The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Grandpa vs The Hobo

By Jennifer Perkins © 1991

Issue: June, 1991

Grandpa surveyed his orchard in the late afternoon sunshine of an Indian summer day. "I'll be havin' a bumper crop of apples and peaches," he thought aloud. He paused and leaned against his hoe, as the gentle breeze stirred the tree branches. A strange odor tickled his nose. Seeking its source, he began to search the orchard. Slouched against a peach tree was a filthy hobo puffing away on a small cigar butt. "Put out that cigar, you could set my place afire! Can't you see the dry grass?"

The hobo took another puff, paused and blew a series of smoke rings before crushing out the cigar with the heel of his shoe. "But it's my last one."

"You lookin' for work?"

"Naw. Jest want a place to rest these weary feet a spell," he said as he wiggled his toes bared in worn out shoes that had more holes than leather. The vagrant sat down, leaned against the tree trunk and pulled his battered felt hat down over his eyes.

"You can rest a spell, but I want you off my place 'fore dark."

The hobo nodded and Grandpa went back to cleaning out his irrigation ditches. As the sun was setting, he checked the orchard to see if the hobo was still hanging about. "I just don't trust that shifty character," he said to himself.

Grandpa washed his hands and face at the pump outside before entering Grandma's spotless kitchen. "Dinner's almost ready. Tell the children to wash up.

"Mmmm. My favorite fudge cake. That for after supper?"

Grandma swatted his hand when he reached over to taste some stray fudge frosting on the plate. "Henry. That's for our Sunday dinner."

"It would set well now, Em."

"After our Sunday dinner," Grandma said. "Don't try any of your nonsense on me."

Grandpa groaned. The preacher would drone his long sermon and he'd be sitting in the back row just dreaming about that fudge cake. He could almost taste it now. Grandma placed the cake near the kitchen window that she had opened to cool the house. The family took their places at the table in the dining room. Grandpa said the blessing and Grandma served their simple supper.

"I spotted a hobo in the orchard this afternoon. A good-for-nothin' fellow."

"Was he looking for work?"

"He just wanted to sit a spell."

Grandpa felt a prickle up his spine when he heard a noise in the kitchen. "Bet that's him, after my cake." He tossed down his napkin. Henry reached the kitchen just in time to see his fudge cake disappear through the kitchen window.

"Come back here, you thievin' varmint."

Grandpa raced out the back door and gave chase. The hobo ran toward the railroad tracks. Grandpa's threats filled the evening air. He paused long enough to wrench a pitchfork out of the haystack as he passed the barnyard.

The hobo glanced over his shoulder sensing danger at his heels. Grandpa wasn't giving up his cake without a fight. "Give me my cake," he said as he brandished the pitchfork.

Now Grandpa is a kind-hearted fellow not given to violence, but seeing his fudge cake in those grimy hands made him hoppin' mad. The pitchfork whizzed through the air narrowly missing his target. "Here's yer cake," the hobo hollered as he tossed the cake to the side of the railroad tracks and picked up speed.

Grandpa stopped. There in the weeds lay his broken fudge cake scattered amidst broken glass and gravel. "There'll be no cake for my Sunday dinner," he groaned, watching his dog lick up a few crumbs. "Where were you when that rat snitched my cake?" He said, as they retraced their steps back to the house.

Editor's Note... Jennifer Perkins publishes a genealogical surname booklet called Perkins Press (Virginia Perkins family branches included). If you would like information about ordering it, write to Jennifer A. Perkins, N. 5803 Ash, Spokane, Washington 99205-6807. The cost is $5.50 per volume plus $1.50 for postage and handling.