The Story of 'Ol Doll

I've always loved my grandma's stories. Ever since I can remember, she's been telling and retelling stories from her childhood, stories from my mom's childhood, stories of her adventures, and stories of our adventures, in a way that I could have never even imagined they could happen. For my grandma, the mark of a good story is that it is never told exactly the same way twice. When she tells stories, she's in her element. She usually starts giggling way before the punchline. It's infectious.


When L and I visited her in Ruston, Louisiana over the weekend, she told us the following story about growing up on a farm in Missouri, the youngest of ten children:

"We had a horse named 'Ol Doll, and we had been teaching her how to kneel. So one day, I guess we had nothing better to do, we decided it would be a good idea to just take Ol' Doll up the stairs. I'm not sure why we did that. Cocky and I were always up to something. You know why your Uncle Cocky was called that, right? Well, he was always very proud of himself, always looking sharp and dapper. One time, his teacher at school caught him fooling around at school. She asked him what he had to say for himself, and he just grinned. ‘Well, aren’t you cocky!’ she said. And from that moment on, we just called him Cocky. Well, where was I, Ol’ Doll, right? Just like you, I’ve always loved horses, and Ol’ Doll was our oldest horse. So one time, we decided to take Ol’ Doll into Pop’s study. Taking a horse up three flights of steps is even harder than it sounds, but it helped that she could kneel. So we dragged Ol’ Doll up there, and just waited in the doorway of Pop’s study to see what would happen. Well, bless Pop’s soul, he didn’t hear very well. He was just working away at his desk. We must have been there for a full five minutes before he turned around. He nodded to us, just like any other old day, and then turned around to go back to his paper. But then he did the biggest double-take I had ever seen. His eyes got all wide - and this is one of the only times I heard Pop swear. Well, we sure got Ol’ Doll down the stairs a lot faster than we had gotten her up!"

If I hadn't heard that story so many times, I would have sworn it wasn't true. Who could ever conceive of taking a horse up the stairs? Now, I could hear that story over and over and over. To me, that story fits my grandma to a T. Always up to something mischievous, always laughing, and occasionally, always exaggerating.