The Sack Man
Illustration and article by Lou Davenport
I often write about my big Southern family. There’s certainly a lot of “material” to tell and write about! I believe most Southerners are “story tellers,” and I sure love to share my “family stories.” All of mine are true, because “you just cannot make this stuff up!”
I really love Southern names, too. In my family, we have some great ones! My aunts were Aunt Lucy (Lucy Jewell), Aunt Red (Ruby Lee,) Aunt Cye (Bonnie) and Aunt Mayvonne. Aunt Red is 99 years old. Aunt Mayvonne is 95. Both are still as “sharp as tacks” and full of “it.”
My uncles were Uncle Jack, Uncle “Bunk” (Alon, not Alan, Franklin), Uncle “Punkin” (Chalmes Vernon), Uncle “Beeker” (J. B.), not one but TWO Uncle Earls! My Dad was named by the doctor who delivered him, Calvin Coolidge! (wonder who was President at the time?!) Everyone called him “Uncle Duke.”
I have no idea where my grandparents came up with some of these names, but I am guessing that by the time my Dad came along, the 7th of 8 kids, they were just tired of naming kids. “Uncle Punkin” was the baby of the bunch, but I still haven’t the slightest idea where they came up with “Chalmes Vernon.” My “Aunt Cye” only got ONE name, Bonnie. No middle name. She came by the name “Cye” because my grandmother said “she came through the house like a cyclone.” And, yes, I can see why she was compared to a cyclone! She truly was “somethin’ else!” And, Mayvonne. Just Mayvonne. Maybe my grandmother was being “creative” with that one and had no idea what would “go” with that name. And, I must say that one name fits Aunt Mayvonne perfectly. She is original, to say the least!
Aunt Mayvonne was married to one of my Uncle Earls. They lived in Greenville, Mississippi and had/have five daughters. Sharon, Nancy, (sadly we lost Nancy last year) Loretta, Judy and Cindy. Sharon and Nancy were the “big girls” and did not have much to do with us “little snots,” that is, me, Judy and Loretta. Cindy came along much later and was “the baby,” of course.
Me, Judy and Loretta were so close in age that we “stuck together.” We were “thick as thieves” and remain so today. They are my “sisters” not just my cousins. During the summers, I was spending a week with them or they were spending a week with me in Bastrop. We would put up a “fuss” if we were told no, you are not going to go stay! We usually won out by turning on the tear, and our parents knew to just “give in” and let us be together. A “win win” for everybody! We were certainly “out of their hair!” Oh, the times we have had but that’s for another column or two, probably three. Oh hell, a BOOK!
Now, if there was one thing we hated, it was “NAP TIME!” We weren’t tired. Maybe the Mamas were, but we weren’t. There were way too many things to do outside in Greenville or Bastrop. But, we would be put to bed and told to “take a nap!” Yeah, right! We giggled, we talked, we jumped on the bed and generally had big fun even if we had to stay inside “out of the heat!”
But, Aunt Mayvonne had a “secret weapon” she would use on us! This weapon of hers has traumatized us three for life! She’d finally get on to us so many times to “settle down, get quiet and go to sleep, ya’ll hear me” that she would finally just come in and lay down with us bringing with her a “keen switch.” You made a move, she would swat you! Then, we HAD to get quiet. She would then proceed to tell us a story. Oh, not a fairy tale or some sweet kid story. She told us about….THE SACK MAN! (I told you she was original!) I am still curious of the “origins” of the Sack Man! She is still tight lipped about him. She just giggles.
The Sack Man was about “this old, ugly, bent over man that carried a big sack on his back and he would catch kids not NAPPING, grab them and put them in that sack and take them off!” We were sure the Sack Man had some dark, deserted shack to lock up kids some where. Our little imaginations would run wild! We sure didn’t want that scary Sackman to climb through the window in the middle of the DAY and kidnap us and put us in his bag!
I had “hallucinations” of the Sack Man lurking in the garden of our neighbors just waiting for the perfect time to grab us! I saw him! He was there! I would alert Judy and Loretta, and we would pull the covers up over our heads and squeeze our eyes shut! We would get as still as we could, although I am sure we were shaking from fear! I don’t think we ever really went to sleep, but we sure could pull off “pretending we were!” We would show that old Sack Man! He wasn’t about to get us!
When Aunt Mayvonne actually finished her nap, we were allowed to “wake up” from ours! We would warily go back outside, keeping our eyes open wide, because, The Sack Man might still be outside waiting for us. He might have had a “time limit” for nap times for kids. We stayed on our guard. Who really knew when that ugly old Sack Man might just sneak up and grab us!
We had a garbage barrel back then in which the garbage was burned. I think one of our “theories” of what the Sack Man did to “those kids caught not napping” was throw them in the garbage barrel and burn them! We stopped looking for rocks in the driveway for a long time, because that was where the barrel was! (Give us a hammer and those driveway rocks, and we were happy for hours! We just knew we would find some gold!) It was even a little bit scary to go play in the dirt. The Sack Man might be up in “our tree!” You couldn’t be too careful when it came to him! We thought he must have “special powers” that would allow him to appear anywhere at anytime! We would finally just go play in the hose since we figured we could spray the Sack Man and make him MELT just like the witch in The Wizard of Oz! We were safe if we had water!
By bedtime, we were worn out. But, do not think for a minute we were not concerned about that old Sack Man. We wildly speculated about where he was right then! We figured he never slept. He was always on “the prowl!” He might be right outside the window. Or under the bed! “You look! No, you look!” One of us would finally get brave enough to check. I don’t think we had a “get away plan” IF he had been under there! We made sure the closet door was open, too. We did not want to give him any good hiding places. I really believe we scared ourselves so bad, we fell asleep pretty quickly!
We still talk about the Sack Man, and finally we can laugh about HIM! And, we do not miss a chance to give Aunt Mayvonne a hard time about her Sack Man story! It was not the only time she told that story to us! We firmly believe she enjoyed telling it to us “sweet little girls!”
The first time I ever saw Freddie Kreuger, I just knew that was the Sack Man, and he was now making movies! I seem to remember calling Judy and reporting a “sighting of The Sack Man” and what he was now doing. I never ever watched any of those Freddie movies. No way!
Southerners tell and know some good stories. Aunt Mayvonne sure told a “whopper” with the Sack Man. Judi, Loretta and me are scarred for life! Oh, I have a night light, my closet doors are open and I always check under my bed at night. I have added some extra protection just to be on “the safe side.” Three cats! I saw some movie about if you have cats, aliens will steer clear of you! So, Otis Lee, Peanut and Bo Bo ought to be able to take care of The Sack Man and any alien that might show up! Take that Sack Man!