Mulberry Memories of a Wilding Texas Youth — Part I of II


The Dead and Dying Mulberries of New York; Mulberries of a Wilding Texas Youth; the English Mulberry Bush Around Which Some Children Went; Houston Gender Differences Affirmed in Internship Masters and Johnson Institute; Greta Thunberg and Personal Screwdriver; Houston Topographic Segue;


Below is the customary fund raising blurb from the otherwise cloistered “Little Sisters of the Silkworm” as part of their annual fund raiser for an obviously worthy cause. “Once they’ve produced their silk, silkworms have no better alternative than to become a food source. Since they’ve lived as domesticated species for centuries, they can no longer survive in the wild.” I’ve Pal Pal’d those ladies a few bucks to help with their silkworm rescue efforts, and I’ve done that every year. But please, keep those old post-menopausal biddies off our streets with their stupid signs about spinning second rate silkworm silk for their suppers. (This blog is my oft mixed blend of truth and artful hyperbole, that in the interest of full transparency could more correctly be called “Artful Gaslighting” and for this blog anyway I’ll go with that.

Sisters, do you know what you’re asking here? Who’s got the time and resources to do this shit in the Big Apple? Maybe a few cops in Staten Island where none of em’ give a flying fig leaf about mulberry leaves. The other five boroughs are mostly paved and indifferent to silkworm issues. Indifferent as in real men don’t wear silk underwear.Taking care of the old harridans requires a controlled environment; protecting them from ants, mice, and disease; and feeding them nothing but mulberry leaves.

In the city , our “environment is uncontrolled. Are the silkworms even vaccinated? Freakin’ mulberry leaves? Who’s got freakin’ mulberry trees these days, much less mulberry leaves.

In our carefree and careless youth, we ruined all the mulberry bushes too, dancing ’round them all the time singing “here we go” as if onlookers a feckless group even in the pre-war America of the thirties, who almost sixty year later remaining frozen in faux republican amber. Had those hapless hordes of deplorable inaptness foreseen their meaningless lives at a hundred years of age , they would even then have searched vainly for the nearest cliff from which to hurl themselves.

I mention “vainly” in this instance because Houston, Texas never featured such a cliff, but did have a few bumps on the few paved streets and also some almost cliff deep potholes in which one or two of those hapless hordes of deplorable inaptness could have leapt and possibly sprained an ankle but the risk wouldn’t have been worth the reward. But y couldn’t already see we were “going” nowhere but round. The words to our rhyme, in this case a nursery one and we were older and wiser than that, but still how innocent we were then!

Because we were going in circles, it seemed we didn’t know either where we weren’t going, actually to where we weren’t dancing, as we raised our skinned knees high like young colts and mares and sang that dumb rhyme off-key about going round the mulberry bushes themselves. That made everything we were doing so futile. Singing and dancing with no real idea where all our singing and dancing would never take us. And our unconsciously stepping on mulberry bushes accidentally as we wasted time and irretrievably damaged the bushes and the nursery rhyme was so ecologically unsound.

We’re all hurtin’ here in America’s City with the unforgettable memories of those beautiful mulberry bushes, a new governor and Omicron Covid-19 Virus by another name both smelling horribly, and all sorts of other pandemic related problems!

Don’t they have Silkworm Medicare or Silkworm Social Security? What happened to the Democrat’s “Build Back Silkworm Society” Provision?

Damn, was that Manchin and Sinema again? Let West Virginia and Arizona deal with retired silkworms.

This mulberry bush “around kids went” was sneakingly introduced and sold to American young as “merry frolic” around an inert mulberry bush. In Houston, hardly a city of Angels or Anglophiles, and more renowned for hedonism than abnegation and unlike the cheerful ruddy cheeked English kids well suited for their own dancing and hygiene inducing bullshit, my crowd was into Hershey Bars when available and wishing we knew more about kissing girls and sex, and I would surmise the opposite for the young girls I knew.

Interestingly to me anyway, for a few years I believed I had a firm handle on gender differences between my few female acquaintances and my male troop of capuchins. My views had been unofficially affirmed in an eight-week Masters and Johnson scholarship interning at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction in Bloomington, Indiana.

My internship there reaffirmed my already firm handle on sex differences in my Houston neighborhood but in the wider world. The Institutes contributions were earth and bedroom shattering, however my part in Houston’s sexual revolution was honestly just a small piece of what I anyway liked to call, “Bringing Science to the Bedroom in Houston and the Great Sexual State of Texas.” And bring it we did. The firm reaffirmation of my not only “firm handle,” but a willingness to share openly my newly acquired sexual knowledge in treehouses, playgrounds, school bathrooms that didn’t stink too much, church balconies, and just about everywhere, contributed my small part to the “bringing.”

But even with everything we brought, our sexual circle was unyieldingly broken with RPG’s death and Merritt Garland’s being illegally barred by a coterie of republican swine from any rehabilitative reexumation, and is still remains that way today, those two events not listed chronographically. The case from Mississippi will inevitably just provide our bedrooms and the women therein nothing resembling a “sexual portfolio.”

It’s not that my part in “bringing it” to Houston bedrooms all over the city never encountered contrary opinions, because it did — and often. When that happened I’d use the special screwdriver to reinforce my sexual views, the screwdriver that I carried in my lunchbox or jacket pocket depending upon Houston weather that always ranged between 85 the day it snowed a half inch to between 90 and 105 the rest of the 364 days when it didn’t snow at all, but on the day it snowed the humidity was about 94 percent.

That was about as warm as it got before Greta Thunberg, except when one of those damnable West Texas heat waves blew in with the dust and pollen, and everybody had to breathe through a straw for a couple of days. Rich kids in River Oaks were fortunate to have straws with air-conditioning back then. It made a big difference for those stuck-up prudes. Never saw their straws first-hand, but it was common knowledge in the Heights that they had them.

Quickly now to my screwdriver once again, and the important differences of opinions it revealed or at least increased the odds that I would reveal my two major theorems of sex differences centered on girls, sex, sex differences, and the role of my screwdriver in all of that. Schools in those days never gave a thought about smaller than Jim Bowie pocketknives, and unless you brandished it threateningly, a screwdriver was considered a bicycle tool and not a lethal weapon. Even so, my special screwdriver would have been cumbersome to carry in school, and my use for it rare enough, that when needed for differing opinions of why girls were different from boys, I’d go in the house, use it, and put it away. (Relax, I’m almost where I’m going!)

I’m sure I either needed or thought that I did, to use that blade-headed screwdriver to bolster my opinion of why my already highly thought of pair of perceptions about sex differences needed to be metaphorical screwed to that aforementioned tightest “sticking point” to defend them and then screw them to that very tightness

Conversely, we were also a foot or so higher; we did live in the Heights named after all for the extra altitude at which we lived while the rest of the city was pretty much New Orleans “high,” averaging fifty feet above sea level. The Houston Heights where my family lived towered above the rest of the city at 50 feet in elevation, ten feet higher than most of Houston’s low-lying marshes, swamps, and parries, as are those low-lying topographical wonts.

Most of the Heights is not all mountainous like you see in Colorado, but it is ten feet above the average Houston topography and also ten or so feet higher than River Oaks, and its residents survived Harvey only because of their multistoried misbegotten with shady oil deal mansions not to be “concensed” with the California Mansons. (Capital letters are often meaningful as you should have recognized by now.) On a clear day, our home’s higher than typical Houston home height would have allowed my siblings and I to see our elementary school from our sixty foot above sea level and our three or four foot concrete block foundation elevation, as you have probably noticed, that was quite a bit higher and more numerous than the non-sweating River Oaks crowd barely enjoyed because of the flood.

And as all Houston topographical aficionados know, our city was (the city while “ours” then isn’t even mine anymore) and I’m more than OK about that and I hope the formerly “ours” are as well, with the plethora of political lunacy going on statewide if not in Houston, and “it” fortunately is not going on there, and is also still located in the Gulf Coastal Plain biome, and its vegetation is classified as temperate grassland.

Much of Houston was built on marshes, forested land, swamp, or prairie, all of which can still be seen in areas closely surrounding the Height, and the Heights was a large area in addition to its being high for Houston when it was first inhabited. Surprisingly, since Houston’s unmitigated growth in all directions, my part of Houston has shrunk a great deal. I mentioned without naming it in this blog, but then and now the one-story Eugene Field school remains visible as far as a block and half away, but the neighborhood homes block the view returning it to its former invisible state.

As stated or at least implied earlier, the city’s topography is pretty flat, or at least sunken, which makes flooding a frequent if not recurring problem for its residents. The city stands, or sits, or both about 50 feet (15 m) above sea level—the highest area within city limits being 90 feet. However, subsidence, caused by extensive groundwater pumping and resource extraction, has caused the elevation to drop 10 feet (3.0 m) or more in certain areas.

As a result, the city turned to surface water sources for its municipal supply, creating reservoirs such as Lake Houston and Lake Conroe. Hurricane Harvey was a devastating Cat 4 hurricane that made landfall on Texas and Louisiana in August 2017, causing catastrophic flooding and more than 100 deaths. Contrasting the rich of River Oaks with the plebeians of the Heights, both areas did well, River Oaks because of its multistoried mansions and homes in the Heights because of the additional ten or so feet in elevation and one other heretofore unmentioned factor.

Most Heights homes are built on three or four foot concrete blocks. These blocks not only move the horizon an additional block or two, they provided three or four feet of flood protection, and also not importantly provide havens for the greatly admired Texas Rattlesnake. Areas under these homes maintain the perfect year round rattlesnake environment, and children also used them as clandestine play areas.




David L. Cattanach

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