Sometimes we get to wondering about the old days, before narcolepsy was invented. Well, I mean before they invented the word narcolepsy. How did a narcoleptic got along, say in pioneer times? Clyde was guessing that Grandma Ruth was narcoleptic and that is why they called her "Injun Fighter." I'll try to explain in a moment. Most of this was put in print by Ruth's youngest son Robert who was still sufficiently vertical and who could recall the old family stories. Here is how it happened:
Claude Elias and Ruth could not make a living on the homestead in the Mountain House desert (where H. Clyde winters now). Even though they managed to dig the only productive well out there, it was too slow to support crops and animals. So Claude Elias would commute to Fort Mudge, seventeen miles on a bicycle over a dirt road to work as a carpenter. Home only on the weekends. This meant that Ruth was alone out there with her two infants. The nearest neighbor was two miles distant. Her only companion was a single-shot, breech loading rifle, in case of Indians.
The homestead was just south of the annual migration route of the Bannock tribe. The Bannocks were not particularly warlike but there was tension. Different cultures was all. An example is horse stealing. The Bannocks, like all Injuns, considered this an honorable sport whereby you gained wealth and admiration by being so brave and cunning as to steal your enemy's horse. A person was expected to use deadly force to protect his property but once the deed was done he could only attempt to steal it back. Kind of like Army and Navy trying to steal each other's mascots. It produced great hilarity and fun and sometimes violence.
The white man was quite uncivilized about all this. The aggrieved party would gird himself with a whole posse of men, bristling with rifles and six shooters and maybe a cannon and march right up to the teepee and haul a man out and hang him! And take the horse too!
So there was tension.
Ruth said there were outbreaks of hostility but the Bannocks were always friendly on baking day. Indian culture was a sharing culture. Any proper person would proudly share what they have and would then gain respect and status. But the homesteaders were not impressed by the fact that, if they wanted, they could go up to a teepee and expect to be given a meal, maybe skunk gut and grasshopper soup du jour.
So there was tension. Sometimes there was real trouble.
Alone out there in the sagebrush desert one dark (but not stormy) night, Ruth became aware of something outside. She heard sneaky sounds. A quiet shuffle here, a little bump there, it went on and on and..... After a long time she was just plain wore out with the worry. Tired of fear, it was time have done with it, one way or the other. She unlatched the door and then retreated into the shadows, single shot rifle ready.
After a long while, the door was given a little push from the outside. Given that mysterious incentive, its momentum caused it to swing open all the way. Nothing seemed to be out there at first. With the rifle barrel propped up on a flour sack, and Ruth peering down the sights, she waited. Eventually, as if her eyes were finally adjusting to the outside darkness, something fluttered, then calmed and seemed to become visible. It looked too tall to be human but in the next moment she could see it was an Indian. She fired her one shot. She slammed and bolted the door even before the huge noise had stopped reverberating. The noise alone could kill ya! Trying to be fast, she reloaded the rifle but no need to hurry, all was quiet after that.
Next morning she found the neighbor's horse... Dead.
You can understand that this was an economic disaster for all concerned and perhaps it was helpful for people to indulge in a little frontier humor. They called her "Injun Fighter." This was because she had, at first, tried to explain.
In effect, Ruth had said that she had shot the bejeesus out of a levitated Indian, but it would have been better to say nothing. We know that. We all know that. I mean, what happened when you tried to tell somebody about the Lurker that hovers by your bed? Got some funny looks didn't you? And really, many of us have seen more bizarre apparitions. I remember the time the Monster That Ate Cincinnati came into my bedroom and ......... Oh yeah, back to the story here.
Yup, here we are, once again wondering about the possibility that N was involved in this family legend. I guess we will never know. Howsome-ever, Hopalong Clyde who lives in that very same homestead house discovered more about it later.
And I'll tell you later. Look for "Injun Fighter II," coming to a site near you.
Meanwhile, I show you a photo of Ruth. She is holding some kid who looks a lot like me. Does she look like a hardened, desert Injun fighter? I suppose not but really, Ruth was like any other woman; she would defend her babies no matter what. She might have hit the wrong target but she had true grit and now you know all about that.
I'm Narolepti. That is, N without much C.