Unless otherwise noted, the Kathryn Tucker Windham blog is written by her daughter, Dilcy Windham Hilley.
Mother had a fascination with mules.
I don’t know why, but mules, like so many things, interested her. As children, my brother and sister and I passed the time on car trips “stamping” gray mules. Mother taught us the technique.
If you see a gray mule---and they are plentiful in the Black Belt---you lick your thumb, plant it in the palm of your hand, and stamp the palm with your fist. It’s supposed to bring you good luck.
Years ago, I heard of a man in north Alabama who carved mules. It was important that I secure one for Mother’s upcoming birthday. After some searching, I found the man and bought two beautiful carvings, one a four-mule-drawn wagon in intricate detail. The other was a life-size mule head with chain and harness. Now I don’t think this little man had hunting trophies in mind when he carved the mule, but it looks very much like something a hunter would have in his man cave.
Mother mounted her mule trophy on her den wall. After she died, I brought it to my house where it lives on my front porch.
Mother liked mules so much that she wrote a small book called Count Those Buzzards. Stamp Those Gray Mules. It recalls superstitions of the South. She illustrated the book herself with cover art of buzzards and mules. Sadly, it is out of print, so if you have a copy, treasure it. And remember, for good luck, stamp those gray mules.
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"Some people are important to intellectuals, journalists, or politicians, but Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably the only person I know in Alabama who is important to everybody."
–Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University.
Dilcy Windham Hilley
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