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The alligator of Cub Creek

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In 1957, Mama, my Aunt Ruth (my daddy’s sister) my sister and I went to Florida for a vacation. We went to Daytona Beach, where all but me got severely sunburned. I stayed in the water — they laid on the beach.

Their burns were so bad, they had to go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. They could only wear night gowns — everything else hurt too much. We stopped at Silver Springs on the way back to go on the glass bottom boat rides. They still felt too bad and sat on picnic tables while I went on the boat ride.

At that time, you could buy a live alligator for $5. Mama bought me one that was about 12 inches long. When we got home, I put him in a wire cage that was kept in the large utility room sink. I fed him raw hamburger, and over the next several months, he grew. By winter, he was 24 inches long.

I came home from school one day and he was not in his cage. My sister and I looked for him all over the house. When Mama got home from work, she helped look. We found him behind the chest freezer in the utility room.

Mama said I could not keep him in the house anymore. He was moved to the back porch, which was screened in. Two nights later, he froze to death. I was sad, but not too much, because he had bitten me several times.

That next day, Saturday, I took his lifeless body down the hill, down the road, next to the bridge over Cub Creek. I laid him on the shoulder of the road, as if he had just crawled out of the creek, and sat in the woods where I could watch unseen.

A short time later, Mr. Buck Morris came driving down the road on his pickup. Mr. Morris actually had a wooden peg leg. He braked his truck and got out about 30 feet from the alligator. He started picking up rocks and throwing them at the alligator. Of course, the alligator didn’t move, even when hit.

Mr. Morris realized, or at least thought he was dead, so he started toward him, lost his balance and pivoted around in a circle on his peg leg, then reached down ever so carefully and picked him up by the tail. He put the gator in his truck bed and drove to Berea, where he nailed him up on the back of a store that was run by Mr. Collie Jones. Word got around and people came from miles around to see the two-foot alligator that came out of Cub Creek.

Jerry Dean is a Granville County resident.