'I don't care who you are, Fat Boy in a red flannel suit, get that sleigh and team of reindeer off my grass!"
Those words still ring clear from 1958. In basic training if we tried to live healthy lives, and not take to smoke, drink or chew -- as our Mamas told us not to do -- the only other incentive was to be assigned to the police detail. Whoopee!
No, we did not man posts at the gate, nor roam around on roving patrols. It meant if we did not light up when the smoking lamp was lit, we'd have to pick up cigarette butts and everything else not growing.
Beware the cigars, for they may not be cigars at all, but residual by-product of the company's mascot -- Ol' Blue.
Drill instructors were fanatical about keeping buildings and grounds emaculate and conducive for CO and CG inspections. Surely these things would pass when we graduated away from seemingly Mickey Mouse routines. Not!
If anything it may have gotten worse. When we moved from Parris Island, through infantry training at Camp Geiger, Camp Lejeune, N.C., we were en route to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for assignment to a transplacement battalion destined for a 13-month tour overseas.
Hot dawg! Real time Marine Corps. No more petty stuff.
Negative. Out there, we found dead grass and dying ice plants -- for lack of rain. Never rains in Southern California? Negative, but our first priority was to get off the bus and start beautifying the buildings and grounds. Why? We were supposed to be going overseas. Let someone else do it! Negative! The CG is coming by to see us off, but before he gets here we need to get this outhouse squared away -- inside and out.
Weed, edge and rake the grass, paint the curb along the walkway with a coat of white. Beat feet down to the supply shed and get a couple cases of Marine Corps green spray paint.
What da hey! We gotta do the barracks, too? Negative. We need to spray the leafs on the ice plants. They look dead. The CG will be disappointed. Ice plants in California are like kudzu in Georgia. It makes good ground cover, for corrosion control. It is a protected species of plant life out here. The CG will freak if he finds out his ground cover is dying.
The proper name for ice plant -- I am sure you already found in your CRCT testing -- is Aizoaceae, from the Carpobrotus Chilensis family. Right. I knew that, too, but I also flunked the CRCT because my teacher did not know and erased my answer.
Be all that as it may, I'm not in the Corps or California anymore, but I do know kudzu. Easy to spell, and as my daddy explained, easy to get started. Hard to eradicate after you do.
Anyway, take a pair of hole diggers and a six-inch sprig of kudzu root. Go to middle of a 40-acre tract of land, dig a six-inch hole straight down, as far as the hole digger will go. Back away quickly while dropping the sprig down the chute -- fire in the hole -- then run like hell to make it over the fence before the kudzu overtakes you. Har, har, har ... in the immortal words of Gruntosarus Rex. That's all; carry on. Fall outside for formation -- green side out!
In memory of my father, James Morris Corbin (1910-92), with whom our first priority upon buying the old home place in 1949 was to get all the kudzu off the fence rows, and in places where it was growing over the barns, outhouses and out into the fields -- where it impeded crop cultivation, growth and harvest. It took us about 40 years, but by the time the FHA home loan was paid off, we were kudzu free. Thank you, Daddy, for showing me the way to go and hopefully I have not totally disappointed you, nor these readers. In the name of Jesus, Amen and Amen.
Donnie Corbin of Albany is a Phenix City, Ala., native and retired as a gunnery sergeant in 1977 after 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Formerly employed at Flowers Hospital in Dothan, Ala., and Memorial Hospital Manor in Bainbridge, he now works part-time with CleanStart Inc. A great-grandfather, he and his wife, Marian, have two children and he has a son from a previous marriage. His traveling companion and alter ego is Ol' Blue, who he says is "instrumental in my letter-writing."