INTERVIEW WITH JOHN HARRELL
Recorded in Marshall, AR 6/14/63
Click here to listen to the first part of the original recording
Wolf: "Now go ahead and tell that story."
Harrell: "And so we had a neighbor to move from one of our houses to another one. That was on my granddad's place. My dad was running it, of course, at that time, and he moved from one house to . . . from what they called the spring to the well, and it had to pass the house where we was living, and he left his chickens to go get that night. And so we went with him. He come down by, and we went with him to get his chickens, and before we went, though, he was talking about . . . We'd been running, us boys had, and he said he couldn't run. He said he'd fought through the war, and he'd fought grizzly bear, but he says, "I just can't run now." But we went on and caught his chickens and started back. Myself, I wanted to go around next to the creek. There was a field between the creek and the mountain; it was a narrow one, about two or three hundred yards wide. We'd started off up the creek, looking through some cedars, doing that to pull 'em out that way, and that fellow, he cut loose over there with his . . . and we pitched our chickens under the cedar trees and . . . Uncle Jim Lahee was the man that was with us--he was old, you know, and his head was white. He reached up and got his hat, and he kept up with us boys pretty well. We had a bulldog with us. That's what made us so scary, you know. This bulldog would fight anything, but whenever they'd pull that, he'd tuck his tail between his legs, and here he'd come to us, and he just stayed right along with us, too. We'd run about a mile through mud and water, and our lantern wasn't giving a bit of light. When we got to the house, it was a-burning, but you couldn't see the light, the globe was so muddy."
Wolf: "What did you think it was?"
Harrell: "Thought it was a lion, a lion."
Wolf: "Oh, you did?"
Harrell: "Yeah, because I'd read of one getting away out of a cage down here in some of these lower counties at that time, yeah. And we just thought it was hitching on (?) to have a light, you know, and it was used to 'em--it was in a show, and it was used to them lights, and we just figured it was coming to them lights, and we wouldn't know what to do."
Wolf: "Well, the fellow that pulled it on you, did he know . . . ?"
Harrell: "Oh, yes. Yeah, he knowed it. And this boy--the old man's boy, that old man that was white-headed--his boy was with us. Two of them was with us, and one of them spit up blood the next day. Well, he just run . . . pretty near to death, you might say. We run a mile through that mud and water. As lots of them says, we didn't make a track through the field there, it was just black mud, you know, and we just picked our tracks up and took them along with us."
Wolf: "You sure it was only . . ."
Harrell: "No. No, never. But after that boy spit up that blood, they made some around there, and got 'em kindly started."
Wolf: "Did you ever hear any stories about . . . ?"
Harrell: "Well, I heard . . . Mace (?), a friend of mine, he run the store at Zack for a long time, and then he retired and come to Marshall here. And he was telling me about going a-sparking . . . and getting his pants wet, you know? Rain. He'd keep a-cutting 'em off, and they just drawed up plumb up on his belly, he said. Drawed plumb up on his belly."
Wolf: "By the time he'd got to the girl's house, huh?"
Harrell: "Yeah, by the time he'd got to his girl's house, the sun'd shine out, and his britches went to drawing up, and he didn't have none on when he got there. He kept trimming 'em off. And then the sun shine. Had to walk, them days."
Wolf: "Well . . ."
Harrell: ". . . just him and his old lady, and the man . . . That was back in Tennessee. They had a lot of hogs, and they got this old man and woman . . . Built 'em a shack out in the woods, just stay out there and see after his hogs. And give 'em all they . . . hogs they wanted to eat for their meat, to take care of his. And they'd killed one, in summertime--or in the spring, or some time of the year. They'd killed one and then spread it out under their bed at night for it to cool out, and left their doors open, and that night a panther come in there and eat what meat he wanted and then just jumped up on the bed with 'em. Laid down. And the old lady, it waked her, and she told the old man to knock that cat off of the bed. And he raised up and slapped it and tried to knock it off, and he got in a fight with it. And they fought around there, and the old lady'd got the axe, you know, to cut its claws off so it couldn't claw him, gut him, and she hit this old man in the head and addled him. But he kept on hitting that thing. It would rare up, you know, and catch him in the fore part of the head there, you know. He said just split his head all to pieces, but when it'd do that, he'd hit it with his fist, you know, and knock it loose. And he killed it with his fist. He broke its lung or ribs, you know, and stuck 'em into his lungs, you know, did it that-a-way. And it measured eight feet and some few inches--I forget--just some few inches over eight feet long."
Wolf: "Well, he must have been a pretty good prizefighter."
Harrell: "Yes, he was, I guess. But that's what he had, just his fist."