When the City Feller Set Up with an Ozarker’s Gal by Alice Curtice Moyer Wing

Alice Curtice Moyer Wing wanted equal voting rights for women. She traveled the Missouri Ozarks with her horse La Belle in the 1910s, talking to people about voting rights. Her experiences were chronicled in a series of articles published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1916-1919. Missouriwomen.org is featuring Moyer Wing’s articles as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights. For more information about Moyer Wing and her activism, see Alice Curtice Moyer Wing and Woman Suffrage in the Ozarks, 1916-1919.

The following was Moyer Wing’s twenty third article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on February 24, 1918:

He didn’t really do it, because her “steady” made it necessary for him to seek surgical attention, but his intentions were of the best, for hadn’t he “set up” on previous occasions, and how was he to know that the words had a double meaning? – Emroe uses the “dude’s” experience as an argument against suffrage.

By Alice Curtice Moyer-Wing

He put his hat on the back of his head, placed one hand on his hip, rested a foot backward against the fence, said his first name was Emroe and declared himself ready to talk.

“It ain’t that I jist don’t want women to vote,” he began. “I ain’t down on women takin’ any part in the world that they’re prepared fer, same as men. It’s jist that I don’t believe the people in the city is compertent to take a hand in things, men ner women nuther. I ain’t never been to a city, and what’s more, I don’t aim to. But if I ain’t mightily mistaken, the city folks ain’t got no business a-votin’. I’ve got a heap of reasons fer my belief. Heap of ‘em. But the main one is that they’re all doods. Yessir! Jist a passel of doods. Men and women both. Take Tommie Beck, fer example. Sort of relation to my woman. Ain’t got time to talk to you so very long this mornin’, but reckon I’ll jist have to tell you about Tommie.

“I’m fixin’ to take a couple of hawgs to town this evenin’, and want to git back before supper time. It’s a right smart piece to haul ‘em, but once I git ‘em there, I don’t have to think about ‘em agin till they’re ready to butcher. I reckon I’ll ride in once in a while to see how they’re a-gittin’ along, but I won’t have to feed ‘em none. I’ve heerd they don’t allow the hawgs and cattle to run loose on the streets in Sent Louis. That’s another thing I’ve got agin the city. Why, they jist ain’t nothin’ too good fer ‘em. In the summer time, when it’s hot, we see to it that they have their wallers located in a suitable place. Right in front of the stores is ginerally selected fer wallerin’ places.

“But as I was a-sayin’, Tommie, he come down to visit us oncet, all dressed up in a little mustache and a part in the middle of his head. The minute I seen him I jist natcherly ached to land him one. I reckon he seen my fists all doubled up, and he says: ‘You cannot hit me with impunity,’ he says. ‘Then how’ll a club do?’ I axes him, ‘er my fists,’ I says. I sorter hated to light into him the fust thing, though, so I let him go on into the house, where he stayed the most of the time that fust day, but in the course of a week he was goin’ out fer walks, along the beautiful highways,’ he said, meanin’ the roads.

23 3

“Luke Stokes was at my house a day or two after Tommie come. ‘Pitch at me,’ says Luke, a’offerin’ his hand when I made ‘em acquainted. ‘I’m righthanded and red-headed.’ he says. Luke has always got somethin’ funny to get off, but Tommie, he couldn’t see through a stone wall with a hole in it big enough fer him to crawl through. He looked after Luke as he rid away and ‘lowed that it shore was too bad that Mr. Stokes was color blind. His hair was plumb black, he said, and ‘lowed that he’d write off to some doctor institution right away to find out how to treat it. Said maybe he could git him plumb over the disease while he was down here.

“‘Where do you keep your sheep?’ he axed me one day.

“‘In the fur pasture,’ I told him, meanin’, of course, that they was in the pasture furdest away.

“‘Oh!’ he says, ‘Do you also raise fur? That is a new industry. And, indeed, it must be quite profitable,’ he says. ‘How do you raise it?’ he axes.

“‘Yes,’ I says, ‘it’s awful profitable. Shore is. We jist sow fur seeds like it was timothy. Comes up awful thick,’ I tells him. ‘Ginerally git two cuttin’s a year off a patch of it. And we keep a bee, too,’ I says. ‘It’s shore nice to have all the honey you want. And one of our cows gives buttermilk,’ I tells him.

23 1

“He was jist plumb tickled to git all that information. ‘Lowed he’d heerd it talked about and disputed a heap of times, and now he knowed the truth about it at last. Said he’d shore put everybody right on the subject of them two pints, soon as he got back to the city.

“But that settin’ -up business was the funniest and the foolest thing he done. Haw! Haw! Haw! I’ll jist natcherly take the time to tell you. It all come about frum me a-takin’ him with me one night to set with Jim Blunt. Jim had the fever and the neighbors was a-takin’ turns a-settin’ up with him. Blame me if Tommie didn’t git right interested somehow. You know how some folks jist sorter takes to nussin’ the sick. The neighbors was all tard out and we jist let Tommie take the case, since he didn’t have nothin’ else to do and enjyed it so well. I’ll have to give him credit, too, fer the way he tuck keer of Jim, blame if I don’t. I always believe in givin’ the devil his dues and I ain’t agin sayin’ that Jim moughtn’t a-got well like he did if it hadn’t a-been that they was jist one person a-handlin’ the medicine and a-stickin’ to the job.

“Well, one day, after Jim was up and around, Tommie, who kept on a visitin’ us, heerd somebody say somethin’ about Barney Bent a-settin’ up with Flossie Stiver. Barnie had been a-goin’ with Flossie a long time and fer purty nigh a year he’d been a-settin’ up with her steady. We was expectin’ ‘em to git married most any day. They ain’t no sign so sure, hardly, as a feller a-walkin’ eight mile to set up with a girl till midnight and then a-trackin’ it back over them eight miles agin. Heap of nights Barney wouldn’t more than git home by the time he had to git to work in the cornfield, his folks bein’ great hands to git to work at daylight.

“Well, that night, after hearin’ about it, Tommie, he up and commenced a-gittin’ ready fer to go down to Stiver’s to take his turn a-settin’ up with Flossie. When I axed him where he was a-goin’ he shore give me a piece of his mind. ‘Lowed it was mighty quare that a stranger had to come into the neighborhood and learn the people their duty. Said frum what he heerd ‘em a-sayin’ he reckoned that feller had been a-settin’ up with that girl purty nigh a year, hand-runnin’, without nobody to relieve him. The pore feller must be plumb tuckered out, he ‘lowed.

“I told him that Barney didn’t want nobody to relieve him. Like as not, I said, he wouldn’t be tickled a-tall if anybody undertuck to set up with Flossie. But the blame fool couldn’t tumble if a house fell on him. Said he reckoned that the pore feller felt so hurt that he had jist wrapped hisself up in his pride and wouldn’t let on. But that no doubt he would be awful glad if somebody would jist offer to he’p him out a little.

23 2

“I got a pitcher of Barney in my mind while Tommie was  a-talkin’ – Barney a-wantin’ somebody to take turns with him a-settin’ up with Flossie, I called to mind the skinned head Jake Fullerton packed around with him fer a month after tryin’ to take Flossie home frum the spellin’ at the schoolhouse. I ‘membered how he purty nigh squeezed the life out of Sam Tubbs when he tried to buy Flossie’s pie at the pie supper. My mind went back to how Barney used to mule-up as a kid and grit his teeth and light into somebody twicet his size if they got him mad. I ‘membered how the whole Sunday school came a-bilin’ out one Sunday when it heerd his voice about all the others when they was havin’ a rucas over a dawg fight.

“I could jist see what might happen to Tommie when he went a-bustin’ over there to take a turn with Barney a-settin’ up with Barney’s girl. But blame me if I wasn’t jist that disgusted with him, I didn’t say another word. I jist pinted out the way to old man Stiver’s and let him go.

“I kinder laid awake, though, a-listenin’, and along about midnight I heerd a slow, tired kind of a step at the well and a sound like somebody was a-fumblin’ with the pump. I lit the lantern that I always keep a-hangin’ over the head of the bed by my shotgun and went out to see. And blame me if he didn’t need somebody to see – his own eyes a-seemin’ like they didn’t aim to do none of it theirselves fer a right smart spell. Barney had shore done a worse job than I ‘lowed he would do.

“‘The ungrateful wretch.’ sputtered Tommie. ‘The ungrateful wretch.’ he said agin. ‘Look what he done to me when I offered to set up with her in his place tonight. Do you call that gratitude? Do you call it common politeness? Do you call it good manners? Do you call it – Do you call it-

“I ‘lowed I wasn’t goin’ to call it nothin’ he could think of, but said I’d set up with him the balance of the night, seein’ that settin’ up seemed to be all the style these days, and try to git the swellin’ out of his nos fer him.

“‘Blame me,’ he says, ‘blame me, Cousin Emroe. Blame me if I believe they’s a consarned thing wrong with that there girl. She didn’t look to me as if she needed any settin’ up with. It’s all tomfollery fer that feller to be a-spending his time that-a way,’ he says, ‘and I don’t aim to stay round here no longer, where they is sich a small display of good sense and good manners,’ he says.

“So, the next mornin’ I tuck him to the railroad and we ain’t seen him sense, but the whole thing goes to show you why I ain’t in favor of city people a-havin’ a hand in the gov’ment. They jist ain’t compertent. Shore ain’t.

“But I ain’t the narrer-minded kind that judges other people by jist one person, and if you and La Belle ain’t been invited to dinner anywheres, me and the old woman would be plumb glad to have you eat with us today. You ain’t to blame, maybe, fur bein’ frum the city. Leastways, I ain’t a-goin’ to hold it agin you when it comes to eatin’ together and bein’ sociable. But as to votin’ – well, that is another question. Shore is.”

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