Friday, February 27, 2009

Kitchen stories: An earful

When I was young I loved to listen to grown-ups talking at the kitchen table. After dinner, the dishes removed and replaced with cups of coffee, they'd talk about all sorts of grown-up things. Politics, gossip but what I like most, old family stories. My cousins were off doing something else but I was quiet so most times I'd go unnoticed and get to stay. I'm not sure I spoke much and for a while thought I might be invisible but that's another story. Many times I remembered playing under the table. If they did shoo me away I'd end up in the hall just past the light from the kitchen, still within earshot.

My mother's uncle Jim was a great story teller and I'm sure added things that weren't exactly the truth but he could spin a tale. One of my favorites was the one he told often about his mother, Susan Truesdell.

The Truesdell family had eleven children surviving to adulthood but when this story took place there were only a few. They were a farm family and though school was available the older boys didn't stay in school very long. One reason might be they were feisty boys.

One evening one of the older boys, about twelve came home from school and told their mother, Susie about the teacher whipping him with a switch. Susie never asked what he'd done but went to the barn, saddled her horse and loaded her pistol. Off she rode down the road to the school house. Driving his buggy home that evening the teacher saw Susie coming, slowed his horse, got out and stood next to the buggy. There were no pleasantries exchanged. From horseback Susie shouted at the teacher, "Did you whip my boy Martin?" The teacher said yes and started to explain the reason. Susie drew her pistol, said "Don't you ever touch one of my children again, " and fired hitting him in the ear. She calmly rode off.

The teacher, far from mortally wounded but seriously scared, jumped into his buggy and sped away to town. He found the sheriff and insisted he arrest Mrs. Truesdell showing his bloodied ear. The next day the sheriff arrested Susie and took her before the judge with the teacher. The judge listened while the teacher, with a bandaged ear, emotionally told his side of the story. The judge never listened to Susie but told the teacher, "Susie Truesdell is a pretty good shot. If she wanted you dead you would be. I'd suggest not whipping her boys anymore. Case dismissed."

The teacher taught the rest of the term but never raised his hand in anger against any of the Truesdell children.


  1. I remember and love that I wish we could have spent time with Olde Susie..........she was a pisser ;)

  2. Anonymous7:29 PM

    Please contact me at regarding permission to include these wonderful family vignettes in the Truesdell Family Genealogy.
    Thanks much, cousin.
    (Paul E. Truesdell, Jr.)