Sunday, January 6, 2013


Mrs. Johnson lived across the road from Grandfather in a two-storied farmhouse with a huge front porch.  In her yard was a bubbling spring with a small but well-built spring house.  Inside even in summer, it was dark and cool, a welcome refuge in the heat, complete with a dipper hanging on a nail for a cold drink.  Mrs. Johnson was popular with ladies who gave luncheons requiring watercress, which grew prolifically in the spring water.

She always spoke softly and never showed temperament, which was a testament to her inner strength since hers was not a life untouched by tragedy.  The second of her two sons suffered from birth defects which compromised his walk and his speech; even so he worked with his father and brother in their family owned garage.  She and her husband seemed happy and all seemed well until one day he walked into their smokehouse and shot himself in the head.  No one could ever understand why and it remained a mystery.

This all  happened before I was born, and I only knew Mrs. Johnson as the soft-spoken, nice lady who had a cow and traded butter for eggs with my Grandparents.  I also knew her huge white, demonic goat named "Billy."

With no pictures, I sketched my recollection of "Billy"

Once in a while, Mrs. Johnson would tie Billy on the bank across from my grandfather and Billy would clear the tall brush and fill one of his enormous stomachs (one for grass and one for little girls).  I would be seized with a desire to befriend the shaggy, surly creature whose inscrutable stare gave no clue of affability or hostility, just alien-eyed wonder.

Again, no pictures so imagine this is me

I eased up the bank carrying delicious grass for Billy to sample, making sure I wasn't far away from his rope's end.  He made a goat sound and tossed his head, sending up little red flags in my fearful mind.  Perhaps he's just eager for grass, I reasoned.  With that I threw the grass to him and fled for my life.

Me, better swift than sorry.

It was an indisputable good move on my part since I lived to tempt other fearsome foes another day.  Mrs. Johnson soon came and moved Billy back to his night lodging.  She was to be admired for all her courage.


  1. This brought memories of the goats that "Uncle" Wimpy had in Deltaville. I love goats. I also love your illustrations!

  2. your sketches are far more illuminating than a photo would have been ... Mrs J was indeed brave

  3. LOVE the sketches. I think you're on to something here....

  4. Excellent drawings and story.Very nice.

  5. I want more sketches, please. Poor Mrs J...

  6. Oh, good grief! I had asimilar experience when I was 9 or 10, but it involved a big stud black stud horse.

    Your deawings are priceless. Do more! Do more!