Homeland Security

Stanley Snow and I, about the age of ten, I’d guess, were guarding “Snows’ woods” at the early end of Gibson Road against all enemies, real and mostly imagined, foreign and domestic. He had a musket, and I had the equal fortune of having a musket of my own. Stanley had unbelievable resources.

This time he had a bunch of metal caps that one could put on the spot where the hammer of the musket would strike when the trigger was pulled, resulting in a rather significant “BANG!”

No one else in town had that potential.

Well, as we two were patrolling the perimeter of the woods, we suddenly heard the unmistakable trit-trot of a pony cart coming our way along Tonset Road. This was an unforgivable invasion of our territory, as we saw it, and something had to be done. What we failed to realize in our innocent youth was that the pony did not have the sense of humor that we did and was apparently not used to war games. It didn’t enter our minds that he might react in an unexpected way to our assault, albeit defensive.

The pony cart was occupied by two local maidens, at the time, Elaine Mayo, daughter of “Hot-mix” Freddie Mayo, the town’s road surveyor, carrying the moniker bestowed on him by the late Stewart Brooks, who wrote extensively for the Cape Codder years ago, and Harriet Freeman, daughter of the late Charlie Freeman,well-known for his long walks home after work because Reuben Hopkins had forgotten to pick him up from the job.

Back to the pony cart. Garfield Freeman, Harriet’s uncle, had let the two girls take the pony for a WALK around the loop of Tonset and Brick Hill Roads. He had given them the strictest of instructions to not run the pony, because it was springtime, and the pony hadn’t had any exercise all winter and shouldn’t be pushed, especially galloped. Did two saviors of the nation concern themselves with such trifles and trivialities?

Well-camouflaged in the bushes, we waited for them to come into close range. Muskets loaded and cocked, we leaped from our hiding place and let go with two near-deafening blasts, surprising even ourselves with the success of the surprise attack. The pony, not to mention the girls, had not really joined in the fun, but whinnied in absolute fright, snorted and reared up, almost tipping the cart over backwards, and lit out as if its backside was aflame.

The girls were unable to regain control, and, as later reported, The pony galloped helltilarup (local jargon) for the barn, a good mile away. Our sense of victory slowly faded as we realized the gravity of the situation. Harriet and Elaine conveyed their displeasure the next day in school, and recounted the “talking-to” that Uncle “Garf” had given them upon their earlier than-expected return to the barn.

I bumped into Harriet a couple of years ago. Before even asking how I was, she reminded me of what a couple of jerks Stanley and I were. Well, I guess it’s time to apologize, so I’ll speak for Stanley, too:

Sorry, Harriet and Elaine; we promise never to do that again.

Sam Sherman

Scroll to Top