If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.
Some of my favorite memories of my childhood are of my dad telling my brother and me stories about his own. My dad was a city boy from Washington, DC. Every summer, he would head down to Walhalla, South Carolina, to spend a month with his southern cousins, who took great delight in teasing the “Yankee” kid. My brother and I would beg Dad for another story about his “mean” cousins almost every night—and he was more than happy to share.
Among the most memorable was the time they told him that South Carolina bees didn’t sting. The cousins walked through a bee-filled patch of clover in their bare feet, telling Dad, “South Carolina bees aren’t like the bees up North; they don’t have stingers down here.”
My dad didn’t realize that a group of boys growing up in the South in the 1940s went barefoot for most of the year. The cousins’ feet were so tough and calloused that the bees’ stingers could barely penetrate their skin. This wasn’t the case for my dad, though. He was stung 20 times when he took off his lace-up city boy shoes to walk through the clover.
They also told my dad that putting manure in his shoes would make him grow taller. They swore that their strapping six-foot frames had been achieved by small doses of manure in the toes of their shoes. My late bloomer Dad smelled horrible for an entire summer.
Then there ...