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Scott Hall

© 2004

Scott readingSurvivor

“Suck it up Scooter,
Be tough-
You’re a survivor!”

Lying on the football field
you’re writhing- choking-you can’t catch your breath.

When, with one enormous hand, Ray grabs your forearm,
and jacks you up from the ground.
“That was one hell of a tackle Scooter,” he chuckles.
“Next time try to take someone from the other team
down with you.”

Best friends in 10th grade,
he’s 6 inches taller than your 6 foot frame
and 50 pounds heavier,
gleaming jet black hair,
braids extending from the helmet,
kind eyes and a contagious smile,
foster child of the Petersons-
from the Oneida Indian Tribe near Green Bay.
Ray Christian Yellow feather.

You met in shop class at PJ Jacobs High School
setting type and printing
letterhead stationary and
business cards for fledgling enterprises.
Also had your secret stash of hall passes
free to your friends and pretty girls.
And the extra lunch tickets
that fed you well that year
with the likes of chicken cacciatore,
fish sticks, and Italian dunkers.

Ray introduced you to Copenhagen Snuff.
“Next time Scooter, after the tackle,
spit some tobacco snoose
in the helmet hole of the guy you take down.
He won’t hear the next play from the quarterback!”
I thought it a brilliant plan as confused opponents
rose from a tackle pounding their helmets
with the heel of their palm trying to clear their ears.

Other white kids yelled,
when they saw us together,
“Hey it’s The Lone Ranger and Keemo-sabee”
“Look, it’s Little Big Man.”
Your blood boiling ready to defend,
but Ray was able to turn his back and walk away.
“Don’t mean nothing Scooter.”

At a  Pow Wow
on the Winnebago Indian Reservation
near Black River Falls,
Ray in feathers, moccasins and
beaded, buckskin breechcloth.
Eagle, hoop and fancy dancing.
You in Levis, t-shirt and Converse All Stars.
He pulled you into the circle dance –
Spinning, sweating, and drumming
“Scooter,” he said, “let’s find you and me
a couple a Indian maidens.”

After the last school bell of springtime sounded,
Ray returned to the “Rez”-
and you to Camp Tesomas,
with plans for August and Grade 11.
Until July when you read
in the Green Bay Press Gazette
that two young men,
white of skin and redneck of heart,
were fueled by shots of peppermint schnapps,
Pabst Blue Ribbon chasers,
and a five gallon can of gasoline.
With just one match, they
reduced a rundown trailer house,
its meager contents
and Ray Christian Yellow Feather
to nothing but smoke, soot and ashes.

But, from time to time
when life is rough
you still hear the words of your friend saying:
“Don’t mean nothing Scooter,
Suck it up,
be tough-
You’re a survivor”