Followin’ the Cotton

(Mrs. Holley was the third generation of a Southern family in California.  She wrote this on being able to return permanently to the South.)

The cotton fields grow row after row, we saw them from Grandad’s back seat,
The twins and I arms and legs stuck together in the dawg days summer heat.

The cotton fields grow row after row, we saw them from Grandad’s back seat,
Until giving way to a palm lined driveway,
Leading up to the mansion in ruins.

There were no slaves then, only Grandad and kin,
Pickin’ cotton and workin’ the gin,
His name was Jack Hagins,
His daddy was Lundy,
His daddy, James Smiley Hagans.

Alabama to Texas and after THE WAR,
“GTT” nailed up on the door,
“GONE TO TEXAS” they went,
The Garretts and Harmans, the Hagins and Vardamans, the Fergusons and more…
There were Sullivans, Todds, and Matthis as well, Salmons and Becks in the flow,

Their Scots-Irish culture they took with them West,
Their Bibles, corn bread and fiddles,
They ate black-eyed peas, hominy, grits,
And corn bread without any sugar.

Texas graveyards laid them to rest,
These dear ones from the Deep South,
A history lesson cut in stone,
As we are wont to remember.
These are my people, these are my people,
Let me ne’er forget, God’s hand of Providence in their lives,
He see, He knows, He cares.

My people were Protestants: Baptists, Methodist, Presbyterians too and Anglicans to be found,
Church of Christ as well, were Grandma House and Granny Harman.
Their faith built new towns, Murphy, Collin Co. was one,
Under suburbs buried now.

To the cotton fields of San Joaquin The Great Depression drove them,
They were despised…these Dust Bowl starvin’, Bible believin’ folk.

For the South both her Grandads fought,
But Grandma never spoke,
She learned her lesson well… ne’er be proud of who she really was,
A Confederate at heart.

But her accent, her food and her faith gave Grandma and many away,
So they built them their own little colony;
Miz Huckabee lived next door, a widow woman afraid to water her lawn,
From Oklahoma you know.

On Tyler Street in Doyle Colony they gardened and planted their yards.
They put up green beans and tomatoes in hundreds of Ball mason jars.
They talked with their accents, ate black-eyed peas and said,
“Y’all come back now, hear!”

I do come back, Grandma, often to see you and hear you in my own mind’s eye,
“I’m fixin’ to do it again, Grandma, as Christmas is here and your dressin’
With cornbread and left-over biscuits is fixin’ to go in the pan,
Grandma Hagins, Winningham, House.”

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