Cassie’s Pot and Red Ryder

October 28th, 2009

RRyder_BBMy Uncle Jim’s younger brother, although of no kin to me, was always considered my Uncle Curt. He was as sweet and gentle a person as I ever met. His son Fred was a year younger than me, but he along with my brother Lowell and I were great friends.

My parents rented an old house from Curt Hunter during a bad time in my family’s life. Money was very hard to come by. This was just after World War Two and before our journey to California. Curt charged us ten dollars a month rent if we had it. Not having it was more common than having it, so my folks helped out around Curt’s place whenever they could.

Curt had been too young to enlist in the Army when the war started. However, because of the shortage of young men, Curt got a job in the coal mines. He worked through the entire war because coal was so necessary, and he got a draft deferment as well.

Curt met a girl named Cassie Roberts and married her about the time he started working at the Brookside Mine near Carbon Hill, Alabama. Cassie had been an only child of some fairly wealthy parents. The in-laws paid to build a new house for the young couple while the newlyweds lived in the house my folks would later rent from them.

Curt and his wife had two children, a daughter named Annette and a son named Fred. Lowell and I knew Fred from church, so there was no get-acquainted period when we moved in down the road from his family. Fred was a neat little kid. Blonde-headed like my brother, they could almost have been twins, except Fred had constant trouble with his ears getting infected so he wore a cap with ear pieces to keep his ears covered.

We did about everything together including getting in trouble. One incident involved Cassie’s new chamberpot. Fred’s mom bought a new white-enameled pot at Dale Pearce’s general store in beautiful downtown Carbon Hill, population 3,000, more or less. It was a pretty pot, at least as pots go — all white and shiny with a neat red pinstripe around the top.

Back before indoor plumbing caught on, every household owned a chamberpot. Even if you had indoor facilities, they were usually an afterthought and not always convenient to the rest of the house. Such was the case at Curt and Cassie’s house. Cassie opted for the pot versus the long walk on the cold floors in the middle of the night. She’d bring that pot out every morning, empty and wash it out, leaving it to dry under a willow tree in the back yard.

Fred had a nearly new Red Ryder BB gun that he’d bring out when he had ammunition. We’d hunt birds but seemed mostly to shoot cans and old Mason jars, which in turn would end up causing us to cut our feet.

On one particularly fateful day I shot that pretty white pot. The impact of the BB left a big ugly spot on the bottom of the pot. Then all three of us took several shots at the pot’s bottom, which pretty much blew all the white enamel paint off. Usually it’s about at this point that you realize the great chamberpot fiasco was a bad, bad idea. Too late to change anything, so we sat the pot upright hoping that Cassie would never notice the damage to the bottom.

The next day we were all playing, having forgotten the chamberpot. Cassie came out, pot in hand, and tossed it onto the junk pile that was behind one of the outbuildings. She had fire in her eyes as she motioned us all to follow her. She stopped on the back porch just long enough to hand me a mop and give some old rags to Fred and Lowell.

When we got to the master bedroom she opened the door and pointed out that there was a lot of what looked like water on the floor. It was not water but where the pot had leaked its contents because of several tiny holes in the bottom. Cassie made us clean every inch of the floor and then mop it. Good luck for us that there were no carpets.

The BB gun was gone for a long time, plus worst of all she wouldn’t let us visit Fred for a week. I don’t think she ever replaced the pot but learned instead to endure the dark cold walk to the bathroom.

I’m sad to report that Fred passed away some years ago. He, like the rest of us, went his seperate way. In Fred’s case it wasn’t really far from his birthplace. He found work as a bookkeeper for a trucking company in Birmingham. He married and had a family. A heart attack took his life when he was only forty-one years old.

I intend to visit the Hunter place again and maybe run across the spirits of yesterday gone. It would be great to once more see the little boys that grew into men during my lifetime.


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2 Responses to “Cassie’s Pot and Red Ryder”



  1. Tom |

    Great story, Larry! I had several Red Ryder BB guns when I was a kid, and many of my friends had them. They were a continuing source of irritation and worry to adults, but they were so common it must have seemed cruel to deny a boy his BB gun. We took potshots at many things we shouldn’t have, but I don’t remember ever taking a “potshot” as literal as this one!


  2. Brianna |

    Wow… thanks Larry


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