Uncle C.E., Noodle and a Gallon of Molasses
By: Jim Moore
Daddy died when he was thirty-seven and I was ten. I never was sure as to what killed him, but I do remember that he was getting weaker and finally was sent off to some place called Duke Hospital in Durham. The next thing I knew the Principal of Griffith School called me to his office and told me I was to go home with one of our family friends. This friend made his living by selling, of all things embalming fluid and it depressed me to be around him particularly on that day. I asked him why he was taking me home and he said that he thought my daddy had gotten sicker, but when we got a block or two from home and I saw neighbors standing in the yard looks sad I knew daddy would never be sick again.
All of the family on sides of the house came to the funeral but soon they all went home leaving mother, me and Noodle a female Rat Terrier dog alone. It wasn’t long before mother decided we should move from our house near Winston-Salem to Wilkes County where she was born and raised and so we could be near her sister Aunt Sallie Jenkins.
Uncle C.E. Jenkins, who was Aunt Sallie’s husband, sent Cecil Kilby down in the Jenkins Hardware truck and he picked up our belongings, mother, me and Noodle and moved us all to North Wilkesboro. We spent the first winter in the Jenkin’s home at 412 9th Street, which was then called Memorial Avenue, and while we were there I began to notice a change in Noodle. She was spending less time with me and more with Uncle C.E. In the spring we moved to our own apartment just around the corner at 811 E Street. Noodle to one look, said something in dog language the equivalent of “Thanks, but not thanks” and moved right back to the Jenkins’ home. After that there was no more question about it. Noodle was Uncle C.E.’s dog.
They were inseparable. Everywhere Uncle C.E. went, Noodle went along. John Synder, the barber who cut my hair, told me that he heard that Noodle had developed a mean streak. The next time I saw Uncle C.E.’s car parked in front of Jenkins Hardware, which is now Priester’s clothing, I knocked on the car window. Noodle charged the window with teeth flashing but when she saw me she had the most guilty look I have ever seen on a dog. I realized that Noodle wasn’t mean. It was her job to protect Uncle C.E. and his car and that was all she was doing.
We usually spent most summers at my grandparents’ home place in Wilbar just off old Highway #16. Uncle C.E. and Noodle would drive back and forth to North Wilkesboro every day. At that time a tannery was located in North Wilkesboro just a little ways back of Smoot Park. Cow hides were brought there in great numbers for processing. Large quantities of residue from the scraping and cleaning were hauled away in trucks to wherever the load was to be dumped. Environmental considerations were giving only an occasional nod and it was easy to follow the trail of the truck by counting the spills along the road. The consistency of the spillage was such that it look as if it would be more at home in a cow pasture than on a highway.
Fate placed a significant spillage from one the trucks, Uncle C.E., his automobile, Noodle and a gallon of molasses at the same spot on old Highway #16 just opposite the Reddies River Primitive Baptist Church. The car hit the spillage, Uncle C.E. lost control, the car spun around, the molasses jar broke, molasses flew everywhere, Noodle went wild running around in circles in the car landing fist on the molasses and then on Uncle C.E. and general chaos prevailed until the car stopped sliding. The first thing we knew anything about it was when Uncle C.E. arrived at the farm with Noodle both of them covered by molasses. Uncle C.E. and Noodle cleaned up in a hurry, but for a long time after that it was hard to ride in that car without wishing that somebody had brought along cornbread.
The friendship between Uncle C.E. and Noodle continued for a long time thereafter. They were so close that Noodle took to sleeping in the street right next to his car. One day a passing motorist accidentally did what Father Time would indoubtly have soon done and Noodle’s traveling days were over. Uncle C.E. had Jenkins Metal Shop, which was located on what we now call the CBD loop, to make a tin casket. He wrapped Noodle in one of Aunt Sallie’s best throw rugs, placed one of his silk handkerchiefs over her face and had her buried on some property he owned on Finley Avenue right next to where the Buchan Condominium is now located. Houses are there now and it would take a metal detector to find the unmarked grave, but the next time you go by there on your way to McDonalds look up on the knoll on your right and give a salute to Noodle who was a role model for that old saying about dogs being “Man’s Best Friend.”