Actually, they were one and the same, but then, I am getting ahead of my story which comes from the memories of Mollie Moore Godbold and the family tree of Comanche’s Ruth Adelle Waggoner.
I suppose the thing to take away from this story is that no matter how much time passes, men don’t seem to change. Oh, their toys get a little more sophistocated each year…but the need to play…men just don’t seem to lose that, do they?
Our story today occured during the 1920s and as awful as it is, I must admit that even I am tempted to laugh…even though the jokesters did need killing!
I am hoping that some of you will find an ancestor in this crazy tale!
What happened was that Tom Moore brought a new friend named Charlie home to Comanche with him. Charlie was a Hawaiian, and he played with a Hawaiian orchestra…one of the first to ever perform in Texas. According to Godbold, Charlie was “simple and likeable”…and aren’t those the very ones who usually inspire the jokes?
Anyway, a group of young men gathered out at the Bryson ranch for a Dutch supper, Charlie with them. Only a few knew what was about to happen as Floyd Lane silently slipped away from the group. Soon, the jokers were telling stories about a crazy drifter who often visited the ranch, different ones picking up the story until it grew wild enough to scare even those who were doing the telling!
Suddenly, a figure appeared in the distance, wearing nothing but a scowl and a pair of boots as he brandished his club and howled eerily in the darkness.
“The crazy drifter!”
And then it erupted with men running in all directions as they tried to flee from the wild man. Choc McCollum, who was in on the joke, stumbled and fell, acting out his role in the drama. The crazy man (Floyd Lane) soon reached him, beating his club against the ground as he pretended to club Choc to death.
Poor Charlie was so terrified that dove under a vehicle and lay there, crying softly as he prayed for his life. As I said, the jokers should have been shot for pulling such a stunt.
As the “drifter” ran off into the distance, the young men began to come back to the scene, with Tom trying to convince Charlie that it was safe to come out from under the car while others went to help Choc.
The first to reach Choc was Hat Baxter who was in on the joke, and he bent over the supposedly wounded man and smeared his head with a mixture of ketchup and peanut butter.
“My God, the drifter has beaten his brains out!”
By this time, Choc’s groans had stopped, and several of the men who were not in on the joke bent over him to see what could be done for the wounded man. About this time, Choc rose with a wild scream of his own, and the joke was over as those who had planned it could contain their mirth no longer and broke into laughter as they tried to convince Charlie to forgive them.
When Tom told his sisters, Clara Moore Slack and Mollie Moore Godbold, about the prank, they “raked him over the coals” as well they should have.
“We’d frown at him in disapproval. Then, knowing what he was laughing about, a picture would come into our minds of Floyd Lane howling and bounding along in the moonlight in his birthday suit and a pair of boots and Charlie under the car, whimpering and praying, and of Hat Baxter daubing tomato catsup and peanut butter in Choc McCollum’s hair.
“Though we’d lost none of our indignation, suddenly we’d be struggling with a desire to laugh. Without daring to look at one another, we’d make an excuse that would take us out of the room. As soon as we were out of sight, we’d rock with laughter, choking back the sound so Tom wouldn’t hear. When we could get our faces straight, we’d assume a stern look and go back to the living room and renew our attack on Tom.”
Interesting to me is that this last part of the story occured right down the street from me in the home where Ruth Adelle Waggoner now resides at 505 North Elm Street in Comanche. And I still stand my my initial statement. Men just never seem to change, do they?