Doodling Around Oak Ridge

 By Nolan Bailey

Every so often I have a flashback from my early childhood years in Minden. The World War II years in the Oak Ridge subdivision were much simpler times, and "store bought" toys were often difficult to come by. Children in the 1940's learned to build their own toys and find something to do other than watch television and play electronic games. One of our more interesting pursuits on South Roosevelt Drive was to doodle around for doodle bugs. The yards in the area were quite sandy, and the wood frame homes were built off the ground on brick piers. Kids often played under their homes, some dug tunnels, and it was just the right combination for a thriving ant lion "colony." We children would look around until a few funnel or cone shaped pits were found in the soft dry sand. Then we would retrieve a straw from Mom's kitchen broom or a needle from some dead pine straw found nearby. The straw would be inserted into the doodle bug hole, and we kids would chant something like "Doodlebug, doodlebug, come out of your hole; your house is on fire, and your children will burn," while twirling the straw around the walls of the doodle bug's sand trap pit.

If we were lucky, the doodlebug would grab the end of the pine needle or pine straw, and we could snatch the little ant lion right out of its home. I'm sure that we looked like little polar bears hunkered down over a hole in the ice trying to catch a seal. At times, during my time at Minden Grammar School, we would find an occasional doodle bug hole down under the terrace, and we kids would spend most of our recess, luring these interesting "critters" out of their sandy homesteads.

As an older child, I learned that one could feed the little doodle bugs by catching ants and other insects and dropping them into the doodle bug pits. It was interesting to drop an ant into the pit and watch for that telltale little puff of sand, which meant that another ant had "bitten the dust."

I'm thinking that the world just might be a better place if today's children watched less television and spent more time out in the yard doodlin' around for those nostalgic little doodlebugs.


Here's that bug... only it ain't no doodle bug... this bug likes to rolls up nasty stuff...doodle bugs live in nice clean sand... they make their little houses that resemble a small funnel, so whenever another little bug comes walking along and falls in...well, they can't climb back out,  because of the slant of the walls, they just keep sliding back down the sides into the doodle bugs entry....  Don't you remember how we'd sit next to one of these little bugs houses and take our hands and make a knocking sound on the ground next to one of these little houses then ever so careful using a tiny piece of straw we'd  swirl it around inside the doodle bugs house ... saying "doodle bug - doodle bug your house if falling down... doodle bug - doodle bug your house is falling down"  Now if the doodle bug was home he'd start to kick sand around trying to repair his house....Life was good and simple so simple back then... sure didn't take much to entertain me... and mostly, it still doesn't..       

 LeVerne Langheld Kidd


                                LEVERNE'S BUG

I'm thinking that LeVerne might have been born as far back in the country as I was.  Back in '39, I was born in a white wood frame dog trot farm house with the traditional front porch or "gallery."   Out front was a narrow dirt road that led from Louisiana Highway Nine to the small rural community of Beulah.  I always loved this dusty little road as a young kid.  My grandfather would often go to the Beulah community in his wagon and I would ride along for the adventure.  A couple of miles west of his home a shallow creek ran across the road.  Often it would be nearly a foot deep where it crossed the sandy road.  In the hot, hot, summers, as we approached the "branch across the road," I would jump off the back of the wagon and run through the cool water with my overalls rolled up to from getting wet.  A shirt wasn't essential back then, neither were shoes in the summer months.  Going barefoot in the summer months was a treat for country kids.  We kids would pester our mom to death in early spring about taking off our shoes.  When she would tell us that it wasn't warm enough, we would go in the back room, wet our tooth brushes, and flick droplet of water on our faces and arms.  Then, we would show our mother that it was so hot outside that we were sweating. 

LeVerne Langheld Kidd has mentioned "Here's a bug...only it ain't no doodle bug...this bug likes to roll up nasty stuff..." and it brings back another childhood memory.   One of the most interesting "critters" that a young farm kid or farm visitor could encounter was a dung beetle.  Around my neck of the woods they were called a "tumble dozer."  I suppose that some folks called them a doodle bug, however, this is really the name of another quite interesting bug--an ant lion.    Often we country kids would be walking down a dusty little road and meet one of these beetles "comin down the road just a pushin his load," backwards.  As they say, as soon as the poo hits the ground a dung beetle is there rolling up a ball of dung.  Immediately after the ball is finished, he beetle sets out to his territory, in a straight line, to quickly bury the ball.  Poo theft is big among the dung beetles.  We kids spent lots of time distracting the dung beetle from completing its appointed "rounds."  We would steal his load, block his load, dig little ditches hinder his load, and do other such "devilment," to pass the time of day.  

Another "bug of interest" to rural kids was the June Bug or June Beetle, otherwise known as Cyclocephala, Phyllophaga.  Sure it is.  The latin name comes from a country kid getting too much education.  Anyhow, during June of each year the next hatch of reddish brown June Bugs or June Beetles would magically appear.  Until recently, I didn't know where the June Bugs "magically appeared," from.  Often when the family would be digging up the garden, we would find a white fat worm which my mother called a "grub worm."  I knew that they must turn into something else, but I never imagined that they turned into a June Bug each summer.  The "bugs"  that weren't eliminated by car windshields were often caught by country kids for entertainment purposes.  Since we had no diversions like television, electronic games, or myriad store bought toys, we had to find something to do.  After playing with a few June bugs I wondered if they could fly on a tether.  So, I went to grandmother's sewing kit and got a spool of lightweight thread.  Then, a short length of the thread was tied to one of the June Bug's back legs, and he or she was released.  Lo and behold, they could fly just fine.  We kids took great delight "walking" or "flying" our "bug airplane" around the yard.

Country kids back in the 1940's were always trying to find something to pull on their city cousins. One nasty trick we always tried was the "bumble bee"
shenanigan.  As we played out in the horse barn we noticed that there was a bee flying around that looked just like a bumble bee, except for one thing.  It had a very small white dot on its face, between its eyes.  And, we learned even though it looked like a stinging bumble bee, it could not sting.  This special bee was a wood or carpenter bee.   As soon as our cousins appeared, we would get them out into the barn area using some kind of yarn.  Then, the shenanigan would begin.  We'd appeal to their pride with something like "I'll catch a bumble bee in my hands, and I'll bet that you are too chicken to catch one."  Pretty sure their pride would be so injured that they would respond with something like "I'm not chicken, you go ahead and catch a bumble bee."  So, we'd search around until we found our "white faced" harmless wood bee.  We'd snatch him from the air and brag to our cousins "See, there's nothing to it, now it's your turn."  The cousin, not knowing the secret would grab one of the "real" bumble bees flying in the same area.  We all know the result.  Bee's sting city folk, but not country cousins.  Life was never dull out there in the farm land.

Nolan Bailey


                                               LIGHTNING BUGS

                                             By: Linda Holt Moorehead

  I love the stories about the doodle bugs.  When I was little and living in Vivian, Louisiana, we had a garage that had no floor and it was partially quite sandy.  It was rarely used for a car.  There would be LOTS of doodle bug funnels in there and it was a great pass time for the neighborhood children to use the straw as LeVerne said but we never hit the ground beforehand.  Just sticking the straw in the bottom of the funnel and twisting it would be enough to get the bug to come out to repair the damage and/or to see what it had caught.  We had a little bit different "song", though...  "Doodlebug, doodlebug, your house is on fire..." repeated over and over.    Some of the neighborhood kids used to tie a thread around a leg of a "lightning bug" and let it fly around flashing it's little light while they were holding onto the thread.  I always thought that mean, cruel and heartless and wouldn't do that.   I did put them in a jar with  holes in it a few times, I think, but couldn't stand that, either, so would release them right away!     Some of my very favorite childhood memories are of the adults of the neighborhood sitting outside while the children played such games as Red Rover, Slinging Statues, Annie Annie Over, Steal the Bacon, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, Mother May I, etc., etc.  .    My favorites were "Red Rover, Red Rover, let ????? come over..." and Annie Annie Over, the latter of which we had to play before it was very dark.   There was one game we played that I've tried to remember many times.  The little rhyme that went with it was something about a little white house on the hill, as I remember it.     What memories!  Until the past few years I sincerelyl wanted to have an outdoor party for adults and play children's games.  They were such fun!  I realize that some women would probably play but I doubt that many men would.  They would think us just silly and immature!    Besides, the mosquitoes would probably eat us up!  :-)   I don't have much memory of mosquitoes when I was little but I do remember having to run inside when the "mosquito trucks" were coming by to spray.  Surely wish we had more of those trucks or had that service more often here in Houston now

                          HONEY BEES  - BY LEVERNE LANGHELD KIDD

Only bug story I have to share at the moment... HONEY BEES ~ By the hundreds have been visiting our bird bath and hummingbird feeders these hot summer days... First honey bees I've seen in our yard for a number of years, was getting concerned about this.
Some of my first and favorite memories, was summertime and the sweet taste of honey...My parents and I lived in the home with my widowed Grandmother Langheld the first 3-4years of my life...  Grandmaw had a number of  bee hives down the hill from her house... Early each Sunday morning in the summer months, my Dad  would gather honey from these hives, cut of a slice of that sweet dripping honey comb, hand it to me, and I can recall oh so well leaning against the back porch railing, so as not to let any of that sticky sweet honey drip onto my clothes, folks, that's a "sweet" memory... 
My Grandmother and Mom would be busy sealing the rest of this honey into jars.... Do you know .. honey does not spoil.... yes it will turn to sugar and the color gets darker... one of natures most pure food...If you want to read about a most interesting little "bug" find a web-site about this complex and fascinating little insect...You may be really surprised what honey REALLY is... most people think is just nectar the bees gather... Well yes it starts out that way... but that's not the end of this story...
Now back to my concern about the lack of honey bees in our neck of the woods.. Several years ago there was an infestation of a parasites call a mite, that almost wiped out the honey bees in our area...That's why I was thrilled to see honey bees this summer.. But as the temperature got hotter the number of bees visiting our bird baths and hummingbird feeders started growing in such large numbers.  These honey bees I was thrilled to see now were becoming a nuisance. They were fighting the birds from the birdbaths and the hummingbirds away from their feeders ... I understand in very hot weather the worker bees have to keep the hives cooled... So LeVerne to the rescue.... I  removed the cover from one of my quart sized hummingbird feeders, filled it with sugar/water, stood back and watched... within a two hour period this container is empty... Someone told me I'd put these bees on "WELFARE !"... So 'bees' it... as least now our birds can get to their food and water ...
Now this 'bees' all of my bug story for today.... 0-0-0-

LeVerne  p.s. to Nolan, I was born in Minden sanitarium.. think how that sounds. SANITARIUM! But we lived in rural Claiborne Parish, a most political way of saying "country", think I was almost 10 years of age... Did ya know where the Bicycle Road is located? That was my stomping grounds.

                     WASH DAYS

Tell LaVerne that I'm "gittin" ready to "out do" her story on wash days... <grin>

As I've said, most of my formative years were spent in Minden and on a small farm near Bryceland, Louisiana.  My grandparents were in their sixties when I was born and they still used many of the farming customs or practices from the late 1800's to early 1900's. 

For me, it was a privilege to watch and learn from their example.  I've seen and done things that much older people people can't even identify with.  For instance, my grandparents made lye soap--and I know how they did it.

They canned fruits, vegetables, and meats, and cured their own meat in a smoke house.  I was there with big eyes.  I helped them milk the cows before daylight, and helped them eat big biscuits done in a wood burning stove.  I've churned milk to makebutter, and have eaten clabber. I've seen the ice man bring huge blocks of ice to the country and put it in an "ice box." I've plowed behind mules and have driven a wagon. And, I've participated in the "Blue Monday" wash days--which lasted most of the day. Why, I know what a "battling block" and a "battling stick" are, and have used them...  And, the list goes on and on... 

What a childhood...I've chased "craw dads" down the creek, kicked over their mounds, and caught perch using a cane pole and worms. Hah, I know that "When the winds from the north and east, they bite the least."  And, "When the winds from the south and west, they bite thebest."  I was taught how to find wind direction by wetting a finger and sticking it up in the air...etc.  And, the "beat goes on..."

Just ole Nolan