Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #20

Conversations with Mama… and more ~ #20

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Mama – I’m thinking these are the steps of the City Hotel in Union Point

In talking to Mama tonight I mentioned how many people don’t even know what their parent’s lives were back then; they didn’t ask about their parent’s life and … “My daddy and mama used to tell me tales when I was young. Daddy told me that one time he was running through the woods from a mad dog and got his neck caught in grapevines. They got all twisted around him before he finally got loose. When I think about that now, he probably told me that to keep me out of the woods and make me afraid.”

“If I didn’t amuse myself as a child, I wasn’t amused. I used to take birds that my brother shot, like blue jays and put them in my hospital to take care of. I also remember picking plums and sticking a stick in them and calling them a sucker – we were poor.”

Steve and I watched a TV program about what shoes you wore as a kid and I asked mama tonight what I wore. “I don’t really remember what you wore except for those black and white bebop shoes you wore to school. I think you went barefoot a lot and wore flip flops maybe. I guess you had sneakers, but they don’t seem familiar to me. You got a lot of sandspurs in your foot in the summer so that tells me you were barefoot most days. You played Kick the Can on Friday nights, so you must have had some type of shoe on. I don’t remember wearing too many shoes myself except for those terribly ugly white nurse-type shoes I wore to the beauty shop and the slip-on ballerina type shoe I liked to wear. I don’t think I ever wore any type of tennis shoe. I was too fussy about shoes to probably wear them.”

In telling Mama about what I was knitting, she said… “I crocheted and knitted square blocks when I was young. Lena Credille taught me how and gave me the yarn – she also was the woman who delivered me with Dr. Lewis. She was a county nurse and delivered me on a homemade straw bed that my father made. I made the blocks for a community project that she had me involved in. Then someone else sewed them together and they were sent to the boys overseas. I remember learning to knit with string saved from things around the house. I probably had sticks I made into knitting needles. If I didn’t make them, then probably Daddy made them for me. He made everything we needed. I kept all these years the long sewing needle, he made from a piece of an umbrella, that he sewed his cotton sacks with. (Mama gave me that needle) I never could follow any directions in crochet or knitting – if you showed me the finished item, I could figure it out on my own, but I can’t follow written directions. My mother couldn’t either, but she could copy it by looking at it.”

Mama asked me if I had ever heard of the Woodsman of the World, it is a Mason organization. Then she said.. “I remember asking your father once, “why does the man sit up on the box with a crown on this head?” He just rolled his eyes. That was probably what I saw when I peeked in the window in Union Point at one of their Mason meetings. One time when we went to the beach in Florida, we were sitting on the beach and I noticed your father and the man sitting next to him doing something with their feet – maybe drawing in the sand or something, but it was like they were communicating. I watched silently and then I asked him later what was he doing with his feet?  He got really mad at me. I know that man must have been a Mason and they were signaling each other or something. He never liked me to question him.”

Mama was talking about her many clothes tonight and… “I dress like I want. I don’t dress like an old woman and never will; I’m funny about my clothes. My girlfriend, Willie Mae, liked to always make fun of my clothes and I’d tell her to not worry about it as I’m wearing it. She loved to make fun of me whenever I wore my white go-go boots, which I still have and will wear if I want to.”

Stephen told me of a dream he had where he and I and Angel went to look through Kenneth McKinley’s house – he couldn’t remember seeing Melissa but he thought she was with us. We had gotten permission to go and look through the house, after his death, and as we were walking up the stairs to the second floor, mama saw something and turned around and we all left. As we were leaving we saw the mailman delivering mail. Mama said, “I wish I knew what he saw in his dream, there’s probably still a lot of his mother, Ulma’s paintings there. She had a painting of a cut watermelon slice that I always liked.” (I told Mama that I’d like to go inside Ulma’s store in town when we go to Siloam, maybe if we see Charles McKinley he’ll let us go inside. I loved to go to her general store when I was small – she had everything in there.)

Mama told me tonight (Feb. 27, 2011)… “My daffodils are blooming and the narcissus, which are my favorites as they smell so good. If the weather keeps up I’m going to start working on my garden and get it ready so I can plant tomatoes when the weather is good. The apple and plum trees haven’t budded yet, but if they do and we get a cold snap I’ll lose them. (I told mama that I can’t see my yard yet as it’s still covered with snow)

I mentioned to Mama tonight that we ate breakfast pizza this morning and she asked what was that and …. “I might like that, maybe we could make it when you come down. It sounds like something I’d like. I’ll check at the grocery store to see if they sell plain pizza shells so we can make it.”

In talking about pizza toppings mama said… “My father also made sausage every year. People came down from as far away as Atlanta to buy his sausage and hams. We had a sausage grinder and daddy ground it into the casings. When he had a long enough length, he cut it off, tied it, and hung it in the smokehouse to cure. I can remember Mama sending me or Leroy to the smokehouse to bring in sausage to cook for breakfast.”

I asked Mama again about Bowden’s Mill as I’ve heard it called Sander’s Mill recently and she said. “Yes, it was called Sander’s Mill when daddy went because it was a Mr. Sanders who ran it. Mr. Sander’s wife was my daddy’s cousin. (Mr. Sanders married Aimie McKinley, one of Lawson McKinley’s sisters.) Mama often came with us and visited her while I went with daddy to the mill. I liked to sit next to the big wheel that pulled the water up and over and Mr. Sanders made me a hook on a string to fish with. I remember going on a date with Blunt Boswell once and we went down to the mill and sat on the big rock and dangled our feet in the water. It was probably my first date. I don’t know why we went to the mill, I probably suggested it as he had never been there.  I never took your father there that I can remember; we usually went to the movies where he sat and bit his fingernails. One time he tried to bite mine, but that was the last time. He finally stopped that bad habit, but you were and still are a nail biter. Better not let Ella see you do that. Your father and I dated while I was in high school and we wrote each other many letters. I didn’t date much. I do remember also going out with a man in his twenties that worked for the Louisiana Coffee Company. I was about 16, we went to the fair, but I didn’t like him. I was writing to your father at the time too.”

Mama said about Ella:

“She’ll be so damned rotten when ya’ll get through with her she’ll smell!”

I don’t know how we got on the subject of hunting, but… “When Frank comes down I’ll have to take him snipe hunting. Do you think he knows what that is? I could take him out to Carolyn and Johnny’s and have Johnny take him down in the woods and leave him there to wait for the snipes.” (Mama got really silly about planning to take Frank snipe hunting.)

“I found some little black cast-iron figurines today at FISH and bought them – maybe Melissa will want them. They were so cute. They are of a boy and girl and look like you could set something in their hands – they needed a home.”

As I told mama about Lynn Bryan Kitchens going out to the Beaver Creek Mill / Sanders’s Mill to take pictures for me she said. “I can remember going there with my daddy just like yesterday – I was around six years old when I first went. There were flat rocks in the middle of the stream where you walked right across on them; usually only about an inch or so of water running over your bare feet as you walked across. If it was lower, then you could just sit on the flat rocks. I rode with daddy in the wagon when he took his wheat and corn to the mill for grinding. Mr. Sander’s house sat nearby on a hill and that’s where we would leave mama while we went to the mill; she enjoyed visiting with Mrs. Sander’s. The road to the mill was only a dirt road when I went with daddy. The picture of the two structures you sent looks like what I remember it looking as. That’s the front of the mill where we would have pulled up in the horse and wagon. Behind those buildings were the actual mill with the water wheel. (I told her that Lynn had told me that you could see the rotting of the inside floors and the mill is falling apart.)

In talking about moonshine, mama said. “I remember times when Uncle Charlie, Aunt Emma’s husband, came down to visit. He’d go up to the barn and come back to the house with his eyes looking funny. The whiskey that daddy had bought to resell must have been hiding up there. Sometimes men would come in the middle of the night looking to buy liquor, it would make mama so mad. That’s why daddy had money – he knew how to wheel and deal to make extra money on the side. He wouldn’t sell any homemade moonshine, he only sold bonded whiskey. He called the other “catgut” and wouldn’t sell anything like that as it could kill you if you got ahold of a bad batch. The law never found it when they came around looking – they knew he sold it. There were plenty of men who sold whiskey that they bought in wet counties – Greene County was a dry county and you couldn’t buy it legally there – you had to go to another county to purchase it. Whenever daddy visited his brother in Milledgeville, he’d always buy extra whiskey to bring home to resell. I can still remember how upset mama would get whenever the law came – she’d cry and wring her hands saying he was going to be locked up, but they searched and searched and never once did they ever find his hiding place!”

To be continued… For more Conversations, click Here

© 2015 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco









About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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