A Poem by Kimberly A. Bolton
Like I was sayin’,
it wasn’t all bad times,
there was good times, too.
No money, so’s we had to
make our own fun.
The men back then was
mostly farmers an’ field hands;
They was a hard-workin’ bunch;
worked hard an’ played hard, too.
Come the weekend,
they needed to blow off a lil steam
after bein’ in the fields all week long.
The dance hall was a pop’lar place
on Saturdee nights.
Wasn’t no fancy announcements an’ whatnot,
like they got now;
You just showed up, an’ if’n you played
the fiddle er a guitar er a banjo er some such
you brought it with you an’ you
was part-a the band what played that night.
There was always food what the ladies brung
from home an’ some pop to warsh it
down with, maybe a jar er two a
white lightnin’ out back so’s the men
could sneak a nip now an’ then.
But ever-body showed up,
nobody wanted to miss out on a good time.
Even folks what lived outside
the county came,
an’ that’s how the trouble started,
The Cotton boys all got along,
fer the most part,
‘cept this here one time when
ol’ Dwight went at it with
Hulitt over Hulitt’s geese gettin’
into his garden an’ ruinin’ his
tamaters an’ his rhubarb.
Geese have a hankerin’ fer rhubarb,
an’ they loved Dwight’s rhubarb more’n most,
don’t know why.
Rhubarb is rhubarb, seems like,
Exceptin’ the geese, I reckon.
But fer the most part,
the Cotton boys all got along.
Throw an outsider into the mix
an’ the fight was on.
Now our boys didn’t start
the fights, but they’d finish ‘em
right enough an’ that’s a fact.
Got so’s the owner of the dance hall
kept a axe handle behind
the counter to keep the peace,
an’ sometimes that didn’t always work.
Why this here one time
this feller from over to Otterville
was a causin’ trouble at one a the dances,
an’ the owner chased him outside threatin’
with his axe handle.
Now this here Otterville feller, he was
purty stout an’ could more’n hold his own.
He grabbed fer that axe handle an’ got
a-holt of it an’ threw it in the brush,
an’ just ‘bout that time, here come
ol’ Wade with a baseball bat;
now where he come up with a baseball bat
at the dance hall is anybody’s guess,
but Wade he took that baseball bat an’
cracked this other feller over the head.
Liked to brought him to his knees.
Didn’t knock him out, tho’,
blood all runnin’ down his face,
an’ then, wouldncha know, one a the
bunch this Otterville feller came with,
was ‘bout to haul an’ plant his fist on
the Porter boy’s jaw when Porter’s sister
grabbed up a empty beer bottle an’ smashed
it right on his head.
Never seen a girl do that afore,
an’ that was the end-a that, let me tell you.
Run them Otterville fellers clean outta Cotton,
an’ they never come back neither.
Yessir, Cotton boys’d go outside an’ settle
their business, then go back in the dance hall,
grab their girl an’ finish their dancin’-
Well, looks like we’re here,
an’ in plenty a time, too-
Ain’t never seen so many cars
in one parkin’ lot before,
ain’t been to the fun’ral parlor
since the Hofstettler boy
got tangled up in his combine
a couple years back;
if that wasn’t an awful mess-
Yessiree, Saturdee nights at the
Cotton dance hall was the place to be.