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Cousin Rufus, Fleas and Bike Helmets

Dear Cousin Cletus,

Spring has sprung in the Ozarks. Ah know it’s for real ‘cause sugar ants started invadin’ mah place.

Before Tupperware got invented, Grandma used to set her cake plate on a chair and then set each chair leg in a cup of water. The ants would drown before they reached the sweet stuff.

And now, mah hound, Bozo has fleas. Ol’ Lem, down at the Gen’ral Store, reminded me of Granddaddy’s remedy for fleas in the house. He said,” Rufus, git yourself a shallow dishpan and fill it with sudsy water (dish soap and water) before you go to bed. Drape a light bulb on an extension cord about a foot over the pan, leave the light on, and go to bed. Next morning when you wake up, dead fleas will be floatin’ in the water.”

An’ you know whut, Cletus? It worked! The fleas git attracted to the light, jump for it, and fall in the soapy water.

Ah been hearin’ news down at Lem’s, about folks outside the holler. It sure makes a body glad to be here, where common sense is a ever’day commodity. Seems like people out there either git offended or they’re afraid o’ ever’thing.

Did you know they make kids wear helmets now, just to ride bikes? They’re afraid tykes will get hurt. Growin’ up ,we woulda laughed ourselves silly if a body showed up in the holler wearin’ a helmet. ALL our bikes wuz mountain bikes, cause we lived in the mountains and rode whatever we could git our hands on. We took our spills, broke bones—Cousin Leroy even chipped a tooth—and we’re healthier than coddled city people.

Ah would give mah right eyetooth to go back to our growin’ up days, Cletus, wouldn’t you? We swung over the pond on a rope and dropped 15 feet to the water. We caught snakes (Granddaddy taught us the ones that were poison, so we could leave ‘em alone). We hunted and fished and as long as we got home by sundown, when supper wuz on the table, our folks didn’t worry about us.

Ah’m thankful to be raised in the day before common sense flew out the window, Cletus. Real thankful. And I bet you are too.

Y’all take care and come see me sometime.

Your cuz,


What about you? Any thoughts on your childhood? Feel free to comment below.


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