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Revised 7 December, 2009
My grandfather was a great story teller. Our greatest delight on a cold winter's night was to get him started telling stories about when he was a child. I guess this is why I like to now share similar experiences with you now. Grandpa Lutes grew up in the little town of Central City, Nebraska. His father ran a bakery and confectionery with a small cafe attached, which sat on one of the corners of the town square. . .not surprising because just about every small town in the midwest that was of any size at all, and there weren't many, was built in the same fashion--an odd assortment of little houses of varying sizes and shapes built around the protective square, which housed the heart of the community's civic affairs.
Now, my grandfather's grandfather frequently came to visit him in this little town and that grandfather was a whittler by hobby. He would sit back, of a summer's eve, and whittle away sticks and chunks of wood into pieces of fantasy and delight. Bear in mind that this would have been around the turn of the last century, about 1900 or thereabouts. To my grandfather's great joy, his grandfather would tell stories of the old west and how things were when buffalo roamed the prairies and Indians still lived free. Finally, after one of these story sessions, my grandfather begged his grandfather to whittle him his very own bow and arrow. His grandfather agreed, but only on the understanding that he was to put the bow and arrow up on the roof and wait for it to dry and not to use it without adult supervision.
Now in that town, and at that time, there also lived a newly immigrated Chinese gentleman who's knowledge of the wild, wild west was not exactly either accurate or up to date. In his mind, as he drove his horse-drawn laundry wagon around the town, there were outlaws hiding in every dark street and wild red men just waiting to take his scalp, and yet he was a quiet man and a hard worker.
Now we all know that oil and water do not mix, Neither do small boys, unsuspecting Chinese laundrymen and bows and arrows. Temptation being what it is, that small boy could not resist the temptation to try out that bow and arrow just once and nobody would know the difference....he could just hint to his grandfather that a squirrel must have run off with that missing arrow......and so, he crept to the house, reached up and quietly pulled that bow and one arrow down....cocked the arrow into its notch....aimed up into the sky at a shooting star and fired.
Just as the arrow went into the sky, the Chinaman and his horse and wagon rounded the dark corner of their street, whereupon the arrow went through the back window of the wagon, scaring said Chinaman out of his wits. He screamed bloody murder, smacked the horse in terror, went tail over tea kettle into the back of the wagon and proceeded through the town yelling at the top of his lungs for everyone to take cover, the Indians were attacking and they were all going to be murdered in their beds.
Bow and arrow went up on the roof and stayed there for months. Little Jim went to find a place to hide under the bed and wouldn't come out for love nor money until his grandfather finally assured him that the attack was over and all was forgiven. But not to worry. Things have a way of going full circle. When we were little, this same grandpa, Jim, was getting a bit thin around the hair line and when we asked him where his hair went, he would always tell us he couldn't help it.......the Indians scalped him. Being gullible and awestruck, we told this to the local barber, who greatly enjoyed the whole affair....and he never did tell us kids it wasn't true.