Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #21

Conversations with Mama… and more ~ #21

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Mama sitting on the dirt road leading to the farm

I called mama (March 19, 2011) to tell her that tonight would be the biggest full moon in over twenty years and… “ No wonder I’ve been acting foolish today – a full moon means you act like a fool.”

In telling Mama about what I saw on TV today about beet juice and how good they said it was for your mind as it increases blood flow to the frontal of your brain she said… “I hate beets, but I guess if they are that good for you I’ll have to start forcing myself to eat them when they’re served down at the center. I’ve never seen any beet juice sold in the store and will have to look next time – if I remember! I love to eat pomegranates and they are suppose to be very good for you also. When my pomegranate tree in the back yard gets bigger I’ll need to get a juicer – the juice in the store is very expensive to buy. I had two pomegranates from my tree last summer. The tree is back behind the fig tree – it’s only about up to my knees now. A lady from the center gave me a couple of trees, she said they come up under her trees all the time. I gave you one, but I guess it never lived up there. I’ll have to look for Jennie Lou and maybe I  can get some for you to take home this year. You’ll probably have to keep them inside in the winter as I don’t think they weather over up there.

In watching Martha Stewart today, she talked about making brooms and mentioned broom-corn and I asked mama. “I never heard of broom-corn, you’ll have to look it up on the internet. (Broom-corn is actually from the grass family and it’s grown to make brooms) Daddy used to cut down the grasses in the late fall for mama to make brooms with. It usually grew near swampy areas back in the woods. They called it sagebrush, but it was probably the same as the broomcorn you mentioned. My mama combed the blooms off, dried it and then made her brooms. She knew exactly how to wrap the top tightly with cord, as if you didn’t tie them tight enough, they’d come loose and you couldn’t sweep. Those brooms were only used to sweep inside the house. There were different ones she made for the outside as we had a dirt yard, there was no grass to cut – no one had lawn mowers – they didn’t want grass in their yard. The outside brooms were made from young dog wood trees because they had many bushy limbs that were all close together. Sometimes mama tried to make me sweep, but I didn’t like to. I’d rather run off, find a quiet place and read one of my romance books. I remember mama loving to sweep, and after her mind went she swept all the time – we’d be trying to watch TV and she would be in front of the TV sweeping the floor.”

“I remember one time when mama made me wash all the socks outside in the tin tub with a small wash board, I could just see Melissa doing that now. If people now had to try and live like we did back then, they’d all run away and say they can’t do it. It made you a better person to live and take care of yourself back then vs. today’s lifestyles.”

“One of my chores was to wash my daddy’s feet every night when he came in from the fields. I never minded doing that either. He’d sit on the back granite steps and I’d have the water all warm and ready. I’d take off his shoes and wash his feet. I also liked to brush his hair when I was small – he used to always say that he didn’t have much hair later on because I brushed it all off. You brushed his hair once when you were small then you popped him in the head with the brush – that was the last time he let you brush his hair.”

“Mr. C.C. Wills taught me geometry, everyone got 100 in his class. The year I graduated Mr. Wills was principal. One day on the bus I sang “John, Jacob, Jingle Hiner Smith all the way to school, with each verse getting louder and louder. I did that because the bus driver wouldn’t make the boys let up the windows and all the girls were getting wet and our hair ruined. As soon as we arrived at school, I was sent to the office. When I told Mr. Wills what I did and that I was Leroy’s sister, he handed me 10 cents to go get a Coke and sit down for awhile. Once he heard Leroy’s name, he knew I was Edgar McKinleys’ daughter. He was the one who had pushed for my brother to be drafted into the Army out of school – and he was the one my daddy punched in the nose when word came that Leroy had been killed.”

After reading through the new reminisce magazine today I asked mama about the story I read where the readers remembered their mother’s giving them to play with when they were sick, and… “I don’t really remember giving you anything special to play with. I do remember that when you were home sick with the measles I let you go and play out in the backyard during the day. I guess I gave you Campbell chicken noodle soup to eat when you were sick as that was your favorite soup.  I remember my mother letting me play with my china tea set that Aunt Lena gave me when I was small. I never broke any of the pieces except for a couple and now you have it in your china closet. I never liked that Mama saved it as a special toy to play with – I wanted to use it, not save it like she did. I also had a doll that Aunt Lena gave me – Leroy shot her eyes out with his BB gun. I could just never understand why Mama wouldn’t let me play with the things that had been given to me. I can’t see saving them when the kids are so small.”

In talking about the woman that daddy married before he died, mama said…”I could never understand why he married her, couldn’t have been for her looks as she looked like she fell out of a tree and hit every limb on the way down.”

I told Mama tonight that I heard from another person who read my editorial in the Greensboro paper; she was the granddaughter of James Sanders, who owned the mill. “I always enjoyed going to the mill with my father, riding in the wagon, and then fishing at the mill while daddy had his corn or wheat ground into meal. Those were fun times.”

“Often my father’s sister, Lena came and stayed two weeks with us in the summer. She and daddy didn’t get along well, or at least it seemed that way to me. She pretty much raised him from a baby as his mother died when he was about three. They fussed all the time and she’d call him a “corn-bred lawyer” and he’d tell her that she was so mean that she’d still be killing piss ants up and down the road long after they had all died.”

Another mama saying: “You were born to die.”

In talking about the farm.. “Do you remember how possessive Stephen was about me with Chad and Clark. I still remember the first time he heard them call me Angel and he told them, “she’s not your Angel, she’s my Angel.” He got really mad about that; I guess he was about three at that time.”

“My friends in Perry liked when I brought my father out to the club. He’d sit at the bar and they would buy him drinks as he told them he liked to drink. They got him really drunk one night and they had to put him in the car for me to take home. He enjoyed his nights out there and talking to them. One time while sitting on the stool smoking his cigarette a man said, I don’t like smelling that smoke. He just turned around to him and blew the smoke right in his face.”

I called mama to tell her that I think her middle name of Rebecca came come from Rebecca A. Mapp – her great-grandmother. I recently found the name of the mother of Maggie Hillsman Askew (mother of Ola Askew McKinley). “Maybe my mother knew or had heard of her grandmother and that’s how I got the middle name of Rebecca – you never know. I remember a Meadows woman that used to come and visit with Aunt Liza (mama’s sister) and Uncle Villa Marchman. They lived in White Plains, but the house isn’t there anymore. It was a big house with a large porch wrapped around. I sometimes wish I could go to sleep and wake up and have the horse and buggy and be back on the farm. I’d like to really go back with my brain now.”

“The day we found out Leroy died was the day we were in Greensboro picking up Aunt Lena at the train station. She came every summer and spent two weeks with us.”

In talking about God and baptizing, Mama said. “Only God can judge me, not others, and I’ll tell them so. It seems like the more people profess to be a Christian, the more they want to judge you if you aren’t like them. I don’t think that’s very Christian like. We didn’t baptize you – when you were older you wanted to be baptized in the Methodist Church. I don’t believe that you have to sit in church every Sunday to talk to God. I can talk to God in my house. In the Bible it says you are closest to God in your garden, so I guess I’m close to God quite often as I  spend most of my time in the garden.”

Lately every time I ask Mama what she had for supper, she says… “ I ate some turnip greens. Since I’m off the coumadin, I’m getting my fill of greens. I missed them while I took that drug, as I could only eat 1/2 cup a day. If I can only have that small amount I’d rather not have any, so I didn’t eat any. Now I’m making up for all the years I missed.”

More of Mama’s favorite sayings:

Don’t start anything you can’t finish!

I say what I want – drunk or sober!

Mama called me tonight and told me that is was boiling hot down there (June 3, 2011). She said she wished she had a piece of watermelon and then… “My daddy had a large watermelon patch, it was by the road near the house. I remember him always turning the vines as they grew – I never knew why but I used to help him walk through the patch and turn the vines the opposite way they were growing. We never cut and ate watermelon like you do today – he actually only grew them for the pigs. He had a lot of pigs as he made hams, sausage and many other things from them when they were killed in the fall. Daddy like pork, we very seldom every had beef as he would have had to buy it. Our cows were only for milking. When we wanted a melon, on a hot day, Leroy and I would grab one out of the large pen daddy piled them in, by the pig pen, and bust it open and eat only the heart, which was always the best part of the melon. Then we’d throw the rest over to the pigs. My cousin, Betty Kelley grew good melons in her garden but I’ve never been able to grow them. I started some vines the other year and I had one melon growing and when I picked it out of the garden, it was all rotten on the bottom. I had been turning it like I was told, but it rotted anyway.”

I told mama about Ella eating macaroni today and now that she’s eating, she’s drinking less bottles and… “ I remember saying to you one day, “do you want me to buy you something really pretty? Then throw out your bottle. You threw it right out the car window as  I was driving; you were already way past when you should have given it up.”

“While at fish today I saw the cutest tennis shoes, but I didn’t know what size Ella  wears. One pair lit up as you walked. Don’t bring any toys when you come, I have boxes under the couch full of toys for her, she won’t know what to play with first. I have a brand new little piano that she can take home. I bought the cutest pocketbook for Rose the other day – it has red roosters on it. I took it down to the center and everyone had a fit over it. I have a butterfly necklace for Melissa, if she wants it.”

To be continued…

© 2015 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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