Ole Freeze-Up  

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Photo: The house my father and his brothers built and in which the five of us grew up, fitting in somehow . . . and watching lightning from that porch.


I’m hoping winter is behind us, but thinking there might be some long-term effects of this tenacious winter, as in this story by my father, written in dialect and therefore hard to proofread for consistency.

Chuck Larkin told me that these, “Uncle John” stories, unlike the original “Daddy John” bedtime stories, are mostly variations on well-known yarns, but with Dad’s own spin on things.


Ole Freeze-Up by “Uncle John” Fussner

Grandpa had some good and some not so good livestock.  He had an ole mule he called Freeze-Up, ’cause he war borned the winter when everythin’ froze up.  Hit war so cold that yar that the smoke froze up solid in the chimney most ever night, and Grandpa had to take an ax up on the roof and chop the smoke out’n the chimney an’ toss hit down.  By spring, he had a goodly pile, an’ when hit thawed out, ’twas most as bad as a forest fire.

Well sir, on the coldest night whilst the temperature was down to two feet below the bottom of the thermometer, an’ a hard blizzard be tryin’ to blow the farm away and fill the valley with snow, Old Eve gave birth to a big, long-eared mule colt.  He were a tough one, he were, and cold be dam’d, he got up an’ found his breakfast.  Turned out to be the biggest mule Grandpa ever owned, and by far the best worker.

Well sir, long bout the time old Freeze-Up war past ten, goin’ on thirty yars old, thar be the hot dry summer.  Jest to show you all how hot and dry it be, Grandpa be catchin’ five-pound cat fish that didn’t know how to swim.  Had niver bin in ‘nough water to larn how.  an’ hit war so hot that atter catchin’ ’em, you needn’t cook ’em, ’cause they be ready to eat.

Well sir, one day Grandpa war drivin ole Freeze-Up, comin’ down the lane twix two fields of corn.  The sun war gittin’ hotter and hotter, ’til that thar corn started poppin’.  Old Freeze-Up, still ‘memberin’ the winter he war born, thought the poppin’ corn was snow and stopped dead in his tracks, standin’ thar shiverin’ and shakin’  and ’bout as cold as a hot mule kin git.

Grandpa be wantin’ to git home to a big cool drink and yelled, “Freeze-Up, git goin’.”

Well sir, old Freeze-Up did jest that.  He stood right thar and froze to death and went to wharever crazy mixed-up mules go when they depart from this crazy mixed-up old world.

More of Dad’s stories at



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Caryn McGill (@CarynMcGill)
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 11:55:55

    Hey! Here for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Fun checking out everyone’s blog and meeting new people. Hope you’re enjoying it! Caryn @writeonsisters.com


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