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Hood’s Winks: Happy trails and a pony

By Ralph Hood

My father did a lot of wonderful things and more than a few very dumb things. He once combined the two when he bought us a real, live, honest-to-goodness pony.

I remember exactly how it happened. I was in about the third or fourth grade and —like all boys my age — had been pleading for a pony for years, certain that a pony would solve every problem I ever had and turn me immediately into a mix somewhere between Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy.

Daddy and I were riding down the road one day —somewhere toward Jacksonville, I believe — when we saw two young boys riding a large pony. I persuaded Daddy to stop; and, to my amazement, we found out that the pony was for sale for the total sum of $50 and that included saddle and bridle! Daddy couldn’t resist that himself. He asked a few cursory questions — I remember he asked one of the boys if the pony was mean. The boy’s answer was prophetic.

“Nossir,” he said, “but sometimes he wanta go where he wanta go.” 

We also found the pony’s name was Trigger (that fit perfectly into my dreams), and that he was blind in one eye. Then, wonder of wonders, Daddy actually bought the pony! I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

Claude Strickland and his pickup truck were enlisted to go get Trigger, and I rode along. I never felt so grownup in my life. We arrived at home after dark, and the entire neighborhood showed up for the event. Every kid on the block was green with envy, and I was in hog heaven.

Now, we did have a few problems. In the first place, we didn’t live on a farm. We lived in a residential neighborhood, Windsor Park, and our home included neither stable nor pasture. The whole thing had happened too fast for advance preparations, so we now had a pony but no place to put him and nothing to feed him. That night we tied him in the yard, and Daddy fed him a bag of Mother’s flour, which, to my surprise, he loved.

I don’t think I slept a wink that night. How could I, with a real, live pony tied just outside my window? I must have peeped out that window a thousand times.

Shortly thereafter, Daddy made arrangements to board Trigger with a plowman, Mr. Green. (It is indicative of the times that I never knew his first name. He was always Mr. Green to me.) This was a much better arrangement, and I’m sure made the neighbors breathe a little easier. After all, Daddy had also installed beehives in our backyard at a previous time. Surely the neighbors were beginning to wonder what was next.

Sister Martha Ann and I, and all of our friends had a great time riding Trigger. He was a stubborn animal, and our relationship evolved quickly into one more of warfare than love, but he did give us many adventures.

We kept Trigger until he ran away with Martha Ann one time. She was screaming, Trigger was running, and Mother and Daddy chased them in the Chevrolet. Martha Ann was saved, but Trigger’s reputation never recovered. Soon thereafter, Daddy sold him to somebody. (This was typical. We got rid of the beehives after Daddy sat on a bee one day.)

Oh well, the truth is I had figured out by then that Huckleberry Finn was my real hero, rather than Roy or old Hoppy. Remind me to tell you someday about the time Daddy and I decided to build a big raft and sail down the Altamaha River.