PB Johnson : Dirt Clods : Memoir : October 2019

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born in Knoxville, TN. and lived in Tennessee and Virginia while growing up. However, we moved North to Chicago a few years later.

Dirt Clods

Dirt clods were rock and clay projectiles molded together and thrown at each other by the kids in my new neighborhood when I was ten. The subdivision was half built at the time. Northern Virginia in the eighties was one big half built suburban neighborhood. The lots where earth had been moved around in huge piles at the end of our street was the battleground for the “dirt clod wars” in the summer of 1983. The day we moved into the house, a pack of boys rang the doorbell. Our moving truck had jacknifed on an exit ramp on the way from Tennessee and so our damaged things wouldn’t arrive for another day. With nothing to unpack yet, my Dad told me to go with the strange kids. Later, in the disappearing minutes of orange sunlight, I happily limped down the side of the dirt clod mountain with knees caked in a red clay and blood paste. My parents didn’t know about the dirt clods, they were happy I was making new friends. Besides, I had an older brother who they relied on to know what I was up to.  He was too cool to participate, but did find the dirt clod combat amusing as a spectator. 

The next summer, the dirt clod mountain was gone. A blue colonial with white painted shutters and a spindle railing porch stood in its place on level ground. Dirt clods were 1983. The summer of 1984, it was bottle rocket wars. My parents knew little of what I was up to, I was just out somewhere. My son is now older than I was in both of those summers. We know where he is all the time. He doesn’t have a big brother.