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The Bugs of My Youth
East Texas from 1935 to 1946

Before AC, TV, and DDT, I played in Mother's flowerbed. Neighborhood kids joined me. We dug up earthworms, Doodle bugs, lady bugs, and ants. We chased and dropped them down each other's back.

They called us in when we were tired. We lay in beds to take afternoon naps. We pretended to sleep. They knew better though. Before AC, TV, and DDT, We grew our own tomatoes, squash and mint. We had fresh mint in tall glasses of ice tea. The iceman delivered blocks of ice to our house. Mother and Dad chipped the ice to surround the ice cream maker.
We ran and struggled to be free. We rolled in the dirt to stop painful stings. We dug up wiggling earthworms and watched them crawl in our hands. They raised their heads and stared at us. hand-cranked ice cream maker They took turns hand cranking it. We had peach, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream. The family next door made the egg custard base. The cream came from Daddy's partner's cow. He delivered her fresh milk to us three times a week.
We looked down at them and watched their bodies hook and curl. Before AC, TV, and DDT, Mother kept house windows and doors open. Fresh air flowed from front to back. She and other mothers heard us play. They knew when we fell out of our swings, skinned our knees, or misbehaved. At night we caught the lightning bugs. We tried to keep their thoraxes lit. Their lights went out as we watched them die. Dirty, sweaty, we had grounding in the earth. Before AC, TV, and DDT, we felt at home with home.

Carolyn Cochran



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