The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Game

By John Hassell Yeatts © 1986

Issue: December, 1986

My good and very witty buddy, the late Allen C. Spangler used to delight in telling tales about George Washington Spangler, my great uncle and Allen's great grandfather, whom they affectionately called "Grand Pap Coon." He was never known by any other name but Coon during his lifetime, so far as anyone can remember.

The way it was, according to Allen:

Once Coon, an older man and my Uncle Len Reynolds, a young man, had started to Bell Spur on a cool November day about 1895 and ran into a bunch of the "good ole boys," who somehow produced a jug of elixir of corn and a deck of playing cards. They commenced a poker game near a spring because the corn needed some chasing by good, cold water.

One player, a large individual, was notorious for "bluffing" (i.e. pretending to have a winning hand and betting until the rest of players folded). Finally Uncle Coon called him a "Damn thieving rascal." The man warned Coon to cease and desist calling him such names. A few drinks and a few hands later, Uncle Coon repeated the charge. The big man lunged and grabbed him around the neck, drug him to the spring and plunged his head under the water. Coon's comrade, Uncle Len pulled the man off and Coon pulled his head from the water coughing and sputtering. "Now Mr. Spangler, are you going to stop calling me a damn thieving rascal?" he wanted to know. Coon replied, "Well I guess I'm going to stop calling you that, but you'd have to hold my head under a lot longer than that to stop me from thinking it."

Tempers cooled and they resumed their game of poker.