Kotton and Kudzu
I recently made a trip back south to where I grew up. Back to where roads have names like Booger Hollow, Hog Liver Road, Collard Valley, and Wissahickon Ave. Where Main Street runs north and south and there is an East Ave. and a West Ave. A place a confederate soldier’s statue once stood in front of the county courthouse. Friday’s pastime is attending the high school football game and the players and cheerleaders are the most popular kids in school. It is a place where the fans are loyal and the nearest town’s team poses as rivals. In summer, the game is baseball and parents and grandparents shuffle schedules to make sure their kids get to the practice fields, hoping their kid’s team wins the title for the year. The county fair there continues to be held each fall and competition for a blue ribbon can be fierce. Kids from 4H and FFA show the animals they lovingly cared for all year in hopes of winning a ribbon. The West Ave. Theater still displays movie titles on the marque and as a kid I collected coke bottle caps for admission to a special live show, sometimes the movie would even be a double feature. I miss the old drug store where I could sit at the counter and enjoy a thick milk shake, made fresh and served in a big glass, the metal cup in which it was made left on the counter to top off the glass. Cherry coke was a favorite for some when the kids gathered after school. Now, that store on the corner of Main and West Ave. along with other businesses have given way to antique stores and thrift shops since the peoples’ needs are now fulfilled by the strip malls and superstores. No more dragging main from the A&W on North Main to the parking lot on South Main and back. Kids now have cell phones: texting and tweeting have replaced such social gatherings.
It is where the loud horn from the mill always sounded at noon but is silent now; only the cement foundation remains now where it burned to the ground. However, bells still ring on Sunday to call the town peoples to church on Sunday. The Baptist, Methodist, Catholic and Holiness Churches represent some of the churches there deep in the Bible Belt.
I returned to a place where the fragrance of wisteria, mimosas and magnolia’s drifted on the humid air, where a ride out of town was now on paved roads and the only dust was from tractors as they plowed the fields. Cotton, once King, still grows in the fields, their white bolls glistening in the hot sun. Rows of corn, potatoes, peanuts and fields of hay dot the landscape. The ever-invasive Kudzu clings to everything, overtaking the roadside bushes and trees. Some entrepreneurs have found interesting ways to use these vines.
Foods gracing the tables include grits for breakfast; and for supper turnip greens, fried green tomatoes, pinto beans and cornbread. It is said you can’t go back and many things do change; but memories remain, and it is still good to go home.