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COLUMN: Life at Oaklawn: Playing with bugs, dust and a slick road
Life at Oaklawn

COLUMN: Life at Oaklawn: Playing with bugs, dust and a slick road

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In my last column, I told you about the very hot weather in the 1950s. I was remembering some of the things that I did to entertain myself.

Do any of you readers remember looking for doodle bugs?

We had dirt roads out in the country. Poplar Tent was dirt, as was Eastfield (now Harris).

In the fine dirt that accumulated along the roads, you could see little indentations in the loose soil that looked like a whirlwind.

I would take a stick and dig around in these and find what we called doodle bugs. They were oval, plump and soft-bodied. The head was flat and it had a pair of large pincers. I just loved to dig them out of their burrow. I would let them crawl over my hands, but I never killed them.

I found some interesting facts. They are called antlions and live just beneath their pits. They eat ants or any other insect that falls down the side of their pit. When they walk on sandy surfaces, they leave behind a scrawl-like pattern, and this gave them the name of “doodlebug.”

I wonder if the “doodle bugs" still exist? I am going to start looking for them so I can show my great-grandson how to dig for them.

Poplar Tent Road above Oaklawn had a steep hill that would get slick when it rained. This was due to the red clay in that area. When it would rain, the bank in our field that was beside Poplar Tent would also get slick. I would hunt up a thin piece of plywood, go up to the top of the hill, where our bank was very slick and slide down the side into the ditch. The more you slid, the slicker it got, and the faster I could go. I always wound up in the ditch.

The people who scraped the road would cut deeply into that ditch so the hill would not get slick. I remember it being so slick that some of the cars could not get to the top. I am sure that this was also due to tires being worn so thin that there was not enough traction. My daddy would go and help folks get out of the ditch with his team of horses.

I was covered in red mud when I got back home, and Mother would pour buckets of water over my head, trying to get me clean enough to come in the house. Those were good memories, and I wish the hill was still there and that I could take my great-grandson George up there to slide with me.

I also would tie a string on June bugs' legs and let them fly. The June bugs looked a lot like what we see today called Japanese beetles. June bugs are larger and feed at night. Japanese beetles feed during the day.

My mother always had sewing thread, and she would help me tie thread around their legs. How many readers remember doing some of the same things?

We lived simple lives and made do with what we had to survive and entertain ourselves.

I wonder what would happen nowadays, if the younger generation did not have electricity, video games and every toy under the sun to play with? I think folks my age could survive quite well, but the other age group would be in a total panic.

I turned 80 years old on the 27th of July and wonder how I got this old. It seems like only yesterday that I was wishing I was 16 and could get my license. The years fly by, so enjoy each day to the fullest.

We all need to pray for our country and restore respect for the flag and our fellow man and put God back in our lives.

Stay safe and thank all of you who have emailed or called to tell me you remember some of these times and how much you enjoy my stories. God bless.

Bobbie Cannon Motley’s family has lived at Oaklawn, in the Cannon Crossroads community, for generations. These are memories of days gone by, before all the development in western Cabarrus County.

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