Well, the All-American down home neighborhood, community, backyard, barnyard fight to the end. The legendary corn cob fights. Some of the battles rank right up there with the Battle of Shiloh and Vicksburg.
For some of you Yankees that think we are dumb, ig’nurnt (ignorant), and ’literate (illiterate), these wars take all kinds of planning and preparation. Patton and MacArthur would have been real proud of some of the treasured moments that us (we) kids had to go through to wage such an event. You don’t just get up one day and say, “Well, let’s have a corn cob fight. No sirreeee.” There is a lot of strategy involved.
Now, I’ll try to explain to you youngsters and city slickers just what an authentic, down-to-earth, revolutionary corn cob fight is all about. I suspect some of you have never participated, or even heard of the all-out war.
Corn is grown in the fields by our very intelligent Southern farmers that know how to get the best out of our soil. These are the same folks that are considered dumb and ignorant. Corn is usually measured in bushels, shelled corn measured by the pound, and I have seen corn measured by the gallons.
In the fall the corn is pulled, taken to the crib and stored for the winter to feed all the livestock (hogs, cows, chickens just to name a few). See, I’m trying to help you all I can. Don’t forget, you pull corn, pick cotton, and dig “taters” for future reference. When you shell the corn, what you have left is the “cob,” and now the fun begins.
The cobs are really very light, since you had to break them in half, so you could throw them. They don’t hurt too much, even thrown up close. The objective of this skillful art was to hit someone that was hiding behind their protection, or running as a moving target. See us (we) dumb country hicks didn’t know any better than to chunk at each other. There were two on each side, and we fought in the barnyard, where the barn was, where else? Sound “simple enough?”
Each side flipped to see who got to use the barn. Now, this has one side roaming around in the barnyard hiding behind tractors, wagons, turning plows, barrels or any kind of protection. Do you get the idea? The other side got to use the barn, of course. The barn had the hayloft, stalls, stables, swinging doors, and windows to hide behind. The barn really provided quite an advantage. Now then, “hits” constituted a win for the other side. Usually there would be three of four other groups or sides observing and waiting their turns. All the kids gathered for this great event.
We always had these battles at Arvis “Rabbit” Woodard’s barn, ’cause his was a Cadillac of barns in our time. I mean to tell you that it was “uptown.” When things really got to rolling, with the corncobs flying, hitting anything, yelling, running here and there, it was a sight to behold. At least to some young kids back then. Well, you were supposed to keep score too, but the losers never could remember.
The day before a fight, everyone would get some five gallon buckets and fill them with water. Soaking the corn cobs overnight made the corncobs nice and heavy. Now, these soaked corn cobs would put a “wep” (welt) on you real good, especially with the mud, and what else you get in a barnyard. When you got hit, everyone knew it, ’cause they would make you holler “calf-rope” for sure.
You might find buckets of soaked cobs hidden all over the place the following week, because no one wanted to run out of ammunition and get slaughtered. This was a big event for us, and usually went on all afternoon, ‘til a winner was declared, or we just plain gave out. Then, it was off to Mr. Ben’s store for an R.C. or Pepsi, and rehash the events. This gave everyone a chance to defend themselves, ’cause before the day was over, everyone was a winner. When I see some of my old friends, and bring up the corn cob fights, the talks are legendary, as no one ever lost! This brings back some good memories of the past, and it makes you wonder how the kids today can go through life without a good down to earth corn cob fight!
If you love the South, say GLORY!
Griffin is the author of the book “Southern Raisin.” He was born in Charleston, Tenn., and attended Rosemark Grammar School and Bolton High School.