HURRAY! SCHOOL’S OUT FOR THE
“School’s out for the summer!” shouted the kids of the Wild Cat
Valley School. They all said goodbye to their teachers and dashed out to
get on their school buses.
For Clay and Luke, summer days meant going without shoes, playing in the
woods and creeks, and making discoveries. They could not wait for the
old yellow school bus to drop them off at Panther Creek Road.
When the bus finally stopped at their road, the boys jumped off and
kicked off their shoes. They felt the warm sand between their toes. Each
boy had a big grin on his face. They loved going barefoot.
“I will race you up the road to our cabin,” said Luke, as he took
Clay knew he could not let his little brother beat him home, so he
started to run, then spied Luke’s shoes on the road where Luke had
kicked them off.
“You may beat me, but you’re going to have to come all the way back
down from the ridge to get your shoes,” yelled Clay.
Luke came to a quick stop.
‘How did I forget my shoes?!’ he fumed to himself, and reluctantly
returned to get them.
Clay laughed and laughed, which only made Luke fume even more.
When Luke came back to get his shoes, Clay tore off running and beat
“No fair!” yelled Luke, but Clay only laughed again.
When they entered the cabin, they could smell sugar cookies, fresh from
Mama grinned at the boys, knowing that it was good for them to have
summer recess from school. Both boys beamed and said that they loved
school, but it was great for summer to arrive. Here in the woods, they
felt that they got a “real” education!
Mama smiled and gave each boy a glass of buttermilk and three sugar
After their snack, they took a notebook and pencil and walked up to the
water spring where they could sit on the log bench and make their summer
They wrote the following lists:
A. Summer Adventures
Indian Arrow Head hunting
Build a Tree house,
B. Money Making Ideas
Pick up cold drink bottles along the road and sell them.
Sell Wild Plums
Sell Flower and Vegetable Seeds
And…Unknown Money Making Ideas
C. Family Chores
Feed Smokey and old cow
Help Momma wash clothes on Wednesdays
Wash dishes at suppertime
D. Anything else we haven’t thought of….
“I think that should be enough to get the summer started,” said
“You think we can do all that in one summer?”
“Yeah, I think so—We’ll fill our days with fun. I really want to
build a tree house and maybe a small log cabin.”
“A log cabin? News to me! When did you think of that, Clay?”
“Oh, one night after you went to sleep and I was lying awake listening
to see if the panther up in the mountain would scream. All of a sudden I
thought, why don’t we build a real miniature log cabin, just big
enough for the two of us to get in? Luke said, “Well, what about
Georgie or other friends? It should be big enough for them too.”
Clay agreed and said that they could go into the pine forest and cut a
lot of small trees to build walls high enough for them to stand up in.
“That sounds like a lot of work,” said Luke. “Let’s start with
some of our other plans first.”
“Okay, but we should aim for building a log cabin at some point.”
They climbed the ladder to the attic that night and both had trouble
getting to sleep because of the exciting possibilities that lay ahead.
Luke finally drifted off to sleep and Clay heard two panthers scream in
the wild woods up in the mountain above their cabin.
Clay loved the sound, but it also scared him. He was excited knowing
that they lived in the mountains, something that most boys could only
imagine in their wildest dreams.
Excerpted from "Panther Creek Mountain-The Big Adventure" by Clyde McCulley. Copyright © 2018 by Clyde McCulley. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Clyde McCulley was born in Benton, Arkansas in 1941, the last of six kids born to a father, sixty years old, and a mother of forty. Together, they tried to eek out a living on a five-acre farm with no running water and a two-holer outhouse. He was determined to go to college and pursue fine art, ultimately leading him to complete both an MFA and a doctorate in Higher Education Administration. After working as a professor of art at several private colleges, McCulley spent twenty years as the director of the School of Art at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute. McCulley's memoirs, "The Boy on Shady Grove Road," is a collection of 100 stories from his early years in the conservative segregated South of the 1940s and 50s. His book captures life on a little farm that was financially poor but rich in love, adventure, and imagination. Along with humor that makes many readers laugh out loud are the tender, charming, and even poetic musings of a man who recalls childhood with uncommon vividness. His characters and schemes in "The Boy on Shady Grove Road" bring back memories, to many readers, of Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn." McCulley’s second book, “Panther Creek Mountain” is about two brothers and their girl cousin growing up in the 1950s on a mountain ridge in the Appalachians. McCulley lives with his wife, Susan, and their cat, Shadow, in Portland, Maine
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