Some Original Stories By "Riverboat John"

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By “Riverboat John” Ferguson ©2008 (All rights reserved)


THE MOSQUITO…Buzzzzz! “Oh! I’m caught! I’m caught”, said the Mr. Skeeter (That’s the way we say it at home) to the spider and he wrangled around in the entrapment of Mr. Spider’s web.


“I have you and you are caught”, said Mr. Spider to Mr. Skeeter.


“Oh! Please let me loose. I have a wife skeeter and a bunch of children skeeters. If you will let me loose, I will do you a good turn”.


“Well okay! If you will do me a good turn, I will let you go. Promise?”


“Yes, I promise!”


THE SPIDER…One day  Mr. Spider was crawling around a rock down by the creek and got caught by a lizard with a long tail. He gulped him down real quick. It took Mr. Spider, (the real Itsey, Bitsey Spider) by surprise.


“Oh!” Said Mr. Spider to the lizard. “Please let me out. I have a wife spider and 42 little, teensie-weensie children spiders. Please let me loose and I will do you a good turn”.


“Okay”! Said the lizard. “I will remember your promise and he spit him out”.


THE LIZARD…Not too long after his encounter with Mr. Spider, Mr. Lizard was sliding down a simmon tree (That’s the way we say it at home). He had been up in the tree looking for something good to eat. As he was sliding down, a crowbird (That’s what we call them back home) caught him and gulped him down. Long tail and all (Because he did have a long tail).


“Oh! Please let me loose”, said Mr. Lizard. “I am the father to two little girl lizards and two little boy lizards and then there’s Momma Lizard. Please let me go and I will do a good turn for you”.


“Really”! Said Mr. Crowbird! “Would you really do a good turn for a crowbird such as myself?”


“Oh yes! I promise!”


Mr. Crowbird turned Mr. Lizard loose.


“I promise to do a good turn for you one day Mr. Crowbird”.


THE CROWBIRD…He flew off wondering how a lizard could ever help him. He had just given up a good meal because lizards were one of his favorite things to eat. He couldn’t figure out how he could ever help him. It puzzled him as he flew off.


One day not too long after he had let Mr. Lizard loose, Mr. Crowbird was enjoying a meal of fresh corn in Farmer Brown’s cornfield. “Caw! Caw!” It was so delicious!


Farmer Brown grabbed his shotgun and ran to the cornfield after hearing Mr. Crowbird caw-cawing. He raised his gun up to shoot just as Mr. Crowbird took off to fly. One of the lead shots hit him in the wing. He was hurt.


Mr. Crowbird flew down to the fast running creek to get some cool water to put on his hurt wing. It really felt good on his hurt wing. Poor Mr. Crowbird. He had really been enjoying the fresh corn that morning.


Just as he began to feel a lot better and enjoy the water and another dip in the deeper water, a great splash boiled up next to him and Mr. Snapping turtle grabbed Mr. Crowbird with his snapping turtle jaws and caught him and carried him under the water..


Mr. Snapping Turtle was just about ready to eat Mr. Crowbird when the crowbird said.


“Please Mr. Snapping Turtle, don’t eat me. I have been shot by Farmer Brown and I am hurt and need your help. I have a big family of crowbirds back home and they depend on me for food, clothing and shelter. I have five little crowbirds, their momma and her mother all living with me. Please, please spare me. I will do a good turn for you. Please let me loose. I promise!”


“Okay!” Said Mr. Snapping Turtle, “I will let you loose because I feel sorry for you. You have to promise me that you will do a good turn for me one day.”


“I promise”, said Mr. Crowbird and then Mr. Snapping Turtle turned Mr. Crowbid loose to fly again.  “Caw! Caw! I promise”.


THE SNAPPING TURTLE….Several days later, Mr. Snapping Turtle got caught on a fish hook that was on Farmer Brown’s fishing pole. Mr. Snapping Turtle could not get rid of the fish hook in his jaws. It hurt too! He swam around in circles and gathered up speed and swam as fast as he could to try to get loose. It was no use. The hook was in him too tight and the line was too strong. He swam up to the surface and cried out for help.


“Help! Help! Help!” Said Mr. Snapping Turtle. “I am caught and I can’t get loose. I need some help. I have a snapping turtle wife, Mrs. Snapping Turtle, and sixteen little snapping turtle children. I need some help. I am caught and I can’t get loose”.


The splashing attracted all of the critters from around the creek. The fish all ran away and they were glad to see Mr. Snapping Turtle caught. They all lived in fear of him because they were on his menu to eat.

Mr. Alligator just stayed back and laughed, saying, “It serves you right getting caught on a fish hook”. Mr. Beaver splashed his beaver tail in the water and chuckled. Mr. Muskrat gave out a big grin. Mr. Crawfish hid out with a smile on his face. He didn’t like Mr. Snapping Turtle and stayed out of his way. Mr. Snake just slithered away. Mr. Froggy just croaked. Knee Deep! Knee Deep! Knee Deep!


But! Mr. Skeeter (the mosquito), Mr. Spider (the itsey, bitsey spider), Mr. Lizard (with his long tail) and Mr. Crowbird (that’s what we call’em back home), all gathered together to see if they could help each other. They came up with a plan as Mr. Snapping Turtle continued to swim around in circles, caught on the fish hook and calling for help.


“Help! Help! I am caught. Help! Help”!

They had all given their promise to help each other. Mr. Skeeter promised to help Mr. Spider. Mr. Spider promised to help Mr. Lizard. Mr. Lizard promised to help Mr. Crowbird. Mr. Crowbird promised to help Mr. Snapping Turtle.


Mister Crowbird flew over Mister Snapping Turtle and said. “Caw Caw. I will help you. Caw Caw. I will help you.  I have a plan”.


Mr. Crowbird told Mr. Lizard (who had promised him if he would let him loose that he would help him) to go up in the tree above where Farmer Brown’s fishing pole was and when he gave the signal to do something, he wanted him to jump down the back of Farmer Brown’s shirt.


Mr. Lizard told Mister Spider (who had promised him if he would turn him loose that he would help him) to weave a spider web across the handle on the Farmer Brown’s fishing pole.


Mister Spider told Mr. Skeeter (who had promised him if he would turn him loose that he would help him) to stand by for a very important job concerning Farmer Brown and to wait for the signal.


Pretty soon, Farmer Brown came back from working in his corn field to check on his fishing pole. He wanted to catch big old Mr. Catfish. He noticed that his fishing cork was bobbing and the line was going in circles. He thought he had caught Mr. Catfish.


He went to reach for his pole but noticed the spider web that Mr. Spider had woven. He brushed it away. As he bent over he heard Mr. Crowbird go “Caw, Caw”.


Farmer Brown raised up and grabbed his shotgun and took aim on Mr. Crowbird.


Caw, Caw. Mr. Lizard slid from the tree branch and right down the back of Farmer Brown’s shirt. He lowered his gun and reached back to see what it was.


Just as he got his hand around to his back on that part that always itches that you can’t reach to scratch, Mister Crowbird swooped down from the sky and bit the fishing line in two and freed Mr. Snapping Turtle from Farmer Brown’s fishing pole.


Farmer Brown raised his gun once more to take aim on Mr. Crowbird who was flying away. “Caw! Caw”!


Just as he had him in his sight and was about to pull the trigger on the shotgun, Mr. Skeeter buzzed down and stuck his mosquito stinger right in the end of Farmer Brown’s big red nose.  The gun went off but it missed Mr. Crowbird by a mile and every critter in the area flew off, slithered off, slid off, jumped off or walked off.





Fried Chicken! I Can’t Say Enough About It!
By: Riverboat John Ferguson

Fried Chicken! I can’t say enough About It!
“an exerpt from the book Amazing Gastronomical Anecdotes by “Riverboat John” Ferguson, Stories-Songs-Strings-Stage & Pen

Years ago before the advent of what we’ll call fast food chains; fried chicken was quite often a subject for table discussion. Most folks always have a benchmark to refer to for judging food and discussing food. If you’re from say “way down South”, you have an idea of what fried chicken ought to be. Southern fried! Then the argument or discussion starts. Is it crispy? Is it crispy and seasoned? Is the seasoning hot and spicy or is it savory spiced? Or maybe, just plain old salt and pepper spiced? Is the crust thick and crunchy crispy or tender-thin crispy? Or is the crust soft and tender? Should it be cooked in lard, oil or Crisco? Deep fat or halfway up the chicken? Is it batter dipped or dry dipped? Buttermilk used? Eggs? Honey? Do you put the lid on to speed up the process or do you leave the lid off to get rid of the moisture. Lots of ways to do it before the discussion ends. Lot of different ideas about what Southern Fried Chicken is.

In 1996, the town of Roswell, Georgia, hired me for the Olympics, to perform at Bulloch Hall as the “artist-in-residence”. This was the home of Teddy Roosevelt’s Grandparents. The setting was the epitome of “Southern Culture”. Parasols, hoop skirts, Civil War Re-enactors, tall hats and tails etc., and of course music. The grounds were set up to accommodate huge crowds of folks who were expected from all over the world. There were novelty vendors, children’s activities, carriage rides, tour buses, museum docents in dress, strolling living history people, etc., and of course food vendors. Food vendors from all over had bid or competed for the business.

This leads me to the point of discussion. I was sitting on the top step of the Bulloch Hall mansion, home of the man who commissioned the ill fated Confederate warship Alabama; the steps of a home considered by many to be the epitome of the South; in a “real” Southern town; with all the folks wearing their “Southern Period” clothing; watching African American primitive dancers; and as I looked up, I realized which food vendor had won the concession for fried chicken: Boston Fried Chicken!

Why of all things! A Company called Boston Fried Chicken; selling chicken to people from all over the world and these people either did not know any better, or didn’t care. My! Oh my! I had to know! I strolled down to the concession and walked back to the back where the cooks were and said, “Where y’all from”?

“Why, right here in Atlanta, boy”, “We been hired special, just for the Olympics to cook chicken”, this big lady said.

And then I noticed the menu on the wall. Special Olympic Dinner, Southern Fried Chicken (Crispy and Tasty). What a deal! Who would have thought Boston Fried Chicken would be selling Southern Fried Chicken in Atlanta, Georgia? Great sales job! ............Then you got your Maryland fried, KFC original recipe, Popeye’s New Orleans hot and spicy, Roy Rogers fried, etc., cluck, cluck, and cluck Whether you like your chicken finger lickin’ good or knuckle suckin’ good, or just “right tasty”, we all have something to say about fried chicken. Lot’s more.

Footnote: The bomb “screwed up” the Olympics. Roswell suffered a financial loss, and Boston Fried Chicken is a successful fast food chain operating very well in the Atlanta Area. Specialty Southern Fried Chicken (Crispy and Tasty) Fried Chicken! I can’t say enough about it.


BY “RIVERBOAT JOHN” FERGUSON © Copyright 2008 As a little boy growing up in the 40’s after the end of WWII I had my heroes.  My main heroes were my Dad and the cowboys who appeared on the silver screen.  My biggest and best cowboy hero was Gene Autry.  If we could get there we went to the movie theater on Saturday Mornings.   Gene Autry was a real cowboy who was born on a ranch in Texas. He was raised on a ranch in Oklahoma and worked as a telegraph operator for the railroad before being discovered by the great American Humorist, Will Rogers.  My hero’s voice sounded like that of Jimmie Rodgers the very popular country singer.  My hero also was a pilot during WWII. He stopped making movies for over a million dollars per year to fly planes in combat in the Army Air Corps for $85.00 a month. I never saw Gene Autry do or say anything wrong. I wore my bluejeans rolled up just like he did. We called it a “Gene Autry” roll.   I never had the boots or hats or fancy guns but I did end up with a Gene Autry Melody Ranch guitar that Gibson Guitar Company put out in the 40’s. It belonged to Joe Gunter, from Big Spring Valley. He was my wife Shirley’s cousin. His wife Kathleen gave it to me after he died. It was a famous guitar on Highway 79 South in Blount County because it was one of the first guitars that Berl Barnes (an original member of one of the first Bluegrass bands in our area, the Warrior River Boys ) played when he walked from his house to Brooksville, where his mother was Post Master.  Berl was always one of my musical heros going back to the heyday of radio on Sand Mountain, Alabama. Names like Lonnie William “Wild Bill” Prickett, my late former Father-in-Law, and Stepfather to my late wife DeLores. I went to a lot of fiddler’s conventions where he was the master of ceremonies. I ended up being a judge at a lot of them. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about Old Time String Band and Bluegrass music. Raymond Fairchild, from Maggie Valley, N.C., was a successful competing banjo player in those days before he became famous. Tom Prickett & Richard Burgess, who were the comedy team of Arley & Charley, authors of songs like Old Sand Mountain Home and Johnny Get Your Gun. These two songs as well as several others were recorded by The Warrior River Boys. Ethridge Scott played the banjo so good that Earl Scruggs heard him and thought it was himself. Berl ended up playing the Dobro guitar. D.M. Fox played the mandolin and Gary Thurman played the guitar. There are several others that played with the band over the years and even today the Warrior River Boys still are making music in some form or fashion. Bill, Gary and others have passed on. Berl moved to California after his wife Sue died and played in a band out there before he died. He always came to see us when he visited home from California. Tom and his wife Lois got to where they couldn’t go anywhere and went to be with their daughter in Columbus, Georgia.. As a side note, I met my friend Gary Thurman in Boaz when he was running a cowboy movie theatre that only showed Gene Autry movies. We became good friends. He worked for a man that had a complete collection of Gene Autry movies and a lot of memorabilia. Gary also passed on after a notable career in Blue Grass and other ventures. When Gene’s museum burned and a lot of his things were destroyed. It is my understanding that he helped Gene restore and replace a lot of his things from the Alabama collection.  I always thought that cowboy music was the best.  I started studying it at an early age.  I read Jack Thorpe, the Lomax books, Botkin and other non-fiction cowboy song books.  I listened to as many of the Library of Congress tapes and records as possible. Like most historical or real time music, only the words were recorded in the form of poetry until the collectors went out in the field and started collecting by recording and writing down the notes as they heard them.  Many tunes were lost but the words were saved.  My dream to be a cowboy continued only in my music. I never bought a horse, although I have ridden many. I guess I was always lucky with horses because I never had a bad incident.  I have bought some fancy hats, boots, and shirts and learned how to do some cowboy yodeling as well as some great cowboy songs. A few years ago at the DuQuoin State Fair, in Illinois, I stumbled across a chuckwagon show complete with storytelling and campfire. The only music they had was a wonderful harmonica player named Bud, a half Mexican/half Jewish bass player and Bud’s son, Rusty Rankin. I fell in love with their act and all that went with it. I joined them for two years and we traveled Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Illinois, Maryland, Tennessee, Nevada, and Pennsylvania together. I finally got my chance to feel like a real cowboy.  Sitting around the campfire with Bud’s harmonica, my guitar and Rusty playing on the gut bucket bass, was as real as it could get for me. I really enjoyed it. Even though I am not with the show anymore and I am back to traveling by myself, I will always have the memory of the good times Rusty, Bud and I shared with “Rusty’s Trail Blazing Chuckwagon & Western Show”.  The songs, the stories, the food and the comraderie. Partners on the trail. I’ve been to a lot of rodeos, Western Shows, roundups, and other cowboy stuff. Always liked it. ‘Cause I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A COWBOY.



                                            AN OLD DOG STORY


A wealthy old gentleman decided to go on a hunting safari in Africa, taking his faithful, elderly Jack Russell Terrier named
Killer along for company.
One day the old Jack Russell started chasing rabbits
and before long, discovered that he was lost.

Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his
direction with the intention of having lunch.

The old Jack Russell thinks, "Oh, oh!  I'm in deep
trouble now!"
Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately
settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the
approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the old Jack Russell exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard!
I wonder if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in
mid-strike.  A look of terror comes over him, and he slinks
away into the trees. "Whew!", said the leopard,
"That was close! That old Jack Russell nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a monkey, who had been watching the whole
scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge
to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So, off he goes, but the old Jack Russell sees him headingAfter the leopard with great speed and figures that something must
be up.

The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the
beans, and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.

The young leopard is furious at being made
a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and
see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old Jack Russell sees the leopard coming with
the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?"

Instead of running, however, the dog sits down with his
back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet,
and just when they get close enough to hear, the old Jack Russell says...

"Where's that dumb monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to
bring me another leopard!"

Moral of this story...

Don't mess with the old dogs... age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery! Wisdom words only come with age and




                                                      "Adapted for the Stage"

 I love to eat catfish.Catfish fried chunky and extra crispy.Hushpuppies, Coleslaw and a big glass of sweet iced tea with lemon.I also like to go catfishing.I always have.            SONGI went fishing last week.I went fishing last week  Not just fishing but catfishing last week.   Yes, I went fishing last weekI went fishing last week.   Caught a stringer fullHad plenty to eat   And a few to give away.   I went fishing last week.   I went fishing last week.   Not just fishing but catfishing last week.   Yes, I went fishing last week. Sound asleep and dreaming with my head leaned back against a shady pine tree and a catfish line tied to my big toe.My dream had started…I could already hear the sound of music as the rowboat in my dream drifted so slow across the slow running river. Slow running water meant deep and quiet when riding in a good old wooden rowboat.Where was the music coming from?It sounded so beautiful.A harp sound!Perhaps a guitar…Yes! It was a guitar or maybe a banjo!                        SONG    Cruising down the river on a paddlewheel boat    Got on my good hat and my long tailed coat.   Listening to the banjos with my carpetbag in hand   I’ve ridden all the rivers in steamboat land. Oh! I love to hear the whistle   And the pilot yell “Mark Twain”    I just can’t hardly ever wait To ride a riverboat again. There’s New Orleans and Natchez   And Memphis and Cairo   And there’s lots of other ports   Up the Old Ohio.   Oh! I love to hear the whistle   And the pilot yell “Mark Twain”   I just can’t hardly ever wait   To ride a riverboat again.   Cruising down the river on a paddlewheel boat   Got on my good hat and my long tailed coat.  Listening to the banjos with my carpetbag in hand   I’ve ridden all the rivers in steamboat land. “Lordy! Lordy! I got to get off this river”….”I got to go see what that is all about over there on yonder shore”,  I said as I landed the rowboat into the bank.  I jumped.  I had to.  I wanted to see for myself where that beautiful sound was coming from. My curiosity sometimes gets me in trouble and sometimes it pays off with things that are way beyond interesting.I knew when I walked through the bushes and into the opening and laid my eyes upon the scene of a donkey playing a guitar with his ears that I was in for a treat of a time.There he was, bigger than life! A donkey playing a guitar upside down with his ears and braying out the wonderful tune about cruising down the river on a paddlewheel boat.A sign hung from a wagon:                                                                                                                                                                                                                               OLD STORIES TOLD & RETOLD.                 :                             EXPERT SINGING LESSONS                                       PROFESSIONAL ADVICE ABOUT LIFE It was signed by Professor Geehawus Brayus, PhD, Musicology, Psychology & Philosophy.I couldn’t believe my own eyes. A donkey with extra long ears, twanging on a guitar, singing and braying to the top of his voice. His voice was baritonic. His guitar playing was absolutely flawless.When he saw me staring at him at the edge of the bushes, he immediately stopped singing and playing.“What can I do for you, young man?”“Harrumph! Uuuh! I don’t know sir, or harrumph! Uuuh, Mr. uuuh Donkey or uuuh”.“Doctor Professor Geehawus Brayus. Lessons about life, how to live it and teacher of musical tones from the throat, better known as singing”.“Are you interested in pursuing lessons of life or music lessons?”Not knowing just what to do at this amazing sight, I quickly said I would like to have some singing lessons.He adjusted his gray English top hat, his Ascot tie, his gray spats that were just above his two rear hoofs, and his gray gentleman’s gloves which he had tucked at the end of his guitar strap.“What do I need to do to get started? Do you charge for lessons? Do I need to know how to play the guitar as good as you do?”“No son. Here’s all you need to do.”“Go out and gather up about a bushel of the greenest and most tender briars that you can find and bring them to me.”“About a bushel?” “Yes, about a bushel”.I slipped off into the woods and searched for what seemed like forever for a bushel of tender green briars. It was a good thing I had my Barlow knife with me. Briars are not easy to gather but I finally got them all together.“Ah, I see you got me some good looking tender green briars”He started munching right away as I observed him grinning and basking in the delight of the green briars.        SONG   Haw! Gee Haw! Haw! Gee Haw! Haw! Gee Hawus! Gee Hawus! Gee Hawus! When he finished consuming the whole bushel, he cocked his top hat back ad proceeded to explain to me the rudiments of singing.Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do, over and over until my eyes watered from watching and listening.Then he leaned back on his haunches, placed his guitar upside down, stroked it with his long ears and began to bray as loud and long as any donkey I had ever heard.         SONG   Haw! Gee Haw! Haw! Gee Haw! Haw! Gee Hawus! Gee Hawus! Gee Hawus!  Thanks for the briars.The briars that taste so good.Thanks for the briars They taste just like they should  It’s not all I have to say  Even though you’ve heard me bray   I’ll teach you to sing   In my own donkey way. “Or my name is not Professor Geehawus Brayus, PhD of  Musicology, Psychology & Philosophy.” We sang and sang and brayed and brayed until it was late in the afternoon.  We sang together. We sang solos. We sang Patriotic songs, old Folk songs, Gospel songs, Sea chanties, Cowboy songs and songs about animals Once while we were singing a song about a cowboy riding a horse in a stampede, Professor Geehawus Brayus, started crying and got real sad.                                                                             SONG    There’s danger there of stampede   3000 head of Longhorn steers.   There’s danger there of stampede   120000 hoofs will pound the ground   On the Longhorn cattle drive.  Twelve young men,  they call cowboys   They-re heading north to Abilene   They’re riding their ponies   They’re headed North   On the Longhorn cattle drive. “Why are you crying Sir?” I asked “I am so sad. Deep down inside, every donkey wants to be a horse and I want to be a horse”. “I know once you are a donkey, you will always be a donkey”. “I’m stuck”! “Sir (I couldn’t believe I was actually calling a donkey “Sir”), in addition to teaching music and singing, your sign says that you are a psychologist & philosopher.” “Perhaps we could both sit down and figure out how you could be a horse”. “Are you sure you would really like to be a horse”? “Why do you want to become a horse”? “Why son! Horses are very elegant courageous steeds that are at the head of everything and heroes in all pictures.” “They are strong and can run fast. People pay money to see them run and bet money on them at the horse races. They are wonderful”. “They run with such a beautiful gait. Marvelous! Marvelous! Marvelous! “But Professor Brayus, mules and donkeys can do every gait that a horse can. Didn’t you know that.  All you need is a little training. If you had a saddle, I could show you” “Well, I do happen to have a saddle. It’s a special saddle.  Wore it during the Spanish American War when I was on San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt. A medical worker rode on my back and also carried supplies on my back. I received a special commendation for that. Hmmmm! Maybe being a donkey hasn’t been that bad”. “Well, don’t cry and be sad Dr. Brayus. I may have an idea that will help you.” “When you and I were singing those beautiful songs when you were giving me singing lessons, do you ever imagine that you were in any of the songs”? “Why yes!” said the Professor. “I always try to use my imagination but I still only see myself as a donkey”. “Professor, close your eyes and relax and listen”.           SONG   Oh, the river is wide  And I gotta cross over  Me and my pony  To the other shore  On the Longhorn Cattle Drive. There’s danger there of stampede  St. Elmo’s Fire a-dancing ‘round There’s danger there of stampede  On the Longhorn Cattle Drive. “Now in you’re mind you are imagining that you are one of those proud, wild broken, mustang, Texas Longhorn Cattle Drive horses”. “Yes, but when I open my eyes it all goes away”. “Yep! Let me tell you why. Remember, I’m no psychologist or philosopher”. “You are a donkey, right” “You can speak wonderful flawless English. You have a wonderful refined education. You dress impeccable like an English gentleman. You can play guitar in a way that anyone would envy, and you can sing good enough to not only sound great but also teach singing.” “As far as wanting to be a horse because of all of the glamour and attention they receive,I want to remind you of a few things I have observed”. “First of all you were born a donkey. What do you know about donkeys and mules?” “There was a donkey in the manger when Jesus was born. Jesus rode a donkey. In South American countries and other countries of the world donkeys and mules are more important than horses. Plowing, climbing mountain trails, pulling wagons and don’t forget the famous Army mule.” “The mule is a cross between a donkey stallion (called a jack) and a horse mare. Hinnies are just the opposite - a stallion horse crossed to a donkey jennet.  Sometimes horse mules (the males) are called Johns, and the mares are called Mollies Mules”
”Mules try their best to imitate the donkey's bray, but most have a unique sound that is a combination of the horse's whinny and the grunting of the wind-down of a bray. Most will start out -Whinee.....and end in "-aw ah aw".   Every mule or hinny will have a unique bray.”  “As you know, with all due respect sir, the donkey's voice is a raspy, brassy Bray, the characteristic Aw-EE, Aw-EE sound.”   ”Mules can be used in exactly the same sports as horses - under saddle, in harness, for cutting, roping or dressage. In actuality, they have more stamina and can carry more weight than a horse of equal size. “ “There is one particular aspect where the mule actually outshines the horse, and that is high-jumping”.  “Wow! I always wondered why I could jump so high when I’m dancing and cuttin’-the-buck”. “Also, a donkey has longer ears than a horse” “So if you were a horse, you wouldn’t have those long melodic guitar-picking ears that you possess”
“Mules are not really stubborn. They can seem lazy because they will not put themselves in danger. A horse can be worked until it drops, but not so with a mule. The "stubborn" streak is just the mule's way of telling humans that things are not right. Mules are very intelligent and it is not a good idea to abuse a mule. They will do their best for their owner, with the utmost patience.” “But”, said the Professor, “that’s not as glamorous as the horses on a Longhorn Cattle Drive”. “Listen sir. It took 12 cowboys to ride a herd of 3000 Longhorn Cattle. It took one man called the wrangler to handle the 125-150 horses because it took about 3 horses per man per day. There was the trail boss and his assistant or maybe the owner. Then there was the chuckwagon with the cook and maybe one helper.” “The chuckwagon was pulled by either two to four mules each day. They lead the way. Each night they stopped and the wagon tongue was pointed north toward the North Star. They called it following “The Drinking Gourd”, the name for the Star formation.” “Now those chuckwagon mules were the real heroes. They hauled everything that was needed for food, clothing, shelter, medicine, blacksmithing and everything else. They were treated with the utmost respect”. “Never pretend to be something. That’s what Halloween is for when people dress up and pretend to be somebody or something else.” “Pretending is not really you in a situation” “It’s fake!” “Using your imagination inside your brain is real”! “When you use your imagination, you can use it in a song, a story or a thought”. “If you want to be a beautiful wild horse running across a meadow in your mind using your own imagination, go for it”. “But remember who you are and be proud to be a donkey with all the credentials you have” “How many other donkeys, horses and mules can sing, play the guitar with their ears and have an education like you”. “Ever think about Donkey Baseball? What animal besides a donkey can play baseball?” “Son, how about some more singing lessons.” He handed me the basket and I got out my Barlow to head out for some more tender green briars. After awhile I had a bushel of tender green briars and I started back to the opening where Professor Geehawus Brayus, PhD, Musicology, Psychology & Philosophy had his wagon tied up.  By the way! His wagon was painted with a lot of bright colors. Red, yellow and green.  I had forgotten all about the wagon.  Hmmmm!  I must ask him a few questions about that wagon. When I approached I could hear him singing. He was leaned back on his haunches, his guitar upside down, his long ears just a-strumming.                SONG   Wagon Wheels, Wagon Wheels   Keep on a-turning, Wagon Wheels.   Roll along, Sing your song Keep on a-turning and roll along. Go along now mule   Oh the boss is understanding  Roll along, Sing your song  There’s a pasture at the end of each road. Wagon Wheels, Wagon Wheels  Keep on a-turning, Wagon Wheels.Roll along, Sing your songKeep on a-turning and roll along. There’s a steamboat a-waiting at the landing  Waiting for this cotton to load. Roll along, Sing your song  Keep on a-turning and roll along. Wagon Wheels, Wagon Wheels  Keep on a-turning and roll along. Gee and Haw, Gee and Haw  Wagon Wheels keep rolling along. “Wow, what a beautiful song”, I said as he finished the song. “What were you thinking as you were singing it?” “Were you using your imagination?” “Yes I was son”. I was really into it. I felt like I was doing the wonderful work of a handsome mule pulling an important cargo down to the elegant riverboat”. “I pictured beautiful ladies standing on the hurricane deck of the riverboat with their pretty clothes and parasols.” “I saw the riversharp gamblers, floozies, dockworkers, and the boatmen standing around” “They were all looking at me and admiring my work. I felt proud”!  “There you go Professor Geehawus Brayus, PhD, Musicology, Psychology & Philosophy”. “You can go anywhere or be anything you want to be if you will just use your imagination”. “That’s why I like to read Professor. I have read a lot of good books that have brought me to a lot of places and have let me do a lot of things”                      SONG   I’ve climbed the highest mountains  I’ve sailed the Seven SeasI’ve hiked a hundred highways  I have smelled the desert breeze ......“I’ve been to The Northwest Territories with Jack London and learned about man’s greed for gold and the inhumane treatment of animals” “I’ve learned a lot from the great Mark Twain. I’ve traveled the Mississippi, as a river pilot. I’ve been on a river raft with Huckleberry Finn and the Slave Jim. I’ve painted the fence with Tom Sawyer. I’ve been out west and traveled the world with Mark Twain”. I burst into Song:  When I was just a little boy about eight or nine or ten    I dreamed I was Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn   We would build a river raft and float around the bend    When I was just a little boy about eight or nine or ten. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn   Floating down the river,  floating ‘round the bend   When I was just a little boy about eight or nine or ten With pirate patches on and home made swords in hand  We searched for buried treasure throughout that river land. When I was just a little boy about eight or nine or ten   Floating down the river,  floating ‘round the bend But one day when I grew up I heard a whistle blow.  I jumped on board a riverboat A-roaming for to go. I traveled up and I traveled down. I traveled all around I went on every riverboat in every river town. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn Floating down the river,  floating ‘round the bend When I was just a little boy about eight or nine or ten  “Well sonny boy, you’ve done right well with your singing lessons” “I’ve also been in an imaginary city under the seas with Jules Verne. Harpooned whales with Herman Melville. Been on a pirate adventure with Long John Silver and the cabin boy Jim in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Celebrated Christmas with Tiny Tim because of Charles Dickens. Lived in the Little House on the Prairie. Been to space with Buck Rogers. Ridden many a horse and toted many a-six-gun because of Zane Grey and Louis Lamour.” “You’ve also caused me to realize how important reading good books, and using my imagination has meant to me”. “You’ve made me realize that being a donkey is important. Not just being a donkey but an educated donkey with a lot of talents and experiences that I need to share with others”. “Reach in my wagon and pull out that special made saddle that I wore on San Juan Hill with Teddy and the Boys” “That’s right! Strap ‘her on. Pull it good and tight”. What a picture we were, riding thru the tall-treed woods. A donkey with an English top-hat, Ascot tie, spats, a guitar ‘round his neck, silk gloves tucked in the guitar strap and a Spanish American War US Army saddle hanging on his back.                 SONG  I’m Back In The Saddle Again   Out where a friend is a friend   Where the Longhorn Cattle feed   On the lowly jimson weed   I’m Back In The Saddle Again. Yippy Yi Ki Yay!   I go my merry way   I’m Back In The Saddle Again   Yippy Yi Ki Yo! Rocking to and fro  I’m Back In The Saddle Again. Riding the range once more. Wearing my old forty-four  Where you sleep out every night  And the only law is right  I’m Back In The Saddle Again    Yippy Yi Ki Yay! I go my merry way  I’m Back In The Saddle Again  Yippy Yi Ki Yo!  Rocking to and fro  I’m Back In The Saddle Again.  It felt good to ride the old Professor. He knew all the gaits. He danced. He pranced. He reared up. He bowed. He hurried up hills and ran around corners as fast as he could. I had never really ridden a horse much when I was younger. We didn’t own one. We didn’t have the money for a horse.  Other than reading, my experience with horses was at the movie theatre. My hero was Gene Autry and his horse Champion. Today my Champion was Professor Geehawus Brayus, PhD, Musicology, Psychology & Philosophy. Decorated hero of San Juan Hill.  “Whew! I’m out of breath. Let’s take a break. Hadn’t done that in years. Feels good. How’d you like the ride?” “Professor, you are amazing! Absolutely amazing.” I got down off of him and took the saddle off and cleaned it off just before putting it back in the wagon.  Oh yeah! The wagon. Nosey me. I couldn’t help but be nosey and curious as I looked inside the wagon to see what all was there.   I saw lots of weird things. Old carvings, relics of musical instruments, piles of books, a medical bag, a cowboy hat and six-gun, fishing rods, a telescope, sea anchor, Indian head dress and spear, and lots of neat stuff that I saw without being too obvious.  “Curiosity got you about what’s in there? Lot’s of stories. Lot’s of stories. Need to tell some of them to you sometime. Now about them singing lessons.” He began to yawn and acted kinda sleepy. “How’s about a little nap. I’m full of briars. By the way. Thanks for the briars. They were right tasty”. “And thanks again for jogging my memory about using my imagination, my imagination (he started laying down). I think I’ll just close my eyes for awhile. Haw-Zee, Haw-Zee, Haw-Zee……..” He had drifted off to sleep. “Well, thank you for the wonderful ride and the singing lessons and all the lessons you taught me today”. I started back to my rowboat that was tied up on the bank but decided to turn around and take a little nap myself. I climbed up into the wagon and got my toe caught in the wrung.  Got my toe caught in the wrung!  I raised up! Why my tow wasn’t caught in any wrung. I had been dreaming. My catfish line that was tied to my big toe was pulling to beat sixty. I had a big one on. Whoopie! I grabbed and pulled and wound that big old catfish in. Long as my arm and croaking away as I put him on the bank under that pine tree I had been resting on while I was asleep. Why was I sweating. Man, I had been dreaming.  Dreaming about a donkey that could play the guitar and sing. Professor Geehawus Brayus, PhD, Musicology, Psychology & Philosophy As I gathered my stuff up and hoisted my big catfish over my shoulder, I headed toward home. Full of thoughts and memories “ riverboat, rowboat, donkey, wagon, guitar, Spanish American War,etc”. My big toe got to hurtin’ and I decided to set my stuff down and take a breather before I got back out on the main road to home. It was a long walk. Hmmm! Ruts in the road like wagon wheels. A small wagon. Hmmm! Hoof prints!  Hmmm! A few cuttings of fresh cut green briars! Had I really been dreaming all that time or was it just my I-M-A-G-I-N-A-T-I-O-N…… I’ll bet I have another encounter with Professor Geehawus Brayus, PhD, Musicology, Psychology & Philosophy