothes in scalding hot water with vinegar in it and get new furniture (there was just no way of fumigating the couch and chairs). As Grandmaw Mary always said, “A bought lesson soon ain’t forgot”, and this lesson was dearly paid for by all of us. Soon after the skunk incident, we got bottle gas and a gas cookstove, so we didnt have to leave to door open anymore due to the heat. As I recall, Granddad also invested in new window screens and screen doors for the house too!
P.S. Last year I shared this story with a cousin in Ohio, and she shared it with her son, Boy Chuck (his daddy is Mr. Chuck) who has a radio show up there. Boy Chuck loved this story so much he used it as the basis for a Mothers Day story that he told on his program. It was very well done. It was my first (and so far only) taste of fame!!