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Dr Ron's Laughter Clinic: The Incredible Trial Of Haley Scroggs

...From that day until his discovery last month, Scroggs claims to have seen but one other human being during the entire 143 years he spent in hiding, foraging for his daily sustenance, living for the most part on berries, nuts, and an occasional kill, ever on the lookout for "blue-coated busybodies."...

The unmatchable Ron Pataky tells the remarkable story of recently re-discovered Civil War vet Haley Scroggs, the oldest man anywhere.

Do visit Ron's fun-filled Web site http://worlds-premiere-ransom-note-factory.us/

A Confederate Army private who for the past 143 years has been under the impression that the war between the states continued to rage has been found living in a deep-woods cave in the remote Yew Mountain region south of Bergoo, West Virginia.

Haley Scroggs, who was discovered earlier this summer by a group of Bergoo milkmaids on a berry outing, says he was a mere lad of fifteen, when, in the fall of 1861, he left his daddy's small tobacco spread in Jerky Toad, Tennessee, to join the ranks of the legendary First Tennessee Volunteers.

Scroggs, who estimates his age at "a hundred 'n some," says he eventually lost track of time when the giant oak he had faithfully notched to mark the passing of days, "finally took one notch too many an' keeled right over." That was, he says, "maybe eighty-ninety years ago." Depending on the month of his birth (which he had long since forgotten), Scroggs today would be about 158 years old.

The Tennessean claims that he'd seen battle in half a dozen or more bloody forays prior to the morning "sometime in early '62," when he was kicked in the head by a regimental mule. Thereafter, except for periodic flashes of lucidity, he's been unable to recall events and their sequences with any clarity at all.

"I know I was in a hospital somewheres," he recalled to an interviewer last week in Roanoke, where he'd been taken for cleaning. "Jist a few days, though, as I recollect. They sent me packin'. Said I might git a mite dizzy now 'n then, but that I should head back 'n find my outfit."

From that day until his discovery last month, Scroggs claims to have seen but one other human being during the entire 143 years he spent in hiding, foraging for his daily sustenance, living for the most part on berries, nuts, and an occasional kill, ever on the lookout for "blue-coated busybodies."

His single human visitor during those years, an itinerant preacher who "might'a been saved but shore was lost," happened by less than ten months after Scroggs had stumbled onto the cave that was to become his permanent home.

"He was a powerful help," Scroggs recalls with obvious sarcasm. "Asked 'im if n he knew how a body would git to Piketon.

He hawed on for near an hour, then said to me, 'Son, if I'd'a been headin' for there, I shore wouldn't 'a started from here.' Yep, big help ... reg'lar Dan'l Eoone! Last I saw of him, he was headin' off in at least three directions at once. Good riddance, I said..."

And Haley's recollection of life after that? "Well, it comes an' goes, don't ya know." Of one thing, however, he is certain. For the next 143 years or so, Private Haley Scroggs, still under the impression that he served the cause of the Confederacy, did not see nor speak with another human being.

Scroggs, who seems amazingly spry for a man of his advanced years, also is gifted with a keen sense of humor. Indeed, it may have been this obvious blessing that kept him going during the century-plus of sweltering summers and fierce winters in the wild. Describing those incredible years (during which he seldom ventured more than a hundred yards from his brush-hidden cave, and then only to occasionally ravage a wild onion patch nearby), he stated without hesitation that his two worst enemies were loneliness and boredom.

"The nights was the worst," he recalls. "Specially durin' the first few years. Strange noises. Black as Satan's lair. Made a man skittish. Come mornin' those early years, I'd be as jumpy as a long-tailed cat in a roomful 'a beaver traps."

Asked by a reporter if he'd ever gotten homesick for Jerky Toad, Scroggs stared for a moment at the distant mountains. "Does a one-legged monkey walk with a bounce?" he countered quietly.

Since young Haley had been the only son of Cody and Clarissa Scroggs, it is not surprising that no trace of the family name can be found today in Jerky Toad. He did have nine sisters, however, and it was suggested by another reporter that Scroggs might have some kin (of whatever name) back home, if any or all of his sisters had married.

"Not likely," he responded, shaking his head doubtfully and chuckling. "The gals was ugly... powerful ugly." He thought for a moment. "Reckon Urla Sue was 'bout the pick 'a the litter," he recalled with a perceptible shudder, "an' she had a face that would'a stopped a paddle wheel." He giggled aloud at the memory, dribbling a thick, green substance from his leathery lips in the process.

Noticing the interviewer's startled reaction to the green liquid, Scroggs explained that he had looked unsuccessfully for tobacco for a year and more, only to finally settle on drying and chewing the area's abundant apple mint.

"Puffed a bit, too," he added. "Helped pass the time."

Scroggs seemed both pleased and surprised to learn that the war itself had actually been over for some time. "Never thought we'd
win anyway," he said contemptuously. "Not with fellas like that Cap'n Jipson or Jepson or whatever his name was runnin' things. Never did think that fella's clothesline was connected at both ends.

"He had two speeds," Scroggs continued with a scornful laugh. "Dead in his tracks, an' backwards."

(Learning from a local historian that the captain in question, A. W. Jepston, Jr., of Culpepper County, Virginia, had died during the endemic warts epidemic of 1887, Scroggs reflected for a moment, then nailed a dragonfly in mid-flight with an awesomely-aimed jet of green chaw. "Don't reckon I'll miss 'im much," he concluded.

Among the many extraordinary things about Scroggs is his unflagging optimism, which any number of younger men found particularly refreshing during the interview. Asked, for example, what he intends to do now that he is, so to speak, out of the cave, he stunned the young reporters by announcing his intention (with some sense of urgency, it was noted) to "find me a good woman."

And who knows? Among the numerous gifts heaped upon him by various companies and civic groups was a supposedly humorous "lifetime membership" in the Shenandoah Chapter of an outfit called Matchmakers International. Incredibly enough, a newspaper account of the presentation already has drawn serious interest from a 19-year-old Norfolk woman who explains, "My girlfriends all seem to be looking for a kind of father-figure. I've always been more interested in an ancestor type."

Scroggs, of course, was elated to hear of the young woman's interest.

"Don't let the ol' bones fool you," he chortled, proudly stroking his black furry parka.

"I didn't win this bear skin at no shuckin' match!"


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