Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #23


Conversations with Mama… and more ~ #23

Bryan family_0002 (800x580)

Mama, daddy and me…

Tonight when I called mama she told me…” Did I tell you that a woman stopped this week and wanted to know if she could photograph my flowers for the newspaper? I think she belongs to the Monroe Garden Club, but I can’t remember now what she said; you know me – it goes in one ear and immediately out the other. All my Chrysanthemums are in full bloom and my yard is colored in layers with them. I don’t know if she was sending someone out to take pictures but if it ever gets in the paper I’m sure someone will tell me. She also wanted to know if I’d like to join their garden club. I told her no thank you, I just like to come home and piddle around in my own garden and don’t like belonging to any organization. I offered her a bouquet of flowers to take with her when she left.”

When Mama answered the phone, I asked her what are you doing, and… “ I’ve just laid in the bed all day. It’s been raining and thundering with tornado watches all day. My house inside sure looks like a tornado hit, I think her name was Helen.”

Another Mama saying:

“She’ll be here killing piss-ants long after we’re all gone —

she’s too mean to die!”

In talking to Mama tonight about the picture of Anne Amos that was on her birthday invitation, I asked who was the photographer that lived across the street from Granddaddy Paul in Union Point. “ That was Tom Bradberry, he took all those pictures of us sitting in poses in our yard. He lived in the small house across from your grandparents. It was a really small house next to his mother’s house. Tom worked at the mill but he loved taking pictures and I think he must have developed all them too as I don’t remember getting them anywhere except from him. He always had a camera in his hands; he was kinda funny and I think a little different but loved taking pictures. I remember him saying, “ just spread your legs and I’ll sho’ take your picture.” If it hadn’t been for him there would be a lot of pictures we wouldn’t have of us as I didn’t have a camera. I have one of me standing on my head; I was good at that. My father could stand on his head too and I remember him doing it; I wish I had that picture now.” 

I called Mama after the baby reveal party (Nov. 4, 2011) at Melissa’s, and …. “I knew it was you calling, I just hung up with Melissa. “It’s a girl!”  I just knew it was a girl and her name is McKinley, but I’m calling her Kinley; she’s part of me, she’s going to have auburn hair and be so pretty and I can’t wait for her to get here. I can’t wait to meet McKinley Lee Gillon. My father would be so proud to know Melissa named her with his name.”

When I called Mama tonight riddles came up and she quickly reminded me about ones she’d heard over the years. “My father told me this riddle when I was a little girl and I have told it to many, but they never get it. I tried to explain the answer to them, but they usually end up saying, yea ok. “A man goes to the jail to visit another man. He tells the jailer,” if you can answer this riddle will you let the man go free? The riddle is “brothers and sisters I have none, but this man’s father is my fathers son!” (The answer is – the man in jail is the son of the man coming to visit.) Here’s another riddle I’ve known for years – “12 men riding by, 12 pears hanging high, each took a pear and left 11 hanging, how was that? (Answer: A man named Each took 1 pair, so 11 were left)

I called Mama today, May 9, 2012, to tell her that McKinley arrived at 6:30 a.m. this morning. She weighs 8lbs, 9oz. and is 21 inches long – and she has red hair like her mommy! “I can’t wait to tell everyone at the center this morning – send me pictures.”

In talking to Mama, (April 2012) she mentioned…”I have many roses blooming here, but the one color I don’t have is a white rose. I remember mama having the prettiest white roses by the driveway. Someone had given it to her. I would still have it now here but it died off. I found the prettiest rose on that bush the morning I buried Monica. I took it and put with my baby in her casket that morning. You need to come down in April sometime and see how pretty my yard is. That woman still stops by wanting to show my yard to her flower club. Someone at the center must have heard about it as they have been asking me when they are coming?”

In talking to Mama, she said…”I dreamed about your father the other night and Mama Bryan was there. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and just happened to run up on him. I haven’t dreamed about him in I don’t know when. Before I had you I dreamed about a pregnancy test and that it was positive. I woke up, remembered it, and decided to take the test and I was pregnant with you! I often dream about my mama and daddy and the farm. Maybe he’s trying to tell me something. The one thing he always told me was, take care of the land and it will take care of you. I did take care of it until I sold it, and it still continues to take care of me.” (Mama’s dream of daddy made me remember that I often dream about being in Georgia but I can never find or see him – and he’s still living in the trailer. I remember this memory now of trying to find his phone number, and having a hard time finding it, then I find it and call, he isn’t there or I try and find him in Perry at Moss Oaks Lounge, but I don’t see his car. Sometimes in the dream I finally get him on the phone and cry and ask why he won’t come see me and beg him to come see me. I remembered this after Mama told me she dreamed about him. I think I have these dreams quite a bit, it’s depressing)

Mama called me June 17th – and said…”Why didn’t you call and tell me Steve and Rose are having twins!” (Steve and Rose told us over Pizza at Zuppardi’s on June 15th. Ella came in wearing a shirt saying “Big Sister”)

While mama visited in Oct. (2012) she told me…” Dr. Middlebrooks, who delivered you (me) told me later that he had to stop delivering babies in the county because all he got was a bag of potatoes and a chicken!”

I called Mama tonight to tell her (Nov. 25, 2012) that McKinley stood up by herself for the first time. She struggled to get those little fingers over the top of the play-yard. She hardly crawls but wants to walk. “McKinley is like me, she’s got places to go and people to see.”

“People come from Atlanta just to buy Barbeque Stew and BBQ from Holcomb’s. An old colored man taught them how to make it many years ago when they started it in the 70’s. He taught them but it doesn’t taste as good as it did when he was the only one making it. Allen and I used to stop there around midnight as we came by from the club. He’d be there by himself cooking and he’d make us a plate and we gave him money.”

In looking at a picture of the oak spool cabinet in my  living room she said… “ I had forgotten about that. That came from Mr. Johnny Jackson’s general store in Siloam. It was a cabinet that thread came in; I believe the name of Coats & Clark thread was written on it, but can’t remember exactly if it was on the front or inside the drawers. I was very proud when I got the writing off! I guess it’d be worth more now if I had left the name on.”

I called Mama to tell her the twins arrived (Jan. 14, 2013). She quickly asked “were they ok and what were their names?” I told her Ana Sophia and Nina Rose, and they’re beautiful! “Send me pictures, can’t wait to show them off at the center!”

(Recently there was a picture of a group of women inside the hosiery mill in Union Point, I first thought one was Mama Bryan, but it’s been confirmed it wasn’t. But in talking to Jennie Bryan Miller and her father, Charles Bryan, they did write about what my grandparents did in the mill. “Daddy said Aunt Evelyn isn’t in the picture, she retired in the 50’s. Uncle Paul (my grandfather) went to work there in the 30’s and worked in the yarn mill running card machines that carded the cotton. He was a mechanic on the machines. Daddy thinks he retired around 1969/1970. The only job he ever had in the mill was in the yarn department working on the machines. At one time Aunt Evelyn was a hand transfer knitter. They made the tops on one machine, then put that top on a round brass ring with points on it, then they put that ring down in another machine to finish making the sock. The machines were made in Pawtucket, Rhode Island by the Reading Knitting Machine Company. As far as he knows all the records were destroyed when the mill closed due to private information in them. There may be one of the old machines in the Union Point museum located in the old school on Veasey Street.)

I called Mama tonight to wish her a Happy Birthday and see if my chocolate arrived – it didn’t (April 6, 2013)! In talking, Mama said… Remember when you and Linda Sue used to come up to the farm to visit. You girls liked to go riding around Greensboro; you met up with some boys one night who wanted to date you, but after finding out who they were, you told him I think you’re a cousin! You girls also liked to walk back in the fields, on what I called the back forty. In these times now, I never would have let you go back there and wander around by yourselves. One day ya’ll came back with a bunch of old bones, probably from a cow. You wanted to take them home but I wouldn’t let you.”

Do you remember the time you had a real Stop sign under your bed when we lived in Perry? I don’t know how you got it, but I remember you coming home with it one night and you kept it hid under your bed.” (I do remember that and vaguely remember stealing it)

I told Mama what Carroll Underwood told me about Fox Hunting with Granddaddy.. “Now and then the dogs might run a gray fox into a hole in the ground or into a hollow log. As far as I can remember the men let them bray at the varmit for awhile, then called them off and went home. Sometimes they had to put chains on the dogs collars to pull them off. I remember going fox hunting once or twice with my father in Greene County.”

In talking about Jernigan Bridge in between Siloam and Greensboro, I told Mama what some of my friends on Facebook told me.

Laurie L. Walters: Go out Veasey Road and there used to be an old country store that was there, last time I was out that way, many years ago. That is where you turn left. The bridge is now a non-descript concrete bridge. The rock (much smaller an area than I remember) is all grown up. I didn’t venture to the water hole we used to swing into from a rope. I did try to look under the bridge for the spillway, but didn’t see any evidence of it and the water hole was shallow. Sometimes you just can’t go home again. Our family had many picnics on that large flat rock and we swam there often.

Lanelle Underwood LaRue: You can go down Syrup Mill Crossing road where your mom grew up, go on through Syrup Mill Crossing and you will pass right by where I grew up on the left. Continue on this road to the next crossroad, which is Mosquito Crossing. There is a building there that used to be the Batson’s store, but is now used by a hunting group. Take a left and go about 3 miles until you come to where the store is Laurie is talking about. Take a left and go out that road. Don’t remember how far it is but you will cross the concrete bridge. If you continue on this road, I think it dead ends into another road where if you take a left, it will take you to White Plains, on past Holcombs BBQ and then into Siloam.

I just downloaded Google Earth and keyed in Jernigan’s Bridge. The road it’s on is called Jernigan Bridge Road, White Plains. With Google Earth I can put in sites like Veazey or Mosquito Crossing, pick the marker I wanted to use and it would name it and place the marker on the map. As my son once told someone who asked him how to get around down here, he said, “if you just keep taking a right you will end up pretty much where you started at.” It is hard to get lost in the country.”

To be continued…

© 2015 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco


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