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Skunkin' Dobyns-Bennett

Tom Woods
as told to Kenny Stallard

     It started September 15, 1952. The reason I remember, is, thatís the day opossum season did open and several years later, I found out it was also my future wifeís birthday.  Me and G. W. Marcum had been back in Outlawís Woods all night with Ole Pete, my blue-tic hound. We caught the skunk in the middle of Morrison City. The wind had blowed all night and we hadnít done any good. We come down the creek instead of going out the Virginia Street side. We come right down the creek, Hash Hollow, right by the old manís house. 

     I come by his house and we stopped and set the lantern down. Me and G. W. was talking and I noticed my dog hadnít come back. Heíll make a circle huntiní and come back to your lantern. 

     I said "George, where is that dog"? I said "I donít hear Iím". I was in the hollow, looking towards Echo Drive, it wasnít paved yet and I said "letís get up in the middle of the road, itís higher. Weíll get up there where we can hear Iím." 

     We walked right out into the road and set the lantern down. I said "George, I can hear that dog." I knew when I heard him he was either in a hole or under a house or he was under something. I turned around two, three times, "hooonk, hooonk", he had two or three different barks, depending on what he was doing. I said, "I hear that dog. Where is he"? George said "I believe heís over yonder." 

     We walked to the other side of the road and I said "I believe I can hear him more clear." 

     He was under something. We went down a bank, over a fence and came to a big smoke house. I got down and looked under the smoke house and there was a polecat. 

     George pulled out a pistol, looked like it was two-foot long. I didnít know he had it. We picked up the edge of the smoke house where the dog could get under it and get the polecat. 

     He got him out in the field, just as level as a floor. George started shooting at the polecat. 

     I said George, you canít do that here. Lights were coming on everywhere. I had a 5-cell flashlight. I hit that polecat in the head and killed it. Of course the dog chewed him good. I throwed him in a sack, didnít think a thing about it. 

     I can look at one now and it just about turns my stomach. We run up the bank into the old Gate City Highway and went back to Lynn Garden that way. 

     The next morning I skinned the polecat put him on a stretching board. I had skinned many a polecat, but that was the only one I had the scent glands come out attached to the hide.


     Several times I had heard my daddy and my brother discussiní where I was supposed to go to school. And I was a freshman at Lynn View. My brother went to Dobyns-Bennett and he tried to insist to my daddy that I wasnít learning a thing at a county school. More than once did I hear him pleadiní with my daddy, "That county school ainít teaching him nothiní." He was probably right, but it was more my fault than the schools fault. 

     So later on that year I was fortunate enough that Mr. Matherly let me be the baseball and basketball manager. 

     Another good friend of mine, Thomas Holtzclaw was also a basketball manager. And I had to go over there one night to sweep the floor before a basketball game. I had to be there by 7:00 p.m., before the B-Team game. 

     I started over there that night, but I still had in the back of my mind, we was playing Dobyns-Bennett. We couldnít beat them in nothiní. It wasnít because they were better, it was just their spirit. Theyíd win on a last second shot. 

     I went down to the corner of the street after I left home and I hollered for my good buddy Charles Morrison. He come out and said he wasnít quite ready to go. 

     I ask him if he had a pocket knife. He said "yes, but itís not too sharp". He gave it to me and I turned around and went back home. Went by the side of the house and got me a bean can. I went in the shop, and got the polecat hide. I was going to cut the glands off the hide into the bean can. 

     The first one cut off slick and went right into the can. The second one, I ripped, I had to make two cuts. Well, I come down by the lower side of the house and went down the hill to the Gate City Highway. 

     I thought, "if I can get there, Iíll put this in the Dobyns-Bennett dressing room". Well, I got down to the highway and a friend picked me up and took me up to the red-light, Gravely Road, and he throwed me out, said I stunk. 

I had on my brand new letter jacket. Emory Mays came by and picked me up, took me up to Nelms Lane and throwed me out. 

     He said, "Hell-fire. Whatíre you doiní. Get that smell out of my car." 

     Goiní up Nelms Lane, I thought, "thatís twice I been thrown out of cars. I better get rid of this jacket." I took the jacket off and threw it across the fence into the corn field. 

     I went on up Nelms Lane and turned the corner at Walker Street by the Hot Dog Hut and just as I got to the school and looked towards the dressing rooms, the window to the visitorís dressing room was open. I threw the can through the window, into the dressing room. 

     I walked up the steps, opened the door and went into the gym. A crowd had already started geathering and as I went in, people just parted and let me through. 

     Tom Holtzclaw met me at the door. He said, "What have you done?" 

     I said, "What do you mean?" 

     I seemed to have polecat scent on me all the time from fall to spring, I didnít think too much about it. 

     He gave me the floor mop, must have been several feet wide. He said, "git out in the middle of the floor. Donít come to either side." 

     People began to get restless, you could watch Ďem. The scent had began to build as the crowd got bigger. I seen one old man and woman up-chuck out the upper windows. People began to move around, go outside. No doubt it was bad. 

     Finally I got the floor swept as best I could. I went down in the girlís locker room and I found a girlís gym shirt and some shorts. I took my clothes off and put them on. The shirt had a big "1" on the chest. 

     By the time I got back up on the floor, our good coach, Carl Matherly had took the B-Team about six rows up in the stands. He had the whole B-Team up there. Iíll never forget.  Bob Laws was our high-point scorer. He got really sick. 

     We got beat in spite of the skunkin', twice. But, that was the night Dobyns-Bennett got skunked.

     I left there that night after I got through cleaning the gym floor and locker room, the suits put up.  I went down the street, crossed the fence, and got my jacket. When I went home, every light in Lynn Garden was on. It was 11:00 p.m. 

     I went in the house, daddy was there and he said "son, you have ruined us. Weíre goiní to have to move. Theyíve got a petition up". 

     I said whatís wrong? I was just 14, 15. 

     He said, "Iím going to whip you with-in an inch of your life." 

     Now I didnít say nothiní and then he said, "In the morning when I go to work, that dog is goiní with me." 

     Now he rowelled me right there. I said, "you may whup me, and you may take that dog tomorrow", but I said, "when you go out that driveway, Iíll have that chain in my hand and Iím goiní with him." 

     And he went to backiní down and telliní me about how ole man Franklin and everybody threw their supper out. But, I throwed my jacket beside the house, didn't want to take the smell inside

     You didnít want to ask Momma how she felt or it would take a half-hour to find out and Helvey our laundry man was the same way. 

     Well, the laundry man came that day. He got out of the truck. He was late and walkiní kinda funny. Momma ask him, "Helvey, how are you?" 

     He said, Mrs. Woods, Iíve had the awfullest day. He said, "There was some idiot brought a polecat to school last night and my boy and my girl have been sick all-night and all-day. He said, "Iíve had to stay there and watchíem and Iím way behind." And he just kept on and on and on.

     That was the night I acquired the name, "Polecat" and itís stuck for the last 53 years. When I retired after 35 years at the Mead, they said, "Polecat, we wish you well."

Dobyns-Bennett played at Lynn View on Tuesday, December 9, 1952. 
Lynn View won the B-Team game 40 Ė 20. Bob Laws was unable to play. Dobyns-Bennett won the varsity game 75 Ė 55.

Dobyns-Bennettís starting five were J. R. Maddux and Bob Gipe at forward, Stan Johnson at center and Bob East and Dickie Warren at guard.

Lynn Viewís starting five were Pete Haulsee and Jim Fleming at forward, Glen Gott at center and O. C. Mannes and Don Begley at guard.

 

 

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