Old Dan

by | August 29, 2013 4:47 pm

by RONNIE JOHNSON

   Old Dan lived down the road from us. His clothes were always torn and tattered by t he had a heart of pure gold.

   His old house leaned to the left and looked as if it could tumble over at any time. Black cats chased each other across the front porch and mysterious vines crept up the walls. Strange lights flickered in the windows after sunset. Children stayed clear of his house and made sure they took the opposite way.

   Some believed Old Dan was a man of God, while others were sure he performed the works of the devil.

   There were brave souls that came to Old Dan because his magic potions were said to take away warts, moles and arthritis.

   Old Dan was a friend to all animals. He nursed injured animals back to health, and he made wooden splints for broken legs and injured bones. People would often drop their unwanted pets near his doorstep because they knew he would take care of them.

   One cold winter morning before the school bus came, I found a cotton sack filled with puppies near our mailbox. They were only a few days old and didn’t have their eyes open.

   I thought of Old Dan and grabbed the bag and ran up the road toward his house. He opened the bag and tears ran down his old black cheeks. “What kind of person could do such a thing?” he said.

   He lifted each warm puppy from the sack and took it inside to the fireplace. “Go on to school,” he said. “I’ll take care of this.”

   He worked for several days trying to save the puppies, but only the runt of the litter survived.

   The puppy grew up to become a beautiful shepherd. It went where ever Old Dan would go. The shepherd was his constant companion and friend.

   In the winter of 1961, Old Dan was rushed to the hospital 90 miles away. He couldn’t speak and his right side was numb. He had had a massive stroke.

   In his tiny hospital room, he heard the winter wind raging outside. Something was tapping on the window. The nurse opened the window and a beautiful, snow white pigeon landed on Old Dan’s lap. He looked on in amazement. It was the same pigeon th at he had nursed back to health two years ago. He knew it was because he had placed a metal band with the number 165 on its right leg.

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