Dumbull: the Grizzle Boys strike again.

Growing up in the foothills of North Georgia; my father had quite a few exciting adventures. It did not help that he had a penchant for mischievous behavior. The Dumbull resulted in two of my favorite stories, and while they may not be strictly Southern in context, they are elements of my Southern history.
So, what is a dumbull? I have found several sources online that describe how to make the device. The basic construction, as defined by my father, involves taking a large empty tin can and punching a small hole in the end. Next, take a cord coated with bee’s wax, and run it through the hole, tying knots in both ends. That is all there is to it. To make it work, slowly pull the cord through the can. The result is a hair-raising roaring noise.
The first story I recall involved the boy scout troop at the elementary school my father attended. After spending an entire Friday listening to the city boys bragging about their overnight camping trip, dad and my uncle Frank decided someone needed to take these scouts down a peg. Just before dusk, the Grizzle boys crept through the bushes near the scout’s campsite. Once the sun had gone down, the scouts began getting ready to bed down for the night. The time had come for the dreaded dumbull to make its debut. As dad started pulling the cord on the contraption the camp came back to life. Flashlights began searching the night for the source of the horrific sound. Finally, the terror overwhelmed the boys, and they scrambled for their homes. Satisfied with their shenanigans for the weekend, the Grizzle boys were extremely proud to find the boy scouts recounting their close call with a bear.
The next incident involving the dumbull occurred around the same period. Apparently, one of my dad’s cousins had a grandmother that, if his description was accurate, must have been the meanest old lady in Hall County. I’m not sure which of the rascals hatched the plan, but one of them decided this would be a great time to use the dumbull. They sneaked into the bushes outside of the old lady’s house. Waiting till she put out the lights for the night, they began pulling on the cord. The hair-raising roar carried through the hollows. After just a few moments, a string of profanity started flowing from the house. Finally, she lit a lantern and began going from room to room. She continued screaming and cursing the entire time. The Grizzle boys had struck again.
So, if you ever feel like getting into a little mischief, or just having some fun, take a short time and put a dumbull together. If you have any memories of using a dumbull, please let me know. I am sure there are variations on the basic design.


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