Some memories stick like those ol’ sandspurs

Published 11:00 pm Friday, September 16, 2011

The Bible says in all things be thankful.

I’m not sure the Lord had sandspurs clinging to his jeans and scratching his legs when he said that.

When you get a little age on you, bending over to detach sandspurs can cause you to be a bit woozy. So, maybe the dizziness brought back the memories or maybe it was the tilt of my memory box but, either way, the memories stood as clear as if it were yesterday.

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In my childhood days, we invented things to play. We made up the games, the rules and the penalties and we carried them out.

One of our favorite things to play was fighting.

There were two kinds of fighting.

The fighting we planned and the fighting that just erupted. That was the best kind.

We erupted a lot – me, my friend Betty Kay and my cousin Jimmy.

“Me and Betty Kay” fought like cats. We scratched, pulled hair, pinched, kicked and sometimes we’d bite each other. And we would fight over anything or nothing.

Mama said we’d be in the bed asleep and the next thing she knew we’d be fightin’ like tigers, right there in the middle of the bed.

But, Jimmy and me, we did real fighting like ol’ Joe Lewis – with our fists. We’d hit each other in the mouth and punch each other in the stomach. And, like Popeye we fought “to the finich.”

One time, Jimmy almost killed me.

Betty Kay and I were riding the horse and Jimmy and Preston Darby wanted to ride but we wouldn’t get off. After a long time, we took Lightning back to the barn. When I was taking the saddle off, Jimmy ambushed me.

He jump down on me from the hayloft, knocked me flat on my back and started beating me in the stomach with both of his fists.

Dora, my adopted grandmother, came running out to save me. She pulled Jimmy off me and gave him a shake. “You ain’t supposed to hit girls!”

Jimmy hollered, “She’s ain’t a girl!”

Well, I was a girl. But if I could have twisted my arm around far enough to kiss my elbow and turn into a boy, I would have knocked his head clean off.

Preston was supposed to have beaten up Betty Kay that day but he didn’t. He didn’t like to fight as much as we did. I only fought him one time and I beat him up. Mr. Harold Rodgers saw the fight from his house and told Mama that he wanted to set me up with an ice cream cone. Mama wouldn’t let him. She said it would just be encouragement and I didn’t need that.

Preston was nice most of the time. I would have married him when I nine but he didn’t ask me so I never did.

The fights that just erupted were real fights. But the “wars” we planned weren’t too rough unless they erupted.

We’d war with pinecones, pecans, corncobs and BB guns that didn’t pack much power. You could see the BB as it traveled through the air, like the trail of a lightning bug, and it would just sting.

But the best weapons were sandspurs. We’d gather up big handsful of the long-stemmed sandspurs. The rule was that you could only hit people on the backside and everything was fair game – the head, the hair, the back and the bare legs.

Let somebody whack you on the back with a sandspur and see how it feels.

Those old pricks cling to your shirt and stick in you and every time you move. If you get hit on the legs, it brings the blood and, if sandspurs get in your hair, they’ll still be there when you die.

Wars always started kind of peaceful but somebody would get mad and everything would erupt.

Our wars always ended in a truce so our mamas wouldn’t find out what we’d been up to.

It was those days of war and truce that memory brought back to me as I picked sandspurs out of my jeans on that hot, late summer day.

Standing there, I gave thanks for sandspurs because, for just a minute or two, I was back again with my friends, Betty Kay, Jimmy and Preston Darby.

Oh, how I miss them.

Come to think of it, I wonder if there are sandspurs in heaven.

If there are, the Good Lord might be picking them out of his jeans after all.

Jaine Treadwell is features editor of The Messenger. She can be reached via email at