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COUNTRY RAMBLIN'S


by Tamara Hillman

DUPPIE-MY KID BROTHER

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My brother Clyde was born December 14th, 1946, one year and two weeks after my birth.

Dad nicknamed him Hoofer-duffer. (Why, I do not know.)
Cousin Anne Marie, at the tender age of three, couldn't pronounce this strange name so she immediately shortened it to Duppie. A more fitting name for him might have been, "Tasmanian Devil" between the ages of three and six for he truly was a terror!
He was small and wiry, quick as a fox and just as cunning.
In any case, Clyde was called Dup or Duppie by friends and family alike until he entered first grade at Allen Elementary in Twisp, Washington.

These are but a few of his delightful escapades before entering school...
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Duppie had a fetish for pitching things down our outdoor privy. Meeting that terrible fate were live chickens, an old car bumper, my new Christmas doll, one of his slippers, a favored knit cap, and absolutely anything else he could possibly lift, drag, or carry to the hole. It was beyond belief how the wee imp accomplished such feats of imagination and strength.

One hot summer's day, Dup rolled a boulder bigger than himself against the privy door. He then went merrily off to play, leaving me trapped inside. I screamed and pounded that door until slivers covered my hands and forearms, yet no one heard.

Finally, someone apparently needing use of the facilities came to my rescue. By then, I was covered in sweat and weak from screaming. I am claustrophobic to this day because of that little incident.

Whenever Dad questioned Duppie about any of the privy episodes or other various happenstances, he would look innocent and reply, "Santa Claus did it!" Even in mid-July with 105-degree temperatures, Santa was blamed. We were never lead to believe Santa Claus even existed so why Dup chose him as the fall guy was never clearly understood. The "Santa did it" excuse came to an abrupt end, however, when Dad heard it once too often. He grabbed Dup up by the seat of the pants and said, "This time, Santa's gonna get his butt beat!"
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On a warm, sunny afternoon, Mom was doing laundry on the back porch while we kids entertained ourselves playing in mud puddles caused by a late spring rain. We could hear the old wringer-washer squeezing water from clothes as we played nearby.
Dup found a long green lizard in one of the puddles. He snatched it up by the tail and ran swinging it, hollering, "Look Mom, see what I got!"
As Mom turned and laid eyes on that lizard dangling from his fingers, she let out a blood-curdling scream that scared poor Duppie half to death. He flung the lizard- causing it to be air-born until it made a three-point landing on her chest, then, scurried down the front of her sundress. She proceeded in doing the most fantastic Indian war dance we, or Indians for that matter, had ever seen.

The poor lizard scurried around her waist, exited down the back of her legs, and tore off in the direction of the fields seeking safe haven. Mom then ran inside the house as if the thing was still chasing her, while we kids stood motionless, wide-eyed, and heavy-hearted at the loss of our newly acquired pet.
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When Duppie was still in his Tasmanian Devil stage, he and older cousin Anne Marie got into lots of mischief. Mom babysat her daily while her mother worked, and together, Dup and she combined evil forces. What one didn't think of, the other one did. The missing fruit jars were just one of the many incidents Dup was involved in with her.

Anne Marie and he decided one spring day to collect all of Mom's empty fruit jars, and set them up in a deep pit surrounding our well. They lined each one up in true cowboy fashion to do some target practicing. Then, instead of shooting them with trusty six-guns, they pitched rocks.

After several jars had been broken, they climbed into the hole to inspect their misdeeds. Dup immediately sliced his middle finger on a shard of glass. He ran for the house, trailing blood across field, back porch, and Mom's freshly mopped kitchen.

She had no car, and at the time, didn't know how to drive one anyway, so Anne Marie's mother was summoned from her workplace to take Duppie to our local doctor for several stitches in his finger.
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Another happening was the surprise arson. Dup and his partner-in-crime found old newspapers on the back porch, and decided to light them on fire.
By the time Mom discovered the blaze, flames were leaping up the wall. Luckily, it was washday again, and she had two tubs of water sitting within close reach to throw on the raging inferno. The fire was dowsed before getting out of control, and both arsonists were punished. That charred wall remained as such until the old house was eventually torn down.
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I was of a more observant nature, and was content to just suck my thumb, twiddle my hair, and daydream except for one crucial day when a stray dog wandered into our yard to visit. Duppie decided to make friends with the huge mongrel, and wrapping his short little arms around its neck, he gave the animal a BIG hug.
The dog had other ideas, and began gnawing on Dup like an old bone. Cousin Anne Marie and I ran straight for Dad's logging truck, and clawed our way to the top of the cab, screaming all the while for Mom to come quick! Peering down from our perch, I can still remember dirt and blood flying as that dog held Dup firmly in his teeth, flip-flopping him around like a rag doll.
Mom finally heard our screams, and came to the rescue-beating the dog off her bloody child with a broom. The dog left for parts unknown, and we girls climbed cautiously down from the truck.
Dup had several stitches, and carried scars on his forehead for many years. I don't believe he has hugged another dog since.
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Dup and Anne Marie unconsciously taught me a lesson in how fast fat men can run.
They had climbed to the top of two sixty-foot pine trees in our grandparent's backfield, and refused to come down when Mom called us all to lunch.
It was mid-summer, and beastly hot as usual. Mom was nine months pregnant with her third child, and after several tries to coax the two little demons to come down- our overweight granddad had finally had enough. He went to the trees and demanded they descend immediately. Then, he cut a willow switch and stood to one side as they slowly climbed down from their lofty perch. When their feet hit the ground, they lit out runnin'. Grandpa John started after them, and I ran too just in case he thought I was guilty of something. He passed me shouting, "I'm not after you Tammi," and soon caught up to Dup and Anne Marie.
I stared in amazement wondering how a man of his girth actually was able to overtake the sprinters. They were fast, but not fast enough!
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Dup was forever borrowing Dad's tools to build a fort, go-cart, or whatever ingenious creation he could imagine. This was not looked upon favorably since these particular tools were somehow always lost and never returned to their proper place.
One fall day, Dup and a neighborhood chum, Rusty, decided to tunnel out an underground fort between the barn and chicken coop. They needed however to build a wooden cover for the great-room after the tunnel and entrance were completed, and the room was hollowed out to about 5x5.
Hammers and nails were brought forth, and they proceeded to complete the task. When it was finished to their satisfaction, replacing the tools was the least of their concerns.
The days were growing short so it was dark by the time Dad headed for the barn to milk. He returned almost immediately, and was not in a jovial mood. It seems he had stepped on one of the boys discarded boards with a nail sticking straight up, and it had run through his overshoe, cowboy boot, and foot.
While Mom went with Dad to the doctor for a tetanus shot, Dup was ordered to fill in the fort by the light of an old flashlight, and pick up all tools and nail-riddled boards.
I don't recall if the poor kid got any supper that night, but I doubt it.
All in all, I'm amazed my whirlwind brother ever grew to manhood, but I'm sure grateful that he did. (And by the way, he's a very docile adult.)

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In honor of Memorial Day......

My father is a veteran of WW11, and brother, Duppie, a soldier during Vietnam.......
And to all those heroes and veterans of many wars, I dedicate this poem:

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starstar starVETERAN’S HONORstarstar star

We honor our veterans,
and give them their due—
words can’t express thanks
for trials they went through.

Our young men complied
trusting other men’s orders,
relying on training
to protect allied borders.

Missing most holidays
and family events,
questioning not
the places they went.

While they sat in foxholes,
dirty and cold—
we were protected
by those brave and bold.

Many saw action—
some gave their lives,
never returning to
husbands and wives.

While we took for granted
our freedom and flag,
veterans saw buddies
sent home in a bag.

So honor our Veterans,
and give them their due—
words can’t express thanks
for trials they went through.

Live an honorable life, and stay true to yourself and others. Granny Tam

© 2002

 

 


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