Years ago, in the mid to late 30s, there was a group of young men that lived in or around Dancyville. There was a couple of Beard boys, a couple of Crawford boys, a couple of Swain boys, a Hunter and several others. As my Grandmother would describe them, " Them boys didnt have a mean bone in them, they are just full of a bodily fluid and vinegar, they were not bad, just mischievous."
During this time, Mr. Isaac Bradley Dancy raised watermelons for sale in his store. Mr. Dancys watermelons were some of the best and sweetest in Haywood County and he kept a watchful eye on the patch from his front porch. There was a 12 gauge shotgun that sat on the front porch also. Excellent watermelons, mixed with a hint of danger, was a temptation that Them Boys could not resist.
One night, the raid was on. The boys spread out in the patch, thumping melons to find the ripe ones and talking in low tones about the size of some of the melons. Mr. Dancy heard this and come out on the porch. He yelled, "Whoever is in my patch had better get or I am going to shoot." With this, the boys grabbed what melons they could and took off running. The problem was one of the Swain boys had gotten turned around and headed the wrong way. He was headed in a direction that was opposite to the way the boys had come in. Directly in front of him was a gully about 6 feet deep that was filled with Black Berry vines and Plum bushes. Just at the time the Swain boy got to the gully, three things happened simultaneously: He fell into the gully, lost his grip on the 2 melons he was carrying and Mr. Dancy fired his shotgun into the air. Upon landing at the bottom of the gully, one or both of the melons landed on him and burst. With the briars sticking him, the warm watermelon juice spreading over his chest, he was convinced that he had been shot and was mortally wounded. The Swain boys raised such a ruckus about being shot, the whole group of boys and Mr. Dancy came to the rescue. After extracting the boy from the vines, cleaning him up and convincing him that he had not been shot, the laughing started.
I was told that Mr. Dancy thought the incident was so funny that he invited the boys up to the house for free watermelon.
As I mentioned, the boys were mischievous. One of their antics was to take fifteen to twenty bales of cotton, carry them 100 yards to a nearby intersection and block the intersection. Understand that each of these bales weighed 350-400 pounds and you have to be into serious mischief to hand carry 15-20 bales 100 yards.
Another incident involved a local residents buggy. Even though, most everyone had an automobile, this resident also owned a fine white buggy with a matched team of white horses. On Sunday morning, he would hitch the horses to the buggy and go to church and in the afternoon visit neighbors. The Boys seemed to think that he was showing off, or in terms of that day, "Putting on Airs." One night the Boys borrowed the buggy, without asking, and pulled it to a local store. There they dismantled it, carried it piece by piece up on the roof of the store and reassembled it. Leaving the buggy owner to figure out how to get it down.
Later years in the 50s, there was a group of young people in Dancyville that made some attempts at mischief, but their attempts were not as successful as "Them Boys." The Dancyville Methodist Church sets on a hill overlooking the town. The bell in the steeple can be heard for miles when it is rung. This group of young people decided at midnight, on a Halloween night, that they would ring the church bell and wake the entire town up. Problem: some of the older residents got wind of their scheme. On the fateful night, at midnight, the group gathered in front of the church. The front of the church was illuminated which provided some light inside the church. As the group entered the church, the organ began playing. It was dark in the church, but light enough to see that there was no one seated at the organ. About that time, a moan was heard from near the pulpit. If this was not enough, a ghostly apparition raised up from the pews and began beckoning the group into the sanctuary. At this time, the group decided that it was time to leave and from what I understand it was not in an orderly fashion. Later, it was found out that one of the older residents had hide between the organ bench and organ, raised her hands above her head and played the organ. Her husband in the choir loft had furnished the moans and a second lady dressed as a ghost had rounded out the show.
(Editors Note: Miss Dorothy Moore verified the basic concept of the preceding story, to a small group in her home, on October 3, 2000, with some changes. She said it was on New Year's Eve night and had been a custom for young people to go the church at mid-night and ring the Church bell. A group of adults decided to attempt to scare the young people. On a night she described as heavy rain, the adults walked to the Church so their cars would not be seen. The rest of the story is pretty well covered above. She did add, she was the apprition in the pews. When the young people regrouped, they returned to the Church. Everyone that is, except George Key. She stated George never did return to the Church.)
There was always intense competition between some of the men in Dancyville when I was growing up. The competition centered around who would have the first ripe tomato. The competition involved secret mixtures of fertilizers, constant checks of the weather, or any edge that would produce the first ripe tomato. I can well remember Mr. Bob Clark coming to church one Sunday morning and announcing that he had tomatoes turning pink in their last stages of ripening. My dad, David Beard, looked at him and said "Bob, if I had known that you didnt have ripe tomatoes, I would have brought you some. If you want some, come up to the house and pick them." This statement could not have been further from the truth, my dads tomatoes were no closer to being ripe than Mr. Bobs. The next day, while dad was at work, Mr. Bob shows up with a large paper bag. He went to Dads garden and picked every tomato that was turning pink and any large green ones and left. Doing this he not only made Dad eat a lot of crow, but delayed his first tomato for several weeks.
We wish to thank Wayne Beard for providing these antidotes from Dancyville's past.
Posted October 11, 2000
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