2017 – A to Z… Y: Conversations with Mama… The Best of!

2017 – A to Z… Y: Conversations with Mama… The Best of!

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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.


Y…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

Y is for… Yard and Yawn


“I still vividly remember the day that I was almost bitten by a mad dog. I was out in the field with Mama and Daddy and I wanted a drink of water. After whining for a while, Daddy yelled at me to go to the house and get my drink, but the problem was I didn’t want to go by myself. He eventually chased me away and told me I better go on. I finally began walking back to the house and when I got in the yard I saw a strange dog standing there – I began yelling “mad dog, “mad dog.” Daddy came running toward the house and yelled for me to jump up on the wood pile – he ran in the front door and came out the back with his shotgun and shot the dog. We were taught about mad dogs roaming around because many dogs did roam back then. After that, he’d walk me to the house if no one was home.”

“I remember Leroy often taking apart Daddy’s old Model T Ford that sat in the yard after he bought the newer Model A. He’d take it apart and have all the parts laid out on a sheet… and it would make Daddy so mad, but Leroy always put it back together. One day we pulled out all the brass wire out of some of the parts and string it across the road to catch people walking. We caught the preachers horse and buggy in it one day, and we both got a licking. I liked the “Ooga Horn” it had; daddy had courted mama in the buggy and that Model T.

helenLeroybyCarMama as a baby with brother LeeRoy and the Model T.

“I remember May Day at the Siloam school, and we even had a Maypole; we had all kinds of jumping and racing games in the schoolyard. My brother, Leroy, was elected King of the Maypole one year – I think I was probably in the first grade. It was usually an all-day affair at school.” 

“Did you know that it’s still against the law to plant cotton in your yard? Cotton is considered only a farm crop because it must be treated properly to keep the beetles from destroying the crop. That is how cotton was destroyed years ago in Greene County. The cotton beetles can quickly spread and ruin cotton crops for years until they are completely killed off.”

“It was always dangerous to be outside in the yard on the farm when it was storming. The ground on the farm was full of iron rocks and they attracted lighting. I remember one time when lightning struck and a ball of fire rolled all around the well house.”       

In talking about pomegranates one night…. “I remember a girl in Siloam, whom I went to school with, brought them to school and we’d eat them; she had a tree in her yard full of them. I always brought my lunch to school in a brown paper bag – and I had to save it to reuse again. Inside my bag was usually one of mama’s biscuits with a piece of ham, fruit, and a slice of pie or mama’s homemade cake. I would have rather had one of the other girl’s lunches, as they brought a sandwich with store-bought sliced white bread. When I think back now, that was probably why my lunch sack was so often stolen. At that time I never understood why it was always my lunch bag taken, but as much as I wished to have a sandwich, they wanted my biscuit and slice of ham and the piece of home-made pie or cake. My mother did make the best pies and cakes I’ve ever eaten.”

As we rode through Bostwick on the way back from Tara looking for a place to stop so Melissa could go out in the cotton field and pull up a cotton plant to bring home, Mama said. “See those tall golden grasses, that’s called Sagebrush. It’s what my mother cut to make brooms with; daddy cut new brush every fall for her. She bundled them together and wrapped the top tightly with twine to form the handle. I don’t how she managed to keep the cord so tight as she wrapped, but she knew exactly how to do it. I could never make them like she did. You didn’t go to the store to buy a broom years ago – you made your brooms. She swept the yards and the house with the brooms she made. Now it’s considered an art for whoever makes them, and very expensive, but years ago they were only made out of necessity.”

“When I went to school in Siloam there was a small store not far from the school called Mr. Mooneyham’s. The owners lived next door to the store; it was a very tiny building and sat just through the cotton field on the side of the school. We’d take turns crawling through the cotton field on our hands and knees to go and buy penny candy for everyone. It was a really small one-room store where he sold penny candy and a few odds and ends. While one person went, the others sat at the edge of the schoolyard to wait. The one day that it was my turn, I found our principal, Mr. Burke, waiting for me when I came back. He didn’t do anything to me, he just told us, girls, to not do that anymore. If it had been the boys caught they would probably have gotten paddled. One time Kendrick Lewis put a book in his pants before he got paddled and then he got in even more trouble. He was the doctor’s son and we were good friends.”               


Every night in talking to mama on the phone, I yawn… and you know what happens when you see… or hear someone yawn… You yawn! “I just heard you yawn and now I’m yawning, I just don’t understand why people do that. We don’t do other things when we hear or see people do, but if they yawn, well then you do it too.”

Then I yawned and she yawned…. There’s something about talking on the phone for a long time, for me, that makes me yawn and I always do it with mama, then she laughs and yawns!

I asked mama tonight about a photo I found of either her or Willie Mae standing in a lake wearing a grass skirt, she said… “I vaguely remember wearing a grass skirt out at Grandpa Bryan’s old place, I think there was a lake out near his house. It could be me or Willie Mae; if the skinny legs are the same size all the way up, then it’s Willie. I was in the back room sorting out some things this afternoon, trying to make myself up some outfits to wear to the center.” Mama kept yawning, then I yawned… we went back and forth yawning so much, that I finally said, I gotta go… so we both stop yawning. I don’t know why, but if one of us yawns, it’s a chain reaction!

Mama said she was feeling better, but still coughing… and promised me she was going to the center tomorrow… we will see. Somehow, something I said made mama remember this. “Remember when I came up there one time and I had broken my tailbone. Steve was making Stephen do something and he said, “I can’t I broke my tailbone.” Then Steve told him, don’t do it and you’ll have a broken tailbone. He was only a little guy, and he kept walking around saying he broke his tailbone… it was so funny.” When I said well I guess it’s time to hang up as I’m yawning again, mama said… “Time all dogs are dead, aren’t you glad you’re a puppy. Now, where did that come from… that’s a really old line.”

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!


© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 2017: A to Z... Conversations with Mama, Daily Writings and funnies... and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2017 – A to Z… Y: Conversations with Mama… The Best of!

  1. That is is true about yawn. Even when I write it in a novel, I do it. Love these glimpses into your mother’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

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