When my dad, Irvin Granger McDaniel was growing up the great depression was eating America’s lunch. Jobs were impossible to find, especially for my Grandfather, who was an architect in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Who builds stuff when the unemployment rate hits horrendous 25 percent? Nobody.
But my dad was a resource full kid in worn out dungarees and managed to find several job though he was only eight. Like lots of little boys at the time he sold magazines and delivered newspapers on his bike. The magazines were ten cents each and he delivered them door to door on his bike.
There was a great big fat lady, Mrs Hunter, who lived on Whittington Avenue, just three or four block from his house. She was a problem and very tough to collect from. In fact, she owed my dad more than a dollar. He was in trouble with his boss and his mom because that dollar was dinner for the family of six.
Mrs. Hunter also had a great big white goose that lived in her front yard and served as a watch-dog. Dad hated that goose.Every time he tried to deliver his magazines or collect his ten cents it would attack him, running with it’s huge wings out stretched, honking and biting and hissing. The goose, when truly enraged was bigger than Dad’s bike and scared him so much he got mad and teared up every time he passed the house.
When Mrs. Hunter’s magazine tab hit $1.20, my grandmother looked my dad in the eye and with a baby girl on her hip said something like, “young man, don’t you come home without that dollar twenty, you understand me?”
“Irvin, we’re not gonna eat tonight if you don’t collect that money. You hear me?”
Slowly and full of dread, he peddled off to deliver all his papers and magazines. Then with absolute fear, he forced himself to turn his bike towards Mrs. Hunters house. His saddle bags were empty, there was nothing left for him to do but collect his money. He could hear the goose honking before he could actually see the little house. Irvin dropped his bike outside the front yard gate, picked up a long stick, took a deep breath then hopped the short fence and ran as fast as his short legs could manage. The goose was right behind him flapping mightily and biting his pants legs.
Once Irvin made it to the front porch he knocked as hard as he could but kept his back pressed to the door so he could wack the pissed off goose every time it approached.
Mrs. Hunter opened the front door but not the screen.
“Mrs. Hunter, I need that dollar twenty you owe for magazines.” He could smell liver and onions cooking.
“Irvin McDaniel, you know I don’t have a dollar twenty. You’ll just have to come back some other time.”
“No ma’am. I have to have that money. My momma said I can’t come home till you pay up. You have to pay me Mrs. Hunter.”
“Irvin McDaniel you better not be sassing me or I’ll let your father know in a heart beat. You can’t tell adults what we will and won’t do. Your father should do something about that mouth of yours young man.”
He was still swatting the goose as he spoke, “Yes ma’am I just have to get the money today or we won’t have dinner. You have to pay me Mrs. Hunter.” As he spoke the goose lunged but he managed to kick it in the neck.
Mrs. Hunter never answered, she just slammed the door closed. Then the goose came in for the third attack. It had Irvin’s pants leg in it’s flashing orange bill. Suddenly rage swept through his seventy pound body, and Irvin McDaniel grabbed that goose by it’s long silky neck then twisted with both hands. …hard. The goose was silent, it’s wings stopped beating the air and without thinking Dad dragged the massive dead bird back to his bike, shoved it into his empty saddle bags and peddled. One of the foul’s great wings flopped outside the bag and dragged on the ground a little.
But Dad didn’t care. He’d taken care of the dinner plans for the family.