Doing Corn!

A few years ago I reminisced with coworkers about childhood experiences we longed to relive. One said “Oh, I want to do Italy again! The sights and sounds!” Another said “I want to do Paris again! The shopping!” When asked what summertime fun I wanted to have again I whispered “I want to do corn…!”

Nannie, my grandmother, had a huge garden on her farm which was summer’s focus for my family and my extended family. We anticipated nothing more than CORN. Excitement began when Daddy hooked the planter to the tractor. Weeks later, we pulled suckers in the hot cornfield. “Straighten the stalks up as you go.” Daddy said, wiping his face with a handkerchief. As time passed, Nannie checked corn by pulling shucks back just enough to stick a fingernail into a juice kernel. “If we’d get rain it would go on and make.” Mama predicted. “You could get enough for supper now.” Aunt Noody insisted. Weeks later as the entire field neared “readiness”, Nannie used her skills to decide when timing was right and finally said “Y’all want to do corn Tuesday?”

Tuesday morning aunts started “before it got hot”. Yawning cousins gathered by the barn with lawn chairs, buckets, pans, and knives. In the field, cornstalks jerked and we heard “sca-runch!” each time an ear was pulled. “Lord, it’s snaky in here.” Aunt Helen declared. “Sca-runch!” we heard again. One by one aunts came from the cornfield pushing wheelbarrows filled with corn. They made it to the shade of the giant tree by the barn where chairs had been arranged around bushel baskets to hold the shucks, wiped their sweaty faces, and sat down. Shucking style was important and if we cousins didn’t get all the silks of then “we just as well not shuck”. Wormy ears were passed to aunts who flicked away wriggling offenders and cut damaged kernels away with surgical precision. As each pan filled with shucked corn, one of us cousins ran it up to Nannie’s house to be blanched in huge pots of boiling water.

Nannie hummed hymns as she plopped steaming blanched corn to cool in ice water in the old ceramic kitchen sink while cousins stood at the counter and cut corn off cobs. Aunt Dessie asked “How many pints y’all reckon we’ll get?” as cousins packed corn into freezer cartons. “I still got some from last year so don’t count any out for me.” Aunt Jenny demanded.  We ate mouthfuls of corn as we cut but we didn’t need to because Nannie saved out “pretty” ears for lunch. Cousins ate on the huge porch, leaning forward over plates, butter dripping from chins. After lunch we did more corn until Nannie announced “It’s just too hot.” The steamy kitchen was cleaned, sticky hands washed, and freezer cartons full of corn were divided up. Mama and the aunts stacked the filled freezer cartons onto trays and we all walked home across the field to help put them in our freezers. We had done corn.

My coworkers’ favorite summer memories may be be of Italy and Paris where shopping, sights, and sounds made childhood special, but not mine. A hot summer day with sticky hands, a chin covered with butter, and giggling cousins is what I long for again. I don’t need to go to foreign countries to hear the sounds I want to hear. I want to go home and hear Nannie hum and the “sca-runch!” in the cornfield. I want to do corn…

Stuart M. Perkins

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Doing Corn!

  1. M. D. Grey

    Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!! Don’t know whether you’re a city boy or a hayseed, but you sure can do some good word paintin ! Blessssss your litle heart.

  2. M. D. Grey

    Love your stories!

  3. You have a real gift of bringing memories to life. I guess I’ll just have to follow now 🙂

  4. Just had some corn last night. Well it’s been better and worse too! loved you story!!
    Enjoy your day, Eddie

  5. Had the opportunity to help one of my good friend’s family do corn the other day! Quite the process, but enjoyable with friends and family.

  6. OMGosh… LOVED that story!!! Now I wanna “do corn” too!!

  7. Loved this story, made me think of similar fond memories.

  8. Lynnie

    I’m lucky to have helped pop and grandma (Noody) pick and freeze corn! Sure miss having that corn in my freezer!

  9. Reblogged this on Moulders Lane and commented:
    A discovery from the blogging stratosphere, this is a truly delightful collection of tales from the American South; a ‘book’ to keep by your bedside (with over 34,000 guaranteed pre-sales, why this chap hasn’t already got a publishing deal I do not know) or to turn to when you’re feeling fed up with your life and the world around you.

    They’d also make a very nice feel-good film – and heaven knows we could do with some of those these days – in fact you could easily get three separate films out of the ‘Bus Whisperer’ stories, the Nannie/family stories and the Mary Dell stories.

    I simply couldn’t pick a favourite so I’m starting you off at the beginning. Kick back on the porch and enjoy …

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