Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #15

Conversations with Mama… and more ~ #15

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I love seeing how Mama wore the same type shoes I wore in growing up.

“Your father had pretty eyes – often referred to as bedroom eyes and you have eyes like your daddy. Melissa has eyes like me, round eyes. Allan used to say I had rabbit eyes – whatever that meant. Your father said my eyes could stare a hole in you. Allan’s son Clark would tell you “if Angel started looking at you with those eyes – look out, you were in trouble.” You can always tell how I feel about you from my eyes – they talk. Stephen has eyes more like you.”

As I mentioned some sites from the Heritage Book of Greene County Mama told me. “The gas station in Siloam where my father hung out belonged to David Conley. It was on the corner across from the McKinley General Store.  Jarrard’s was the store outside of town going toward White Plains.”

After waking mama up today, she said another of her one–liner yarns remembered. “Yea I’m gonna do wonders and eat cucumbers.” She didn’t remember where that came from either, she said it just popped out of her mouth one day  – and again today.

“I found a nice small double boiler today at FISH and picked it up, one of you might want it when you come down. I have a big pot in the dining room closet that I used to cook Brunswick Stew in when Allen was alive. His boys, Chad and Clark loved my stew. Don’t forget to look for them when you come down because if you don’t look around, I’ll never remember again to tell you. You know you can have anything in this house but my TV and my bed – everything else is almost up for grabs – but not my jewelry either. You can have all that when I’m dead. I told you I want you to put some of my jewelry in that black old lamp you have that has the open glass top – put my jewelry in there so you can see it and remember me. That lamp was given to me years ago when we lived in Union Point by an older woman.”

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Granddaddy Bryan’s Brunswick Stew paddle he made

In talking about Brunswick Stew, I told Mama that I wish I had a picture of Granddaddy Bryan actually stirring the old black cast-iron kettle he made the stew in. Charles Bryan gave Granddaddy’s paddle to Stephen a couple of years ago, but I still have it at my house. I’ll give it to him one day. She said “all we thought about was eating the stew, not taking any pictures of it. No one ever thought about taking pictures like they do today – and you do. Just like no one thought about saving things. We just lived our life.”

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Granddaddy McKinley’s cast iron kettle – My granddaddy Bryan always borrowed it to make his  Brunswick Stew in.

I have no memories of actually seeing Granddaddy Bryan making the stew. I can kind of remember seeing and smelling a saucepan of the Bar-b-que sauce Grandmamma Bryan used to make. It would be sitting on the back burner of the stove simmering. Mama said. “She always put real butter in it too – they only used real butter bought from a local farm. They didn’t want any artificial butter from the store. The only ingredients in their sauce was – butter, black and red pepper, salt and vinegar. That was all that was in there. Their sauce wasn’t red like Holcomb’s.”

“When I went to school in Siloam there was a small store not far from the school called Mr. Mooneyham’s. The owners lived next door to the store – it was a very tiny building, it sat just through the cotton field on the side of the school. We took turns crawling through the cotton field on our hands and knees to go and buy penny candy for everyone. It was a really small one-room store where he sold penny candy and a few odds and ends. While one person went, the others sat at the edge of the school yard to wait. The one day that it was my turn, I found our principal, Mr. Burke, waiting for me when I came back. He didn’t do anything to me, he just told us girls to not do that anymore. If it had been the boys caught they would probably have gotten paddled. One time Kendrick Lewis put a book in his pants before he got paddled and then he got in even more trouble. He was the doctors son and we were good friends.”

“After your father came home from the Navy he took classes in Greensboro at the high school and I ran into my old Algebra teacher Mr. Burke one night. I had you with me and you squirmed away and ran down the hall. Mr. Burke laughed and said, “there goes another you.”

“The next time you come down we’ll take another ride out to Bowden’s Pond where Daddy took the grain to the mill there; maybe we can see it through the woods then. When I went with daddy, the owner there always fixed a straight pin into a hook and I’d go sit on a rock by the pond and fish. Mr. Sanders owned the mill there.” (Bowden’s Pond Mill is on Bowden Road, just out from Siloam going toward Greensboro. The road is on the right, just before the older home with the very ornate front porch.)

  “I never remember seeing my father-in-law (Mr. Paul) get mad except for one time. He was looking for something and Mama Bryan was pestering him – he finally just dumped out the drawer he was looking in and everything fell on the floor and he walked out of the house. It tickled me and I had to leave the room because I had to laugh.”

It was snowing tonight again when I called Mama (March 2, 2010). “It just covered the ground out there today, but it’ll freeze up tonight. It’s quiet out on the road, must be icy; it was cold today.”

“At Senior Citizens today I ate with my new top teeth and they didn’t fall out – and I thought I’d never get them out when I came home. I had finally tried one of those adhesives and they were in like glue. They had brain power again today and the question was, “Does rocks grow?” I was the first one to answer correctly. I said “of course rocks don’t grow.” The woman running it said most people thought they did grow.”

After talking about rocks Mama began remembering about the Lime Rock Plant in Perry. “Outside of Perry was a place called the Lime Rock Plant. Daddy and I took you there once when you were small but you probably don’t remember. We’ll have to go there again when you come down sometime. I remember riding around on some dirt roads through there and picking up rocks and even some seashells. You could also find rocks that had plants or animal indentations in them, like fossils. I don’t know if it’s even open anymore, you’ll have to find out.”

“When we first moved to Perry your father and I would sit on the front porch in the evening and play red light and games with all you kids. But once he met up with the poker men in town, that all ended.”

“In the Bible it says before the end of time the seasons will change – maybe that’s why the South is experiencing the difference in climate and weather. At some point, it may be colder in the South than the North.”

“I’ve seen God in the clouds before – the shape of his face. If you lay down and watch the clouds go by, you’ll see everything in them. When I was small I liked to lay on the quilt and watch the shapes. You used to lay on a quilt and watch the clouds and find images in them. I also liked to lay a quilt on the ground in the evening and listen to my mama and daddy talk – never thinking about snakes or bugs that might crawl on me. It was always fun to listen to the adults talk about things.”

When I called tonight I told Mama (March 6, 2010) what a beautiful spring day it was here today. When I walked out of work, with my coat on my arm, it felt just like spring. I even came home to find Steve outside cleaning his car just like it was a summer day. Mama said.. “It was pretty here today, but it still felt cold to me. I went to the grocery store but I forgot the one thing I needed to make my cornbread with – buttermilk.” I told Mama to use a couple of teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice in a cup of milk and after sitting a few minutes it would turn into buttermilk. “I might try doing that as I really want some cornbread, but I’ve never heard of it before. I might make Johnny cakes instead of the cornbread. You just fry them up on a griddle pan. My mama used to make them a lot instead of cornbread. It’s the same type of mixture but you make them on the griddle like a pancake.”

“A man came down to the center today and he sang songs – all types of songs. He also was selling his music on CD’s. He tried to get me to sing part of a song with him – one of those songs where you actually only say part of the song with him. He brought the microphone right up to me so I had no choice but to say it.”

“I mailed you a package today (March 9, 2010) with something for everyone in there. It’s all separated into bags with their names written on them. I even have something for Steve, there is a jar of honey in the middle of the box. I got it from my friend Carolyn – they know someone who has bees and he gives them honey. I sure wish Rose could pop down here and see all the cute baby dresses that came to FISH. Some local store closed and donated all the clothes. They are so cute!!! I think I’ll go look through them one day. They were just starting to hang them up when I left today – they have boxes and boxes of them.”

“I only have two more days of therapy – today and tomorrow. There is one young girl out there who always talks about my clothes and jewelry and asks where do I buy them. I told her she could never find what I wear as I re-design all my clothes and jewelry and buy them mostly from the Senior Center for a quarter or down at FISH. Today I wore my white “go-go” boots from my days of bar-tendering at the Holiday Inn in Madison. That goes back to the 70’s – I’m surprised that I still have them. I need to get them re-soled. If it was raining I couldn’t wear them as my feet would probably get wet. (I told Mama not to ever throw them out – I want them. I’m going to look at them this summer when I go down in June. I can’t believe she still has them either)

“I’m going to yard sales soon when people start having them. I want to find some old jewelry so I can make new choker necklaces. I take everything apart and redesign to my liking. Everyone loves my jewelry – even the girls at the therapy center ask me where do I get my jewelry and my clothes – as you know I make everything to suit me. I don’t wear anything like anyone else. I have to be different, always have and always will.”

“Today me and Boo slept all day – wasn’t anything on TV to watch. I want to come back in my next life as a black cat, preferably a black panther. I’d like to climb up on buildings and jump down on people; I guess Boo will have to teach me how to snarl! What would people say if I dressed up as a black cat at nighttime and went walking around!”

“Did I tell you that Boo has a little friend? There is a little grey squirrel that comes up to the window in the bedroom; he sits outside the window on the ledge. There is a flower pot on a stand and he come up to sit and look in. Boo goes all to pieces – trying to climb up the window and crying. I don’t know what he thinks he could with that squirrel if he caught him.”

“Guess what I bought at FISH today? I bought several of those baby dresses I told you about the other day. They are so cute, I bought some in all different sizes – they were only seventy-five cents apiece and all still on the store hangers; they are all brand new.”

I reminded Mama about the drawings she is suppose to be doing for my book. I had asked her to buy a drawing pad and sketch pictures of Tara for my book – Behind the Wall with Kinley Rose. I’ve changed the name of my main character for Mama. She’s obsessed with that name and so wants Melissa to name her baby that if she has a girl. Melissa says, “Oh what pressure I’m under.” The name Kinley is Mama’s nickname that Willie Mae’s girls gave her and she really loves it and it has really grown on me and I’d love to have a granddaughter named Kinley to remind me of my McKinley roots..

“Today was my last day at the therapy center – the man tried to get me to stay on, saying he’d call my doctor. I told him NO, I’d had enough for now. He keeps saying he wants to work on straightening my back because I’m round-shouldered. I told him, “look I’m 80 years old and it took a long time for this back to get this way and you can’t straighten a bone.” He just laughed. I don’t really like that man who’s in charge out there. When he works on you, he is rough. Today when he was massaging my back and I was laying on my stomach I almost told him my titties (LOL) were hurting – wonder what he would have said then. But they were! I don’t like his rough massage. I like the younger boys to massage me, they are more gentile.”

Mama asked me about Rose today and said. “I don’t think Rose is ever going to have that baby. That reminds me of a joke I heard years ago. There was a woman who wanted to have a polite baby and the doctor told her to go home and rock while saying the words polite over and over again. Well, the woman went home and did just like the doctor said, but nothing ever happened. Later on she had to have surgery and the doctor found two little old men inside saying, “you go first, then the other one said, no you go first.”

I called Mama today to tell her she was a great-Angel now and yes Rose finally had Ella Maria on St. Patrick’s day – March 17, 2010 at 12:03 a.m.“Hurry up and send pictures, she  said.”

When I called Mama tonight, she said. “I almost bought another baby dress again today at FISH – it was so cute. It even had a little hat to match the dress and it was decorated with flowers. I really should have bought it, but I bought something else for you. I found you a large red suitcase and travel bag – it looks just like new. You don’t need to bring a second suitcase when you come in June.” When I told Mama about Ella’s closet, she said. “She’s just like me already with too many clothes.”

“I used cloth diapers on you when you were born, they didn’t have any disposal diapers back then and even if they did, I had no money to buy them. I remember emptying the messy diapers in the toilet and putting them in a bucket of bleach that I kept on the back porch. Mr. Henry English, who your father worked for, gave me a small round washing machine to wash them in. It was small, only about two feet high. It looked like an over-sized pressure cooker. You poured water in it and emptied it out afterward, but it had an electric motor in the top lid and there was also an agitator attached that moved the diapers around. After they washed I rinsed them out by hand. It was the cutest thing – I really wish I had kept it; I’ve never seen another one like it. I don’t remember what happened to it when we moved to Perry,  I guess it was left behind.”

“We had an old oak icebox when we lived in Union Point. I didn’t use it as I had an electric one. Your father brought it home from Mr. English’s store one day and kept it on the back porch to store his tools in. I wanted him to put it in my father’s smokehouse when we moved to Perry, but he never did so I guess we left it there too. If you had found that on the farm I’m sure you would have carried it back to CT.”

To be continued…

Want to read more…Conversations with Mama and more

© 2015 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco


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