Read an Excerpt from Gail’s Book

Jolly Was a Badger (excerpt from My Flint Hills Childhood)

I still remember the day in 1936 when a friend of my daddy’s came by with his pickup load of hunting dogs. We were living in the Phillip’s oil camp. I was in the fourth grade and dogging Daddy’s footsteps. We stepped outside to talk and found the friend had a surprise for me. A baby badger. The dogs had killed the mother badger but George had managed to dig up the badger den and save three babies. My school teacher, Brownie Dillman took one; George wanted to keep one and Daddy said I could have the other, if. Boy that was a big if. I had to have total care of this wild animal that so innocently lay in my palm.

Or course it didn’t turn out that way even though I crossed my heart. The baby wasn’t weaned yet, so Mother had to come up with a bottle with a nipple of sorts small enough for the tiny mouth. We ended up using an old finger from a rubber glove fastened around the top of a medicine bottle with a rubber band. With a tiny hole in the end the little fellow took right off sucking. I named him Jolly because he didn’t seem to mind being an orphan. To my dismay Jolly began to grow rapidly.

Soon it was impossible to keep the badger in any sort of a cage. With his long digger claws Jolly would tear through the wire and wood of our backdoor screen in no time and come into the house hunting me. You couldn’t use a collar and chain to hold him because he just slide his tapered neck and head right out of the collar. Daddy finally fastened a belt around Jolly’s big fat middle, just behind his front legs. Poor flustered Jolly. But we could finally keep him where we wanted him.

The dirt floor of Mother’s wash house was his home now and he soon made a wonderful set of tunnels. I would go looking for him in one entrance and find him watching me from another hole. I’m sure he thought it was a first-rate game. He was always wanting me to set on the ground so he could curl up in my lap and sleep the day away. I couldn’t sit still that long because Mother always wanted the dishes washed or I’d see a butterfly I wanted to chase.

Badger Staredown Postcard postcard
Badger Staredown Postcard by naturalphotos
Make your own Post cards on zazzle

I loved to take Jolly everywhere I went. He was so good at chasing the boys, who lived in our oil field camp. They were such bullies but with Jolly by my side they stayed at the other end of the row of houses. I took him to the garden when Daddy was digging potatoes. I was to pick up the spuds and put them in a basket. Jolly thought he could dig them faster than Daddy and the potatoes went flying only in bits and pieces.

One night Jolly was kidnapped! So were his two siblings. Everyone thought they had been taken for their beautiful pelts that would be worth a lot of money. The irony of that is the broad belts they all wore had rubbed off their fur making the pelts worthless. We never saw Jolly or his brothers again.

I gathered all my friends for a sad memorial service sharing memories my best friend, Jolly the Badger.

Gail Martin holding the first copies of her book

Gail Martin holding the first copies of her book


Posted 05/28/2006
Gail: I really enjoyed reading about the badger. I remember my mother telling me stories about him.
Your nephew Tim.
Posted 05/29/2006
Oh, Mom, I wasn’t expecting that ending! I don’t remember hearing that part of the story before. I’m so sorry, because Jolly sounded like a wonderful friend. Your Mother must have been very tolerant to let him build his tunnels out of her wash house floor!
Posted 05/30/2006  by Gail Lee Martin
Welcome, Tim. Wonder if you or your brother, Bob would have a picture of Jolly? Comments like yours is what keeps me writing. Thanks, Gail
Posted 05/30/2006 by Carol J Garriott
Hey Sis, I seem to remember some photos of a family reunion, and an animal was in one shot–not sure if it was Jolly. Now that I think about it, perhaps it was a raccoon. Did you have a raccoon later?
Posted 05/31/2006  by Gail Lee Martin 
No, it was our older sister, Melba who had the racoon and it was a few years earlier.
Posted 06/01/2006 by Renie Burghardt
Hi Gail, I enjoyed your story about Jolly. I used to have all sorts of animals, too, as a child. I once raised a baby crow, who used to come back and visit after he was grown and set free. And recently, I raised a baby flying squirrel. Your writing is always a great read!  Renie

10 Responses to “Read an Excerpt from Gail’s Book”

  1. cynthia bebon Says:

    i loved this story as I love all pet stories. thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of your childhood. be blessed—-virginia’s friend cynthia

  2. Neglecting My Photography « Virginia Allain Says:

    […] I’ll still write and work on mom’s second book, but I’ll try to keep the camera with me throughout the day.  Stop over at my mom’s website if you haven’t read the excerpt from her book yet. […]

  3. Virginia Allain Says:

    Here’s a comment from a friend (FireDancer): “What a wonderful story, though the ending was quite sad… I was just reading about badgers the other day and was very curious to learn more about them. I had no idea they could be tamed! Great story.”

  4. alltrails Says:

    Loved the chapter about the badger! You are a terrific writer – hope you are working on your next book.

    Debbie – http//

  5. Gail Martin Says:

    Oh yes, this one will contain all the stories I’ve written about my husband and his family. Thanks for your interest. Gail

  6. What Works on an Author Webpage « Virginia Allain Says:

    […] Read an Excerpt from Gail’s Book […]

  7. Z is for Zoo | Discovering Mom Says:

    […] can read Jolly Was a Badger on my Mom’s author page. Jolly lived in the wash-house and liked to dig tunnels in the dirt […]

  8. Richard brandt Says:

    Want to get your book! I raised three badgers as pets. The first got awa but the other two I had 12 & 13 years till they died. Also had experiences briefly with 2 more one of which I attempted to breed with a female I had. Didn’t work as they fought and the male got awa before they fell in love. Look forward to reading your story.

  9. Gail’s Pet Badger | Discovering Mom Says:

    […] “Jolly Was a Badger” (excerpt from My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up In 1930s Kansas) Excerpt from the book on the author’s website […]

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