Two funny stories come to mind that involve my brothers. I dearly love my brothers and share these stories with the best of intentions, hoping they will provide humor for all. The first anecdote involves David. On occasion when growing up David showed oppositional behavior, especially when it came to arriving home by his curfew.
David, no doubt suspecting a late night and with forethought, cracked open his bedroom window so that after hours he could climb back into the house. Mother felt a draft and discovered the open window. She suspected David’s plan, and she shut and locked the window. At curfew and not finding David home and tucked into bed, Mother locked the entry doors to the house. On returning home a perplexed David methodically made the rounds of the doors and windows and to his chagrin found all were securely locked. He’d been busted!
One can only imagine David sitting outside on the step, fretting over being unable to gain entrance, and knowing full well it was well past the time he was supposed to be home. No doubt my intelligent brother considered all his options before finally concluding that he had no other choice but to ring the doorbell.
Below is brother David
A stern faced Mother arrived at the door and let a sheepish David into the house. David braced himself expecting a verbal barrage. David instead received the cold shoulder treatment from Mom. She said absolutely nothing. Her silence likely ramped up further concerns in David, not knowing if in the following morning he would receive additional punishment.
Needless to say, the other siblings enjoyed hearing the story, feeling guilty and knowing but for the grace of God go I. Years later the story was told during a family convocation and even Mother had a big laugh from this, that being for her a memorable child rearing experience.
The second humorous anecdote involves brother Jim. This story was related later as by then I was off to college. Jim received a science project as a school assignment. He decided to study the effects of calcium (too much or too little, I am unaware). Jim determined to test his hypothesis by experimenting on white mice. Being a nutritional study, considerable time had to pass in order to reasonably expect a clear outcome from his experiment.
As an aside, looking back Jim is somewhat embarrassed by the “science” he utilized. But in his defense, who among us in the medical or scientific field is not embarrassed by his/her first scientific study or paper. I certainly was as my initial efforts were scientifically lacking. My esteemed mentor in Neurology, A. B. Baker, expressed embarrassment over his first scientific paper that wasn’t even on a neurological topic, but instead was a regrettable gynecologic study.
Below is Brother Jim
In any event the length of time required to observe Jim’s experiment also allowed for substantial multiplication of the number of white mice. Apparently further delays occurred following the conclusion of the project due to Jim’s busy schedule and this passage of time gave rise to further serial replications. The number of white mice grew and grew over the months and with the increase in the number of mice came increasing questions as to what ultimately to do with all of the small rodents. There really are very few acceptable options available for disposing of no longer needed white mice.
Apparently the odor from the mice cages grew progressively with each passing day and their need for more and more space in the house caused Mother to beseech Dad to solve the problem. After all, Mother barely had room in her laundry room to do the family’s laundry due to the many racks of cages. As a result of Mom’s complaining, Dad became progressively desperate. His wife was becoming irate with him and was threatening unstated recriminations if he did not rid the house of the mice.
Finally Dad and Jim carried out an uncharacteristic action for them that must have proved a boon to neighborhood cats but a colossal concern for our neighbors. Dad and Jim sneaked out under the cover of darkness one evening, carrying the mouse cages. Dad and Jim skulked around the neighborhood and salted it thoroughly with little white mice. In the alleys, under bushes, in vacant fields, and anywhere else not in direct line of sight received an offering of the little red nosed rodents.
Mice were seen crawling about everywhere. For days afterward shrieks of startled neighborhood women could be heard prompted by their finding the little critters in their houses and gardens. Men also found them in their garages and under the hoods of their cars. No doubt local vets were confounded by an unexpected epidemic of feline obesity.
One can only imagine the neighbors’ bewilderment and concern at the inexplicable infestation of white mice. It was downright biblical. Of course, our Family Hutton had been sworn to secrecy and to my knowledge no one has owned up to the neighbors regarding the origin of the little white critters. After all, no family member wanted to bring shame to our family- our own little family conspiracy, you might say, (cue music from The Godfather)
This semi-veiled anecdote demonstrates the unanticipated results that can occur from science projects. It also reveals our strong family bonds or at least our fear of being deemed less than respectable as a family. The story of the “Great White Mice Infestation” has grown until it has now entered the realm of family lore and continues to provide guffaws whenever the story is retold.
Tag Archives: White Mice
Years ago my younger brother Jim undertook a school science project that involved white mice. In retrospect Jim admits the science was weak, but as he vaguely recalls, it had something to do with the impact of nutrition on white mice. He doesn’t recall his experiment finding anything of substance, but he does recall, to his surprise, just how rapidly the white mice multiplied. Clearly the nutrition provided in no way hindered their reproduction.
By the time the project ended some months later, the white mice had multiplied at an incredible rate, something to the tune of doubling every three and a half seconds! By the time Jim had written the paper and turned it in for a grade, he had lost all possible interest in his little white critters with the pink eyes. (Of course puberty has a substantial effect on the interests of young males.) The same declining interest as was shown by my brother could not be said for our alarmed mother and father.
The white mice, having little else to do, continued to multiply at a prodigious rate. Suddenly our four bedroom, ranch style home became crowded with cardboard boxes, each brimming with scurrying white mice. You see, neither Jim nor anyone else in the family had considered what was to be done with the mice after the project was completed. With the rapid increase in numbers of the white mice and brother Jim’s interests by then laying elsewhere, my mother and father experienced a severe case of rodent angst.
Being kind people, no one would consider euthanasia of the cute little pink eyed critters. Nevertheless, their rapidly increasing numbers screamed out for a solution- any solution, and soon.
During one of his long airline trips, my father ruminated on the rapidly growing self-inflicted mouse problem. Dad, you see, served as a commercial airline pilot who experienced long hours of extreme boredom in the cockpit, intermixed with moments of sheer terror. That flight, however, proved routine and provided time for him to surface a drastic solution. On returning home that night from his trip, he undertook loading the numerous mouse boxes into his car. How many trips this took I cannot recall, nor would Dad ever provide such damning details (you can only trust a family so far).
In any event Dad drove about the darkened neighborhoods of Richardson, Texas. Out of view of the prying eyes of neighbors, he skulked around, distributing white mice to all corners here and far of our previously peaceful and rodent-free hometown. No doubt the sudden invasion of white mice in the days that followed provoked concern and substantial conjecture. Our family, however, was sworn to silence and no one in Family Hutton would let on from whence the white mice came.
To this day I’m sure some of the old timers in Richardson still talk about that time way back then when Richardson was invaded by a virtual torrent of white mice. Theories remain as to what environmental or Biblical plaque had struck our bedroom community that lay near Dallas. I imagine the rock-ribbed Southern Baptists are still railing against the evils of alcohol and dancing that brought on that infestation of white mice.
After 50 years of family silence, a little honesty seems called for. Yes, the family Hutton in the person of my Dad released the critters. His rationale was that this approach gave them a chance to survive in the wild (even then Richardson wasn’t really that wild) but desperation caused him to deem it a good idea. In addition the local cats and snakes likely enjoyed a hunting season like none they had never experienced before.
I offer this long overdue mea culpa on behalf of my family just in case someone out there has a child or grandchild who might be considering a science project. Trust me, it is a foolish idea to ever, ever involve white mice!