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Huckleberry Hounds

Story ID:3825
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Butte Montana USA
Year:1970
Person:Campbell girls
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Huckleberry Hounds

Huckleberry Hounds
by Kathe Campbell

Whoops and hollers echoed up and down Hannibal Street as our younger set peddled their bikes and crowed that their dad was going to finish the playhouse. My husband, Ken, had finally taken leave of the decking on our new home to concentrate on the little ranch style dwelling he promised before summer's end. Having one's own private digs at the far southeast corner of our sprawling back yard was as good as it gets in a neighborhood full of little girls.

"Where will our window be," piped up our youngest as the builder screwed in the last pieces of bright red metal roofing. "Right here on the east side to catch the morning sun, and maybe one on the west for the sunsets. How does that sound?" their dad offered.

It all started with our transfer to Montana, a move that excited us to our very cores as nature lovers. Our young family declared it their Shangri-la, a life of leisure in the great outdoors, far from big city trappings. No sooner had we settled into a lifestyle most folks only dream about, when the ugly "T" word sprang from civilization. A transfer back to Seattle was imminent. Such groaning and moaning from the cheaper seats. Great wails loomed over the dinner table lamenting sports, Brownie Scouts, and most of all, friends. We said good-bye to the big corporate job, and rolled out the welcome mat for relatives.

One shelf in our big new garage was home to the anvil chorus of homemade red wine jugs I had hoped would disappear. Instead of fermenting gracefully and sipping like nectar of the gods, the liquor had become the stuff of lacquer. Rip-roarin' headaches caused near blindness and morning distempers with anyone who dared speak. Even the dog was shushed. I had begged Ken to let me toss it out, but he was adamant, saying it was great stuff and we were lucky to pluck the berries ahead of the bears.

Now and then he braved the opening of one or two bottles on special occasions while the youngers grimaced and groaned in unpalatable pain. "What are you celebrating with that awful smelling stuff anyhow?" came their queries. "You're not going to serve it to company, are you?" No one could have felt more secure in the knowledge that our darlings would rather commit hara-kiri than make friends with my sorry wild huckleberry wine.

The playhouse carpeted, furnished, and bright curtains hung, the girls moved in with the pups to test their courage 85 feet from home. They invited friends for sleepovers, not that much sleep ever took place with a mischievous older brother and his buddies skulking about the premises.

An evening came when Ken and I would attend a wedding and our nine-year-old asked to invite a couple friends for a camp-out in the new pad. Without even a second thought, I agreed, "Yes, sure, take your sleeping bags, pillows, and flash lights and we'll be home around ten or so. There's snacks in the pantry and extra soda pop in the garage should you run out."

The giggling and gossiping on the lips of three fourth graders enchants. The giggling and gossiping on the lips of three fourth graders with a snoot full jades the charm somehow. Because those awful wine jugs were languishing in close proximity to the soda, the temptation had been too great. It hardly took a genius to figure it out. So now what to do? Swallow my pride and take our little pie-eyed guests home with awkward apologies, or hide them away while they sober up back to the land of living in big warm beds?

"Well, good morning sleepyheads," as I stirred late morning pancake batter for the ravenous survivors of a binge that never passed over anyone's lips again. And I got my way, the wretched jugs were tossed, even though Ken and I still can't help but laughingly recall that befuddled night of the huckleberry hounds.

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#1107 "The Connoisseur" - made it into Chicken Soup For The Wine Lover's Soul - this one didn't.