Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #10

Conversations with Mama… and more ~ #10

Mama said one night, “Imagine if I had been a twin?”

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Mama out behind the mill in Union Point  – she never missed a chance to strike a pose…

 I called Mama on the night of the President’s inauguration (2009) and asked her if she was watching Obama? “I’m not studying about him. They were all crazy down at the Senior Center being so silly about seeing him on TV today.” All of a sudden she must have been flipping the channels on the TV as she said, “Oh, there’s Obama, I have to change the channel, oh, there he is again – I better put it on Animal Planet, I don’t think he’ll be on there with the animals. My Daddy always said that if the young people don’t start taking more of an interest in politics, that the government will be in trouble. And that is exactly what has happened to our country now – no one is paying attention. He believed strongly in knowing what was going on in the government and voting at every election. In this last election, with Obama getting elected, it seems to me like many people just aren’t paying attention or don’t care. They sat back and let other people vote this man in, a man that I don’t trust. I don’t want to see him fail, but I don’t have faith in him; maybe he can do something, but it won’t be anything quick. The one thing that irks me is that many people look and talk about him like he’s the messiah, like he can just wave a wand and make the world a better place. The problems didn’t happen overnight, and they’re not going away anytime soon. Too many people in this world have their hand out—they don’t won’t to help, they only want YOU to help them.”

“I don’t know what the temperature is today, but it’s cold as hell here in Georgia today. It’s suppose to be down in the teens in the morning – makes you just want to stay under the covers all day long.”

Another saying popped out of Mama’s mouth tonight, “They’re nothing but educated fools.”

“Everyone has been asking me where I get all the jewelry I’ve been wearing lately. They look at me funny, when I tell them that I make it. I bring home all the costume jewelry that comes in to the Senior Center and I take it apart at night and make new pieces out of it. They want me to make them some, but I told them you’re going to have to use your own imagination and make it yourself. You can make anything if you have some imagination – I guess they don’t have any. I see many people looking through the old costume jewelry now that comes in at FISH.”

I asked Mama tonight if she remembered when the Easy Bake Oven came out in the early 60’s and asked – why didn’t I have one? Her reply.. “I do remember the toy oven, but I don’t really remember you ever asking for one. I bought you pretty much whatever you asked for, and you never asked for a lot. You weren’t as interested in girl things when you were young, you were more of a tomboy. When we lived in Union Point, you really didn’t play with dolls, you wanted a stick horse, that you rode till the bottom of the stick was a point, and you wanted a pogo stick, which you jumped on all over the place. You did play with Barbie a lot after we moved to Perry, but I don’t remember you or any of your friends having an Easy Bake Oven. The one thing you really pestered me for was a typewriter. I bought it for you at Xmas and put Daddy’s name on it because you used to unwrap your gifts and wrap them back up. After you opened your gifts that year, I handed it to you. (I bought Melissa an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas this year (2009) and gave it to Frank to put under their tree. I signed a note from Santa apologizing that he had forgotten to bring it to her in 1989.)”

“One day when you were sick, you asked for a scooter, you told me that if you had a scooter, your asthma would get better. Granddaddy McKinley took you uptown to Miss Vicky’s Five & Dime store in Union Point and bought it for you. You came home and scooted from room to room. You didn’t play with too much when you were small, but you did like your stick horse, scooter, pogo stick, roller skates, tape recorder and later the typewriter.”

“Do you remember all the Barbie clothes I made for you and your friends? You and your friends would come in the house and order them from me like you were at a store. After I sewed them, I called you girls to come and  pick them up with your dolls. I made you a lot of Barbie clothes.”

Mama was in the bathtub tonight when I called and when she answered the phone she said, “dam if you didn’t catch me in the tub tonight and I’ve got soap all over my hair. You are always in the tub when you call me, but I don’t like to stay in the tub long, I get cold. Call me back in ten minutes.”

“Guess what – I won twenty-five dollars at Quality Market today in their weekly money drawing/  I put my name in every week, and today they called me. It was dark when they called, so June drove me there –  I don’t like to drive at night. We both went shopping for some extra staples. I was really surprised when they called, as I don’t usually win anything.”

“I got you a great big bag of pecans. June gave me a bag that came from her mother’s house and I had a bag in the fridge. When it gets pretty I’ll go out to my friend Carolyn’s and pick up some more. They have some pecan trees down below their house, but I’m not looking forward to shelling them.”

“I was going to take that girl, Marley, out to Tara today to show her the house. She is the girl who said she could draw it in charcoal for you. But I didn’t go because it was just too cold and I didn’t feel like it. I came home and got under the covers instead – my bones were cold. I’ll give you her number so you can call her first before we go out there.”

 “Let me tell you what I bought at Miss Draper’s today. I found this tiny, tiny wrought iron rat with a long tail. It was just so cute that I couldn’t leave it there. I brought it home and sat it on a shelf where I have other small knickknacks I like. My little rat is so cute.” 

“Did I tell you they have a rooster next door? He follows me all around when I’m in the yard; he’s a big red rooster. Wherever I work in the garden, he likes to come and scratch and scratch. I told him, when I plant my tomatoes, you better not scratch them up – or else. He crows every morning, and Boo runs to the window to look for him when he hears him crow. The rooster also goes across the street and plays with June’s dog Sadie.”

“I made myself a big pitcher of sweet tea today, you better run in the kitchen and make yourself some just like you do when you go home from being in Georgia and drinking tea.”

“Do you remember the jar of pennies I kept in the top drawer of the old oak bureau sideboard you have. I had it in the dining room in our house in Perry. One day when I looked in there, it was empty – not a penny left. When I asked you what happened to them, you told me you used them to buy ice cream from the ice cream man. That bureau I used as a sideboard was a piece that had been in my parents house from the time I was a little girl. It sat in the backroom behind the dining room – it originally had a mirror attached, but it needed to be redone, so I  just took it off when I brought it to my house. It belonged to either my mother or father’s parents.” (Melissa has it now in her home – it has since now gone to Stephen and Rose)

I said to Mama tonight that I told Melissa to play old songs at her wedding that some of her guests danced their first dance to. Then I asked Mama if she and Daddy had a song…”I don’t remember any special song. After we got married we went to a juke joint outside of Greensboro, I think it was called The Richland, and square danced. Willie Mae and Henry came and we danced all night.”

“Back in the old days, people held dances in their homes. I remember dances at my Granddaddy McKinley’s house near Slip Rock. Uncle J.W. McKinley, Uncle Walter McKinley and his wife, Aunt Marie  played and she sang. They also played in other people’s homes. I can still remember seeing them when I was a little girl. They moved all the furniture out of the dining room – they had big rooms in those old homes. They sang and square danced all night.”

When I asked if she ever heard “your in tall cotton now” … “I never heard my parents say it, but I’ve heard other people say it. It means you are doing good and making some good money. 

“One night at Moss Oaks Lounge, a woman came up to me and tried to play around. I quickly told her “it’s not my night for women.” I knew some of the men had put her up to it and they were sitting off to the side laughing away.”

“I remember one time telling your father, “it’s my life and I’ll throw it away if I want to.”  I said that at the club one night when I got mad at him.”

“I’ll never forget the night I spent at Aunt Annie and Uncle Lewis McKinley’s house and got really scared. As I lay there on the bed, I saw a coat hanging up and the shadow it made on the wall looked just like my Daddy’s profile. It scared me so much that I started crying and wanted to go home. The pine walls at our farmhouse had shapes of faces and animal look-a-likes – if you took a good look at them, especially at nighttime.”

“It seems like all my life people have made fun of me, like I was a nobody. Even in first grade my teacher, who I’ll never forget, made fun of me; her name was Mae West. I was talking to my friend Kendrick Lewis one day and as she walked by, she said to him, “can’t you find someone better than that to sit with than her?”  Willie Mae and I used to sing a song about her, “I’m Mae West and I’ll do my best.” We would sing it on the playground and twist around like her and then laugh; she never heard us though. She did try to walk and twist like the movie star Mae West.”

“I wore a hair net to school one day in the 7th grade that was given to me by my Aunt Mae. I had my hair all pretty and rolled underneath like a movie star. My teacher, Mrs. Smellings, made me take it off. I was so upset and hurt that she picked on me and made me take it off.  My friend, Kendrick Lewis, took up for me, saying “I think it looks good, why do you want to make her take it off.” It hurt me so bad. I don’t forget anything anyone has ever done to me.”

“The very first time I saw snow was when we were living in Perry. It was a bad storm with snow and lightning. There was so much lightning that you could even see it strike the poles and run down to the ground. Everything stopped – cars were abandoned all over the local roads and I-75. No one was on the roads. All the motels were filled and even local people offered rooms to strangers because they had no place to go and were stranded. Many trees broke from the wet snow and we all lost our electricity. I remember looking out the window and saying out loud, “I guess it’s the end of time.” You heard me and started crying and asked me if it was really true? You were only about 5 or 6 at that time; we had just recently moved to Perry. That was also the first time I’d ever seen snow in Georgia – I never saw any growing up on the farm.”

Read more conversations at: Conversations with Mama and more

To be continued…

© 2015 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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