If you ever have a chance to go to a whoop-de-doo, don’t miss it. It was so much fun!
Yesterday, as soon as we found out we were going to have a whoop-de-doo with the other train, folks went around to the other wagons to meet each other and find out where they were headed. This train came from Kentucky, and they’re headed to a place just 100 miles from here. Their journey is almost over. They had a drought in Kentucky, and the crops failed, so most of them want to try their hand at farming in the Florida wilderness.
Pap and the rest of the pushers from both trains called games for the children. We had sack races, a three-legged race (Minnie and I were together), a wheelbarrow race, drop the handkerchief, and a spelling bee, which was won by a Kentucky girl. Her word was CONSTERNATION. I had just gotten out with the word JOSTLING. Vexation! The Kentucky girl won a silver dollar.
The men played horseshoes, and the competition was fierce. The onlookers clapped and shouted with every toss. It was finally between Martin Carter and a man from the other train. Martin won!
The women cooked supper while the men fashioned tables out of whatever they could find in the wagons: sawhorses, lumber, doors, and a big store sign that said, “Farrier.” We piled the pots of food on the tables, and every family brought their own plates and spoons from their wagons.
Guess what? We met another family of Bodains! Pap and the other Mr. Bodain talked about their kin and tried to see if we are related by blood. Pap asked about his cousin, Daniel Bodain, who lives down near Micanopy, Florida, but they did not know of him. We decided that we must be related somehow, way far back in the Bodain family line. It was fun because the rest of the time we called each other “Cousin.”
After supper, folks hung their lanterns all around. The place was lit up as bright as day. The men cleared the tables, and Captain Walsh called for a fiddler. We ended up with three fiddlers, three mandolin players, two guitar players, two harmonica players, and two banjo players! There were even more musicians, but the women complained that there wouldn’t be anybody left to dance with. Everybody danced: children, women, men, and even the old folks. You didn’t even need a partner. You just got out in the circle and danced and danced. Pap and Mama danced with their cheeks together and their eyes closed. Miss Melman danced with Captain Walsh.
When the night was over, folks took the lanterns down and headed off for their wagons.
Today, we gathered again for a preaching service. Captain Walsh had one of the hired drivers drive the piano wagon out toward the middle of the circle. Folks from both trains gathered around the end of it and brought chairs, kegs, barrels, boxes, or whatever they had to sit on. They opened the canvas so the sound could come out, and Miss Melman played hymns. Mr. Carter led the singing. One of the men from the other train did the preaching. He preached the shortest sermon I’ve ever heard. I said, “Thank goodness!” a little too loud, and Mama pinched me, but I didn’t care. I bet she was glad it was short, too.
For the rest of the day, folks visited and helped each other. Kids played everywhere. Women spread quilts out for all the babies. The farrier from the other train looked at our horses and checked to see if they needed shoes. A barber cut folks’ hair. Mrs. Carter gave out her liniments and tinctures. Miss Melman wrote letters for folks. Pap and some other farmers talked about which crops would grow in Florida and which crops wouldn’t. Mama swapped recipes and looked at pattern books.
I showed some girls from the other train how to make a cat’s cradle. They showed me how to make a “button on a string” so that it spins. Travis and the boys played marbles and capture the flag.
We were all going twelve-ways-to-Sunday. What a day!