Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #22

Conversations with Mama…and more ~ #22

Helen new_0009 (378x431)

I wonder who’s car Mama was posing in front of?

“I’ve been in the house all day moving things around. Now I’m laying in the bed looking at all my clothes laying all around! And I’m not wanting to get up and fix them. I love my clothes and I have plenty of them, not like when I was growing up.” I asked Mama if she wanted me to call the Hoarder Show to come and clean up her house. “They aren’t taking my clothes away!”

“Did I ever tell you that Boo likes ice! He wants me to give him a piece of ice in a cup and he’ll lick and lick until its all gone. He follows me to the fridge and meows until I open the freezer and give him an ice cube! What a spoiled cat…”

While telling mama about Ella’s diaper rash and we can’t seem to clear it up, she said.. “Black babies were usually healthy than white babies years ago because they didn’t wear any clothes or diapers when they were young, don’t you remember when you’d go up to the tenant house on the farm and all the little ones would be running around with no clothes on. You came home and told me and asked why they didn’t wear any clothes. If you went there around dinnertime you’d see all their black bottoms sitting on the benches at the table with not a stitch on. By not wearing diapers that much, they didn’t get rashes.”

“Sometimes I like to watch this show about ghost hunters. If anybody could come back as a ghost it would be my father. He loved the farm so much, that he never wanted to leave it. If an object can be a ghost, then I believe that this round rug in my bedroom is one and likes to torment me. Maybe it’s Allen as a ghost and he came back to haunt me. I keep it laying over another rug and pulled up toward my bed, but I find it constantly pulled further down toward the space heater. I just pulled it up before I left today and found it right back down when I came home. No matter where I put it, it’s always back down by the heater. I started to take a nail and hammer it right in the middle of the rug to keep it put. I sat a stool on it the other day and the stool went right along down with the rug. I bought it at FISH, maybe it’s trying to get out of the house and go back to FISH.”

In talking about flowers… “Most all black people love flowers, but my new neighbors told me they don’t like them. I told the woman that if she wanted any flowers for her yard to come over and I’d give them to her, but she told me she didn’t like them. That’s unusual.”

“I cut the neighbor girl’s hair today and told her not to throw it out as the birds will make a nest with it and then you’ll get a headache or if somebody gets a hold of it they could put a spell on you or trick you; they said you had to put the hair in a brown bag so no one would see it and throw it in the trash. She just looked at me. I remember the old black women telling me these tales. When they came to work on the days that Daddy killed the hogs,  I followed them around and they told me old tales and I’ve never forgot them. I can forget where I just laid my keys, but I never forget my old memories. They told me that if you have a headache, take a canna lily leaf and hold it on your head with a bandana. That would rid you of your headache.”

 I told Mama about Ella standing on her head today and… “ I used to always stand on my head and your granddaddy McKinley could do it too. One day at Aunt Chris’s, I stood on my head and he said I can do that too, and he stood on his head. Too bad nobody had a camera for that picture – you have pictures of me standing on my head.”

“It is so hot here this summer – people used to say that mean people sweat on their nose, so I guess I am mean. Most people seem to think so. I never used to sweat but I do now. My daddy didn’t really sweat. He’d pour a bucket of well water over him before he went to the field to keep cool.”

Another Mama saying:

“ You’ll be sitting under the Xmas tree with a straw hat on –

which means you’ll be left with nothing.”

Mama called today (8/5/2011) and… “It’s so hot down here that I feel like I’m burning up a little more each day. I can walk out of the house and I’m totally soaked right away. I don’t ever remember it being this hot in the past. It says in the Bible that the sun will get closer to the earth each year until it burns it up. Well it doesn’t seem to have much longer before that happens.”

I began telling mama how Ella is learning to get on and off her Mickey Mouse scooter. How all of a sudden I saw her pick her leg up and over and sat straddling it. Steve had been teaching her how to get on and all of a sudden, by herself, she just did it. As I looked at her, I said, “ok Missy, now how are you going to get off?” About that time she tried to get her other leg over the seat, but instead she leaned down and put her hand on the floor and just fell off – and laughed and laughed as she rolled over. She thought it was the funniest thing in the world – and got up to do it over and over again, still laughing each time. Mama said, “ she’s just like Stephen, he laughed at everything, always has and always will! I can’t wait to see what she does with all the toys I have for her here. I told Mama how she likes to carry my shoes around and.. “ She can tote all the shoes I’ve bought her. She’ll love the back room with all my shoes. She can have everything – just not my jewelry. But I told you what I want when I die. I don’t want any of my jewelry sold or thrown away. Take it all and put it in a jar for the grandchildren to play dress-up with. I’ll haunt you for sure if you throw it out!

I mentioned Whit’s Grill to Mama and… “ They had everything there, legal and illegal. I liked Whit and his wife. Sometimes his wife would take me and Willie in the back room and show us the sex stuff they sold there. They had a big doll, the kind the truckers would buy. She was called Judy. When I worked at the Holiday Inn as a bartender and overheard the men talking about looking for a woman, I’d tell them they could go get Judy at Whit’s – then I’d fall over on the bar laughing.”

             “ I can’t find anything lately when I want it. To find anything I need to take out a search warrant in order to find it.”

“Did I ever tell you about the time Willie and I took off for Florida after work? We were both working at the Holiday Inn in Madison and had been talking all night about how we wanted to go to the beach. After we got off after midnight, we just headed to Florida – we got lost but eventually found our way. Willie and I stayed about two days at a place owned by her uncle. After we loaded the car to come back home, I accidentally locked my keys in the trunk. She had her car keys for her own car in her purse, so we tried them – one of her keys actually opened the trunk and I got my purse out. Her uncle stood there shaking his head as he couldn’t believe that another make and model car key opened my trunk. I drove back home wearing just my bathing suit and we laughed all the way about her key opening my car trunk. (Sounds like a Thelma and Louise trip!)

Mama dropped something on her toes last week leaving them bruised and sore, when I asked about her foot tonight, she said. “Years ago Betty, Allen’s sister, blamed me for hurting her foot while looking for me. Allen and I had been at the bar uptown in Monroe with his sister and her husband. They were all pretty drunk that night, as usual. I didn’t want to stay with them anymore so I just left. I ran all the way home to the house as it was late, and I was afraid to walk, so I ran to get home faster. By the time I changed into my pajamas and was watching TV, in they all walked – asking me where had I went and that they had  been looking for me. Then Betty told me she fell in a hole as she walked around. I told them that I didn’t want to stay there with them all drinking and I had just taken myself home. I know Allen was madder than a wet hen at me about that, but I didn’t care.”

One day while in GA. Frank said, “if this baby is a girl, I don’t know if I can every come back to Georgia and travel with four very opinionated Bryan women – and survive! Mama laughs about him saying that and ….” Frank was funny when he said that, and I bet he will be back with us 4 Bryan women in Georgia next time too. I keep telling him that baby is going to be a girl and her name is going to be Kinley.” (Oct. 2011)

In talking (Nov. 2011) about Melissa being pregnant Mama began … “ I just know that little baby is going to be a girl, and her name is going to be McKinley or Kinley, I don’t care as long as the Kinley is in there. I told Frank that, and he better have been listening. I’ll give them a bonus if that’s her name. It’s so different with babies now than when I was small. I remember the babies born on Daddy’s farm to the tenants. They used to keep them all covered, you’d want to see the baby and they’d have to lift a few blankets or sheets off the baby. You’d think they would have smothered. I do remember one little baby that died on the farm. The baby was the grandchild of Aunt Lou, who wrote the poems. No Doctor ever came, daddy built the wood coffin and they buried the baby somewhere on the back part of the farm. They kept their faces covered because they said the light would hurt their eyes. Did I ever tell you that Aunt Lou’s real name was Luzianne?”

I read the other day that a good genealogist is always asking “why.” Every time I start questioning Mama on anything, she tells me.. “ You love to question me on everything, and you have all your life.”

I told Mama about how Ella sits quiet and listens when I tell her the little verse – “There was a little girl who had a curl right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.” She sits and seems to know exactly what I’m saying and when I get to the part of being horrid, I tickle her and it’s like she is waiting for that and burst out giggling. I used to do that to Melissa when she was small. Mama said…” That little verse was one that Mr. Burke, my High School teacher in Siloam used to tell me, and I often said it to you.” Now I’ve passed it to Melissa, Ella and soon a new granddaughter in April of 2012.”

While telling mama about the playhouse we bought (Nov. 2011) for Ella for next summer, she told me…” I built you two playhouses. The first one was built from scratch while living in Union Point. I got the wood from the sawmill in town for free and I built it – while Granddaddy Paul often watched. I think he was amazed that I knew what I was doing; I didn’t want any help. It had a door, windows, shelves and I sewed curtains for the windows. The playhouse in Perry was made from a huge crate your father brought home from the base. I cut windows and a door, painted it brown and made curtains.” (I remember that house very well, but I really don’t remember the one in Union Point.)

“I didn’t shop often in grocery stores for vegetables but when I did I shop, it was in the one by Lawhorn’s Music – it was just down the block from where I worked at the beauty shop. There was a Perry Super Foods around the corner, across from Perry Muse Theater, but this one was more convenient.”

“I also built a brick grill in the yard at our Union Point home, complete with a chimney. I saw them in magazines and other peoples yard and I wanted one. After I figured it all out in my head, I began collecting bricks from everywhere I went. Mr. English, owner of the appliance store where your father worked, gave me grill racks from old appliances. I mixed up the sand mortar and put it all together with my bare hands; Mr. Paul kept telling me that the mortar was going to hurt my hands but I never listened, I  just kept working. I don’t remember really cooking on it, but I did make a fire and remember the smoke coming up out of the chimney; I guess your father cooked on it, he was the grill person. When I started a project I wanted it finished, I didn’t like it sitting around – I wanted to quickly see the finished result, that’s why when I sewed you a dress, I’d sit up all night and have it pressed and ready for you in the morning. It was me, a cup of coffee and a cigarette at the sewing machine all night.”

“Another thing I built there in Union Point was a birdbath out of cement, seashells and a tin basin for the top. I was really proud of that birdbath and got a lot of compliments on it. I could build almost anything I could think of in my head. (I do remember seeing that birdbath)”

To be continued…

© 2015 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco


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