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Ike's Afraid of Dynamite (standard:drama, 2986 words)
Author: WaltAdded: Sep 16 2006Views/Reads: 1853/1533Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
With the ignorance of childhood, we chanted, "Ike's afraid of dynamite, Ike's afraid of dynamite!"
 



Ike's Afraid of Dynamite 

If every little country hamlet has its own idiot, then Ike was the
nominee for our settlement of Chapman's Landing. As with most of the 
so-called 'idiots' of the past era, Ike Carter was really not that much 
different from the other people of the area. But it does not take much 
of a difference to mark one as an idiot by those who think they have a 
superior intellect. Different and contradictory explanations by the 
adults of Ike(s characteristics gave a confused impression of the man 
to me and my friends.  Ike Carter, as I remember him from my youth, was 
slow of speech and action, a heavyset man, a man who kept to himself, 
the older brother of one of the community's leading politicians. 

A leading politician in our part of rural Ontario meant that Andy Carter
was a Tory, an Orangeman, United Church steward and Reeve of the 
township. Andy owned a farm supply business as well as operating a 
large sheep farm. His store prices were always just a little higher 
than those in Dubney, a town some ten miles distant, but you shopped 
locally in case you ever needed a favour from the township.  Andy took 
good advantage of his office as reeve, ensuring that any subsidies or 
grants benefited him personally as much as the township. Those timber 
wolves that ate a few of Andy's sheep every year (the township paid 
twenty dollars for each loss of livestock certified as killed by 
wolves) were hardly ever heard and never seen. Ike worked for his 
brother for only his room and board and a little pocket money. Bertha, 
Andy's wife made sure that Ike always had suitable clothing even though 
much of it formerly belonged to Ike's brother, the reeve. Ike did his 
own laundry on Sundays and this alone made him a subject of derision 
among the men folk. 

Ike had his own cottage near his brother(s home, one of the better
houses in the township. Ike(s was a small one room affair that was 
never quite warm enough in winter, despite the smelly oil-fired heater, 
and too hot in summer because it only had two windows, one that did not 
open, so no breeze could cool the place. Ike had a small single bed, a 
cot really, a table and a chest of drawers. He had his own shortwave 
radio, and in those days before television in our area, that radio was 
a prized possession. He read no books because he was a slow reader, but 
did read parts of the daily newspapers after Andy had discarded them. 
He seldom said much in any conversation because he was so slow to speak 
and most conversations passed him by. Yet he knew all that was 
happening in the township, being able to listen in on all the political 
talk, everyone thinking him an idiot and paying him no attention. 

It was Ike's job to keep the sheep pens clean and the sheep fed. He
would assist in the supply shop when his chores at the barn were 
complete, moving the heavy bags of grain with seemingly little effort. 
Ike was very strong. He stood about five foot eleven, not a small man 
in those days, and weighed close to 200 hundred pounds. His fleshy face 
and short-cropped hair added to his idiot(s image, although, had he 
been quick of step, he might have been considered not bad looking by 
some. It was mostly this slowness of speech and movement that marked 
him as an idiot. That and his desire to keep to himself. 

I remember asking my best friend, Jake Carter, why his Uncle Ike never
went to church, even though he was a good Orangeman. 

"Uncle Ike says he can't sing, that's why," Jake said. "I think he's
fibbing, 'cause he sometimes sings for me and my sister. Did you know 
he can play the mouth organ?" 

"No kidding?" I had never heard this about Ike. 

"Yes, he's going to teach me someday," Jake bragged. 

Although Ike never went to church, he attended all the church suppers.
Ike had a prodigious appetite and the ladies of the Women(s Institute 
always heaped his plate well, feeling sorry for Ike and his bachelor 
ways. Jake told me that his Uncle Ike liked to march in the Orange Day 
parades on the Glorious Twelfth but really only went to the monthly 
Orange meetings because Jake's father insisted on it. That, and the 
free lunches they had after the meetings. 

He liked the old-fashioned square dances that were held once a month in
the Orange Hall in Chapman's Landing. Ike would wear one of the fancy 


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