Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 10
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TEXIAN STOMPING GROUNDS
limbs, brush and briars, the departing guest would light the tip
of one of the whole corn shucks in the fire and lift it high above
his head. The bright blaze would last for a matter of only a
minute or two, just enough time to get well beyond the blinding
light of the fire. Consequently, when a departing guest lit his
shuck, he had to leave instantly or its light would be wasted.
So, "He lit a shuck and left." Prudent campers on the Jefferson
Road tucked a number of choice shucks beneath their heads as
pillows at night.
Once the stillness of night had possessed the camp ground,
broken only by the occasional "stomp" of a horse's hoof, and the
great fires had died to glowing heaps of ash-covered coals, the
practical jokers would begin to sneak from cover. These jokers
were divided into two classes: those who played their pranks
on the camp at large, and those who confined their meanness
to the superstitious Negroes.
The one prank which always brought the whole camp out
in force, and resulted in a sound, boot-leg lashing over a stump
for the prankster, if caught, was the run-away team. Men who
slept on the ground, surrounded by horses of all kinds, remained
alert against some horse's breaking loose, becoming frightened
and galloping wildly over them. Any disturbance suggestive
of a run-away team would bring the whole camp up in long
drawers and bare feet, all madly lighting shucks in the embers
of a dead fire for a quick look around.
A run-away-team prankster had to have the confidence of
all persons, including the Negroes, round his own camp fire.
He had to be able to do his work and be back by his own fire
before the first shuck was lighted. Premeditating the joke, he
would bring along an old trace chain. When the whole camp
was asleep, he would sneak out to the wagon on the hill and
secure the chain. He would then push and pull on a wagon
wheel to give the chuckle of an approaching wagon. Gradually,
for any who might be half-asleep and listening he would move
from wagon to wagon, jingling the chain just a little. Then, sud-
denly, he would begin to scream, "WOAHI" and to jingle the
chain violently. And through camp he would come, jingling the
chain and pounding the ground with galloping brogans. Then,
Here’s what’s next.
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/18/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.