Monday, May 26, 2014
IT'S A GATOR! IT'S A M******F******* GATOR!
Somehow the original post was lost, so I will try to retell this story as best I can to the first time. This is a true story!
IT'S A GATOR! IT'S A M******F******* GATOR!
From the car I remember driving back then it must have been the Summer of '65. It could not have been the Summer of '66 or later as that damned Draft was taking Hogansville's finest young men off to war. Dwayne Robinson was there, so it had to be 65 because he left early in '66 when we graduated.
It was the middle of Summer, another do-nothing Saturday night. There were several of us sitting on the steps of Jabley's Dept. Store, our usual place to hang out. We had rounded up a six pack and were all having one. One each was enough, the point was not to get drunk, just say that you had a beer with the guys and not be lying. The talk was the usual BS; girls, cars, girls, movies, girls, etc., etc. As I recall we were content, not looking to get into any trouble--but would not pass up the opportunity if it presented itself.
TROUBLE COMING KNOCKING!
I am guessing that it was probably around 9 to 9:30pm when up roared a car load of the 'Williamson Brothers'. Now there are several different families of the Williamsons in Hogansville, but this branch is of the junk yard fame. I remember Ed was driving, as Charlie was what is know as "shot in the ass" drunk(I have not clue of the origin of that phrase, although I did GOOGLE the term and found out you can 'BUTT CHUG" alcohol and get very, very drunk--a strange world we live in). There were several other guys in the car, cousins or something. Ole Charlie, riding shot gun, hangs his head out the window and slurs, "Y'all want a gator?''
It only to a second for Dwayne to look at me and me to look at him and in harmony say, "Hell yeah!"
Charlie gets out of the car and opens the trunk. Now it was a hot as hell Saturday in Georgia. Those boys had seen the gator along side the road as they were coming back from the beach, Panama City Beach, to be exact. Instantly one of them had said it would make a good pair of alligator boots and without any more discussion, a large caliber pistol was drawn from the dash and the gator met his fate. Now there were no 4 lane roads form Fla. to Hogansville back then and it took a while to get back to Hogansville. I say this to give you an idea of how long that gator baked in that hot trunk on a hot long trip. Also on that long ride home, someone had come to their senses enough to mention that the possession of an alligator was a felony. The possession of a DEAD alligator was an added charge. Well, when Charlie opened that trunk, I think the odor was enough to sober him up. Smell or not we still wanted him. Charlie grabbed that 4 1/2 carcass by the tail and dropped it at our feet, and off they roared, jail time avoided.
"What are you idiots going to do with a dead, stinking, ILLEGAL, alligator," on of the guys asked, as if expecting an intelligent answer. I looked at Dwayne, then looked at the side door of the Royal Theatre then back at Dwayne. "Hell, yeah", was his response a second time. I scrounged around in my trunk and found a roll of twine that they made in the mill. It was good for all sorts of things.
We each grabbed a front leg and off we went to the side door of the ROYAL. We put the gator in the street with its head and front paws on the curb. I took twine and tied it around the neck and ran it along the gutter around to the front of the Theatre to the CAB sign out front. I made a loop in the other end of the twine and slipped my foot in and we waited.
THEATER POLITICS IN 1965!
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had just be passed a few months earlier, but had not migrated that far South by the Summer of '65. That meant that the movie theater was still segregated, with the whites sitting on the main floor and the blacks sitting in the balcony(which, by the way, were the best seats). The entry and exit to the balcony was the side door.
Around 10pm the movie was over, as the volume of chatter would indicate. You could hear the mass of young people coming down the steps and the creak of the metal fire door swinging open. I was looking over my right shoulder and just as I saw the door swing open, I get several jerks with my foot in the loop of twine that in turn giggled the head of the long-dead alligator.
Dead or not, it caught the attention of the group. I saw one kid with his arms wide apart backing up and sweeping everyone back into the building, exclaiming as he went, "IT'S A GATOR, IT'S A M*****F******GATOR!" the door slamming with a loud report, especially loud in that alleyway. Almost instantly the door opened again, just a little, and heads started popping out all around the door almost like a scene from a cartoon. I giggled the gator a second time, again the door slammed shut, barely missing the opportunity of decapitating several young children. Screams erupted and you could hear and see wild eyed children jumping over the back candy case to the front candy case and running out the front door.
I swiftly slid my foot from the loop and Dwayne and I walked to the front door, asking, "What's going on, what's happening?"
The Police had been called and were not too far away. You could hear that old style siren that takes time to wind up and is still winding down 5 minutes after they arrive at the scene.
Assistant Chief Dick Staley and his partner, Norman Smith jumped out of the car, both with shiny .357 caliber S&W's drawn, pointed in the direction of where the children were pointing and screaming. Both officer were about to kill the gator even deader when Dwayne and I wandered up, peered over the heads of the smaller children, to ask, "What is that thang, Dick?" At that point Dick and Norman holstered their cannons, Dick ordering Norman to disperse the crowd, while he called me and Dwayne to the side, "I know you two sumbitches had something to do with this and if I prove it, I'll put you both under the jail"
We could have gone back to Jabley's and sat down and continue our BS session, but, I just couldn't--I just couldn't.
"Dick, is there any way you could sell me that gator, it would make a great pocket book for Mother." Not before or after when I worked on the Police Dept. with Dick, had I seen him get that red or that mad. He probably came close to having a coronary right then. "Git your damn ass out of town now, the lot of you, and I just hope you scratch of or run a stop sign!"
They never did solve the case of the Damn Gator!