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Story ID:8763
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Local History
Location:Gilboa New York USA
Person:Otis & Myrtle Wright
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By Fred Wickert

This story is about a wonderful couple of my school days. It is a story of Otis and Myrtle Wright. They lived on a farm on what we call South Mountain located within the township of Conesville, New York in the Catskill Mountains.

Otis was short in stature, but a powerfully built man. He was a dairy farmer, but was also a school bus driver. He was a good natured man, but brooked no nonsense on the school bus he was driving. The kids knew better than act up on his bus. He always maintained total control with seemingly little effort.

Myrtle was the wife of Otis. She also was a school teacher in the elementary grades. I don't know if it was true, but rumor had it that Myrtle was of Native American blood. She may have been. Her complexion was a slight bit darker than the average caucasian, but not as dark as the average Latino for example. She was at or near six feet in height with broad shoulders and large frame. She was a big woman without being fat. She just had big bones.

Otis and Myrtle were an unusual couple in their height difference, she being the taller of the two, but the differences did not end there. I mentioned that Otis was a dairy farmer. Myrtle was too. They farmed together on South Mountain, but not entirely “together.” You see, they did not see eye to eye on some things. One believed Holsteins were the best breed of dairy cow. The other believed Ayershires were the best. Otis had one side of the barn with his preferred breed and Myrtle had the other side with her preferred breed. All the cows of one breed were his and all the cows of the other were hers. She fed and milked her cows and he fed and milked his cows. The milk was shipped to the creamery each day on the same truck, but each had a different number on their cans. The number on the can was the identifying number at the creamery. Each received their own milk check from the creamery each month.

In the summer the cows shared the same pastures and Otis and Myrtle cut and harvested the hay together. Myrtle could work in the field as well and as good as any man. She always did her share of the work. She could throw a 100 pound bag of grain around as easy as Otis could. Myrtle was a physically strong woman, and more so than many men.

Now, I did not see the incident I am about to describe myself. It was told to me by a man a few years older than I. He was a friend of the family for many years and at the time he related the incident to me,
was my employer. I have never known him to tell a lie and have never heard of him telling a lie. I knew him for more than thirty years before he died.

He told me one day of a time in grade school, as a student in Myrtles class. He told of how strict she was and how she walked up and down the aisle between the rows of seats in the class room as she taught. If someone was out of line or misbehaving, she had a habit of slapping the miscreant on top of the head. One of the boys, like me, was a bit large for his age. He weighed about 175 pounds. He got the bright idea one day to place some thumb tacks, point sticking up, hidden in his thick and ample hair.

The boy that did this was a frequent recipient of the slap on the head by Mrs. Wright. He planned to teach her a lesson with those hidden thumb tacks. Sure enough, the boy was caught out of the corner of the eye of Mrs. Wright, throwing something across the class room. Myrtle Wright continued speaking without a break, walking up the aisle as usual. When she came to a point beside the boy she slapped him on top of the head for his misdeed. It is told that she never showed any sign of distress. Instead, she continued talking, never changing her voice in any way. All the time she was doing that, she calmly removed the thumb tacks from the palm of her hand, slipped them in to her pocket, then grasped a hand full of the miscreants hair. With one hand, she lifted him by the hair of the head out of the chair, held him there and slapped him across the face with the hand that moments before had been stuck with a number of thumb tacks. After delivering the slap, heard around the room I am told, she dropped the 175 pound boy back in his seat and continued talking to her class as if nothing had happened at all.

Having known Myrtle Wright, I believed every word of the story. There are one or two of my old school classmates that read my stories, and I am certain, because they also knew her and the man who told me the story, that they will believe it too, without a shadow of a doubt.

Please visit my website at:: www.fredsstoryroom.com