That goat was mean.
Seventy years ago - on Christmas Eve 1940 - this newspaper, then called the Bulloch Herald, held a prize drawing for children. In league with Homer C. Parker, who was Georgia's state comptroller general at the time, the Herald awarded a goat, wagon and harness to a boy who could register in advance but had to be present to win.
After the contest was mentioned in the "Do you remember?" feature on page 2 of the Nov. 9, Statesboro Herald, Franklin Akins, who soon will turn 73, called to acknowledge that he was the one who got the goat back when.
That goat turned out to be almost too much for a 3-year-old boy.
His grandfather, the late Wiley Akins, had entered the then very young Mr. Akins' name in the contest. He doesn't remember much about the drawing and presentation at the Herald office, which was then on West Main Street.
"But I got the goat home and I was too little to handle the goat, and every time I'd be in the yard by myself, he'd knock me down and stand bestraddle of me," Akins recalls, laughing about it now.
Incidentally, that ill-mannered beast was a long-haired goat named Curly.
A story from Dec. 19, 1940 previewing the drawing at first referred to "the unnamed goat," but concluded by reporting: "Mr. Parker announced that he has just received a wire from Atlanta stating that the goat's name is 'Curly'." It didn't say what Atlanta official was then in charge of naming goats.
The story began by asserting that "All the kids in Bulloch County want to win the goat, wagon and harness. ..." But the very next paragraph reported that "more than 200 boys" had signed up, and seemed to assume that no girls would do so, adding, "There is still plenty of time for any boy between the ages of 2 and 10 to register."
So there must have been a crowd on hand when "the committee" referred to in the article pulled Akins' name out of a box at 4 p.m. that Dec. 24. The lucky winner's experience with the goat would not be entirely negative.
"If Mama or Daddy would harness him up and get him to the wagon, I could drive him around the yard," Akins remembers. "I couldn't do much with him by myself."
He also recalls the wagon and the leather harness as a "nice outfit" and has black and white photographs of himself and some friends in the wagon.
"I had some neighbors that would come over that were older than I was. They were 7 or 8 years old and they could handle it, and we'd ride," he says.
In time the novelty wore off. After some period, he figures a year and a half or two years, his parents, the late Colon and Edith Akins, sold the goat and all its tackle to a fellow from Glennville. The young Franklin Akins had wanted to keep the wagon, but his mother and father insisted on making it a package deal. If memory serves him, they received $10 for the lot.
They used the cash to buy him a tricycle, "something that wouldn't run over me," he says, chuckling again.
Akins and his wife Linda, parents of three and grandparents of three more, live on U.S. 301 South near Register. Their current house is very near the site of the boyhood home where he tangled with the prize goat.
A farmer and rural mail carrier in adulthood, he didn't raise goats, but kept cattle until he sold the last of his herd in April.