Vol. 13


How a Bull Taught Me to Shave

c. 1980; Calamine, Arkansas, USA"How a Bull Taught Me to Shave" illustration, by Lawson Holestine: A bull chases two people in the rain, and they run toward a falling-down house.

As a boy growing up in Arkansas, my pawpa Sawyer spent a lot of time with his mawmaw and pawpaw Milligan at the old home place. So on a vacation, he wanted my grandma to see the old home place he had talked about so much. They left my mom, as a baby, with her great-uncle so they could hike out to see the now-falling-down house on the other side of a field.

As they were walking towards the place where my great-great-grandparents once lived, they were talking about Pawpa’s memories of the old house, when they heard a sniff and a grunt. They looked up and saw a BIG BLACK BULL coming towards them! They had known that there was a bull, but they had never seen it before and had not ever hoped to see it!

As the bull was coming towards them, they had to race to the crumbling shelter. They hoped the bull would forget about them if they disappeared from sight. Outside, a storm came quick; luckily the bull wandered away to look for a dry spot.

As my pawpa stood under the leaning roof to wait out the rain, he told my grandma that his pawpaw used to shave out on the front porch. As a boy, my pawpa would get water from the cistern, in a cup, and then he was allowed to use the horsehair brush to lather the soap. He then acted out the steps he remembered seeing his pawpaw do. “He would stand right here,” he showed my grandma. “Pawpaw would reach up over his head and pull his shave kit from the porch rafters.” And then Pawpa did the very same thing! Seventeen years after his grandpa had died, from the porch of the crumbling house, he held in his hand his pawpaw Milligan’s straight-razor kit.

My grandparents still have Pawpaw Milligan’s shave kit from the old home, and they both think that it was left there for my pawpa to find.

When I spend the night at my pawpa’s house, in the morning he lets me sit up on the bathroom counter, he puts shave cream on his face, and I get to help him shave. I am glad that big black bull was there to chase Pawpa and my grandma into the house so my pawpa could think about watching his pawpaw shaving. I’m pretty sure that bull is why I know how to shave!

Elsa Whitney Sawyer Walz; Ohio, USA

Illustrator: Lawson Holestine; Missouri USA



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