My Uncle the Deer Hunter

I had an uncle named Manke. He was quite a bright person and was the one who talked at three months. My mother was his sister and she told me this story of when he was a deer hunter.

In those days there was no social safety net for families. When there was no income there was no food. Everyone had to try and get by. People thought of many ways to get by and tried many ideas just to keep food on the table. For some reason my uncle thought it would be a good idea to raise goats. He knew that goats ate almost anything and did produce milk and you could make a cheese from the milk. By barter, trade or purchase he acquired a nanny and billy goat. His plan was to keep them, and their off spring, in his yard. Of course he never really raised goats but how hard could it be?

The goats had a bad habit of leaving the yard and causing damage to his neighbor's property. No matter how my uncle worked on his fence they would go through it or jump over it Again and again this happened and my uncle became angrier and angrier. He became frustrated and was spending a great deal of time trying to keep the goats in the yard. He spent hours wiring and rewiring the fence. He tried various methods of confining them and tried lumber, ropes and chains to no avail.

He was near tears one day when his wife said, "One of them is out again!" My uncle ran and got his rife and over the objections of his wife he shot and killed the goat. He stood over the goat very pleased and calm for once. Then the reality of it slowly came upon him. There would be no goat business, no milk or cheese. Well, he thought, there was enough meat to last a few weeks and that wasn't so bad. It was not as good as cash but it was a benefit.

So my uncle drug the goat to the front yard, where there was a large tree, and dressed the goat out. Now if you're a city person you may not understand what it means. The animal is hung by the feet and the head, skin and insides are removed. Lastly the animal is cut into quarters. So my uncle was in the process of lowering the goat to cut it into quarters when a car stopped on the nearby road and then entered his yard. Once and a while people will drive through the reservation for some reason. My uncle's house was right next to the road and what he was doing could be seen by anyone driving buy.

An elderly couple were in the car and got out. They looked at the skinned goat and the man said "We'll give you $25 for a hind quarter of that deer." Now in those days that was a great deal of money and my uncle gladly obliged. They were very happy to buy deer meat and were elated that my uncle would sell them the meat especially after he told them of the long hunting trip he took up the mountains. My uncle had never saw them before and would probably never see them again. He did need the money and it would really help the family out.

It wasn't too long after that my uncle saw them in a local market. They recognized my uncle and approached him. The man said, "You know that deer meat you sold us." My uncle carefully replied "Yes?" Then the man said, "It was excellent. If you ever go hunting again we will buy the whole deer for $80." He gave my uncle his phone number and thanked him again for the excellent deer.

The following week the man received a call from my uncle, who gleefully said, "Got another one!"

The Last Argument

My grandmother was named Philomena and my Grandfather was named Richard. When I was a child they had already fallen out of love some time ago. When I knew them they did not like each other at all. My Mother told me that in their day they were quite a handsome couple. My Grandfather Richard was quite a dashing handsome man and my Grandmother was a stunning woman whose beauty was well known in the reservations. When I knew them they were just a pair of elderly people who hardly ever spoke to each other. It was hard for me to believe that they ever talked to each other.

I overheard my Grandfather telling my Mother about his feelings for his ex. He said that when he looks at her he feels nothing. He used to lay awake all night long trying to figure out how to kill all the sailors in San Diego so they wouldn't look at his wife. He said that it was hard for him to believe that he ever had any feelings for her at all.

At the small county church we all attended there was a wishing well in front of the church. It is still there but it is now filled in with soil and plants grow in it. It wasn't really a water well, it was a four-foot cement circle with a drinking faucet on one end. After church, people would always gather around it and talk about the current situation of the various reservations. On one particular morning both my Grandmother and Grandfather were gathered around the well. They came to words and begin to argue. My Grandmother was quick to condemn people to hell and would not think once about criticizing you life style.

For whatever reasons my Grandmother begin to chide my Grandfather about his conduct in the community always gambling and such. If truth were know, my Grandmother had her day and did many things that were scandalous in her time. She had actually had five husbands and was only married by the church to one of them. Of course if you weren't married by the church she would immediately tell you how you were sinning in the face of the Lord. During this argument my Grandfather begin to remind my Grandmother of her past and made a statement on how she might still have some devil in her. 

Then suddenly my Grandfather begins to chase after my Grandmother. I remember my Grandmother screaming Aye! Aye! Aye! She ran around the wishing well with my Grandfather chasing her. Actually at their age they could no longer run but were shuffling around the well. I can still remember my Grandmother with her arms raised in the air with her purse hanging at her elbow. My grandfather wore a hat, as was the style in his day, and I could see his expression beneath the rim of his hat as one of smiling mischief. 

They actually only made it about half way around the well and stopped. My Grandmother raised one hand up and the other was down as she further condemned him to hell as the church community laughed and laughed.

I never saw them argue again and I am not quite sure which one of them won their last argument. If you asked me I guess I would side with my Grandfather. Not so much as to who actually got the better but because if I eventually have a gaped tooth grin I sure would like to have some fire behind it.

The Horse who Talked

Years ago there was a television series called Mr. Ed. It was about a talking horse. Years before the series, when I was a child, my grandmother told me a story about a horse that talked.

There was a man who was very cruel to animals. This was particularly true about his horse. He would beat his horse with a switch. He was well known for doing this and everyone pitied the poor horse. His wife told my grandmother this story.

Her husband was preparing the wagon for a journey. She was inside the house. All of a sudden her husband came back into the house. She looked up and his face was white. "What's wrong!", his wife said to him. He looked at her with a blank expression and said, "The horse talked to me." He immediately got ready for bed and went to bed. This was in the afternoon. He lay in bed staring at the wall. Again, his wife asked him what happened. He said he was beating the horse and all of a sudden the horse's turned his head towards him and said, "Why do you beat me all the time?"

His wife could not get him out of bed. He would not eat or drink anything. In a few days he died.  The horse never spoke again and she quickly sold it.

This story may seem far fetched to you. However, my tribe believes that at one time in history there was no difference between men, animals and plants. Even to this day our word for human being also includes some plants and animals. Maybe it was just a story to prevent us children from being cruel to animals. Despite everything I have learned, I believe the story is true.

Calisto LaChappa and the Dynamite Truck

Many years ago the people lived in the old reservation of Captain. There were two villages in Captain. One was called and the other . The Quithmuck people ended up in Barona and the Hatownawa people ended up in Viejas. The word Hatownawa means "Rabbitís House" and Quithmuck is just a name. Calisto LaChappa was from the Hatownawa section, which is also known as Los Conejos. He was the brother of Margaret Falishia.

In those days there werenít many cars and paved roads like we have today. If you wanted to get from one place to another you could hitch up your team of horses to a wagon or mount a horse by yourself. If you didnít have a wagon or horse you could borrow someoneís or just walk. The nearest town was (and still is) Alpine. It is a few miles from the old res to Alpine but people were used to walking and it was not so far by foot. Calisto had a habit of just walking to Alpine if he needed something rather than going through the trouble of borrowing someone elseís horse or wagon.

One summerís day he decided to walk to Alpine and get a nice cool soda pop. On that warn day he walked the distance enjoying the day and the sunshine. For those people that havenít hiked it is kind of enjoyable and leisurely.

He would later recall how he got to the paved road and was still a couple of miles from Alpine when a truck pulled up besides him. In those days it was a common courtesy to offer a walker a ride. For reasons unknown to him forever more Calisto politely refused and the truck continued on its way. Calisto watched the truck go off into the distance and he thought about how he could be on that truck right now resting from his walk. All of a sudden a ball of light replaced the truck. Then there was a massive explosion and the truck disappeared.

Calisto ran up and was the first person there. There was nothing to do because where the truck had been there was a hole in the ground and nothing else. Other people arrived and only found scraps of metal. The driver was never found. The truck was hauling dynamite and for some unknown reason it ignited and exploded. It was a few months before the county got around to filling in the hole in the road. From time to time Calisto would walk by the hole, on his way to town, and wounded.

Sometimes life is like that.