“In Durham [one of the places Joan Didion’s parents lived during World War II] we had one room, with kitchen privileges, in the house of a fundamentalist preacher and his family who sat on the porch after dinner and ate peach ice cream, each from his or her own quart carton. The preacher’s daughter had a full set of Gone With the Wind paper dolls, off limits to me.
“It was in Durham where the neighborhood children crawled beneath the back stoop and ate the dirt, scooping it up with a cut raw potato and licking it off, craving some element their diet lacked.
“I knew the word even then, because my mother told me. ‘Poor children do it,’ she said, with the same determinedly cheerful expression. ‘In the South. You never would have learned that in Sacramento.’ ”
— From “Where I Was From” by Joan Didion (2012)