East Texas Naturalist Blog

Information and photographs mainly about nature in east Texas. Our authors have widely diverse backgrounds and write on a variety of topics.

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Growing Up In the Woods of East Texas


Let me start this with what sounds like another version of "when I was your age, I walked four miles to school and it was uphill both ways" story.  I was actually born at St Paul hospital in Dallas, but then it was back to the farm in Newsome, Texas (Camp county between Pittsburg and Winnsboro).  We lived on a small farm where my grandfather grew cotton and potatoes.  My grandmother maintained a huge garden which fed us for most of the year.  The house had no electricity or running water.  We got our water from the well and light from kerosene lanterns.  The only thing that was "piped" into the house was butane for our cooking stove and heaters.  

I know it is a little hard to believe how different it was from now.  My kids never lived without central heat and air, cable TV, a telephone and all the other normal accouterments.  By the time they got to school age we had computers, cell phones and video games.  I had blocks, plastic army men, a baseball and later a high tech item, an Etch-a-sketch.  Quite a difference.

When I started having an interest in animals, I learned about them mostly at my grandmother's knee.  From her I learned about such about things as hoop snakes (grabbed their tail in their mouth then rolled after you so they could bite you or sting you with their poisonous tail), spreadin' adders (whose very breath was deadly), grass rattlers (striped and looked like garter snakes but were rattlers without rattles and deadly) and so many other "facts" about so many creatures. I learned that if you pull a hair from a horse's tail and put it in water, it would turn into a worm; that "horny toads" could squirt blood from their eyes that would blind you if it got into your eyes; that centipedes stung with their feet and if they ran across your foot, stinging you all the way, you would die; and, of course, frog and toads would give you warts if they urinated on you.  

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