Monday, September 3, 2007

The Day Uncle Curtis' Bunnys Did the Town


Chuck Connors

Well if this don’t beat all. Over in eastern Germany where lederhosen,
apple strudel, and skin heads are tourist attractions, Karl Szmolinsky is
fixin’ to feed the world’s hungry. Maybe not the whole world, but you’ve got
to start somewhere. And what better place to start than North Korea where
thousands are starving to death every day!

It seems some of Kim Jong Il aka ‘Wacky Kim’s’ people found out
Szmolinsky raises really big rabbits to dress up that sour cabbage that Germans
like to eat. These rabbits, called ‘German Giants’ are as least as big as
Cocker Spaniels. Arf arf. The North Koreans “came here and they checked
out the rabbits,” Szmolinsky told the Associated Press. “They really liked them.”

Well all this foolishness reminds me of my Uncle Curtis. Uncle
Curtis was a good old boy raised right here in the mountains. He was looking
at the Sears and Roebuck catalog one afternoon while taking care of business
in the outhouse. One of the advertisements Uncle Curtis just happened to spot
was selling breeding pairs of rabbits. “Start Your Own Rabbit Farm—Guaranteed to
Make Money,” the ad said. Next thing we kids knew Uncle Curtis was pullin’
up the road with a big crate in the bed of his rusty old Ford. Curtis told us kids to not
mess with nothin’. When he turned his back we peered through the slats in the crate and
poked sticks inside.

The only thing we could see was big floppy ears and brown rat-like noses.
These rabbits didn’t look anything like Bugs Bunny in the cartoons they showed before
the movie in town. Uncle Curtis ran us off and moved the crate into the old tobacco
curing shed and locked the doors. It wasn’t too much later we kids forgot about the
rabbits and went back to fishin’, stealing apples from old man Carter up the road, and
laying out of school when we could get away with it.

Every once in a while Uncle Curtis would haul some big sacks of rabbit
pellets from the general store in town. This was in addition to the sacks of ground
corn and sugar he brought in as raw materials for the still up the branch.

One day, a couple of years later, the whole county was as excited as a hive
of stirred up bees over the news that the Governor was planning on makin’ a
speech in front of the court house. A big fair was planned with a livestock show,
pie eating contest and best of all to us kids, a dunking booth with the Chief of Police
in the seat of honor.

On ‘The’ day Uncle Curtis backed his truck up to the shed and loaded
it with a dozen large crates and threw a big tarp over all of ‘em. He drove to town
and backed right up to the livestock tent. The fair manager ran over and began to
raise a ruckus with Uncle Curtis ‘cause he hadn’t reserved a stall.

Uncle Curtis and the manager disappeared around the corner shoutin’ at
each other. Little Johnny Blanton, who was probably the meanest kid in our school
saw his chance. Johnny snuck up to the truck and unlocked all the cages. The
Governor was just starting to ‘speechify’ up on the stage in front of the court house
when someone cut loose with a string of firecrackers .

That was all she wrote for Uncle Curtis’ bunnies. Seemingly hundreds of
the scared rodents broke free of their prison and started hopping like mad through
the crowd. Women screamed, kids shrieked and men jumped. The Governor’s
bodyguards hustled him off the stage and into a State Patrol cruiser. It looked
for all the world as if downtown Sylva had gone mad.

Later on when things got sorted out Uncle Curtis had to promise the Judge
not to raise anymore rabbits. I believe that eventually the rabbits went to feed the
convicts at the county work farm. Humm, did I say work farm? I guess that’s why
‘Wacky Kim’ wants some rabbits for his people. He better watch out though.
Uncle Curtis could tell him a thing or two about loud explosions and keepin’
rabbits penned up.

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