Fall/Winter 1998 Newsletter
The New Game Warden
Bill Smith grew up on a small farm in the northern Adirondacks near South Colton, the youngest of ten children. He began to hunt at an early age, learning shooting, fishing, and trapping, as well as country songs and stories, from many of the older people of the area. From Iroquois who came each year to cut black ash trees on their property, Bill learned to make pack baskets. He is widely known as a storyteller and a singer and makes his living performing the stories and songs he learned growing up.
One time, my mother had decided we were going to have this big gathering and somehow a dead deer ended up in our kitchen.
This was along in August, I think, and we had just acquired a new game protector. My father was really nervous about the whole thing, and so, this particular Sunday, my mother had venison cooking on the old wood cookstove. Must have been five or six different frying pans, fullall fixed different, you know, some with onions, some with mushrooms that were picked out of the fields, you know and all kinds of different ways, and that wonderful smell was going through the kitchen.
My mother just got done baking bread in the oven, and the oven door was open; it was hot in there, you know. My father thought he heard somebody driving up the driveway, he went out onto the porch, and he peeked around the corner of the door on the porch, you know, and he come running back into the house yelling and screaming, and he said, "Emily! The game wardens coming in the driveway!" he says.
And this took about two seconds: he took the griddles off that stove, and he threw that venison into that stove, you know, and the smoke was going up to the ceiling. The fire was a-flying up to the ceiling, and the ashes was coming down, and he whirled, and he had that oven door open; he threw those frying pans into that oven door, and he kicked that oven door shut with his foot, and he whirled, and he went out onto that porch, and when he got out onto the porch, he noticed the game warden just backing out the driveway and turned and went back toward Colton.
I guess all he was doing was turning around.
And he ruined the whole dinner, you know, by throwing that in the stove. And he come running back into the house, and he said, "Emily, wheres them long-handled forks?" And of course, wed already beat him to that. Everybody had a fork, and the hair was singeing off everybodys arms, trying to get that meat out of the stove and back into the frying pan, all ashes and soot, you know.
It just completely ruined Sunday dinner.
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“And this took about two seconds: he took the griddles off that stove, and he threw that venison into that stove, you know, and the smoke was going up to the ceiling. The fire was a-flying up to the ceiling, and the ashes was coming down, and he whirled, and he had that oven door open; he threw those frying pans into that oven door, and he kicked that oven door shut with his foot, and he whirled,...”
This story is from an interview Bill did with folklorist Varick Chittenden for the public radio series, "Home Cooking." It also appears in Bills book, Tales from the Featherbed, Greenfield Review Press (available for purchase at New York Traditions, our on-line gallery shop, and can be heard on the audiotape, Songs and Stories from the Featherbed, which can be ordered from Bill at 640 Gulf Road, Colton, NY 13625.
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