Former reporter writes mule book
By Lonny Thiele
Six men and one woman gathered at the Malden Community Center on Nov. 3 to relive their experiences working with mules during the 1930s and 1940s. The seven had farmed with mules as youngsters and they all spoke about mule memories.
“I used Beck and Tobe to haul cotton when I was in the eighth grade,” said Francis Hulshof, 84, of rural Portageville. “I would get up at dark, catch and harness them, and hook them to a loaded cotton wagon.
“I would get to Highway 61 by daylight. I would get on the highway and get to the gin on the other side of town, and get home in time to go to school. I did that for about two weeks, and by that time I was wore out.
“My brother, Joe, got kicked by Tobe one time. He (Joe) was always trying to do something funny. He slipped around the barn, caught Tobe when he wasn’t looking, and slapped him with a one-by-four, 3 or 4-feet long,” Hulshof said.
“I heard it. I was across the road and he was in the lot. I heard him start to chuckle, ‘hee, hee, hee.’ All of a sudden it got quiet. The mule had kicked him. And it knocked him down. Then I heard the squalling and crying.
“Tobe kicked him right across the face, and for several Sundays we couldn’t visit kinfolk because he still had that imprint of the mule hoof on his face. Luckily he didn’t break anything.”
Thiele is the author of the book “That Son of a Gun Had Sense: Mule Stories From the Bootheel Area During the 1930′s-1940′s Era.”
You can contact Thiele, a former reporter, at 573-300-3085 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Lonnie Thiele has a total of 15 years of newspaper reporter experience: 1989-1994 with Linn County News in Pleasanton, KS, 1994-1994 with Holden Image-Progress in Holden, MO, and 1995-2004 with Daily American Republic in Poplar Bluff.)