Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What is that Smell? Pt. 2

Money was tight. Living in a small 2-bedroom farmhouse was not easy for 4 boys, mom and dad, grandma, and an aunt. At least there was a barn for the boys to sleep in during the summer. To make extra money, the boys found that skunk pelts would sell for a dime a piece. That is big cash! Enough for a large malt, 2 hamburgers, and fries. "If we can only catch 10 or 20 a week, we would be able to start taking some girls out."

So, skunk catching became the goal. Turns out the Rohde boys had a knack for it. Put out some traps, check them in the morning, and walla instant money!!! Sure, it was a bit tricky to make sure those suckers were dead before they sprayed anyone, but we are talking about a whole dime here.

The eldest boy had the farm car to toil around in as needed. Run errands for mom, check on the fence line, pick up skunks. You know, standard stuff...

The youngest of the four, Clarence (my gramps) was asked to go check the traps one afternoon...after taking the car around, he had found 8 or 9 skunks that were trapped. Diligently, he loaded them into the car and drove home, very proud of his "catch". He drove up the drive, parked the car on the side of the house, and went to see what the other boys were up to in the bar. Being a teenager, he promptly forgot about the skunks and spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the barn. Supper time came, the boys all ate, then headed back out to the barn for some more fun, eventually wearing themselves out and falling asleep in the hayloft.

The next morning one of the boy suggested going to check the traps. Clarence got very excited; "I forgot to tell you guys. I checked the traps yesterday and got 8 or 9 more skunks." Then, with a glimmer of hope in his eye, "I wonder how many sister's old Bessy-May has?"

As they headed to the car, the boys turned their noses. You see, when a skunk dies, it often will drop one last bomb. Clearly a couple of the skunks had decided to carpet bomb the wooden floored vehicle just prior to their final demise.

Hours on his hands and knees could not get the smell to go away...as the Hot Nebraska sun beat down on that car, the smell just seemed to get worse and worse. Days, weeks, even months later that smell was pungent and un-ceasing.

Let's just say they never really had much luck finding a buyer for that car. Years later, when I was a teenager, gramps took us to see that old farmhouse. Sure enough, just past the barn, surrounded by weeds and rusted out, sat an old Ford truck with rotted wooden floors. I swear there was still the faint smell of those skunks last gift.


You can read What is that Smell? Pt. 1 here.

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