Short Term Prisoner Yells, “Don’t Do That”

Shuck Howell, short term prisoner on the Richland county chain gang, undertook to feign insanity to escape routine work on the roads, but he failed. He worried county officers, caused Governor McLeod to issue papers authorizing State hospital officials to hold the Negro for observation, played his game at the institution, lost his fight after a fair trail, returned to camp, renewed his funny doings, aggravated county officers some more and then flew all to pieces when physicians talked about “opening him up to learn the cause of the disturbance. Shuck heard the doctors talk about an operation and looked on a complete set of instruments. At The opportune moment, Shuck arose and shouted, “Boss, fur de Lawd’s sake, don’t do dat. I hain’t crazy, ise jis’ puttin’on.”

It was clear Steptember morning when Shuck went on a strike. He acted in a peculiar manner and the captain of the gang allowed him to remain in camp. Shuck showed signs of the lack of mentality and attracted attention by starting into vacancy, tearing his clothes and pulling other stunts. The county supervisor was advised of the queer doings and joined the forces of the “worried.” Shuck failed to respond to ordinary treatment and Governor McLeod was asked to order the Negro to the State hospital for observation. Shuck changed his base and experts watched his movements, took his temperature and applied scientific methods in the effort to ascertain the true condition of the patient. Shuck was not an able exponent of the 100 per cent, proficient and failed to convince the experts that he was mentally unsound. Several weeks elapsed and the county officers were giving a detailed report. To be brief, the report said Shuck was feigning.

Shuck went back to camp to go to work, but he would not. He refused to eat, tore off his clothing, started some more and created more worry for Supervisor Patterson and his guards. To settle the question, the supervisor notified hospital authorities of the situation and the next move shed light on the proposition. Shuck was lying on a cot Sunday when two physicians stood by his side with a complete set of surgical instruments in their hands. The glistening scissors, knives and other “tools” were in plain view of Shuck. One physician said, “Well, Shuck, we have come here to open you up to lear the cause of the disturbance.” Eyes sparkled, lips trembled and then – Shuck arose and shouted, “Boss, fur de Lawd’s sake, don’t do dat. I hain’t crazy, ise jis’ puttin’on.” Not satisfied with Shuck’s proclamation, the physicians began to discuss Shuck’s chance of recovery. One said the operation might prove fatal and the other suggested that the “slicing” might cause considerable pain. Shuck became humble and wanted to talk. He swore he was “puttin’ on” and begged the physicians to postpone the operation. He said, “Don’t kill me. I cum fum Blaney en de Seeboard run rite fru dat place.” The physicians assured Shuck that he was in sound condition and would leave him in the hands of the county authorities. Yesterday Supervisor Patterson visited the Negro and found him feasting on camp life meals. He was in good spirits and said, “Boss, ise ready to go to work.”

September 30, 1924  State (published as The State)  
Columbia, South Carolina
Page 12

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