2021: S – April A to Z: Mama in Photos…
I’m back for my sixth year (2021)… can you believe it… of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and I’ve had quite a time in deciding on my “theme.” I had a few running through my head, but as I lost my mother last November, I thought I’d honor her through the many photographs I have of her… and tell the story of the photograph… as every photo has a story.
I’m fortunate that my mother had many photos of herself growing up… and I’m honoring her this year as the theme of my April A to Z… especially as was she was an April baby. Mama would have turned 91 this year… but she’s now back home celebrating this birthday with her parents and brother on the farm… where I believe she was always the happiest. The past few years my mother was fighting off dementia, while still managing to live alone until the last couple months of her life. I miss her every day… thinking of her daily and remembering all she did for me. She was the storyteller… She supplied me with my stories… and it’s because of her, that I write!
S… School Photos and Memories
Such an awesome photo to have of probably mama’s first day at school… wonder how she happened to sit on the side step, as her bestie, Willie Mae is more in the middle there with blonde hair and a white collar on her print dress. The blonde haired boy in the front center was Kendrick Lewis… they lived next door to his family, and his father was the local doctor… who delivered mama. Mama and Kendrick were more like brother and sister in growing up… and fighting like that also… he often took up for her in school… as a brother would.
Siloam Elementary school where the above photograph was shot… the photo was taken on the left side steps of the school.
Their lunch room was a seperate building… the photograph found in her teacher’s scrapbook; it wasn’t until last year that many of these school photos surfaced.
Mama’s Memories: “In school, if anybody’s lunch was stolen, it always seemed to be mine. We never had loaf bread in our house, as Daddy always said that it was like eating a wasp nest – too many holes in it. Everybody always wanted my lunch of biscuit and ham, or sorghum syrup. I carried my lunch in probably a tin pail, as I didn’t have a real lunch box like the city girls – I was a country girl. I remember Mama making me chocolate milk for school – putting it in a mason jar. We mostly drank milk at home, as my mother hated ice tea and only made it on Sunday or when company came. She said the taste of it reminded her of medicine… but she made the best sweet tea.”
“I remember a girl I went to school in Siloam with always brought pomegranates to school and shared with me… she had a tree in her yard. I always brought my lunch to school in a brown paper bag or pail – and I had to save it to reuse. Inside my bag was usually one of mama’s biscuits with a piece of ham, fruit, a slice of pie or mama’s home made cake. But I would rather have had one of the other girls 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 often stolen. At that time I never understood why it was always my lunch bag stolen, but as much as I wished to have a sandwich, they wanted my biscuit, slice of ham, and the piece of homemade pie or cake. My mother did make the best pies and cakes I’ve ever eaten.”
One of the many buses that Mama rode to school… after the driver waited and waited on her; mama’s hair had to be perfect or she wasn’t going anywhere!
Mama’s Memories: “I was sent to the principal’s office one morning from an incident on the bus coming to school. The bus driver wouldn’t make the boys roll up the windows, and the air blowing in was ruining the girls hair on the bus… so I began singing this song, “John Jacob Jingle Hiemer Smith, his name is my name too. Whenever we go out, the people always shout, ‘There Goes John Jacob Jingle Hiemer Smith! As you sang the verses, each verse was sung louder than the last. I sang it all the way to school… which drove the bus driver crazy that morning… and he sent me directly to Principle C.C. Wills office! I went in and told him I was sent there, and after he asked my name, I told him I was Leroy McKinley’s sister… he just looked at me, gave me ten cents and told me to go get myself a coke, and sit down for awhile before going back to class.“
“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 the bus and let us off to get a drink of sorghum syrup. My father hauled his cane there to make syrup – he’d carry jugs to bring it home in. Often the owner would give us a small sip in a tin can and sometimes he’d even sit us up on top of the horse or mule that walked ‘round and ‘round as the cane crushed into syrup. My father grew two types of cane – one was called ribbon cane – it was a very thick cane stalk.”
“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, which sat just on the other side of 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 school yard 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 doctors son and we were good friends.”
On one of our “in the road” days we drove by Mama’s old school in Siloam… I stopped to recreate the day in 1937 when mama first sat on those steps.
In 1946, mama was one of the girls running for Queen of the Halloween Carnival… she is far right, on the back row. Mama talked about how many who’d voted for her, but at the last minute, someone’s father bought many tickets to ensure their daughter won. I don’t remember who she said was the winner.
I was never sure, but felt as since mama kept this newspaper clipping… that she was in it. Wish I’d asked her years ago on it, but always forgot. I do feel though, that she is the girl standing on the stairs behind the front two… and is wearing a dark coat with large buttons. Photo was taken on the steps of the Greensboro High School, Greensboro, Georgia… abt. 1947-48. Mama graduated in 1948, but was suppose to have in 1947… but due to her lack of school work, probably because of dating my father, she had to repeat her senior year. I have the 1947 yearbook, but no photo of her appeared in it… still looking for a 1948 yearbook.
Mama graduated in 1948… not long after she had married on May 29th… and when her name was called, she almost missed walking on stage, as her principal called mama by her married name… and she wasn’t expecting that; she’s on the second row, third from the right side. Mama was supposed to have graduated in 1947, but she slacked off in her studies that year as she was dating my father, often skipped school, and wasn’t turning in her homework or doing well on tests.
More photos and memories can be read HERE on mama’s school days.
My previous years of A to Z Challenges:
- 2016: A to Z Southern Foods and Memories… they said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.
- 2017: A to Z Conversations with Mama… it was a somewhat easy one for me to write as I’d journaled our conversations for years… I researched favorite topics to write.
- 2018: A to Z All About Nancy Drew… this one has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another one to equal it
- 2019: A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories… I felt it was time to finally write the favorites of my husbands family foods.
- 2020: A to Z Family Stories… writing the stories of my husband’s family.
For more A to Z of Mama in Photos… click HERE!
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