kenneth ennis – A Mule Tale

postcard DM6

The notion of a web site called the “Dead Mule” got me to thinking about, well, a dead mule. A mule that had been buried in my memory years ago. The poor animal laid out in front of an old run down house just up the road from the Indian Creek crossing. Can’t recall the name of the road if in deed it ever had one. Anyhow it was the route that Cecil Nix took when he drove our school bus.

Our destination was the old Prospect school in Prospect Alabama. It was a big old wood building with no running water or indoor toilets. The school taught grades one thru nine. I’d not even hazard a guess at the number of students enrolled there. I do remember that lunch was served using three shifts to accommodate everybody. The little lunch room could feed about seventy five people during each lunch period. The first two periods were packed but number three had only about twenty diners.

That lunch room building was the pride of the entire county school system. It was the first of several that would get put up in the coming months of 1946. Kind of the pattern for the all the rest. Lunch was not free at that time. Each student was obligated to pay one dollar a week or else bring his or her own lunch. Milk was free to everybody. Don’t recall what part the government played in the lunch program. Maybe the government furnished the milk. Hell, I was only about 7 or 8 years old at the time.

Now about that dead mule. It just lay there day after day. It had belonged to the folks that lived in the old run down house across the road. My dad used to call them old houses “shot gun houses”. He said you could stand outside the place and shoot though the window on one end and out the window on the far end and hit nothing. No furniture, no food, no nothing. That damned old dead mule was starting stink and draw buzzards. Would not have been so bad except Cecil had stop the school bus at the dead mule spot everyday. There was three school age kids living in that old run down house.They rode with the rest of us to Prospect. They were named M.L., Eugene and Bobby Gene. M.L. was the oldest of the three. Bobby Gene and Eugene were twins. Bobby Gene was a girl with a boys name I reckon. These kids were a prime example of the results of poverty and pure old laziness. Dirty clothes, dirty faces with constantly running noses and old wore out “Brogan shoes”.

I finally asked M.L. what they was keeping that dead mule for. His reply was that they was going to bury “Old Jack” soon as paw got the time to dig a big enough hole. I reckon Luther a.k.a paw was just to busy doing nothing to take time to bury the dead and now very ripe mule. Good Lord what a stench. The buzzards was so bad that Cecil was afraid to let the kids off the bus.

Nature tends to do its own thing. The mule carcass just up and disappeared of its own accord. Nature’s critters done what Luther didn’t. It was a sad ending for an animal that had spent its life serving its masters. Then again I’m a mule person so maybe I view them in a different light.