Ron’s Time Tunnel: GEE! HAW! WHOA! YA!

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Old Ves Carter had a mule and a wagon. On the back of the wagon he carried his plowing implements.  Ves would come riding down the road, sitting high upon on his old buckboard, reigns in hand, and barking commands at his old mule, “GEE! HAW! WHOA! YA!” on his way plow-up a garden or field for one of the townspeople.  A buckboard, for anyone who has never seen one, is an open four-wheeled, horse-drawn wooden wagon with the seat attached to a flexible board between the front and rear axles; hence the name, “buckboard”. The flexible board acts as a shock-absorber for what, most assuredly, would have been one hell of a rough ride without it.  Old Ves directed the mule with a booming command of, “GEE!” which meant to go right, or a haughty “HAW!” which meant to go left.  A command of, “WHOA!” meant to stop and “YA!” meant to go forward.

The sight of the old wagon being pulled down the paved streets by that old mule, with his hooves striking a rhythmic, “CLIPPITY-CLOP! CLIPPITY-CLOP!” Against the gravel and asphalt road and with Ves riding high, was a splendid sight, as well as an anachronistic one. Especially! considering that the time was the early 1970’s and buckboard wagons and mule-pulled plows had long since been replaced by cars, trucks and tractors. Ves Carter, his old mule, and his wagon and plow, were an image out of time and place, as well as a boundless source of exuberance and excitement for all of the children in our neighborhood.

“Old” Ves Carter was, indeed, old. I heard that he was so old that he had a hand in the plowing of the “Garden of Eden”. I never knew exactly how old he was until he’d been dead for a long time. As a matter of fact, until I visited his grave at Mitchell Grove cemetery and read his tombstone, I didn’t know that “OId” Ves was almost 100 when he died. I do believe he plowed that old mule and rode that old wagon right up until the day he died. However, riding down the street on his wagon, he appeared ageless and timeless.

Another group of men who used mules to ply their trade, were the Circuit Preachers of old. These Preachers traveled from church to church on a mule or horse, earning them the name “Circuit Riders”. In sparsely populated areas of the United States it had been common for the clergy, in many denominations, to serve more than one congregation at a time, a form of church organization sometimes called a “preaching circuit”.

Once, I heard tale of a very special mule. In this tale it’s told, that a salesman was traveling down a country road when he saw a large group of people outside of a house. He stopped and asked a farmer standing about, why the large crowd was there. The farmer replied, “Joe’s mule kicked his mother-in-law and she died”. “Well”, replied the salesman, “she must have had a lot of friends”. “Nope”, said the farmer, “we all just want to buy his mule”.

The Bible tells a tale of a man named Balaam, who also had a mule.  In the Biblical account, Balaam’s mule saved his owner’s life. As it happens, Balaam was riding his mule on his way to do something that he wasn’t supposed to do. God had told Balaam to GEE! But Balaam decided to HAW!  So, God sent an Angel to block his path but Balaam couldn’t see the Angel.  However, Balaam’s ass could see the Angel and refused to go forward. Balaam beat his ass, cussed him and told him to YA! But, his ass refused to go forward! Fortunately for Balaam, the mule didn’t YA! For if he had YA’d, the Angel would have killed Balaam. Balaam’s ass saved Balaam’s ASS!

There is a good lesson in the story of Balaam and his ass which is:  If God tells you to GEE! You’d better GEE! And if he tells you to HAW! You’d better heed his command.  If God tells you to WHOA! Don’t just slow down; STOP! And when He says YA! Get off your ASS and YA!

7 thoughts on “Ron’s Time Tunnel: GEE! HAW! WHOA! YA!

  1. Thank you Ron
    For that trip into one person’s history.
    The insight into another time.
    For the joke.
    And making the story of Balaam several dozen times more interesting and understandable than the well-meaning but dry accounts I’ve come across before.
    Roger

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  3. I agree with Lady G – I have not seen a Sunday school teacher, minister, old church lady on the bus or anybody that can spin a biblical story like you Professor. And you flavor it with wit and humor. I damn near hit the floor laughing at “I heard that he was so old that he had a hand in the plowing of the “Garden of Eden”. I’m filing that one away for future use.

    Dogone if you didn’t take my behind back to when I was darn near peeing in diapers with this one Professor. When I was knee high to a June bug there was this old man that rode through the neighborhood on a cart pulled by a mule just like the one you described. He used to give us rides on that cart – one of the most memorable events of my childhood was that mule’s hooves going CLIPPITY-CLOP! CLIPPITY-CLOP!” on the hot asphalt in the summer . When the mule wasn’t pulling the cart it was hooked to a plow plowing folks gardens.

    You certainly educated me on why that wooden seat didn’t give us hemorrhoids. The “buckboard”. – it makes all the sense in the world.

    And come to find out also I’m named after a mule command “GEE”.LOL too funny.

    “Old” Ves Carter is that member of a past society that gave us knowledge, wisdom, and the community a certain bonding fabric that is so missing today. Old guys like that appeared insolvent on the surface but in reality were richer as men, and souls than a Bill Gates or Trump could ever be.

    Thanks for sharing this delightful story – I just hated that it ended so soon. You be teasing people Professor – WRITE THAT BOOK MAN!

    BTW I loved the takeaway from this story – definitely lessons we all can use.

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  4. Can’t nobody tell a Bible story like you! The way you apply Biblical principles to real life situations is ingenious!
    I am telling you that everybody who reads this needs to commit the last paragraph to memory!
    As I said before, you make these characters come to life! I feel like I know them. As many have said, that is the hallmark of an excellent writer and that, cuz, you are!

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