This "true" story involved three of my four older brothers, and took place years before Jerry and I were born. Back in those days, people used a lot of stove wood and fire wood. Now, in case you were not aware, there is a difference in the two. They may be the same length, circumference, and come from the same tree, but one was used for heating and cooking food while the other was used for heating us.
Anyway, my dad had instructed Al, the oldest, and Don, next in age, to go up in the woods and cut some stove wood. My dad didn't like to miss meals due to not having stove wood, and I guess that's where I inherited my desire to eat as well.
Regardless, he told them to take Buddy along, but keep an eye on him and don't let him get hurt.
Buddy was about 4 or 5 years of age at the time, and as a typical little boy, was always trying to do what his older brothers did. By now, you can guess what happened. While the other two were splitting and stacking wood, Buddy picked up the axe and promptly cut off about half of his big toe.
I'm sure folks all around thought the scream came from a mountain lion and gave little thought to it. But Al and Don knew. And they both knew Dad was going to be upset with them for letting Buddy play with the axe. The current problem, however, was the fear of Buddy bleeding to death.
Now, Al had a pretty good knack for keeping a level head and thinking about things. Apparently, Don panicked. Fearing that Buddy was going to die, he grabbed him up in his arms and headed for the house.
Al began remembering what someone told him once about some men around a camp fire, who got into a squabble. One man lost an ear when his assailant sliced it off with a knife. The story he remembered also told of another man standing by who picked the ear up off the ground with one hand, and with the other hand, grabbed a handful of warm ashes from the fire. He then rubbed the ashes on the ear and placed the ear back where it belonged..., on the side of the unfortunate one's head.
Apparently, they wrapped or taped the ear in place, and to Al's knowledge, it grew back on and the guy lived happily ever after. I, of course, have always wondered if the guy only heard half of what was said to him.
Anyway, as a result of hearing that tale, Al grabbed the piece of toe and tore out after the other two. By now, Don and Buddy were close enough to the house for my mom to hear their screaming and yelling.
Buddy was crying and screaming from pain while Don was crying and screaming from panic. Through his tears and fears Don wailed, "Maaamaaaa, Buddy's done cut his toe off and he's gonna bleed to death! He's gonna die, I just know it, he's agonna die graveyard dead!" He probably added something like, "Al wasn't watchin' him like Daddy said to 'n I was too busy working to see he'd picked up the axe 'n I couldn't help it 'n if'n Al had been doin' what he was supposed to 'n Buddy wasn't payin' no never mind to us 'n I had my back turned 'n a tree was in the way so's I couldn't see 'n, oh, Lord Mama why does this have to happen to us 'n Mama is he gonna die?!"
By this time, Al finally caught up with Buddy and Don. And amidst the crying and screaming of Buddy, Don, and my Mom, Al shoved his hand in my mother's face, opened his fist, and revealed the bloody piece of toe. He only got out a word or two about soot and ashes and putting the toe back on when my mother's wrath made him make a hasty retreat.
Well, when Mom went to screaming, Dad heard and came arunnin'. Realizing it wasn't a life or death situation, but one that needed the attention of a doctor, they wrapped Buddy's toe and headed for town.
A few hours later, everything was back to normal. Buddy's toe was tended to, Dad went back to whatever he was doing, and Mom went back to her cooking and house work. The birds were again singing and rays of sunshine brightened the afternoon. All was well with the world.
That is, until Buddy suddenly remembered that half of toe. Al and Don were playing around when Buddy asked Al, "What'd you do with my toe?"
Suddenly, the blood curdling screams of her youngest once again reached my mother's ears. Buddy went to screaming and wailing all over again when Al answered his question with, "Your toe? Oh, I fed it to the chickens!"