kenneth ennis – artus and buck


Away back along time ago, my folks rented a house from Fannie Cheatom. Ms. Fannie was a widow women. She was also my mom’s aunt. The family connection was why we wound up in Fannie’s house. Fannie’s husband Edward had passed away about 2 years prior to us renting the house. Fannie chose not to live in the old house. She wanted to live with her daughter instead.

The Cheatoms had one daughter. Her name was Sarah and she lived just up the road from her parents home place. Sarah was married to Artus Warren. They had one child, a girl named Betty Faye.

Artus had worked for the Mr. Cheatom. The two of them had run a combination grist and sawmill. Although Sarah was about nine years younger, Artus had been smitten by her. She was a pretty but frail little thing. As an only child she had been sheltered all her life. For what ever reason she resisted her parents efforts to spoil her preferring to do things on her own. Artus often said how much he admired her “spunk”. Sarah had likewise found both friend and lover in Artus.

Artus weren’t no angel but Sarah was able to keep him pretty much in line. Actually Artus was a good husband and worker. His only flaw was his weakness for corn liquor. Sarah and her parents were surprisingly tolerant of the drinking except for when he tried driving and drinking. Artus managed to survive two near fatal accidents before Sarah put her foot down.

Artus like so many of his southern brothers owned a mule. In this case the mule was a fine little
“Jenny”female mule. Her name for reasons know only to Artus was Buck. When Sarah grounded her spouse she overlooked how resourceful he could be. At first Artus attempted to put a saddle on Buck and ride her. Now Buck had been saddle broke but she was a little “skittish” just the same.. After several failed attempts to ride Buck , Artus figured there had to be a better way. The better way took form in a fine old one horse Studebaker Wagon that he found in the area. Wasn’t long before Artus had Buck and the wagon working just fine.

Mules pulling wagons were common in rural Alabama. My own grandpaw Henry had a fine red mule that he used with his own wagon. However, Artus and Buck were destined to become local legends.

When Mr. Cheatom died he left everything to his wife and only child. Fannie closed down the old house and moved in with Sarah and Artus. This arrangement worked fine. The women gave Artus even more freedom. As long as he opened the mill on Monday morning, Artus could do as he pleased. He’d drive by our place early Saturday morning. Him, Buck and that little green and yellow wagon heading for town. A long about “dusky” dark , Buck and the wagon would ease back past our house. Not a sign of Artus anywhere to be seen.

Truth was that Artus was either a sleep or passed out in the bed of that little wagon. Ever body talked about how Buck always got Artus home regardless of weather or traffic. Artus liked to kid about how neither a Ford or Chevy could do what Buck could do.