Doing Corn!

Prompted by friends who insisted others might enjoy my stories from home, I began this blog. Seven years ago now! Below is the very first story I posted. Appropriate because it was this time of year when I began the blog, this time of year when the story occurred, and this particular memory which inspired the name “Storyshucker”.  Blogging has been fun, has led to other writing opportunities, and most importantly has shown me how alike we are. You can blindly pick a spot on the globe and know that the people you point to have memories of home, reminisce about the old days, and love to share their stories. You have a story too. Write it down.

 

Doing Corn!

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

Nannie, my grandmother, had acres of garden which were summer’s focus for our huge extended family. We anticipated nothing more than corn. Excitement began the day Daddy hooked the planter to the tractor, dropping seed kernels into the many long rows. Weeks later, we pulled suckers in the hot cornfield.

“Straighten up the stalks as you go.” Daddy said, wiping his face with a handkerchief.

As weeks passed, Nannie checked the developing ears by pulling back shucks just enough to stick a fingernail into a single kernel. Others leaned in to monitor her testing…

“If we’d get some rain it would go on and make.” Mama predicted.

“You could get enough for supper now.” Aunt Noody insisted.

More weeks passed and as the entire field neared “readiness” everyone waited for word from Nannie. On pins and needles we kids anticipated an exciting proclamation, but in true Nannie-style she only casually posed the question. “Y’all want to do corn Tuesday?”

Tuesday morning aunts started early “before it got hot”. Yawning cousins gathered by the barn with lawn chairs, buckets, tubs, and knives. Out in the field we saw tops of cornstalks jerk and heard the distant “sca-runch!” of an ear being pulled.

“Lord, it’s snaky in here.” Aunt Helen declared. “Sca-runch!” we heard again.

One by one, aunts emerged from the cornfield pushing heaping-full wheelbarrows. They made it to the shade of the ancient oak by the barn, wiped sweaty faces, and sat in chairs arranged around bushel baskets to hold the shucks. Shucking style was important and if we cousins didn’t get all the silks off “we just as well not shuck”. Wormy ears were passed to experienced aunts who flicked away the wriggling offenders and cut off damaged kernels with surgical precision. As each tub filled with shucked corn, a younger cousin ran it up to Nannie’s house to be blanched in huge pots of boiling water on her old stove.

Nannie hummed hymns as she took steaming ears of corn from the pots and plopped them into ice water in her old ceramic kitchen sink. Older cousins stood at her counter and cut corn from the cobs.

Aunt Dessie asked “How many pints y’all reckon we’ll get?” as cousins packed corn into freezer cartons.

“I’ve still got some from last year so don’t count out any for me.” Aunt Jenny demanded.

We snuck mouthfuls of corn as we cut it from the cobs, but we didn’t need to. Nannie always saved out “pretty” ears for lunch. We ate on her huge porch, leaning 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 cartons onto trays and we all walked home across the field to put them in our freezers. We had done corn.

My coworkers’ favorite summer memories may be of Paris and Italy where shopping, sights, and sounds made them happy, but not mine. A hot summer day with sticky hands and a chin covered in dripping butter is what I long for again.

I don’t need to visit foreign places to hear the sounds I loved. I want to go home and hear Nannie hum, cousins giggle, and a “sca-runch!” in the cornfield. I want to do corn…

Stuart M. Perkins

 

 

54 Comments

Filed under Family, Uncategorized

54 responses to “Doing Corn!

  1. Doing Corn? Your writing brings back memories in Indiana. There Grandpa picked it and loaded a couple pickup trucks. No air conditioning and hot, muggy, Indiana day filled with the unmistakable smell of cooking corn.
    I know kids think food comes from Wal Mart but I have memories of killing chickens, cutting them up ( my job was legs). Grandma would cook chicken and noodles and float the eggs that did not have shells formed on the top. The best tasting eggs !

    • I love it! And you’re right, smells stay with us for life and can bring back memories too. Your “my job was legs” cracked me up. We all had a role as kids! Thanks for the fun comment!

  2. Congrats on your Blogaversary. As usual, another fine story of a simpler times.

  3. Karen

    I so agree. Family

  4. I always love reading your stories as they bring back memories. As a young married couple with a toddler, my husband and I decided to freeze corn. We bought a bushel and the farmer gave us a free bushel, which we thought was really great. With just the two of us and a toddler, it took all day and when we were done, there was corn kernels everywhere. We left the corn cobs and leaves in the garage under the family room which caused a terrible odor to come up into the house. But, the fresh corn was sure good.

  5. Now I know why your blog is storyshucker, Stewart. I have always been wondering about the name.

  6. I wasn’t a subscriber when you first posted this and I guess I never went back to the first post. I love this, memories are the best place to go back to visit.

  7. I still prefer corn on the cob, freshly cooked – and dripping with butter!

  8. ANY time being with my grandma in her old kitchen, doing canned veggies and fruits, making pies, rolling out dough for potpie (PA Dutch style), cleaning green beans from the garden for ham, green beans and potatoes…. I got my love of cooking from this saintly woman and I, too, would forgo any trip to anywhere for more time to spend with her in my too-long tied up apron.

  9. Great story. You mentioned “it’s snaky in here”. Were there snakes in the cornfields? I have some favorite vacation memories but just as favorite are times sitting on our wall with neighbor kids snacking; getting from one end of the block to the other on fences and walls, never touching the ground; and 4th of July gatherings with games, swimming in the town pool, eating that flat packaged taffy and Ed’s famous bar b que made right there in city park.

    It’s wonderful you grew up with such a united family and sweet memories.

    • Well at home they usually used “snaky” more to mean overgrown and like a good place FOR a snake… but yes, there were often black snakes in the cornfield. I guess there to catch the birds that came for the corn. No snake ever hurt any of us, but when we saw one you’d have thought there were a hundred of them, lol. Thanks for the comment as always!

  10. Joyce Carter

    Bless you Stu.  You always come trough by lifting spirits and a smile.  Lord we need it right now more than ever.  Meow

  11. Paulina Radzisauskas

    Wonderful story, as usual.

  12. Totally delightful!! I wasn’t involved in freezing corn, but we’d have corn on the cob several times a week. There was never more than 15 minutes from the time the corn was picked to the time we sat down to eat.

    • Thanks Anne! It was a process but we kids loved it (because we didn’t have to do the real work I suppose!) and I’ll always remember those summers and that time of year. Thanks for the comment!

  13. Just lovely! I feel the same about tobacco. I never smoked, but the sweet smell of a tobacco leaf takes me back to my granddaddy’s farm and the days of walking behind a tractor full of sweet smelling leaves and of hiding in the barn under the hogsheads. Thank you for the memories.

  14. This sounds like fun. The best memories are the simple home made ones.

  15. Beautiful memories, Stuart. I’ll have to conjure up some of
    mine, too. Maybe making basil pesto with my Aunt Genevieve- and then enjoying it on penne pasta with lots of Parmesan.

  16. What a fun extended family environment to grow up in! No corn in my history, but some exciting times being an AF brat! I’m doing my memoirs and the memories are all coming back!

  17. What a wonderful memory! And happy blog anniversary!

  18. Fantastic story of family! Looking forward to reading a new story soon!

  19. Wonderful story. I get a lump in my throat thinking of a simpler time when corn was enough.

  20. No corn harvesting for me – I’m a town girl – but … but I did spend a year in a caravan in an orchard in Somerset in England when I was seven. The oldest of seven cousins we had lots of adventures. If there is a ‘harvest’ memory in my childhood it would be climbing apple trees and picking the small scrumpy apples from which comes the famous Somerset cider. As kids, we had no idea what cider tasted like but we would pick the little apples and bang them against the branches to bruise them and release the juice. Until we were spotted that is! Then it was ‘run for the hills!’ with a laughing uncle after us. I don’t remember rainy days – just sunshine. Which in the UK is quite a statement of how happy we were, like puppies, tumbling together amongst the trees. Thanks for the memory. So enjoyed your story – as always, Stuart. Keep safe.

  21. That was vivid and gripping. I could almost see the entire gang out there shucking and feasting on corn.

  22. Lovely imagery, Stuart ❤ Thank you for transporting me to the homes and fields I've given my heart to.

  23. Here in France they seem to shun ‘corn-on-the-cob’. You can buy it but it is limited (in this area anyway) and they look at you as if you are rather strange. The strangeness comes about from growing acres and acres of maize but it is for animal feed! My neighbours invited me over for a meal last week and, joy of joys, we had BBQ’d corn-on-the-cob…just slightly charred on the edges and dripping with rich creamy butter! The French need to be taught something about this fantastic delicacy 🙂

  24. I called my grandmother Nanny. Oh the memories that come flooding back. Our family raised wheat. My dad would join my mom’s brothers and dad every summer in the 50’s and early 60’s to do wheat harvesting. Grandad (whom I actually called Papo or Poppo) would start harvest in Texas and come north, eventually getting to harvest his own fields as Kansas wheat ripened late June. Daddy worked for a truck line and helped on weekends as he could, and used his week of vacation to help with the harvest at home. Getting to ride in the combine one round of the field was a special treat if my cousins and I were good.
    Great piece. And those summers on the farm were my favorite.

  25. That’s “doing corn” alright. From scratch. As a city boy we didn’t have land or fields to grow things, but my parents would drive out to farms nearby and buy a bushel. So I remember shucking. With seven kids, we ate a lot of corn, and as the oldest, it seemed like I shucked a lot each summer. We had to use a crab pot to cook it all each time, so there was plenty. We didn’t have butter either, but margarine sufficed, with plenty of salt. And then: watermelon. We never had much money, but summers, we could catch crabs in the muddy-bottomed Chesapeake Bay, and eat fresh corn on the cob and ripe watermelon. Summers were hot and sticky, but my parents provided for us all. Good times. Thanks for reminding me.

  26. It wouldn’t be summer without fresh corn and homegrown tomatoes. My brother and I still laugh about all the corn we had to shuck. Good memories 🙂

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