2017 – A to Z… M: Conversations with Mama… The Best of!
I married and moved away from home when I was 19, so I didn’t grow up stopping by Mama’s for afternoon chats. Living almost a thousand miles from home, a nightly phone call is how I stayed in touch, as she’s gotten older, it’s how I check in on her. As I became involved in researching my family history, it was often how I heard the family stories. I recorded the usual dates and names, but all the tidbits of family stories…. well where was I going to put them. That was how Conversations with Mom evolved, and I eventually blogged those conversations. What better choice, than to glean an A to Z of my favorites here to celebrate Mama’s birthday month; she turns a spry 87 this April, but “mums” the word on me spilling her birthday number here!
During the month of April, I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for my 2nd year… both on this blog. I will post each day, except Sundays… using a daily alphabet letter in my theme of “Conversations with Mom… The Best of.” If you’d like to read more blogs, hop over to their Facebook page.
M… Conversations with Mama – The Best of!
M is for Mama, Mama’s Sayings, and Mud!
I called Mama back tonight at about 10 p.m., she answered the phone with… “wait a minute I gotta get my bowl of Brunswick stew.” She was eating a late supper, or maybe it was a second meal. “After I eat this, I think I’ll have a cup of coffee and a piece of that cake you sent. I worked out in the yard until dark… it was good and dark and now I’m hungry. I live what’s called “the life of Riley” – that’s the way you live the rest of your life. Just live, don’t do any housework or cook!”
I asked tonight if Daddy ever mentioned anything about when he was in the Navy at Bikini Atoll during the atomic blast… “I never asked and I guess he wasn’t interested in talking about it. The only thing he ever talked about was when he and some of the other guys jumped in the water after the blasts; he lost his front teeth from the radioactive water.”
In an upcoming blog post idea, I asked mama this question… Did you have rules for growing up? …and she said “They had no rules that I know of, and if they had I probably broke them. The only rule I remember is about eating at the table… daddy wouldn’t tolerate anyone coming to the table complaining about the food. You either ate what was on the table, or you went without eating. If you dared to complain, you were sent from the table and the kitchen was closed to you later. There were times I left the table, but mama often sneaked my food later on. I always went to bed when I wanted to… they didn’t seem to care, but I had to get up at certain times, so I suffered if I went to bed late.”
As soon as I said hello, mama said… “It is “hot as blue blazing” down here. Poor Boo is so hot that he doesn’t know what to do. I laid a wet towel on the kitchen floor for him to lay on, but he doesn’t understand that it would cool him off.”
I called tonight to check on her with the high temperatures in Georgia, and …. “It is still hot as hell down here! I’m sweating up a storm in these 90 plus temps; I can’t remember it ever being this hot. Daddy would pour water on him, on really hot days, out in the field to cool off – he didn’t sweat. They had a tough life back then.”
Before I asked mama tonight how hot it was, she said… “I think when it rains I’ll run out naked! One time at the farm after I moved back, I had run out to the well house for something – naked! Well about the time I stepped out of the house and opened the well house door, I heard someone pull their car in the yard. I jumped inside and closed the door, and stood really still! They knocked on my door for a long time, even walked around the house calling my name – they saw my car in the yard so assumed I was home… somewhere. Finally, they left and I ran back inside. I recognized the woman’s voice, but not knowing her husband, and being naked, I wasn’t going to speak up that I was hiding in the well house. Later I told her where I was that day and we had a good laugh. (I never heard this story before)”
“I remember going to the square dances on Saturday nights when I lived on the farm. Sometimes I even pretended I wasn’t myself if some guy pestered me, instead of saying that I was Helen’s sister. There was one boy that always bothered me, and I remember doing that to him… more than once. When I’d see him at the restaurant the next week, I’d tell him, Oh I wasn’t at the dance last week, that was my sister – and I can’t do a thing with her! Then he’d see me again the following week, and tell me again that he’d seen my sister at the dance, but he couldn’t do a thing with her and how she didn’t behave. I’d just fall over laughing!” (I told mama I did that too; I had a short-haired platinum wig and whenever I wore it, I’d pretend to be my sister. My girlfriend and I thought it was hysterical when I fooled the boys.)
While telling mama about the corn attachment I saw online that you hook up to your drill to cut the kernels off with, … “I remember my mother making the best-creamed corn I ever ate. Every time I eat corn today I still think about how good hers was. She canned the cut corn and made cream style corn from it later on; she never put any milk in her creamed corn, instead, she scraped the cobs dry and used only the corn milk. Mama never made a big bowl, just enough for two meals. We ate it at lunch, then finished the leftovers with supper. Whatever she cooked at lunchtime, we always had the same thing in the evening. My father wasn’t a big eater – eating just one thing at a time on his plate; never crowding his plate with food.”
I asked mama what she always wanted to be as a kid… when she grew up, and… “I always wanted to be a movie star and model clothes. Dressing up, fixing my hair and prissing around was an everyday thing with me! I’m still like that, except when it’s really hot like it is now, then I just want to take off all my clothes!”
As the elections were in full swing, I asked if her father talked much about politics, and … “Oh yes he did, and every Saturday at the filling station all the men talked politics. Daddy was a Roosevelt and Talmadge man – he was a Democrat. But Democrats were different back then vs today – they were for the farmer. In today’s world – my father would not vote Democrat.”
“I spent most of my time following daddy around the farm, and he never seemed to tire of all my questions. Whenever I’d ask him, either for something, or could we go somewhere, his answer was always the same… “let me think about it.” I didn’t like to ask mama for things, as she’d cry – I never understood why as a child, but now I feel like she felt bad as she couldn’t give me the things I asked for.”
Mama reminded me tonight of another one of her sayings, “lately I’ve been as ill as a hornet and mean as a junkyard dog.” Sounds like people better keep out of her way. She’s been getting upset with herself because she forgets where she lays things and now has to hunt them down.
More of Mama’s sayings:
“I am never selfish, but I’ve never had anything to actually be selfish about.”
“She’s as ugly as home-made soap.”
“Stand too close to me and for a nickel, I’m liable to slap you.”
“I can get really mad, just don’t push my buttons too much.”
Don’t start anything you can’t finish!
I say what I want – drunk or sober!
If you’re in the mood to read about some more of mama’s Southern sayings and my family, check it out here.
Mud…. but more like Georgia Red Mud!
On the back dirt road coming from White Plains, Mama said. “I remember riding in the school bus on this road and when it rained… it was so muddy that our school bus often got stuck in the red mud. Sometimes when the bus driver got to syrup mill crossing, he’d stop and let us off to get a drink of sorghum syrup. My father hauled his cane there to make syrup – carrying jugs to bring it home in. Often the owner gave us a small sip in a tin can and sometimes he’d even let us sit on top of the horse or mule that walked ‘round and ‘round to crush the cane into syrup. My father grew two types of cane – one was called ribbon cane – it was a very thick cane stalk.””
Looking at mudholes out in the field, mama said….. “I’d like to take McKinley out in that cornfield after it rains – we used to go out in the wet fields and stomp our feet in place, like marching, to make them sink 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 making mudholes!
“One time while in Macon at Ann and Hinton’s (Amos) house, Hinton brought home a good sized turtle from work. He worked at Burn’s Brick in Macon – they made bricks from the Georgia red mud. They often dug up turtles that buried themselves in the mud on the banks of where they dug for clay. He covered that big turtle with a large tin tub, but the turtle had other ideas, and soon got out. When the turtle saw Hinton in the yard, he stretched his neck out really far and chased him into the house. He quickly got on the phone and called some man he knew who would want him for food. It wasn’t long before the man showed up, caught the turtle, and happily carried him away; it was a snapping turtle. I think I’ve seen a turtle once or twice in my yard here, there’s a small stream of water down behind my house.” (I remember finding two shells at granddaddy McKinley’s farm when I was young; I still have them)
“It would have been a miserable life, I think, to have grown up rich – you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to catch tadpoles, make mud pies or be scratched by briers. I remember scooping up tadpoles in buckets at the creek across from the house and watching them grow legs; after they turned into a frog, I released them back into the creek. I had fun growing up, but I don’t know about the kids today. Now if I could be rich as an adult, well that would be OK, but not as a kid.”
“The kids today don’t know about country life, playing in the creek and making mud pies,” I told mama about how the girls love to jump in water puddles and if you don’t want them to, you better hold their hands tight, as they are going to jump in them. “I’ll have to find a stream to take them to when they come down, so they can play and get muddy… that would be fun.”
While watching a video on Facebook of three little kids playing in the mud and covered head to toe, I told mama… “When the kids come down I’ll make them a mud hole to play in like I had when I was small. I’d go out in the corn or cotton field after it rained and we’d stomp our feet to make mud puddles; sometimes we’d be up to our knees almost in that mud. When I used to go to slip rock with Karen, Pat, and Deb, we put mud from the banks on our faces as a mud facial and then laid out in the sun.”
My mother grew up on a small farm in Georgia and has more memories of her childhood than I can only dream to remember. If you’d like to follow along from day 1, click on 2017: A to Z… Conversations with Mama – The Best of!
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