By Charles Towne 

There was a time, way back when, that I used to collect all sorts of neat stuff, some of it dead and some of it becoming dead.

(The dead stuff I figured would eventually turn into fossils.”)

I collected treasures, some of it stuff what to you normal folks out there would appear a bit strange.

My mother stopped cleaning my room because some of my treasures were a challenge to her sense of decorum and propriety.

Take scat for instance, and if you don’t know what scat is, well, look it up.

I had a vast collection of scat.  Raccoon scat, possum scat, muskrat scat, fox scat, dog scat, cat scat, deer scat, owl scat, etc. etc. etc.  I want you to know that my scat collection was the envy of every boy in my hometown.

And then I was always dragging live critters home.

Mama made a mistake once and looked in a wooden box in my room where I was keeping about a dozen garden snakes, fox snakes, and corn snakes.

(It was about this time that I noticed that her hair was beginning to go a bit gray.)

As difficult as it might be for you to believe, MY MAMA RELEASED ALL OF MY SNAKES?

But, understanding that nature abhors a vacuum, and the snake box being empty, I immediately put a beautiful, mean, snarling, smelly old possum in the box that had recently contained the snakes.

My poor mama.

As the years passed some of my collectibles became less gamy.

And then one day, quite by surprise I woke up to discover that I was a man and being a man my interests changed from scat to things a little less odoriferous. Like girls for instance.

We will not discuss girls here but some less controversial collectibles.

Take my cannonball collection for instance. one of my cannon balls was a seventy-pound monster that I thought added something to the décor of our living room.

(My sweet wife, the mother of my four adorable and wonderful children was very patient, just like my mother.)

Well now, that is interesting!  I never thought of it before but I guess I was making a collection of little Towne’s and didn’t even know it!

I came home for lunch one day somewhat out of sorts and when I walked through the door I noted this cardboard box in the middle of the floor.

Like I indicated, grumpy old poop that I was, I drew back and kicked that box. What a terrible mistake!  One of my sweet, adorable and wonderful offspring had put that box over my very large, very heavy, cast iron cannonball.

As you can imagine when I kicked that accursed box it didn’t move, not even a little bit, but my poor toes did!

Yes, my toes, my poor, poor toes, they folded back over the top of my foot in an interesting way that toes are not supposed to fold, with a copious amount of excruciatingly interesting pain I might add.

(If someone other than myself had experienced that pain it would have been a beautiful thing to behold.)

You, being the level-headed person that you are would never have kicked the box, but me?  Well, I, being me, I kicked the box.

Anger is like that, it usually backfires.  One thing I can tell you for sure is that when I kicked it I didn’t hurt that old cannonball even a little bit.

Dear Papa God,  Please protect us from ourselves.  Help us to be the level-headed folks you want us to be, in Jesus’ Holy name I ask it, Amen

Live fully,
Love openly,
And make a difference, today

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Similar to your odd memorabilia, anger has a way of collecting a big pile of regrets! I used to teach anger management to adults. Breathe…..and don’t think with your lizard brain!

  2. Ahh NH, the old lizard brain rears its ugly head again… The gnashing of teeth, the clenched fist, anger, retaliation, fury, revenge, all the ugly stuff that seems to want to control and dominate us can, with God’s blessed help be overcome. O dear God please help each of us to be what you want us to be. Help us, bless us with your love. Let us each one stop kicking cannon balls! Bless each one of us and help us to be like Jesus is my prayer, Amen. Chaz

  3. The protection from self prayer is one of my main go to prayers. Seems as if I’m always letting my emotions guide me in situations instead of relaxing and letting the Lord lead. When I do let Him lead, I find a sense of…..well common sense and life is much easier to live.

    Great column Chuck, God bless!

  4. Boy oh boy, aint it the truth! “Let go and let God!” It seems that this Is always pretty good advice no matter what we are doing in life. You take care Don, Chaz

  5. Thanks for a good story about how misdirected anger can really hurt us. I can picture you howling with the unexpected pain. Nice that we can laugh about it now, though. Did you ever find out which one of your kids put the box over the bowling ball? As for your Mom, the more we learn about her, the more she does indeed sound like a saint. Snakes in a box in your bedroom? Yikes! That makes the scat collection seem almost desirable.

  6. Dear Kristin, no, there were no forthcoming confessions so naturally, as any good parent would do, I punished them all equally. And really, I don’t know where you get the nerve siding with my mother! It all turned out alright though because I was finally able to train mama not to open mystery boxes in my bedroom. One thing I have discovered in my long, very strange and somewhat eventful life is that unlike mama I can’t hide anything from Papa God ’cause nothing scares Him! Blessings on you dear friend, Chaz

  7. Awww EJ, and just what is my new name going to be, Ye olde Kicker of Cannon Balls? Or, Olde Broken Foot? Or, Ye Olde pain in The Toe? One thing I can assure you pal, I didn’t kick any mysterious boxes any time soon! Chaz

  8. I’ve collected many things in my 84+ years, but never thought of scat! Thank goodness, as I might have lost my free room and board! I know what my mother would have said about that, SCAT!

  9. Don, I guess my sainted mother realized that boys will be boys and I am glad that she was as patient as she was. She was sort of like Papa God in that sense, I believe He yearns for us to grow up. Blessings pal, Chaz

  10. Oh my, how I love to read your stories!! After I finished laughing,
    it made me realize that my two boys were REALLY much better and easier to raise than I ever thought. I truly admire your mother and her ability to stay calm…good example!
    Seriously, life is an amazing adventure everyday. And yes, we need God’s protection in everything we do, every decision we make. Thank you, Lord for watching over us, loving us and protecting us in ways we don’t even realize. Thanks, Chuck…for another humorous, but thought provoking article from the archives of your memory.

  11. Dear CSG, Who told you my dear ol’ mama was calm? She wasn’t calm she just prayed a lot! What I haven’t been able to figure out is why folks don’t pray more than they do? I remember mama kneeling in prayer and at the time I didn’t understand it at all. She talked to Papa God like the two of them were best friend and I guess they were, best friends I mean. If I didn’t learn anything else from her that was enough and it has almost become second nature… (Praying that is.) Thanks for the comment and God bless you and yours, Chaz

  12. CSG, “Archives of your memory!” Hmm, almost sounds lethal, like cerebral flatulence, hoof and mouth disease or mouth rot? I surely do hope I don’t get none of that!

  13. Dear Old Timer, I knew a fellow one time that had a lethal case of the foot rot, and another one that had B.O. of the brain, at least I think that’s what they called it? That foot rot fellow he stunk so bad he had his own pew in church, just sayin’, Chaz

  14. OK Chaz, you ready? On old wooden warships how to keep the ammo (cannon balls) near the cannons where they were to be used? The answer was a pyramid 4 cannonballs square under a 9 cannonball level which was under a 4 ball level with 1 cannon ball on top! Thus 30 cannon balls could be stored on deck where they would be needed! They solved the problem of how to keep the ammo in place with a large brass plate with 16 indentations to position the bottom level of the pyramid. This led to an expression some of you may have heard, for some unknown reason this brass plate was called “a monkey”. In cold weather, brass contracts much more rapidly than iron. The indentations would shrink and the cannon balls would begin rolling around, thus the expression – ” cold enough to freeze the (cannon) balls off a brass monkey! This has been debunked but it still is a great story!!!
    I know that you know how much Papa God loves children, did you ever consider he might have used that box on the floor to give your little one endless hours of laughter?

  15. Avast there ye lubber. It be obvious that ye has way too much free time on yer hands matey SO GET YE BUSY HOLYSTONING THE DECK! The holystone was a chunk of lava rock that was used to scrub and sand the oak deck making it clean and almost white. The monkeys were actually the small boys whose job it was to carry the powder from below decks to the cannons. They were called POWDER MONKEYS because as they scurried around carrying the black powder they were stooped over and looked like little monkeys. Hey, I weren’t there but it makes sense to me! Another good one was the old saying concerning loose cannons. During vicious storms cannons weighing several tonnes (THAT IS OLDE ENGLISH FOR TONS) would break loose and start rolling around and unless they were tied down they would plunge down through a hatchway and go through the bottom of the ship thus sinking the ship and killing everybody on board THUS THE TERM WAS ADAPTED TO SIGNIFY ANYTHING OUT OF CONTROL. To be honest with you my kids are still laughing about the old cannonball in the box gag. Each of them claim responsibility for giving daddy the real funny limp. Blessings on ya matey. Chaz

  16. And fer that one Richard ye are deserving of being keelhauled! Trying to explain something to a landlubber be a waste of time doncha know!

  17. And Richard me lad me thinks ye are both right and wrong. Several cannon using various size cannonballs would perhaps cause the brass plate to vary in size according to the cannon it serviced. Do ye think, maybe, perhaps?

  18. I told you that the story was debunked, you are correct, according to the naval wartime museum, cannonballs were kept in the powder locker because even a brass plate would not keep them in place during high seas! Also for your information, I not only know what a holystone is, I have used one on a wwII vintage minesweeper!!! Last of all, see you thought it was about your temper when, according to you, it was Papa God giving the children a source of enjoyment that has evidently lasted for years and years! What a loving Lord we serve!!!!

  19. Yes Richard all that is true except for the fact at family reunions I hate being called “Ol’ Broken Toe!” I envy you your experience on the minesweeper. I am sure you know what being “keelhauled” meant. Take care and God bless, Chaz

  20. Yes Richard all that is true except for the fact at family reunions I hate being called “Ol’ Broken Toe!” I envy you your experience on the minesweeper. I am sure you know what being “keelhauled” meant. Take care and God bless, Chaz

  21. What was wrong with just collecting comic books and baseball cards?

    Count your blessings. The kids could could have boxed up ALL of the cannonballs.

  22. It seems that everybody is siding with my poor innocent children! Perhaps I should have collected more benign and innocent critters such as hornets nests still containing their residents or real cute rabid rats. Chaz


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