"My cat can eat a pickle!"
"I can make my cat eat a pickle," said Marcus with a grin, his bright blue eyes shining with mischief.
"Eat a pickle? I bet you can't."
"I bet I can."
Marcus grinned as he motioned for his friends to follow. His statement had made the exact reaction that he had wanted. They had played right into his hands just as he planned. What person wouldn't be interested in seeing a cat eat a pickle, anyway?
It took all he had to not burst into laughter as he walked into the house to get himself a pickle. A light smattering of freckles covered his nose and upper cheeks and his wavy auburn hair was unruly. He was quite a tease. Just for fun, he would cut some tomatoes into a dish, sprinkle sugar on them, and pour cream over it ... just to see his sisters complain. He always made sure they were watching.
"After all," he told them. "Tomatoes are a fruit."
They even complained when he poured cream on his ice cream. Of course, he did it just to tease them.
Once he came up with a terrific idea. His sisters, Frances and Edith, had stayed home from church meeting one evening because they were feeling sick. After church, around 9:00 p.m., he snuck home, pulled a silk stocking over his face, and peered through the window at his sisters. When they saw the most grotesque looking face staring back at them, the girls screamed at the top of their voices and hid under the kitchen table. They were frightened and were trembling as tears ran down their face.
When Marcus heard them, he opened the door and walked into the house with the stocking still over his head and gently said, "Don't cry little girls. I won't hurt you."
When they recognized his voice, they became angry and told their parents what he had done. Needless to say, he got into trouble over this little incident. Now he was about to prove to his friends that his sister's cat could eat a pickle.
Marcus walked into the kitchen, opened a jar of pickles, and then headed outside with a nice slender pickle between his fingers. It was just the right size for the cat to eat.
With a grin, he sang out, "Here Kitty, Kitty! Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!"
The cat came running when it heard his sweet melodic notes, knowing there was a treat. Marcus knelt down and picked it up and petted the feline as he gave it instructions to eat the pickle. The boys watched with doubt, knowing he could not make a cat eat a pickle.
When Marcus put the pickle to the cat's mouth, it refused to eat it and turned its head away. Noticing the cat's refusal, Marcus began coaxing it to eat the pickle. After a moment, the cat yowled. Instantly, Marcus shoved the pickle into the cat's mouth and it began chewing with vigor. He could see the resentment in the cat's eyes as it snarled and chewed and meowed ... all in protest. But Marcus just smiled when he noticed the amazement in his friends' eyes. They had seen a cat chew on a pickle over and over again. He had done it!
When Marcus dropped the pickle to the ground, he petted the cat and praised it. "Good kitty!"
The boys shook their head in astonishment and told Marcus that he had won the bet.
After the boys walked away, one friend stayed behind and asked, "How did you do it?"
"I can't tell you my secrets."
"Please," begged his friend. "I won't tell. How did you do it?"
"Simple," Marcus said with a smile as he took the cat's tail between his fingers. "I just gave him a little encouragement by pinching the tip of his tail. When he opened his mouth, I just poked it between his teeth and he began chewing. I guess I made him mad enough to eat the pickle."
This was only one of his many mischievous deeds. Marcus Gilbert Weaver was a real character and an active young man. At the age of TWELVE, after his chores were done, Marcus decided to ride his sleigh down the steep pasture hill. It was about a quarter of a mile long and the snow was crusted over, so that made it even more inviting. He could have a fast and long ride all the way down.
Marcus was so excited as he placed his sled on the top of the hill. He gave a big push and then plopped down on his sled. Little did he know that he was going to have a ride of a lifetime. The crusted snow made a slick surface and the sled went sailing down the hillside as if it were on ice. The cold breeze hit him in the face and made his eyes water as he sped down the hill. What a ride!
As he approached the bottom, Marcus began to worry. He was picking up speed and there was nothing he could do to slow down. When he saw the ditch at the bottom, he gasped as he closed his eyes. He had not planned ahead and how to stop the sled simply because he had never gone this fast before. When the sled smashed into the large washout, it knocked the breath out of him and he was stunned. Marcus lay in the ditch, feeling miserable. He waited until he could get his breath back. It was getting dark but he couldn't even move a muscle. When he finally got the strength to climb out, it was dark as he limped all the way up the hill toward home.
When Marcus was THIRTEEN, one day he closed down the school. It wasn't on purpose, but his friends thought he was a hero. His father had asked him to bury the skunks that he shot so they wouldn't get into the chicken coop. It wasn't any big deal because he had been trapping skunks and weasels all summer long. But before he buried these skunks, he went to his bedroom and got his glass jar. All summer he had been collecting their scent in a bottle. Before burying the skunks, he drained their scent glands and then screwed on the lid nice and tight.
The following day, he took the "skunk oil" to school with him to show his classmates. Marcus was so excited as he explained what he had done. His friends were listening and a few girls were peeking over his shoulder to see what he had in the bottle. They had never seen "skunk oil" before. With all the excitement and attention he was receiving, he felt the bottle slip from his hands and land on the floor of the schoolroom.
The bottle broke into a million pieces and skunk oil splattered everywhere. It landed on the pant legs of his friends, the skirts of young girls standing nearby, and on his own shoes. As the oil saturated the wooden floor, the girls screamed and the boys moaned as the room filled with the most putrid, foul, disgusting, detestable odor anyone had ever breathed in. The smell was so nauseating and repulsive that it could not be described in words.
The children instantly held their noses with their fingers and turned and ran out the door, stumbling over one another as they ran. Marcus was close behind. And so was the teacher! She excused school for the rest of the day and Marcus did not get into trouble. He figured the children were so excited to get out of school that no one told on him.
A few months later, he received a harmonica for Christmas. He learned to play many songs while lying on his back with his eyes shut. How he loved that harmonica! One day he found out that his father's horses didn't like the noise he was making. Marcus was blowing on his harmonica as he ran behind a horse. The horse was so startled that he kicked up his heels. The deadly hooves barely missed his face, knocking his hat from his head. Any closer and Marcus would have been kicked in the head.
Music was second nature to him so he bought himself a guitar for $15.00. He put a dollar down on it and then paid $1.00 a month. Marcus learned 67 cowboy and country songs. As he played, he would sing. Before long, he had them all memorized, both words and music. But that wasn't all. Marcus bought a harmonica holder that rested on his neck. With this new invention, he was able to play his guitar and harmonica at the same time. He was quite the entertainer and his family loved listening to his music.
Marcus had many adventures on the "dry farm." His parents owned 160 acres of sagebrush land about fifteen miles from home. This land was called a "dry farm" with lush rolling hills in the springtime. His father would take him out of school the last two weeks of May and have him work this land all by himself. But he wasn't totally alone. He brought his faithful companion with him, his dog Zeb.
Marcus was in charge of plowing and harrowing, getting the land ready for planting. He was there for six weeks while his father worked for the county roads as a "road overseer" and was the sexton for the Whitney cemetery. But every week, his father would stop by to see how he was doing and replenish his food supply.
At night, Marcus could hear the coyotes howling and barking in the foothills in back of the shack. It made shivers crawl up his arms and down his spine as thoughts of coyotes jumping through the window crowded his mind. He learned to say a protective prayer before jumping into bed every night. He had faith that God would protect him.
While working the dry farm at the age of FOURTEEN, his father was slow coming one week and he started running out of food. So that evening, he tied a note to his dog's neck, asking for more food.
Then he threw his hands in the air and yelled, "Get for home!" When Zeb hesitated, Marcus said firmly, "Go on home!"
That time the dog listened and walked down the road. The next morning, Marcus expected to see his dog outside but he never came back. He had been obedient and went straight for home. His mother and sister were picking raspberries early the next morning when Frances saw Zeb walking towards her. She was surprised to see him and stooped down to pet him.
Her eyes widened as she exclaimed to her mother, "There's a note on his neck!"
After reading it, they quickly drove to the dry farm in their Model T Ford with plenty of food.
At the age of FIFTEEN, Marcus was not totally dependent on his food supply. He would take his 22-caliber rifle with him to the dry farm and kept himself and Zeb with fresh meat every day. He and his dog would go to the foothills together and he would shoot cottontails and jackrabbits for their dinner. How he loved that dog!
One day, while driving the horses to water about a mile away, one of the horses cut back sideways and the horse Marcus was riding cut with him. He was not prepared for the sudden change in direction and was thrown off the horse. He landed on his face and was knocked unconscious for two hours. When he awoke, Marcus had a mouth full of dirt and gravel. As he got to his feet, he felt dizzy and began to waver a bit. He had to wait for a few moments until he got his equilibrium back. Then he went searching for his horses and found that they had drunk their fill and had gone to eat hay.
The wood ticks were terrible. One year a tick with the spotted fever virus bit Marcus. His glands swelled up in the groin near his thigh and he had to be operated on to relieve the pain. But wood ticks weren't the only danger at the dry farm. There were plenty rattlesnakes to amuse him and keep him on guard.
While hunting rabbits, sometimes he came upon a large blow snake or rattlesnake. The rattler would be in a tight coil, flicking its tongue at Marcus, and then strike at the toe of his shoe, leaving two wet spots of poison. Marcus didn't feel threatened one bit. He wasn't afraid of anything. In fact, he seemed quite amused by the little game he and the snakes were playing. Over time, he had collected a baking powder can full of rattles that he had taken from the tail of each snake.
He was a strong young man. At the age of SIXTEEN, he could lift a 120-pound sack of grain with no problem. He would fill up his truck and then head to the dry farm with the load. After a long day of plowing, Marcus would turn the horses out in the field to eat the grain and June grass. One night, about 1:00 in the morning, he heard a ruckus that awoke him out of a deep sleep. It sounded like the horses were fighting for some reason. He quickly jumped from his bed in his white under garments and walked around to the back of the shack to see what was going on.
To his amazement, he saw a bunch of stray horses fighting over the hay he had left for his own horses. They had knocked down the gate to get at the food. He was none to happy at what they had done to the fence. Before he had a chance to chase them away, the horses took one look at Marcus and must have thought he was a ghostly sight standing in his white undergarments. Giving a loud snort, they reared up on their hind legs and took off in all directions, taking the wire fence with them and making sparks fly as it ripped through the staples.
Marcus was amazed at what had just happened. He had never seen horses act like that before. With a shake of the head, he realized his duties for the following day. He had to fix that fence. He figured the horses must have been scared out of their wits because they never came back again to steal food.
After returning from the dry farm, he was assigned to separate a bull from the cows. The thick headed bull would not listen and was so stubborn that Marcus took a two inch by four foot club to stop him from running past him. When he noticed how determined the bull was, he threw the club at him so he would go in the other direction. The club bounced off the bull's head and flew back and hit Marcus across the eyebrow. Blood instantly spurt from his forehead and ran down his face. As he held his hand to his forehead, he realized his idea was not so good after. He had to wash the blood out of his eye before he could milk the cows.
That Christmas, he received a pair of skis. He was so excited to try them out. Once again, he went to the top of the hill in the back yard and prepared himself for a great ride. As he sped down the hill, the cold air made his eyes fill with tears and they blurred his vision. Before he knew what was happening, he ended up in the ditch once again. Marcus was hurt but he didn't think about his bruises. All he could think about was his broken ski.
At the age of sixteen, Marcus was five foot eleven inches tall and played center on the Whitney basketball team. Bruce Wallace was the coach. While going to South Cache in Hyrum for a tournament, Bruce smiled as they past through Logan and saw his alma mater, Utah Agricultural College.
Then Bruce said, "If you win this game with the big South Cache team I'll treat you to a steak dinner at the cafe where I worked while going to college."
That was great motivation for the boys and they took him up on it. When the Whitney team walked out on the floor to play, the opposing high school student body "booed" at them.
Someone yelled, "Who are you seven little farm boys to come down here and play us?"
The Whitney team was surprised at their attitude but that wasn't all that surprised them. When the Hyrum team walked out onto the floor, the boys' eyes widened. The smallest man on their team was as big as Marcus. They had every reason to think they didn't have a chance. Perhaps seeing how large their men were gave them extra gusto because they played like they had never played before. The Whitney team was quick. They would duck in and grab the ball as it was being thrown. They maneuvered around the players with agility and played with all the strength they had.
The coach was in awe because these young men from Whitney were freshmen and sophomores. This had never happened before. The game became more and more exciting as each point was earned. When Marcus noticed the opposing team did not have one point, he remembered their smug attitude when they first walked out on the floor. Marcus grinned. This little team of farm boys had "skunked" them. Marcus never remembered Whitney's score but he always remembered the score of the opposing team. It was zero!
Franklin was their most "vicious" team when it came to playing basketball. At the age of SEVENTEEN, while going for the ball, an opponent brought his elbow down on Marcus' head. It split his eyebrow open and blood instantly ran down his face. He could not see anything as he felt blood dripping down his eye. He quickly learned to be careful when it came to the Franklin team.
Marcus loved to sing and had a deep bass voice by age sixteen. His Scout Master was Ezra Taft Benson. Ezra promised his boys that if they won the regional singing competition, then he would lead them on a thirty-five mile hike across the mountains to Bear Lake. Ezra truly prepared these young men to win the competition at Logan. He insisted that his boys "be prepared" as all good scouts should be. He even taught them how to moisten their throats for the competition by swallowing a raw egg. This was supposed to make their throats slick so they would sing their best.
"Swallowing a raw egg?" asked Marcus as he turned his nose up at the suggestion.
"That's right," said Ezra. "It's that or bacon."
"Yum! I'll take the bacon," said Marcus.
"Good. All you have to do is tie a string to a piece of raw bacon, swallow it, and then pull it back up again."
The boys' eyes widened in disbelief. They had their choice of bacon or eggs. No one chose bacon!
Marcus' Aunt Eva Weaver accompanied the boys at the competition. She was the liveliest, most enthusiastic pianist in the valley. With her playing and Ezra T. leading them with his great vitality, they couldn't help but win.
Ezra held true to his promise and took his scouts over the mountains to Bear Lake Valley. But before leaving on the hike, one scout suggested they all clip their hair off so they wouldn't be bothered with combs and brushes on the trip. Then another scout challenged the scoutmasters to do it as well. The following Saturday, Ezra took them to the barber and he was the first in the barber's chair.
As the barber neared the end of his haircut, he said to Ezra, "If you'll let me shave your head, I'll cut the hair of the rest of your boys for nothing."
All of Ezra's scouts got free hair cuts that day.
Excitement was in the air as everyone prepared for their trip over the mountain to Bear Lake Valley. What a treat! Little did they know that the muscles in their legs would burn. Hiking over a mountain range and down the other side was different from walking around their farms on the level. At the end of the hike they camped by the lake for several days: swimming, boating, singing, playing games, having contests, working on merit badges, and boxing. In the evening, they would sit around the campfire telling stories. They had the time of their life until one day the sun beat down on Marcus' white "red-headed" complexion. After spending a day swimming in the lake, he got the worst sunburn of his life. He couldn't turn over in his sleep without hurting. And hiking over the mountain with a sunburn was not as much fun on the way home. One thing about this excursion, Marcus never forgot the great time they had.
Ezra Taft Benson made scouting fun and he made sure that every scout in his troop received their Eagle Scout Awards, including Marcus Gilbert Weaver.