May 13 2008
05:59 am
By: WhitesCreek

By Ray Collett

Hello Readers, This week is a continuation of a letter from Pelea Meador and her remembrances of Dippin', Chewin', Spittin', and Smokin'. Pelea writes...

"Smokin' was fun, well anyway, being with all of the kids in our corn shocks was fun. In the fall, daddy would strip the dry leaves off the corn stalks to make fodder for our cow, cut the stalks and place them in a stack that looked like a teepee. No kid with an imagination could resist pretending to be an Indian and taking advantage of his new home. My brothers, Theodore, Elwood (John) and George Edd, along with the Harness boys, Troy, Paul, Kenneth, Jerry, and maybe Phillip, would make a hole between the stalks, crawl in, push the stalks back into a neat circle, sit cross-legged and try to smoke!
Other neighborhood kids got into the action also. I was not invited, but made a nuisance of myself anyway. Along with all the boys, I smoked corn silks, coffee grounds, and Indian cigars, which the Harness boys generously provided from the large catalpa tree which grew in their back yard. There was a large vacant field just west of the Allen house next door to us on Duncan Street. This field served as a place for would-be cowboys and one cowgirl to roam when not wading in the ditch that practically surrounded it.
The boys were all Ken Maynard, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tom Mix, Buck Jones, etc. I had to be Hopalong Cassidy or I didn't get to play. One day, Theodore, (Ken Maynard ) discovered a silvery white leaf weed that grew profusely in the field. Bingo! We had life everlasting or RABBIT TOBACCO. Now THAT was good smokin'. The cowboys and cowgirl immediately reverted back to Indians smoking paper peace pipes in the seclusion of the teepees.
If my mother or daddy had caught us, we'd have wished for heavier seats in our breeches. I'm thankful we did not set the teepees afire. In those days smoking was a glamorous thing to do. Most movie stars did it and no one knew how harmful it could be. Even my daddy entertained us with his little cigarette maker by Target or Bull's Eye. He would sprinkle a little tobacco in a groove, place a little thin paper on an arc of canvas, pull a lever and out came a cigarette.
My best friend, Bobbie Ables Harvey, and I were trying to be glamorous or chic, or just having fun when we tried smoking once. She lived in a house with a tin roof and had a big feather bed which called to me especially when it rained. We were teenagers when the boys were mostly in far away places fighting a great war. Her brother, Kenny was a sailor and sent home some incense and cigarettes from Egypt. One night it rained and I spent the night with her. She got the cigarettes and incense, we sat cross-legged in that feather bed and tried to act like pros during the experience.
It wasn't much fun. The incense burned our noses with a sweet odor, the cigarettes tasted strong, made us cough and smell bad, and besides we were scared her mother would smell us and Heaven knows what! Nancy was a little lady but I'll bet she could have sent me running for home in the rain and put Bobbie under that bed clamoring for cover, or better yet, the last fire we could have seen that night could have been the seat of our pants! Bobbie and I never learned to smoke..."

Thanks Pelea, it is so nice of you to share your growing up experiences with us.

I wrote this a few days before my hand surgery, and with modern day computers, I filed it and all I have to do is hit a button on the computer and send it right on to the Rockwood Times. I will have the next few articles typed early too. Thanks again for all of the emails, phone calls, and regular mailings....Until next week.......Ray

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