Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Cocklebur Games

Dale, darlin'...

Image by Jeep Novak! via Flickr

When I was just a little girl, before my family moved to C-Town, we all lived at the Ford. Much of the time, my sister, Dad, Mom and I lived in a house with Grandmother and Granddad.

I remember it as being a wonderful place, probably because most of the people I knew there were related to me. And the ones who weren’t acted as if they were. 🙂

For some reason, Mom thought little girls should have long hair with lots of finger curls. With my naturally curly hair, I had them . . . in abundance.

Our big backyard had a swing set to play on and clothesline poles to climb. Behind the yard was a pasture with a hen-house and several old hens, then ran down to a tiny creek that was dry most of the time. Just past the creek was a little hill that curved along with the creek and to a little girl, just learning her letters, it looked like a monstrous U.

I had lots of cousins to play with, and most of them were boys. Do I need to mention that I wasn’t a girly girl? To be real honest, I was a tomboy. Big time.

I loved building roads in the dirt with the head of a broken hoe and driving little cars on it. Baseball was one of my favorite pastimes, and every year for Christmas I asked for (and received) a pair of six-guns like Dale Evans wore on TV.

I’d also get a doll. (I guess Mom kept hoping.) I climbed trees, ran races and had a great childhood.

Sometimes I played cocklebur games with my cousins. It’s an easy game to learn. Just pull up the whole weed and try to whack the others with them while not getting smacked. By the time we were through, my hair was totally tangled with cockleburs. The game was fun, but Mama had a horrible time getting them out. Especially when she was short on time. Luckily, she had a load of patience and very little temper.

With all my long hair, all I can tell you is it hurt anyway. A lot!

So did Mama cut my hair? Nope. She just told me to stop playing with cockleburs. I didn’t quit completely. I just started swinging and getting away faster. And having your oldest cousin on your side never hurts. 😉

A while after we started playing that game, my family moved to C-Town. The Ford moved not long after that, and the place where I grew up became the Ford State Park, and several years later closed altogether.

I wanted to take my son in to show him where we’d lived back in the day when we saw the gate was open once, but a state official said we couldn’t make it in our low slung car because of all the junk people had dumped over the years, which was why they had to close the park in the first place.

Who ever did the dumping deserves to have cockleburs tangled in their hair and a mean, short-tempered mama to get them out.