You should never anger a bumblebee

Pat Haley - Contributing Columnist

Rhonda Crum and Sally Orihood stopped by our table at the General Denver Hotel last week to say hello to my wife, Brenda, and me. Our chat soon turned to the topic of bees.

The women told us the recent warm weather was beginning to arouse the bees from hibernation, which might be confusing to the bees, but good news for us who enjoy honey.

Rhonda raises bees and sells honey under the name ‘Bee Honey Healthy’. Rhonda is originally from Medina, the “Bee Capital” of Ohio.

As the subject switched to home towns, I asked the ladies if they had lived in Port William near the old dam.

“We sure did for about six years until the house burnt down,” they replied.

“When Brenda and I moved back to Clinton County, I asked Brenda if she would like to build a new house on your old property,” I said. “She wasn’t totally against the idea until she learned that the area near the dam was known as ‘Snake City’. That ended the conversation,” I said.

Rhonda, Sally and I laughed while Brenda simply raised her brow.

After our friends left, I asked Brenda if I had every told her the story about getting stung by bees one summer while jumping on junk cars at the old Cummins Garage just down the street from where we lived.

“No, but I would like to hear it,” my wife replied kindly.

“Okay,” I said.

One hot summer afternoon when I was about nine years old, I was walking around town looking for something to do. Luther Cummins, the father of our sister-in-law, Nancy Haley, owned a garage in the building that currently houses the Port William Fire Department. Mr. Cummins normally had six or seven junk cars sitting on the lot beside the garage.

Mr. Cummins always removed the bench seats from the cars and placed them alongside the vehicles before they were transported to the junk yard. Impulsively, I jumped on one of the seats and quickly found they were like trampolines – so much so and that I could jump from the seat straight onto the hood or top of the car.

As I was jumping away, having a good time, suddenly I experienced an extremely good jump that landed me on top on one of the cars. I was standing on top looking around when I first felt a sharp pain in my right leg. Abruptly, I felt another pain on my back, then my shoulder, and then on the back of my neck. Bumblebees!

I guess my jumping on the cars had angered the bumblebees. Now hundreds of yellow jackets were stinging me all over my body. I was literally grabbing handfuls of bees from my face and throwing them to the ground. No one was around to hear my cries.

Then, just like that the car stopped shaking and the stinging stopped. I jumped down from the car and hopped onto my bike.

Feeling shaky, I made it to the front door of Minnie’s Restaurant, but instead of going inside, for some strange reason, I walked into Edward’s Café, a beer joint, next door. Jim Edwards and his wife, Leatha, were behind the bar and “Cracker” Dalton and his sister, Opal, were sitting on bar stools. “What happened to you?” Jim asked. “You have big bumps all over your face.”

“Come over here,” Leatha said, and I immediately wobbled over to where she was standing. “Jim, give me that beer.”

With those words she picked up a cloth, dipped it into the cold pitcher of Burger beer, and began to wipe my face and neck. She even had me take off my shirt and she swabbed my back and shoulders with the beer.

“That will help you,” she said. “You better run on home now.”

I don’t remember much about the ride home, but I do remember walking through the front door and hearing my mom say, “Where have you been? You smell like beer.”

After telling my mom what had happened, she bathed me in baking soda and made me go lie down on the couch. I figured I would be scarred for life, with a puffy face that would put the Joker to shame.

When I awoke the next morning the swelling, redness and pain were all gone. To this day, I don’t know if was the beer, the baking soda, or just God’s will, but I had no after affects from the bee stings. In fact, I must still be full of bee venom. I’ve never had a negative reaction to bee stings since that time.

As a friend once said, “I know of no doctor who would believe this story, and no preacher who wouldn’t.”

“That’s a remarkable story,” Brenda said, as we got up to leave.

“Yes. I guess it was God’s way to prepare me for politics,” I said, as I glanced at the picture of General Denver and smiled.

Pat Haley

Contributing Columnist