Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 10, 1975 · Page 66
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 66

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 10, 1975
Page 66
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Page 66 article text (OCR)

.«t .111.1« »· Beat The Willing Captives By Johi Scbooliield Among the most tragic tales of the American Revolution are those of innocent, terrified children stolen from their frontier homes and carried into captivity by raiding bands of Indians and Tories. And, strange as it may seem, equally as tragic in many instances are the tales of their reunions with their families at the war's end. One eyewitness of a general exchange of captives on the New York frontier wrote: "A certain day was appointed on which all who had lost children or sought those of their relations were to come to Albany in search of them; where on that day all Indians possessed of white children were to present them. Poor women, who had travelled some hundred miles from the back settlements of Penn- syvlania and New England, appeared with anxious looks and aching hearts, not knowing whether their children were alive or dead or how to identify them if they should meet them. "I observed these apprehensive, tender mothers were all dressed with peculiar neatness and attention, each wishing .the first impression her child should receive of her might be a favorable one. "The joy of the happy mothers was overpowering and found vent in tears. It was affecting to see the deep, silent sorrow of the Indian women and of the children, who knew no other mother and clung fondly to their bosoms from whence they were not torn without bitter shrieks. "I shall never forget the grotesque figures and wild looks of those young savages; nor the trembling haste with which their mothers arrayed them in the hew clothes they had brought for them, as hoping with the Indian dress they would throw off their habits and attachments." In one New York frontier family at the close of the war, two sisters were ransomed after nearly five years in captivity. Nancy and Margaret Sharrar, seven and nine respectively, were captured in October, 1778, carried into Canada and adopted into an Indian family. Their Indian mother was kind to them and they loved her. It was a sad day for them when they were parted from her in the summer of 1783. She told the girls that if their white mother was not kind to them to send her word and she would come and take them away. Nancy and Margaret, on their first day home, fought like wild beasts when their Indian clothes were removed and attempts made to give them a bath. Nancy's hands had to be tied behind her back to prevent her from tearing off her new clothes. She begged to go back to her Indian mother and had to be carefully watched for many weeks to prevent her from running away 'into the wilderness. At times she shrieked for her Indian mother to come to her aid. Time and love eventually brought peace to the Sharrar family. Margaret, who never married, died in 18277 Nancy married a neighbor boy when she was 18 and raised a family of six children. She died in 1845. Some children refused to return to their families after the war. Among these was little Cathy Bettinger, the daughter of Martin Bettinger of New York's Mohawk Valley. She had been captured and taken to Canada. Bettinger begged his dauhter to return home with him. Her eyes filled with tears when he pulled from his pack a small cake baked and sent by her mother. But Cathy steadfastly refused to leave her wilderness home and the broken-hearted father returned alone to the Mohawk Valley. Cathy later married an Indian and lived the rest of her life in the Canadian woods. (Copyright 1975 by John Schoolfield) Famous Fables By K. E. Kdgar The WormyPathtoRiches By Lou Aon Tack OPERA: Asked tobuy a SUD- scription to the opera, Oscar Wilde, to whom opera was a bore, refused. "But your friend bought a subscription," it was pointed out to him, "and your friend is deaf." · "If I were deaf, I would buy one, too," said the author. · * * * MATCHMAKER: Eager to marry off his libertine son before the latter became involved in a scandal with one of his questionable lady friends, playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan summoned the youth to his study and said: "My boy, the time has come for you to take a wife.", "A capital idea, father!" young Sheridan. "Whose wife oo you suggest!" Earthworms. Wigglers, Dewworms. Whatever they're called, we used to take the creepy critters for granted. No longer. A growing need by laboratories, aquariums and game breeders in addition to organic gardeners and 90 million fishermen has turned earthworms into a real cash crop. Knowledgeable people will not be caught dead with plain old-fashioned angleworms aerating their soil or wiggling on the end of their fishhooks. Today, red hybrids are the thing. Shirley Ewen tells all about it in Mother Earth News Reprint No. 162 titled "How to Rais6'Earth- worms (for Fun and Profit)." I am something of an expert on the subject myself .My Uncle Ernie was one of the first to see.the trend.. Back in the 1940's, he was a pioneer earthworm farmer. He had the ' right idea, but 30 years too soon. Uncle Ernie's great ambition was to be self-employed. And rich. In that order. It's hard to-say whether his dream came from reading Horatio, Alger stories behind the barn, from desire to prove my grandmother wrong when she said he was never going to amount to a hill of beans, or from being goaded by a pompous brother-in-law who had inherited a business. At any rate, Ernie, like the little engine, thought he could; Sometime, in between selling life nsurance and peddling mutual unds, Ernie surprised the whole amily by announcing that he would: inafce -his- fortune' growing "earth" worms. We had always assumed those who.sold them simply went outdoors while the dew was on the grass and dug the worms out of the flower beds.. Not so. Ernie bought books and ^government pamphlets (the government has a specialist on everything) telling the low-down on earthworm culture. He oecame an authority on the subject. » » WORTH: A writer who had had a short story accepted by the financially shaky "Smart Set" magazine, received a small check in payment from co-editor H.L. Mencken "My story is worth more than this," wrote back the contributor with indignation. "It probably is," conceded Mencken, "but we aren't." bands around the middle of their bodies together. It doesn't sound very exciting, but as they say, you . never know till you try it. I never caught them in the act, so I only have his word that it's true. Pamphlet No. 162 doesn't go into that aspect of it. The special worms, which Uncle Ernie ordered through the mail, were housed in bins in the garage like rabbits or homing pigeons. Earthworms are practically a 'do- it-themself business. Ernie saw that they had good drainage, fed them garden refuse/ and watered them regularly. They grew and multiplied like dandelions. It was the perfect business for a future captain of industry who had to also continue his regular job to pay the bills. According to the pamphlet, Mrs. Hubbell of Sacramento, Calif:, has gone into the business on a larger ' scale. She raises 800 bins of red wigglers on her farm and ships both the 'livestock' and castings (which are a fine source of organic fertilizer) all over the U. S. But methods haven't changed much over the years. You can raise;them in your bathtub or in special bins, feed them garbage or a scientific commercial mixture, harvest them by hand or on a fancy conveyor belt/stand over them or take down your sign and go fishing and they will grow fat and sassy either way. Everyone likes to know all about something and-the smaller the subject, the greater the expert. Uncle Ernie dispensed information about those worms with evangelical zeal. My first initiation into the facts of life was a lecture on the mating habits of earthworms. It was never very useful to me, but as a conversational gambit, it beat tidbits from The National Observer. Earthworms are bisexual and, according to Uncle Ernie, the creepy crawlers mate by rubbing the My cousin, Tom, and I never met · .anyone-else with an uncle in~the " worm business. We could hardly wait to hop out of the old Studebaker when we went to visit him. "Hey Ernie, how are your worms?" we shouted before collapsing with laughter. "Oh the worms crawl in and the worms crawl out--"we sang until threatened with bodily harm by our parents. Luckily, Uncle Ernie was as good-natured as he was ambitious. My uncle lived smack in the middle of Tulsa, Okla. I have seen signs offering "Live Bait" for sale outside farmhouses on the outskirts of town, near fishing streams, or in front of lakeside shacks. But in the center of town? It didn't daunt Uncle Ernie. He approached the problem of selling with the same enthusiasm with which he attacked all his ventures.- We soon realized that he was not thinking in terms of any roadside stand. He was going to wholesale his worms, packaging and selling them in drugstores all around town. I saw him clearly--my uncle Er- nie, the Worm King, whose earthworm factory (namely the garage) would eventually supply all of Tulsa's fishermen with superior bait. Maybe the whole United States. Another uncle, who was working his, way through college, planned to deliver the worms and collect the profits, for a generous cut. It was a good scheme, but it didn't work. The shelf-life of a carton of earthworms is short and the turn-over must be fast. Perhaps the druggists placed them next to the prophylactic toothbrushes or behind the Pep- to-Bismol instead of on the counter in front of the door. Maybe fishermen didn't shop at drugstores and maybe their long-suffering wves were too clever to tell them -about bait so conveniently available. The failure was a great blow to Uncle Ernie and to Tonrand me, not to mention my other uncle who had to go back to rolling his own v cigarettes and tutoring Dumbbell .; English. Ernie was left^with a garage full of earthworms; He should have become a breeder. A bin of choice red hybrids currently sells for as much as $150. Conceivably a Secretariat of the species could make,his owner rich by rubbing bands with ordinary red wigglers and producing plump, vigorous- four-inch off-spring with extra-bright, alluring coloring: Alas, poor Erhiedidn'tknowJ.He didn't ""have" Pamphlet No. 162. But nothing is ever wasted. In an earlier scheme, Uncle Ernie had bought several acres of land on the outskirts of town and planted a pecan orchard. Unfortunately, a late freeze had done in most of the trees and prevented him from becoming the Pecan King. Some trees survived. So Ernie released the earthworms out there to enrich the soil. After many years in which none of us had to buy a single fishing worm or pecan, he sold the acreage for a shopping center at such a profit that he retired before he ever realized his ambition of being self-employed. But I still think, even in those days, there was a lot of merit to the earthworm business. With some advertising--perhaps a few billboards extolling Ernie's Earthworms and a zippy commercial featuring my cousin and me singing "Oft the worms crawl in and the worms crawl out, But our Uncle's worms will catch .more trout." It could have worked. August

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