Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have said, “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” I grew up believing that:
- Putting butter on a burn would draw the heat out of it.
- Going outside with wet hair would cause pneumonia
- Swallowed gum would stay in your stomach for seven years
- Spitting under a rock would get rid of a stitch in your side.
- Playing with matches would make you wet the bed
- Eating spinach would give you big muscles — just like Popeye’s.
- Burning ears meant someone was talking about you.
- Launching a new boat on a Friday was bad luck.
- Eating the crust on bread would lead to a strong spine.
- And last, but not least, bulls were attracted to red capes.
As it turns out, Benjamin Franklin was right. Not a single one is true!
Even so, I’m still not going to swallow gum, launch a new boat on Friday or taunt a bull with red cape..…just in case.
Bulls, it seems, are attracted to the movement of the cape, not the colour, but I have one story that demonstrates that some horses are definitely attracted to red.
In 1989, Dad bought a brand new, bright red new GM truck. While visiting him one summer, I wanted to walk down to the absolute end of West Head with him. I wanted him to show me where my great-grandparents, John and Wilhemina Roache, had lived when he was a boy. Their house is marked on the map with a red border.
There were remnants of foundations of houses that had burned down years and years ago. My great-grandparents were part of that group. Strangely, all their belongings had been safely stored in the shed. Did Great-grandmother Wilhemina, a devoted Baptist, have any hand in it? They left the end of West Head and moved closer to town where both the weather and the land were much more hospitable.
I wanted to see the Salmon Gulch, Roaches’ Cove, Myrtle Cove, Sloop Ledge. the Geological Survey of Canada Marker and other places I had heard about as a child.
We drove as far down as possible and then set out to walk to the very end.
There were several horses grazing in a field near the truck, but we didn’t think anything of it. That was until Dad just happened to look back. Something strange was going on. All the horses had circled his shiny RED truck. But, stranger still, as we stood there watching, the horses reared up and planted their front hooves firmly on the hood of the truck. It was like a scene from a scary movie.
Dad yelled at them, pelted them with rocks, but the horses paid no attention. They had fallen under the spell of the RED truck. Were they smelling the paint? Were they licking the paint? Nope, they were doing something far worse than that. They were actually gnawing at the RED paint on Dad’s brand new truck. Had I not witnessed it with my own eyes, I would have dismissed it as another one of Dad’s yarns. The horses were not even slightly fazed by our presence and kept up their chewing.
That is when our afternoon walk came to a screeching halt and we returned to the truck. We jumped in and took off. Dad was livid. He stormed into the house saying very nasty things about horses in general — starvegutted, cursed, good-for-nothing varmints.
The next day, Dad called his insurance company to report what had happened and an adjuster came out to view the damage. Dad repeated the events to him and I was there to confirm his story. The adjuster looked at him in disbelief. He had never heard such a bizarre story in his long career.
“Mr. Roache,” he began, “I believe your story, but if I submit your claim with this explanation, the company will think I have lost my marbles and put me out to pasture. I will be the laughing stock of the entire company. We must come up with a different scenario.”
The adjuster presented several possibilities. The truck had been vandalized by children, scratched up by blowing sand, keyed by someone who had a grudge against Dad, dented by a freak hail storm or had collided with a low flying flock of geese. After much discussion, the adjuster submitted a claim for damage that occurred in the Shelburne Mall parking.
In due time, Dad’s truck was repainted and no one would have guessed there had been any previous damage. Everything looked as good as new.
And that’s no bull!
I know that Benjamin Franklin said not to believe anything you hear but have I ever lied to you?
(Pretty Boy, the cat, was also attracted to that red truck. Animal magnetism, I guess.)
Note: Most of the houses on the map no longer exist. The house boxed in yellow is my family home at 281 West Head Road where we spend as much time as possible.