Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #42

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #42


Misplaced Post: Nov. 30, 2016: In watching Divinity being made on TV, I mentioned to mama, and … “Grandmama made divinity once with me, and we put pecans on top; she helped me make a box for your father before I married, he was in the Navy.”

“Even though she never made it before, she helped me try and we made it together. My Mama mostly had only made chocolate fudge candy with pecans on top. There was a pecan tree in the yard but we never got any pecans from it; I think we got ours over at Mrs. Tolbert’s house, she had several pecan trees. Leroy had set out that pecan tree from an agricultural project at school.”

May 16, 2017: As soon as I called, mama said…. “Tell Steve “Thank You” for the hose he bought me while here, but someone stole it. What’s wrong with people! I guess this case is for Nancy Drew… The Case of the Missing Hose! I didn’t even notice it was gone until I went to water my tomato plants, and I looked all over for it… I know I didn’t eat it. I had to go buy another one, and I bought the cheapest one they had; guess I should have kept the old leaking one.”

“After I got tired of piddling in the garden I sat down in one of the chairs outside and watched the cars fly by. After a while I came in, shucked my clothes off… too hot for clothes tonight.”

May 17, 2017: When I called… “I’m watching my man Walker tonight, I think I’ll marry him next week”… she laughs. “Yes, I went to the center today, but same old shit down there, nothing changes. The woman who wanted my job in the clothes closet, well she doesn’t really as she never goes in there now, she only wants to play cards.”

I mentioned to mama that I wanted to buy some Nancy Drew books for Ella, and …. “My friend June Boswell had all those books and I’d borrow them from her to read. She also had all the Hardy Boy books, I’d read them too. You used to ask me for Nancy Drew books when we went to K-Mart, I imagine I probably bought you one anytime you asked.”

May 24, 2017: “I went to the center today, then came home and worked in the yard until it started to rain. I need some pine straw to put around my plants. You can buy it, but I’m not going to buy any pine straw. If I was at the farm, I could just go out in the woods and rake up all I want.”

May 30, 2017: Mama was in a mood tonight when I called. “I’m ticked off at the city and as soon as I find the number for them, I’m calling them about my trash and why they don’t pick up all of it like they do my neighbors across the street. What do I have to do, lug my trash and put it on the other side of the street? I see them pick theirs up, then they even take a shovel to clean up what’s left. All they do with mine is just take what’s on top and leave a mess on the ground. Maybe I’ll just push the rest out on the road” I looked up the number for her while I was on the phone and I’ll check back tomorrow night to see if the fire inside her has died down… or maybe she forgot all about it!

When I asked what did she eat at the center today… “They had squash casserole today with cheese… the kind I like! They also wrapped up some of the extra for me to bring home because they know I like it so much. One of the cooks had made dressing at home and had even brought me some, so I brought that home too… it sure was good. I planted some squash seeds and if they come up I’ll cook it in the microwave and put cheese on top.” I laughed, saying… “Oh, so you’re going to do some cooking?” “Well I might do a little if the mood strikes me and the squash grows.”

June 3, 2017: “I’ve done it all my life – look at something on the wall and see something completely else. Right now I’m looking at the mirror above the heater and I see daddy’s profile in it. I always see clothes hanging,… making a shadow on the wall and seeing someone’s profile. One time I was at Aunt Annie’s and when I saw something that made a profile and it looked like my daddy, they had to take me home; I thought something had happened to him.”

“The knots on the wooden walls at the farm were where I saw a lot of profiles. I didn’t see animals so much, I always saw people. I’ve done that all my life… things like that just catch my eye. Maybe daddy’s spirit is here with me.” I laughed and said, “he’s going to see you naked then.” “Well that’s ok, he’s used to that as I pulled my clothes off when I was little all the time. I never see a profile of my mother though.”

“Well, I called the city today… they said they’d send somebody, but I haven’t seen anybody yet. I cleaned out Boo’s “poop box” today when I came home… boy, I didn’t realize he had gone so much!”

June 6, 2017: Mama said, “I got all bit up by something in the garden yesterday so I didn’t go out there today… too many bugs.”

“When mama made a blackberry pie, the top crust and bottom would be so crispy and when you stuck your fork in, it’d be all juicy with berries. I could never make one like that, it’d come out all gooey, not crispy like my mama’s. But I don’t want any of those store-bought blackberries either, I want the ones like we used to pick on the farm.”

June 8, 2017: Mama answered the phone tonight in a low voice. “Why are you talking so low,” I asked. “I’m talking low so Boo won’t run away, we’ll he’s gone now. He doesn’t like noise when he’s laying here with me.”

“I went down to the center today and had a nice surprise. Carolyn’s husband, Johnny, made fried apple pies this morning and he sent me a couple. I’ll finish them up with coffee after.”

“Melissa called me on the way home from work tonight, that was a nice surprise. She was telling me about the new house they bought. Hope it all works out for them.”

“I remembered to stop and buy Ensure on the way home from the center today… I was all out. I hadn’t had any over the weekend and I sure did miss it. I must have gone to the fridge several times… hoping I’d find one hidden. I am so spoiled, I could have made me a chocolate milk, but I’ve gotten too used to just popping a top.… and I sure did miss not having one. I have chocolate, but I don’t usually keep milk in the house.”

June 10, 2017: I mentioned that I had made a blackberry cobbler tonight, and… “I have never tasted a cobbler like my mama’s – the crust was so crispy and the berries underneath were juicy. Mama cooked them in her wood burning stove… I think it was that stove that gave it the best taste… mama always knew exactly how many sticks of wood to cook everything! Out of all her sisters, mama was the best cook.”

“Everyone liked to come over to our house on Sunday. One time I told Aunt Chris and Uncle Ed, “well now that you got your gut full, you can go home.” Daddy was not happy with me and got mad, telling me that I should not have said that. I told him, “well that’s what you say.” He didn’t whoop me because he knew what I said was what I heard him often say.”

I told mama that we went to McKinley’s Pre-K graduation and how she led the Pledge of Allegiance using the microphone, with the others kids behind her. Her voice sounded so grown-up… and she did such a good job. Mama said, “Oh I sure wish I could have seen that.”

“I was married the day before I graduated high school, and when they called my name to come get my diploma, they called me Mrs. Bryan and I didn’t walk up. Everyone started laughing because I just sat there. I wasn’t used to being called Mrs. Bryan, I was expecting them to call me by my name of Helen McKinley. Your father was there, he sat with my parents.”

“I should have graduated in 1946, but I failed 10th grade, so I graduated in 1947. I stayed back because I wasn’t doing my lessons and skipped school too often.”

June 12, 2017: Mama talked about the neighbors bringing over their new baby to show her, and… “Imagine if I had a baby at my age. I’d give it to you.” “Well, if you have a baby, I’ll take it… that would be a miracle and you’d be in Ripley’s Believe it or Not!”

June 14, 2017: In telling mama about a video on Facebook of a little dog chasing a chicken, then the chicken chasing him. “We had a little feist dog on the farm that chased our chickens, and sometimes killed them in playing with them. Daddy took him one day and hung him up by his hind legs and laid the dead chicken right under his nose. After he took him down, that dog never touched a chicken again, he wouldn’t even go near one. Daddy asked me if I wanted the dog, and that was the only way he was going to let him stay… by breaking him.”

June 16, 2017: I called mama tonight after we got home to tell her we had dinner tonight with all the girls to celebrate Steve’s birthday. “Oh, I would have liked to have seen them all together. I hope Steve enjoyed his birthday, tell him I said Happy Birthday and I love him. I couldn’t ask for a better son-in-law.” I then told her about wanting to make some crafts using old blue jeans… that idea came after I went through my jeans and looking at the pile I was throwing out, and not wanting to throw them out! “I’ll have to start looking at the center for some, we get all kinds, even overalls.” I can just imagine that I’ll have a room full of blue jeans to look through on my next trip home! “It sure has been hot and sultry down here, I don’t like this kind of weather.”

June 17, 2017: When I called tonight, mama asked what was I doing, and I said I had been writing… “You must have gotten your writing skills from Aunt Lena, definitely not from me.” Now I wonder where did Aunt Lena get it from? “My father, Aunt Lena and Aunt Emma were smart. My father’s father was smart too… he used to sit on the porch while all his boys worked the farm for him. I never remember seeing him work!”

“While you’re out at all those tag sales you like to go to, find me something pretty. Something different that you don’t see in the stores.” And I asked, “don’t you have enough jewelry? Mama said, “I can never have enough.”

June 18, 2017: When I called…. “I’m watching this program about digging gems in Cripple Creek, Colorado. They just dug up a big purple stone… I need that. Let’s go dig for gems?” “We can go to Dahlonega,” I said.  “No, I’d rather go there, let’s go! I’d love to be able to do that and dig them up. Now they’re advertising that Prevagen for your brain… I need some of that too. I think I bought a bottle once, very expensive, but never saw a difference. If I was younger, I’d definitely go dig for gems, don’t think I have the energy now.”

June 19, 2017: When I called tonight, mama said… “I was just yelling at the neighbors out the window, those firecrackers are driving me crazy. They are too loud. Well, now it’s quiet over there!”

I asked mama about Lena’s sewing cabinet… “I guess she gave it to me because I sewed quite a bit. I remember seeing her use it, but later on, it just sat in the living room when she stopped sewing. I used to keep my thread and needles inside it when I sewed.”

Mama was still talking about the gem shows she watched the other night… “Leroy and I dug up a big black stone one time. We dug it out of a Chinaberry tree behind the log cabin. It stayed in mama’s sewing box for years and years; I wish I knew what happened to it. The tree had a bad spot in it and I guess we were digging at it. We also had many arrowheads on the farm. There were so many in the fields where daddy plowed; you had several when you were young, but I don’t know what happened to them.”

June 22, 2017: Mama called me tonight as her phone had rung before, but no one was on the line, so she was checking on me in phone tag. When she asked what was I doing…. “I was just eating watermelon.” “Oh, don’t tell me that, I love watermelon! Every day after school, Leroy and I busted one open and ate the heart out, then we’d throw the rest to the pigs. They loved watermelon and would eat the entire thing. Daddy only grew them to feed the pigs so we could eat them whenever we wanted; he always kept a pile of melons near the pig pens. The heart of the melon is the best, it’s usually the reddest and the sweetest. We were spoiled!”

June 24, 2017: In telling mama abt The Happy Hollister books I found at a tag sale today. “I never heard of them, I read Nancy Drew. I’m going to have to ask down at the center about those books and see if anyone ever heard of them.”

Mama then mentioned her friend June Boswell. “I used to borrow June’s Nancy Drew books. She lived near town and when daddy went to town on Saturday afternoons, I’d go and play with her. She had a crab apple tree in her yard and I loved to eat them… they were so sour… you could only eat them by putting lots of salt on. All the kids ate them, kids ate anything back then. We’d eat them while still making a face. We had horse apples on the farm, they were good and mellow… also big and yellow. I guess they called them that because the horses liked them so much. Mother used to make jam and pies with them. There was an apple tree way back in the woods when we lived in that log cabin. Daddy would go way back in the woods and pick apples, they were big red apples and so good. I don’t know why he didn’t try and plant one from the seeds and take it to our farm when we moved.”

Mama asked me to find out if anyone remembered her friends June Boswell or Claire Jernigan. I posted in my Greene Co. History page, but I hated to tell her that June had passed away a few years ago; I finally told her and she was sad to hear… “the last time I saw June was probably over 15 years ago at a school class reunion in Siloam. She wasn’t well, and her mother had come with her. No one seemed to be talking to her and when I saw her sitting in a wheelchair in the corner, I went over to talk to her about the old days. Later her mother came up to me and thanked me for going to talk to her as most had shunned her. I didn’t need to be thanked, and I went back later and spent more time with her as we had a good time talking about what we did as young girls.”

June 26, 2017: When I called… “I can’t wait for my squash to be ready. I planted the seeds on the sides of the yard. One year I had so much squash I was giving it away. I might just stop at John’s Supermarket tomorrow and buy me a couple, as I really want it right now. I’m also almost out of my chocolate drinks… definitely going to stop and buy some tomorrow.”

June 28, 2017: Mama was chilling in the house when I called, too hot outside. No sooner than I told her about the nudie photo album Frank had found in the rafters of their house, she said… “OMG… that’s so funny, bring them down here and I”ll take them to the Senior Center for a laugh.” I told her, “Frank put them back up in the rafters for the next owner to find and have a laugh. They must have been the original owners of the house and they must have been swingers, as there were two couples posing nude; probably from the 80’s.”

June 29, 2017: Mama answered and said, “I knew it was you, I saw your picture on the phone, LOL. It’s been a little rainy here and I hope it continues through the 4th so they won’t be shooting all those firecrackers! Boo doesn’t like them! They are such a waste of money—they could be paying their rent or buying food.”

In telling Mama about Melissa moving into her new house… “I guess I’ll have to come up there and be the maid, but I don’t do windows… I’ll clean the floor for my room and bed.”

“I went to the center today, but barely picked at my lunch there. We’re going to Charlie’s tomorrow… I”m taking Johnny and Carolyn out to eat for him cutting my grass. We will probably go out for an early dinner.”

I mentioned that I was watching my favorite Canteen movie… “They made those type movies during the war… even going overseas and entertaining the troops. I don’t remember your daddy ever mentioning anything but they were probably over there when Leroy was there. I remember hearing that Bob Hope and Red Skeleton went over.”

“It just thundered, so off Boo went under the bed. The girl next door asked me to come with them down to Coker Field to shoot firecrackers. I told her No Thank You, I don’t want to hear them. I yelled at them the other night as they sounded like they were right under my window. They stopped as soon as I yelled out the window!”

“When you come down we’ll go down to the Farmer’s Market in Monroe, it’s usually behind the courthouse on Saturdays, I think. Maybe there’s something there you might want to buy.”

I asked about my tree house in Perry, and … “Tell Frank to build a tree house and I’ll come up there and live in it. The girls can climb up to visit me and bring me food.”

July 8, 2017: I mentioned carnivals, and… “I remember going to carnivals every time they came to Greensboro. We had “school days” where we would go there from school on the bus. Sometimes mama and daddy took us at night, and  I’d run all around and find someone to hang and ride with.”

I told mama about taking the girls to the beach and to the carnival afterward. McKinley rode the rides… and really wanted to ride the Ferris wheel. She wanted to ride every ride that went high and fast. Grace got stuck in one of the kid climb-type rides and Melissa had to crawl in and rescue her.

“One time while at the carnival with Red Albert McKinley, Kenneth’s brother, we went on the Ferris wheel together; he got it to rocking so much that I thought I’d surely fall out. I never wanted to go on that ride again after that.”

I told mama that I found a few more Nancy Drew books. “I always enjoyed reading them, they interested me and fascinated me at all she did. I always wanted to be a detective… me and Willie Mae should have not married and opened up a detective business to investigate women’s cheating husbands…. that would have been fun!”

In talking about how kids act today… “You were never a problem when you were small. One time you hid from me and I couldn’t find you. There was a hole out back with fresh dirt and I thought you fell in there. I came back on the porch and found you hiding under the table. I should have hugged you, but I jerked you up and spanked your butt as I had been so upset. I’d called and called you and you never came out.”

July 13, 2017: When I called mama tonight I asked her if she knew that Nancy Drew first came out in April of 1930, the same year and month she was born. “They knew Nancy was really me… I remember they had her driving a roadster in those first books. I read them from my friend June Boswell; I don’t remember if they had dust jackets or not, they might have; maybe she took them off  before she loaned them to me.”

Mama soon began telling me about her new little friend’s next door… “There are about 3 or 4 little girls next door that seem to be out in the yard all the time, or at least when I am. I guess the girl there is babysitting some of the family children for the summer. They follow me up and down the side yard wanting to come in my yard and constantly asking me a thousand questions… “Can I come in your yard” – “Can I have a flower” – “What are you doing” – “What is this”… I felt like screaming! I finally just came on in the house. No sooner than I start working in the yard, then out the door, they come. They have lots of toys out there to play with, but no they’d rather follow me around and ask questions. I don’t want to talk, I just want to work in the yard. I guess I won’t be out there too much as my nerves can’t take that.” “I guess you’re just too likable!” I said.

I told mama about us going to PA. for a 100 yard – mile long tag sale… “If I was up there, I’d go with you, that sounds like fun. I’d just jump on the side running board like I used to do with Daddy’s car and I could jump off and on.”

July 15, 2017: When mama answered the phone, I asked: “what’s cooking down there?” Me,” she said, “it’s so hot down here I just don’t want to go anywhere… I just want to stay home and lay in the bed. I did go out and check my squash vines, but there wasn’t one, so I just came on back in the house. I remember when I had the garden out in the back, that I had squash plants that just wouldn’t quit. I had so much squash that I had to give it away to everyone at the center. It was coming out of my ears! It just kept coming and coming… and now I can’t even find a single squash to cook. I want to cut it in half and microwave it, and then fill it with cheese, it’ll be so good… well it’ll be good if I can ever get a squash.”

“I’ve been dragging iron pieces to the front to make a fence on the border of the neighbor’s yard to keep the little girls from trying to come through into my yard. Now they’ll have to peek through! I’m not a mean person, but those young girls are driving me crazy asking me a thousand questions. I don’t want to talk constantly, I just want to work in my yard!”

I was reading a book on prices in 1952 as I talked to mama and I told her that a broom in 1952 costs 98 cents… “Oh I don’t want a broom, I hated sweeping at the farm. Mama made good brooms, nice and tight, but I wanted no part of sweeping anything.”

“Daddy gave me his old car one time before you were born, or even thought of. We lived in Union Point. \I traded it to a man for a vacuum cleaner, as I didn’t want to sweep with a broom anymore. The car wasn’t any good, so I didn’t care about it but he wanted it. No sooner than I got that vacuum then my mother in law came and took it down to her house to use. If I knew then, what I know now, she wouldn’t have even tried to take my vacuum out of my house, but I was stupid then and said nothing. We were poor, we had an icebox on the back porch. An ice-man came around weekly selling ice to everyone… it kept our food cold.”

In talking about work… “I only worked for tips when I waitressed and hardly got a salary when I bar-tendered at The Holiday Inn. I did make good tips at both as I have the gift of gab and know how to talk to people. Even when I waitressed, I made good tips as the owner was too cheap to pay us anything.

July 17, 2017: I was trying to ask Mama about the 1962 Bryan family reunion photo tonight, and … “I don’t ever remember you wanting a camera so I don’t think you had one unless someone handed you their camera to take the photo. If you had ever asked me for one, I would have bought it for you as you never asked for anything. I don’t remember that photograph right now, you’ll have to bring it down for me to see again.” I asked her about daddy in the photo as he had on a bow-tie, and no one else was dressed up. “Who knows why he had it on?”

In talking about the family… “I should have kept a diary all these years, all the family secrets would be in there as what people did, and who they did it with. I could tell tales about most of them! I never missed what happened.”

“That woman who wanted the clothes closet down at the center, she was in there today trying to make it into some fancy boutique place… then she locked it up and left. I went down and got the key and opened it up so people could go in… and she better not say anything to me, she doesn’t own it! I might just make my own key and then I’ll open it anytime I want. What’s wrong with people, it’s there for them to shop in and she wants to fix it all up like a fancy store and then close it!”

July 18, 2017: In telling mama about seeing cornbread and milk posted on Facebook…”I don’t want any cornbread and milk, buttermilk only. I’ll never have good buttermilk again.” I said, “should I bring back your churn so you can make some?” “Hell No! I don’t want to ever churn again, I probably shed lots of tears into that buttermilk as I sat there. I didn’t want to stay in the house and churn, I hated it! I wanted to be out in the field with daddy and do whatever he was doing. I was Daddy’s girl!”

In explaining this drink I was watching being made on Facebook called the Purple People Eater, mama said… “That sounds like the Skip and go Naked drink I used to make at the bar, and if you drank enough of them, it’d make you want to skip and go naked. LOL “

Another Facebook video rolled by of a cat riding in a car, and… “Willie Mae had an outside cat who every time he’d hear the car crank he’d run and jump in, ready to go for a ride.  He’d come with her over to the farm and roam around until Willie was ready to go home. He’d know when she was ready to leave and be waiting there by the car, ready to jump back in. It was Willie Mae’s girls who taught him that trick, they always had animals and cats and trained them to do all kind of things.”

“ It’s so Hot, I didn’t even go look to see if I have any yellow squash yet, maybe tomorrow I’ll remember and check.” I told her, “look good as those little suckers like to hide from you!”


To be continued…

Like to read more… click on  Conversations with Mama and more

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at:
This entry was posted in Conversations with Mama and more, Daily Writings and funnies... and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #42

  1. Evelyn Smith says:

    Another bunch of gems. I can just see Helen living in a tree house. Is Frank going to install an elevator for her? Haha.
    As for that video of McKinley saying the Pledge of Allegiance with her class, remember to show it when you come for a visit. She’d get a kick out of that. I still wish I could remember that gadget I saw advertised several years ago that enabled sharing of pictures and videos for folks without computers. If I’m not mistaken, it worked through the phone and would be a great way for you guys to share with Helen.
    Loved reading your reminiscences with your Mom. Someday I’m going to print all these out and make me a little booklet. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.