Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #30

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #30

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Mama and me at our first house on Binns St. in Union Point. There is the Ola Lily I talk about in my stories. Check out the clothes line! I love finding clothes hung out in the old photographs. Mama decided one day, that in order for the photos to fit in an album, she needed to cut them! That’s why you’ll find many of my photos cut! I love this photo of mama!!!

April 2, 2016: Mama just came in from working in the garden tonight when I called… “I have never seen such vegetation in my life as what’s in my gardens. Why my yard, it’s not in anyone else’s yard. You should see what all I piled high by the road – it’s as high as my head. All I know is they better pick it up or I’ll push it out in the road and then they’ll see it! They seem to like to ignore my garbage and trash. I’ve always been the one to clean the yards, even when I was married to your father – he didn’t cut the grass – I did! He never had any interest in planting anything except one time in Perry, when he planted some Azalea’s by the back cement patio on Hillcrest Ave. – even my father said, “what’s up with Clayton?” I’ve always planted flowers wherever we lived – and I’ve always had Ola Lillies at every house we lived. I had them in the yard in Union Point and by the back door on Smoak Ave.- it was a really big one. They are all around my house here. I remember planting Petunia’s, Zinnia’s and Marigolds all around our house on Smoak Avenue in Perry, although one of my favorites is Sweet Williams.”

“I remember far back when I was little and lived in the log cabin where I was born. The attic there fascinated me and any chance I got – I went up there to explore. I can still see what was up there – old car parts, lots of books and I know I lost lots of mama’s thimbles up there playing a game called “hide the thimble.” Some of the books had Leroy and Uncle J. W.’s name written inside. I loved to be up there looking down below until someone discovered me. I guess daddy or someone must have put those old car parts there, but i don’t think we had a car then, just a wagon.”

“One time Aunt Annie (my mama’s sister) gave me an old pair of high heels – her foot was small and they fit me perfect for dress up. I put on those heels and took off down the dirt road over to granddaddy’s house; whenever I got near the dip in the road, I ran like the devil was chasing me. I don’t know why I was always scared in that specific area of the road, but I was. some of the older uncles must have told me scary tales. Aunt Annie (Askew), who was my mama’s sister, married one of my daddy’s brothers – Lewis McKinley.”

“Daddy kept his cotton dry up on the porch of the log cabin until he took it to the mill to be baled. I don’t know why I remember that, but I can still see all that cotton piled high up on the porch. He had no barn there at the cabin, but when we moved to the farmhouse, he kept the loose cotton up in the barns. One was already there, built by the government, daddy built the second one”

April 8, 2016: As we drove to Greensboro today, mama talked about all the pine trees along the road… “They say when you plant a Christmas tree and it gets tall enough to cover your grave in the shade  – you die. My brother, Leroy, planted one for mama – we could see it out the kitchen window.”

April 9, 2016: Went to Union Point today with mama and visited cousin Charles with his daughter. Charles told stories about how William Clark Bryan made and sold corn liquor. That will make a good moonshine story. Mama laughed, “I knew he was selling something besides spring water in that wagon he drove around town.”

Charles: “My grandfather also made Cinnamon Beer; it was made in a barrel packed with broom straw on the bottom. He then added cinnamon, black locust pods and ripe persimmons; never use green ones or try and eat them unless you want your mouth to feel like it’s been turned inside out. Add sugar on to and cover – and wait. My father also made beer; I remember hearing pop, pop, pop sometimes on hot afternoons when the bottles overheated. When we heard that pop – we knew what had happened.”

While talking about cemeteries, mama told the story about Aunt Chris’s sister in law. They had walked down to the cemetery and before leaving the woman leaned down and picked up a seashell off a grave. She was warned that it was bad luck to remove anything from the cemetery, but she laughed. That night, somehow, she got her head stuck in between the headboard bars of her bed. The next morning, she walked back to the cemetery and put that seashell back from where she took it from – and never did that again as she was really spooked.”

April 16, 2016: While driving to Charlies’s for dinner, we saw an Armadillo dead on the side of the road… “I never saw them when I was a kid, like I do today. Now I see them a lot, more often only dead on the side of the road – maybe once in awhile I saw them as a kid. I wonder when they came into Georgia?” (I spent my birthday today in Georgia – I don’t think I’ve been in Georgia on my birthday in 45 years – Wow!)

Driving down to Greensboro, we passed fields of broom straw, mama said… “My mama could tie a broom that would never come apart. First she combed it with a board that had nails across. She combed the flowers out of the ends of the straw; if you didn’t, they’d fly out as you tried to sweep. Daddy made her that wooden comb – she would sit there and comb and comb till all the flowers were gone. The broom straw in the fields today doesn’t seem to grow as tall as it did back then.

If you cut me some of that straw, I could probably make you a broom, but I could never tie it as tight as mama did – she was really good at tying them. See those red weeds out there in the field, we used to chew on them as kids; they had a bitter taste”

Every pizza sign we passed mama had to say, “I hate pizza”. Did you ever try it, I asked? I don’t really remember, I must have, but I don’t want anything with that sauce on it any kind of spaghetti, it’s not my kind of food.”

Somehow a cedar chest was mentioned and… “You know that the cedar chest here in the dining room was mine, you have my mama’s. Daddy bought them both and gave one to mama and one to me. Mine goes to Melissa one day.”

Looking at mudholes out in the field, mama said….. “I’d like to take McKinley out in that cornfield after a good rain – we used to go out in the wet fields and stomp our feet in place, like marching, to make them sink down to see who could go down the farther-est. Sometimes we’d be knee-deep in mud! Daddy would get so mad when he caught us doing that!” (McKinley would love that as she loves jumping in mud puddles!)

I asked Mama if she was going to the senior center on Monday after we left… “Ain’t nothing but trouble down there, if that’s what you want.”

April 25, 2016: I called mama tonight – it’s Gracie’s 2nd birthday!… “I had a pet chicken called “Necked” – and he was naked with no feathers! He’d  follow me all around and when I was on the front porch and killing flies, he’d run over and peck them up. He was born naked, never had one feather. The other chickens pecked at him and made sores. One day he disappeared. I never found out what happened to him until after I married, then daddy finally told me had to kill him because the other chickens were slowly killing him by attacking him all the time. I loved that little chicken – I could go out in the yard and yell his name and he’d coming flying.”

I asked mama about vegetable soup and told her what veggies I put in – when I said Lima Beans… “I don’t like Lima Beans, no way; I do like butter beans though. I made that soup we called Poor Man’s Soup, everything but the kitchen sink went in it – whatever I happened to have in the kitchen. I usually put corn, okra, tomatoes and some potatoes. I used only can vegetables in the soup, except for the okra.” I tried telling mama I thought Lima Beans and Butter Beans were the same, but she insisted No – I’ll have to check them both out. If you know my mama – you know you’re not going to win an argument.

I mentioned Politics as this is a very political year with Trump running… “I don’t worry about the government, it’s gonna be what it is with them. They are going to do what they want, no matter what we try and say. I don’t want a lot of money, just enough to take care of myself; my daddy took care of me.”

April 26, 2016: As soon as I said what’s cooking… “They had the sorriest food at the senior center today, even the cats didn’t want to eat what I brought them – no one at our table wanted to eat it. It was some kind of meat, but I don’t don’t know what kind it was. Pretty sad, when even the cats turn their noses up at it.”

“It sure was nice down here today, it’s finally feeling warm. It was so pretty out and I worked outside all afternoon. It was the kind of weather that didn’t make you sweat, although I hardly ever sweat.”

April 28, 2016: When I called mama tonight, LOL, she was sleeping or napping… she said “Yes I guess I had fallen asleep and went somewhere. I spent a lot of the day planting more flower seeds, but I see nothing coming up from the other ones I planted. Even the tomato seeds that have come up a little, are just sitting there like idiots.” I told mama, maybe you should talk to them… “Yea, I’ll have a talk with them and tell them to  – grow dam it! Actually the plants grow at night, guess they don’t want me to see them growing.” I then told mama about McKinley watching Steve make pancakes tonight at dinner and telling him he should be using a whisk. Steve was mixing the batter with a fork and McKinley told him, “Pop you should be using a whisk.” (Where does she get her bossiness and knowledge at age almost 4 – Hmm – I think it comes with the McKinley name!)

To be continued…

Read more conversations at: Conversations with Mama and more

© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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1 Response to Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #30

  1. Lyn Smith says:

    Wonderful story. Sounds just like your mother. I also love the picture of the two of you. Still love reading your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

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