Hunker Down

Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 11:13 AM.

            The guy behind the mike didn’t miss a one. Without question, he was in charge. And he seldom slowed the tempo. I just could not believe that anyone could talk so rapidly without seemingly ever taking a breath. And he did it all in some type of rhythm that kept perfect time with the braying of the livestock, the ruckus of the handlers prodding and turning the sales objects, the calls for popcorn and cold drinks ringside and the general din that accompanied any place that had a large audience actively participating in the ongoing proceedings.

            The auctioneer would only slow the pace if the price wasn’t to his liking. “Come’on now, you’re not looking at this one. Take a good long gander at her flanks, the straight back, the general size of her, she’ll throw calves half grown! We’re at sixty two, fifty, who’ll give me seventy-five, I need seventy-five……”

            It wasn’t quite as good as the circus but it didn’t miss it by much. And it didn’t cost nothing, unless you ran your fingers through your hair at exactly the wrong moment!

            I asked Dad once why they only held these wonderful sales on Saturdays and Wednesdays. I was expecting him to explain it took a while to round up the appropriate animals to sell. “Son,” he didn’t hesitate, “two days a week is about all they can stand.”

            On “what do you want to be” day in elementary school I never picked doctor, lawyer or fireman. I proudly proclaimed that I was going into the auctioneering business.  I’d fall asleep on Saturday nights rehearsing, “Well, I’m at twenty-five here, who’ll give me thirty, I got thirty, who’ll make forty, who’ll give forty, I’ve got thirty now, who’ll bid……”

            I took a job with Colonel James T. “Birddog” Reed as a recorder when I was in high school. He auctioned off house and farm estates. I’d write down “Zenith table model” as he began to tell how this particular radio could “bring in the Grand Ole Opry a week ahead of time” and then he’d go into that familiar chant. I’d put down “Mr. Chadwick” and the amount he paid when the gavel fell.

            Wouldn’t it be great to come back from auctioneer school and take Mr. Martin’s place at the Tri County Stockyards! Or I could go into business with Birddog hawking those old lamps, wringer washers and China cabinets.

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