Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

October 20, 2013

Cotton field recollections

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

— The weather we got this past week made me nostalgic for my childhood growing up in the middle of about 200 acres of cotton fields near Roane.

My mom told me she’d play in the cotton trailers when she was a kid, but I tried it only once before deciding that it was a sure way of bleeding to death from those scratchy bolls. I lived in shorts year-round, so maybe my choice of clothing was the problem. I still have no interest in playing in the cotton, although I love the look of those farm-to-market roads after a cotton trailer has been down it, leaving a snowy path to the gin.

Once the harvest was done, though, the oceans of green plants were gone and we were surrounded by nothing but black furrows of bare soil until spring.

My sister Lisa is three years older than I, and being country kids with no close neighbors, we played together right up until the moment she went to high school and got too cool to play with her kid sister. In the fall, our game was dirt forts.

In case it’s been too long since you were short, or in case you grew up in a plastic bubble of suburban cleanliness, let me explain that the soil in northeast Navarro County is clayish, sticky when wet, and when tilled dries in clumps anywhere from grain-of-sand size, to bowling ball size. We’d build little three-walled forts with those large clods, a Texas version of a snow fort.

The purpose, of course, was to kill each other with dirt.

Similar to snow ball fights, we had dirt-clod battles, chunking dirt clumps at one another, aiming for the face, because girls are bloodthirsty when left unsupervised. Like snowballs, dirt clods explode when they strike, enough to leave a welt and to cover the enemy with fine gray silt.

By the time the sun set, ending our fun, we’d have to help each other brush all the filth out of our hair and off our clothes just so we could go in and not have to explain anything to the grown-ups.

We were doing our own laundry by the time we were in fourth grade, so we didn’t have to explain the prodigious amounts of dirt in the washing.

When Lisa got older and I was left alone to entertain myself, I became a little pyromaniac, gathering twigs and using those big wooden kitchen matches to create camp fires in the middle of all that bare dirt and roasting pecans. I continued to build the forts, but mostly to hide my fire-bug tendencies from the house. I have no idea if my parents ever knew I was out there starting fires.

Since I’m still alive, let’s assume not.


Janet Jacobs is City Editor of the Daily Sun. Her column appears on Saturdays. She may be reached via email at Want to “Soundoff” to this article? Email: