Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mighty Clods of Joy

Here's a term I think merits coining: googlestalgia.

You know, it's when you remember something, someplace, or maybe some name from your youth and decide you want to plug it into Google at the next opportunity to see what turns up.

I had a bout of googlestalgia the other day, when a familiar phrase from my youth came to mind and I realized that I had never heard anyone else (other than my older brother) use it in my entire adult life. The phrase is "dirt clod war."

When I was an adolescent those three words caused a thrill at the core of my being. There were only a few places in sandy N.W. Florida, where I was growing up, where high caliber dirt clods could be found, but a trip to one of them with a group of friends was about as excting as life could be back then. The red clay bluffs of "Field 4" on the Eglin Air Force Base reservation near Ft. Walton Beach was the ideal dirt clod war terrain. There was plenty of cover and lots of high ground from which to launch attacks. There was even a clear-running stream in the nearby woods to provide hydration and clean-up.

The rules were simple. Form teams (or make it every man for himself), find some patches of good clod-rich dirt, wait for the enemy (or seek him out), and throw dirt at one another. I can remember the sensations as clearly as my first kiss: the shock of the impact of getting a clod on the back or neck and the following cascade of dirt and sand into the hair or underneath the clothes — and the absolute bliss of watching a clod arc from my own hand and intercept a running figure. When conditions were perfect, red clay dust would explode into the air like a mist of blood. Oh yeah, the only other rule to dirt clod war was that the game would not end until someone got hurt.

I don't think this rule was ever agreed upon. It was just inevitable that someone would get a rock in the eye or go flying down a red clay crevasse long before we were ready to go home, so this would be the signal that the game had to end.

So I typed "dirt clod war" into Google this morning and only got about 257 matches. I suppose that means the dirt clod war experience is actually pretty rare. Pity. Maybe other people called it other things. Here in the frozen North, where I now reside, I'm sure the abundance of snow makes my old gang's weapon of choice seem primitive and inelegant. (My mind's eye just attempted to picture a new Civil War where the South was armed with dirt clods and the North with snow balls. I think I'd put my money on the South in that conflict.)

Many of the "dirt-clod" sites I found were drenched with nostalgic feelings not unlike my own, so after browsing for a minute I typed "googlestalgia" into Google. The search only turned up two relevant sites, both blogs. So I went to Go Daddy and bought the domain Not sure why, but it'll come to me.

1 comment:

john broussard said...

Great piece, Rick!

Brought back the sting of battle and a surge of fond memories of the likes of Bill Campbell and Brooks Jones. I think googlestalgia will be a hit, or hit-maker one of these days!

Love you brother!