2017-06-23 / Society

Growing up in Forest Hills

Part 12: Dad’s War with Squirrels
By David Suggs

My Dad rarely used profanity. On his theatre office wall was a plaque that read, “Profanity is a weak mind expressing itself forcibly.” He lived by those words, at work, at home, and perhaps sometimes forgotten in the garage shop, should he hit his thumb with a hammer.

Dad’s war with the squirrels never wavered. With heavily bearing Hickory nut trees in the front and back yard, we just attracted squirrels. Hickory nuts were all over. The squirrels would sit in the trees and gnaw on them. Pieces of Hickory nut shells would cover the ground. Dad hated that. It just trashed his beloved lawn. I had to rake them up before Dad cut the grass.

For us Bugger Heads, Hickory nuts were just the best ammunition ever for our sling shots. When we played with our sling shots, the gang would come over and fill their pockets with nuts. We went all over the neighborhood shooting at stop signs and any other worthwhile targets. Sometimes cats! We challenged each other with a shooting contest.

Dad bought a Have-A-Heart squirrel trap. He took it down to the tin smith’s and had a tin box made to put the trap into. When he caught a squirrel, into the tin box went the cage. He filled the box with water and drowned them. Deceased squirrels would be disposed in the garbage can.

One day Dad baited the trap and put it in the front yard. My room was on the front of the house. It was summer and all the windows were open for a breeze. During the night I heard the trap close and the varmint ran back and forth across the trip mechanism making a racket. I couldn’t sleep, neither could Mom.

I woke Dad up and told him about the noise. He put his slippers on, turned on the front porch light, and walked out in his pajamas.

I watched from my window. He had trapped a nocturnal flying squirrel. He opened the trap to let it go, and it ran right up his pajama leg! Oh he screamed bloody murder and began cussing and swearing with all kinds of words I had never heard! Mom hollered for Dad to come back in, embarrassed the neighbors would awaken.

Still the squirrel held onto Dad’s leg with tiny claws. With momentous whoops of anger, much cussing and fear, he finally brushed off the squirrel and came back in. In later months we laughed at his adventure. I never mentioned his office plaque.

Dad later bought a Crossman .22 cal. pellet air rifle for us to use. It was quiet and deadly. I enjoyed my hunting time in the back yard.

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