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Cotton Stalk Tea
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Cotton Stalk Tea


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Most people like tea of one kind or another.  There are red teas, black teas, and green teas among various other colors, styles, blends, types, flavors and strengths.  Some are bitter, some are mellow, and some are just plain terrible.

That's what I think about Cotton stalk Tea. I disliked it very much, but, as much as I had it when I was a kid, you'd think I would have acquired a taste for it eventually.

But I never did!  I hated it the last time I had it as much as I hated it the first time I ever got any!

Of course other kids got a taste of it as well as I did, I just don't think as much.

And it was not always Mom who brewed it for me.  Sometimes, it was Grandpa.  I have even had it from one of my Uncles, and, Dad has made it for me more than once.

Cotton stalk Tea was always brewed in the field.  I don't ever remember tasting it outside of the cotton field, (other places it was called willow switch tea, or yardstick tea).  And, it didn't matter who brewed it, it was always bitter.  It was instantaneous, and served up brisk, with a passion, sometimes not so hard as others, but, nearly always served with love, never hate (except from Old Lady Rowton, a school teacher at Rector Grade School (in the '50's, 60's, 70's, and some of the 80's.  I think she hated me as much as I hated her . . .).

Nothing you could put with it could ever take away the bitterness either!  It seemed to sting for quite a while, and always had an impact on the way you looked at things.

I can't remember the last time I had Cotton stalk Tea, but I know one thing for sure; to this day, I don't ever want any more!

The Tea I'm talking about is when the Cotton stalk was literally pulled from the ground, stripped of limbs and leaves and applied as a reward for infractions such as inability to focus and pick cotton at the speed of light, or, accidentally letting a cotton-boll fly through the air at one of the cousins a few feet away from you.

I think Grandpa had laser beams for eyes.  He could see a cotton-boll the size of a pea being thrown through a dark night a 1/2 mile away!  All of a sudden, he would roar, and you knew, you were within seconds of experiencing the wonderful bitterness of Cotton stalk Tea, brewed by the lashes across the sit-down portion of your backside.  He could yank a cottonstalk from the ground, strip it, apply it with severity and go back to work in less time than it took to get away from him.

The cottonstalks weren't heavy, but the green ones were very much like a Willow branch.  It would follow the very shape of your caboose and while it did not leave whelps or marks, it certainly left an impression in your mind that you would not soon forget!

Through the years, I never did get all the bustings I ever deserved.  I don't guess any kid does.  We were never whipped, but we definitely were corrected, usually with whatever switch was close to hand.

One thing for sure though.  I don't know of any kid that ever developed a taste for Cotton stalk Tea.  I don't ever remember anyone requesting seconds!  Had I not been the angel I was, I might have come close!

George Cavaness
10-09-1994



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