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Interview: Bowling Green Massacre, 100 years later

Posted on: February 6, 2017

Interview with Thaddeus “Taddy” Skruggs and Mabel Torgeson, last living survivors of the Bowling Green Massacre. Recorded on the event’s 100th Anniversary by The Stuffington Post’s lead historian, Imelda T. Petrovavich.


TSP: Do you remember where you were on November 31, 1916?

Skruggs: Do I remember? Shoot, acourse I remember. Don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. It were cloudy, lookin like mebbe some snow comin in—

Torgeson: Naw, Taddy, it weren’t cloudy a’tall. The sun was out, I remember on account of my cousin Nellie’s hootin an hollerin bout her complexion for the Andersons’ Christmas shindig. As if she were really all that and a bag of hammers to begin with. [laughter]

Skruggs: Eh, Mabel, yer crazy. Twere goin to snow n you know it.

TSP: Mr. Skruggs, you remember it cloudy. Why was that significant?

Skruggs: Oh, my ol hound dog, Wilbur, was actin up like he always did when weather was acomin. I lost him that day, Wilbur.

TSP: In the massacre?

Skruggs: Naw, he run off like the dickens after Trudy Simmons’ cat that mornin. Never did see him agin. Trudy never got her cat back neither. Good ol Wilbur.

TSP: I see. Ms. Torgeson—

Torgeson: You can call me Mabel, honey.

TSP: Okay, Mabel then. Where were you when you first realized something unusual was happening?

Torgeson: Well I’ll tell you. I was down in the root cellar, gettin a jar of watermelon rind pickles for mama. She was expectin my brother Jessop then, and couldn’t get enougha them pickles. Anyway, I heard this noise, like the mules had got outta the barn agin and were tearin up the sileage.

TSP: Did you ever discover the source of that noise?

Torgeson: It was those blasted mules, all right. They starved that winter on account of eating all that sileage. Durn fools, mules are.

TSP: Ah. Mr. Skruggs, I understand you were near the epicenter of the massacre. Can you tell us what that was like?

Skruggs: I don’t think no one can tell what that were like. [rustling sounds]

TSP:  Mr. Skruggs, I can’t let you smoke that in here.

Skruggs: Shoot, guess I’ll haveta do this sober then.

Torgeson: [laughter] There’s a firs time for everythin, Taddy!

TSP: Thank you, Mr. Skruggs, I appreciate your cooperation.

Skruggs: What was the question agin?

TSP: Can you describe the scene at the heart of the massacre?

Skruggs: Twas cloudy, as I said, an me an my buddy Dale was lookin at the new roller skates in the winda a Adcock’s General Store. Real sad what happeneda Dale. Arm ripped off like the wing of a fly.

TSP: That must have been hard to see.

Skruggs: Naw, I wasn’t there for that. He was workin the thresher for his ol man bout six years later. Dangerous work, farmin.

TSP: Ms. Torg—Mabel, did you lose any loved ones in the massacre?

Torgeson: Nah, I didn’t know nobody was lost. Wilma Schneider, she married that fancy fella with the jalopy and moved to Omaha, but that’s not really lost, is it? [laughter]

TSP: Given the current political climate, what lessons would you like our audience to take away from your experiences 100 years ago?

Torgeson: Mules are durn fools and need lockin up iffn you don’t want to be dinin on mule steaks in January.

Skruggs: You know, Miss Petrawhatsit, you are right purty. You could be one a’dem underwear models in the Sears Roebuck catalog. You ever thought about doin that insteada this interviewin?

TSP: Thank you both so much for an enlightening conversation.

Special report from The Preterit Review’s sister publication, The Stuffington Post

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