Idle American: Skunks in Low Places…


Far-out occurrences often are illuminated through the miracle of the Internet, sometimes resulting in findings that may, uh, need additional study.

Such occurred recently in Dallas, where a homeowner was troubled by skunks who had burrowed their way under the foundation. Then, frustrations increased when the little varmints proceeded to make unwelcome noise with their under-the-floor activities.

Thankfully, he saw a short account in an obscure publication. It claimed that radios--placed under homes and left playing on medium volume--would rid homes of skunks….

The man thought it might be worth a shot, and far more humane than, well, a shot.

He crawled under the house, following directions explicitly. Surprisingly, the only signal coming in clearly was from Dallas’ municipally operated WRR, a radio station featuring classical music 24 hours daily. Sure enough, the skunks vamoosed to parts unknown.

Pleased that the task was accomplished so easily, the man wondered if skunks are the only rodents who don’t like classical music. What if they’d come running back upon hearing strains of Willie Nelson, George Strait or Elvis Presley? He might--as they say--be better served to let well enough alone….

Our country is awash in commencement exercises, some for kindergarteners entering first grade, others for graduates completing eighth grade, high school, and colleges and universities.

Often, the “pomp and circumstance” desired at such ceremonies is best accomplished by the five-year-olds.

At one Metroplex graduation, a recipient face-planted after accepting his diploma. Platform members, ready to render aid, were relieved when he immediately jumped up and left the stage. Authorities “smelled a mouse,” and their suspicions later were confirmed. It turned out that a fellow graduate issued a $300 dare for his friend to perform the stunt….

Years ago, a graduate at Texas A&M University was the first of the doctoral degree recipients to cross the stage.

He failed to pay attention during rehearsal and wasn’t sure what to do about a small platform at center stage. He figured it was his to stand on, perhaps to emphasize his academic achievement. He was wrong. After mounting it, he towered high above the dean, who was short enough to be a magazine centerfold….in Reader’s Digest.

“The platform is for me,” the dean whispered, so they swapped places. The dean was thus able to place the doctoral stole around the recipient’s neck….

Other “accidental stunts”--so to speak--sometimes occur in church pulpits. They usually are harmless and warmly remembered. Often, they are the result of scrambled words that simply come out wrong.

My friend Danny Andrews, whose memory is razor sharp, remembers many times when his pastor, the late Carlos McLeod, uttered verbal zingers, some planned, some not.

Andrews said McLeod claimed to know a woman of critical spirit who was “born in the objective case and lived in the kickative mood.” (Okay, I admit it. The preacher could just as easily have been describing a man.)…

Two truly great Americans departed this life during a 48-hour period recently, both at age 84. Both were my friends, a claim that is made by many others.

Congressman Charles Stenholm, serving his West Texas district for 13 terms in Washington, died suddenly at his home in Granbury, and Dr. Frankie Rainey died following an illness in Abilene. Dr. Rainey was pastor at seven Texas churches and was a longtime respected theology professor at Howard Payne University. During most of his “retirement years,” he was on the faculty of Canadian Baptist Theological Seminary and College. Well-remembered is a mission trip by HPU students during spring break of 1986. He and I accompanied the group. As the Wyoming trip began, Dr. Rainey wore a cap which had bills, fore and aft. On the front were these words: “I am their leader. Which way did they go?”

This man made great spiritual impact on many, including our family. He officiated at the weddings of all three of our daughters….

Dr. Newbury, a longtime university president, continues to write weekly and speak regularly. Contact: 817-447-3872. Email:


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