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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

X

X…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

X is for Christmas, aka Xmas and….

I kept calling Mama after I sent her Xmas present this year (2008) and finally it arrived, but she seemed more mad at me for sending her something, than happy about what she received. I thought she’d be excited to open her present and find a jewelry armoire, as she had talked non-stop about the one she wanted to win in a raffle at FISH. She first told me she couldn’t put it together – and that’s from a woman who builds birdhouses and knows how to use a saw and hammer, and someone I thought could put anything together. I told her that I only thought she had to put the legs on and that there were doors on both sides to hang her necklaces on. She immediately told me that there were no doors on the sides! After looking online again at the piece, I asked her to try and see if she could open the doors on the side, as the picture showed them being there. I didn’t want an argument, so I calmly persuaded her to try again – this time she quietly said, “oh, yes there are doors.” After she filled it up, her dilemma now was that she didn’t know where to put it. I told her, well, you’ll have to get rid of something, but she quickly told me, “Oh no, I’m not getting rid of anything, I’ll find a place.”

I asked Mama tonight if she remembered when the Easy Bake Oven came out in the early 60’s, and why didn’t I have one? Her reply… “I do remember the toy oven, but I don’t really remember you ever asking for one. I bought you pretty much whatever you asked for, but you didn’t really ask for a lot. You weren’t as interested in girl things when you were young, you were more of a tomboy. When we lived in Union Point, you didn’t really play with dolls, you wanted a stick horse, and you rode it until the bottom of the stick turned into a point. You played with Barbie a lot after we moved to Perry, but I don’t remember you or any of your friends ever having an Easy Bake Oven. The one thing you really pestered me for was a typewriter. I bought it for you at Xmas and put Daddy’s name on it because you used to unwrap your gifts and wrap them back up. After you opened your gifts that year, I handed it to you. (I bought Melissa an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas this year (2009) and gave it to Frank to put under their tree. I signed a note from Santa apologizing that he had forgotten to bring it to her in 1989.)”

“You didn’t like Santa or even Xmas morning. It’d be days before you’d go in and actually see what was under the tree. When you were small and if Santa came near you, you’d scream and run away and hide. I used to put you in your playpen out in the yard during the day, but I’d come back to find you gone. Someone who knew you had come by and taken you off with them. I didn’t have to worry back then about someone stealing you, I just didn’t actually know always who had you.”

I’ve taken a little creative license with the letter “x” on these….

“One day after I got off the bus and began walking home, a sawmill truck came by and stopped in the middle of the road to let the local young men off who worked for them. They yelled out something to me as they jumped off and began walking toward me. I didn’t wait around to see what they were saying or thought they were going to do – I dropped my school books right there in the road, and took off running through the fields toward home. By the time I got there, my legs were cut up and bleeding, and I was crying uncontrollably; I was about thirteen at the time. After I told Daddy what happened. and identified one of the men, he took the axe handle and waited by the edge of the road. The one I knew was the preachers son, Luther Goss, and he lived just down the road from us. Mama was crying and crying as she just knew that Daddy was going to kill him. When he walked by, Daddy grabbed him by the collar and dragged him down to his house, to tell his father, Preacher Goss, what his son had done. Preacher Goss never allowed Luther to go anywhere alone again without him after that; Luther continued to go everywhere with his father until he passed away. After that incident, I never had to walk to the bus stop at Bryson’s again – the bus came right to the house to pick me up every morning. I’m sure daddy had something to do with that.”

I always ask Mama what’s new at the senior center and  today she told me about the potato candy they made. “A woman came to the center today and taught everyone about making a simple dessert that you wouldn’t have to go to the store and buy a lot of ingredients for. It was interesting as we watched her make it using only 4 ingredients. You take 1 medium potato and bake until it’s really soft – scoop out the potato pulp for 1/2 cup. Add that to a bowl and mix in confectionery sugar and maybe 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until it forms a firm dough that you can roll out. Roll it out on wax paper, and spread peanut butter on top and roll it up jelly-roll style and cut into bite size pieces; it was pretty tasty. I never made much candy, but I remember making Divinity once and sending it to your father when he was in the Navy. I didn’t have a recipe, someone just told me how to make it. It came really good, and that was the only time it ever came out right. When I was a beautician in Perry, one of my customers used to always bring me home-made Divinity at Christmas, and it was the best.”

“My father grew popcorn in the cotton patch, on the other side of his regular corn field. You couldn’t grow it near regular corn or it would mix together on the corn ear. He cut the dried corn kernels off with the corn sheller in the barn after they dried, and we popped the kernels either over an open fire outside or in the fireplace; mama had a cast-iron pot that had a lid and a long handle.”

I don’t know how the conversation turned to Tide tonight, but… “ I remember Tide washing powder running a contest when we lived in Union Point. The question was, “who was the female vocalist who’s name sounds like the ocean?” I immediately knew the answer, it was Dinah Shore; she was very popular in the 50’s. I never did send in my answer, and always regretted that. I don’t even remember what the prize was, but I do remember always wishing I had sent in my answer – I think I was just so excited that I knew the answer.”

As soon as I called Mama tonight, she said. “You know what I’m doing right now? I’m shelling pecans, and I hate it! It makes my hands feel dirty.” I laughed and told her, you’re sending them to me, right? “You know I’m sending most of them and I’ll put the extra in the freezer and you can take home. I brought a brick inside and cracked most of them, but I used a nut cracker too. When I get through, I’m going to take the shells and throw them in my garden. I should have really rich dirt this year from all the banana peelings, coffee grounds and garbage I throw in the garden. I bury everything in there, even the torn up junk mail. I sit at night and tear it into small pieces and when I go to the garden, I dig a hole and bury it; it will decompose and rot in the earth.”

This was a new photo gifted to me by my cousin Lynn – mama had no memory of it!

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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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2017: A to Z... Conversations with Mama, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

W

W…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

W is for… Willie Mae, Weather, Whits grill, WW II, and Watermelons

Willie Mae Walker: 

Had to call mama tonight to tell her about Ella’s first day at kindergarten. She cried at home the night before, and also in the morning before leaving for her first day at school; it was all-day kindergarten, and that meant a long day for her. When she came home that afternoon, she told her parents, “I don’t think this will work for me, I need more rest time… they want us to do too much work.” That was on a Thursday, then on Monday she said, “I think I need a cell phone and could I have a Facebook page?” Her father asked, “what are you going to do with a Facebook page, you can’t read.” “Oh, I can just look,” Ella said. The twins cried all day missing their sister when she began school. Ella doesn’t want to talk too much about school right now. (After a few weeks she settled in, made new friends and now loves to go) Mama laughed and said…”Sounds like me on my first day, I met my best friend Willie Mae Walker (Sisson) and we both looked at each other and said – “I’m not going to like this.”

“When I grew up. the McKinley’s and the Walker’s never liked each other much and always fought. If they were “all” at a dance – at some time – before the end of the night – there was a fist fight over something. Now look who my best friend turned out to be – a Walker! I met Willie Mae Walker on the very first day in first grade. We both looked at each other and said, “I don’t think I’m going to like being here.” We have remained friends from that very first day of school, and even married men who were good friends; although we also both divorced them. I remember asking Grandma Walker one day, “what would you do if Willie and I had a boy and girl who married and had a baby?” She replied, “I wouldn’t let it in my house!”

Mama and Willie Mae posing in the cotton field!

“My girlfriend, Willie Mae, and I often played with each other’s kids. Willie would get down on the floor and play “bugger” with you when you were little. She’d get down and crawl toward you saying, “I’m gonna get you,” and you’d run and hide, then come back for more. I’d take Willie’s daughter, Debbie, and sit and hold her, rubbing the bottom of her feet while rocking her. You didn’t like to be held and petted, you wanted someone to get down on the floor and scare you – then you’d run away and come back for more. Stephen liked that too when he was small, guess he got it from you.”

I asked Mama about her best friend Willie Mae Walker (Sisson) tonight and …. “Willie Mae and I were best friends from the first day of 1st grade. I looked at her and said, “I don’t like this place” and she said, “I don’t think I do either.” That cemented our friendship and we are still friends today. I lived in Siloam and she lived between Siloam and Union Point on her father’s farm. We went to elementary school together in Siloam, but later her parent’s, Bill and Katie Walker, moved to Union Point and she finished school there, while I went on to Greensboro to finish – but we still remained friends. Mr. Bill ran the “city hotel”  in Union Point. Daddy often took me over there on the weekends to stay with her and her father would bring me home. We had a lot of fun at the hotel and that’s where I met my husband – he was the best friend of her boyfriend; they both were in the Navy.”

“Jernigan’s Bridge was an old wooden bridge down from White Plains, and there were several wide flat rocks alongside the stream of water – just right for sunbathing. I remember one time I was down there with my best friends daughters, Pat and Debbie (Willie Mae’s daughters) and we pinned big leaves all over our bathing suits; we looked like we were only wearing leaves! I don’t remember who’s idea that was, but I was just as crazy as the kids back then.”

“I always have had a sense of humor. Willie Mae and I laughed all the time –  at everything. She still enjoys reading through joke books today and can sit and read, and laugh. I used to laugh telling jokes and remembered every one told ever to me when I was a beautician. I told jokes all the time to my customers. Now I can’t remember where I lay anything, much less a joke.”

“I could never give you pills when you were small, but Willie Mae never had any trouble giving Pat and Karen their medicine; I could never get you to swallow pills by putting them in your mouth. The only way I made you take pills was to sit you up on a high counter in the kitchen and tell you that if you didn’t take your pills, I was going to leave you sitting there. You didn’t like heights, and I guess you believed me, because you’d quickly open your mouth like a little bird – and down they’d go. I don’t know why I had such a hard time with you; I’ve never been able to even give any of my other cats pills either.” 

“My girlfriend, Willie Mae, would never sleep over here on the farm, and especially after Daddy died; she believed his ghost was still here. Anytime she visited me here and a cloud came up, she’d have to leave quickly, wanting to go home. I remember one time it was storming and raining really hard, and as she stepped out in the yard, a bolt of lighting hit the ground and she ran back in the house, but soon left anyway. She didn’t seem to care how bad the outside weather was, she’d rather brave leaving, then stay safe in the house.”

I said to Mama tonight that I told Melissa to play old songs at her wedding that some of her guests had danced their “first dance” to. Then I asked Mama if she and Daddy had a song…”I don’t remember any special song, after we married we went to a juke joint called The Richland, just outside of Greensboro and square danced. Willie Mae and Henry came and we danced all night.”

“It seems like, all my life people have made fun of me, like I was a nobody. Even in first grade my teacher, who I’ll never forget, made fun of me… her name was Mae West. I was talking to my friend Kendrick Lewis one day, and as she walked by she said to him, “can’t you find someone better than that to sit with than her?”  Willie Mae and I liked to sing a song about her… “I’m Mae West and I’ll do my best.” We would sing it on the playground and twist around like her and then laugh; she never heard us though. She did try to walk and twist like the movie star Mae West.”

“During the 1970’s we had a lot of snow down here. I remember one night while working at Nathaniel Greene Restaurant in Greensboro we had a few inches of snow; it was when I was back home living on the farm.  I had to ride in the car tracks of other cars to get home that night, but I still couldn’t get down to the farm, so this man with a big truck rode back and forth on the dirt snowy road leading down to the farm; he packed it down and made tracks for me so I could get daddy out. I took him over to Willie Mae’s, but he was so mad about leaving his house;  he never liked leaving the farm. We stayed at Willie’s and he beat the floor with his cane all night long. I still believe he’s there on the farm – when people don’t really want to leave this earth, their souls don’t leave. I believe my mother left the earth and went searching for her son Leroy, but not my father – he’s still on the farm and his soul will always remain there – that is where he was happy and I was too.”

“I remember wanting to get out of school so bad that I didn’t know what to do. There were only a few kids in school that the teachers cared about – the rest of us didn’t matter. Willie Mae and I used to beat them up – one of us would hold them while the other one socked ém.”

“I often went to the movies with Willie Mae when I stayed with her at The City Hotel; we’d walk over to the movie house in Union Point – it wasn’t far. Sometimes I went to the movie house in Greensboro, but daddy would have to take me there.”

Whit’s:

I mentioned Whit’s Grill to Mama and… “ They had everything there, legal and illegal. I liked Whit and his wife. Sometimes his wife took me and Willie in the back room and showed us the sex stuff they sold. They had a big doll, the kind the truckers bought… she was called Judy. When I worked at the Holiday Inn as a bartender and overheard the men talking about looking for a woman, I’d tell them they could go get Judy at Whit’s – then I’d fall over on the bar laughing.”

Weather: 

“In the Bible it says before the end of time the seasons will change – maybe that’s why the South is experiencing the difference in climate and weather. At some point, it may be colder in the South than the North.”

Mama told me tonight… “My daffodils are blooming and the narcissus, which are my favorites as they smell so good. If the weather keeps up I’m going to start working on my garden and get it ready so I can plant tomatoes when the weather is good. The apple and plum trees haven’t budded yet, but if they do, and we get a cold snap I’ll lose them. (I told mama that I can’t see my yard yet as it’s still covered with snow)

Mama called me today, she was watching the bad weather in Texas and wanted to know if we were all right… LOL. I told her she was closer to Texas than us… “You could have went outside in your bathing suit today, it was beautiful just like summer. I remember when I liked to sunbathe in my birthday suit when I was about 16 or 17. I’d go out in daddy’s wheat field and beat a path down, then lay a quilt. No one could see me way out in the middle of the wheat field, but it used to make daddy so mad that he could eat ten-penny nails!”

WW II: 

“I remember one day at our bus stop that I’ll never forget. Our stop was at Bryson’s farm – it was the farm right before ours, coming from Siloam. The bus used to pick me up at our farm, but during WWII, to conserve gas for the war, the bus stop was moved and everyone had to walk there. Patriotism was very important during WWI and WWII – not like today.”

I mentioned Liza Askew today (grandmamma’s sister) and… “Yes that was Aunt Liza who married James Marchman, but we called him “Monk” – never knew why. Their son Sammie was in WWII. I remember sitting out on the back stoop with him while waiting to eat – the adults ate first. Sammie would sit there and say, “they’re going to eat all the chick, and were gonna get nothing but the scratchins; back then the kids had to wait on the stoop.”

Just when you think you’ve heard all of mama’s stories, she comes out with something new. I don’t know what I said that jogged her memory, but…. “There were young guys that learned to fly planes during WWII and flew out of a field just outside of town. I remember one buzzing close to daddy out in the field plowing one day… I was sitting on the front steps and he came down so close that he saw me and waved; daddy was shaking his fist at him as he was plowing in the field.” I wrote a blog post called “Just When I Thought I Knew it  All.”

Watermelons:

Stephen told me of a dream he had where him, I and Angel went to look through Kenneth McKinley’s house – he couldn’t remember seeing Melissa but he thought she was with us also. We had gotten permission to go and look through his house, after his death, and as we were walking up the stairs to the second floor, mama saw something and she turned around and we all left. As we were leaving we saw the mailman delivering mail. Mama said, “I wish we knew what I saw in his dream, there’s probably still a lot of his mother Ulma’s painting there. She had a painting of a cut watermelon slice that I always liked.” (I told Mama that I’d like to go inside Ulma’s store in town when we go to Siloam; maybe if we see Charles McKinley he’ll let us go inside. I loved to go to her general store when I was small – she had everything in there.)

Mama called me tonight and told me how it’s boiling hot down there (June 3, 2011). She said she wished she had a piece of watermelon and then… “My daddy had a large watermelon patch by the road near the house. I remember him always turning the vines as they grew – I never knew why but I used to help him walk through the patch and turn the vines the opposite way they were growing. We never cut and ate watermelon like you do today – he actually only grew them for the pigs. He had a lot of pigs as he made hams, sausage and many other things from them when they were killed in the fall. Daddy like pork, we very seldom had beef, as he would have had to buy it. Our cows were only for milking. When we wanted a melon on a hot day, Leroy and I would grab one out of the large pen daddy piled them in by the pig pen, bust it open… eat only the heart, which was always the best part of the melon, then throw the rest over to the pigs. My cousin, Betty Kelley grew good melons in her garden but I’ve never been able to grow them. I started some vines the other year, and I had one melon growing, but when I picked it out of the garden, it was all rotten on the bottom. I had been turning it like I was told, but it rotted anyway.”

I called mama and told her about McKinley saying “I have a bird in my belly and he’s going to fly away.” McKinley keeps talking about a baby in her belly at school. A teacher there is due any day and McKinley told her that there is a big watermelon in her belly. I told McKinley the other day that I’d take her for pizza, she said no, so I said well Ella likes pizza, so I’ll take her – she said, “but what about me.” She’s so thin with flat abs. Mama said… “When I married, I could take my hands and fit them around my waist – I was really thin.”

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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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2017: A to Z... Conversations with Mama, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

V

V…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

V is for Valentines and Vegetables…

Valentines:

“When I was in the 10th grade I was voted Miss Valentine and Mr. C. Ashley voted $10.00 worth of votes at a penny a vote for me. I should have won, but someone else gave money after it was over and they changed the winner from me to them. Mr. Ashley was my cousin Joanne McKinley’s uncle.”

I asked Mama tonight if she remembered what her favorite Xmas present was as a child, as I had just read an article about someone remembering their favorite present. “I don’t remember any Xmas presents really, but the one present that stuck in my mind was a dress Daddy gave me. He and mama had taken me to town to buy a special dress for a Valentine dance at school. I fell in love with this dress as soon as I saw it hanging on the rack. The saleswoman encouraged me try it on, but I told her that my father wouldn’t buy it. She insisted I model it and let him see how pretty it  looked on me. I guess I did try it on along with the one they picked out for me – a plain dress with a sweetheart neck – which I didn’t like. When we got home daddy handed me two boxes. I opened the boxes and discovered that the dress I loved was inside. I couldn’t believe he bought me that dress and I was so proud of it, and couldn’t wait to wear it.  When I wore it to school I got nominated for Miss Valentine of our room – and won! I’m sure I thought that is was all because of the dress. Willie Mae was so jealous of that dress and showed it to a seamstress, who made her an exact copy of it; she was very jealous when I wore it to the dance. Willie always had more clothes than I did, but that didn’t stop her from being so jealous of that dress. One thing we always fought with each other about – was clothes and boys, but always remained friends afterward.”

helen in school (2)

Mama is second from left, peeking through. Her best friend Willie Mae is 4th from left peeking through.

Called mama to wish her Happy Valentines Day… “everyday is the same, guess I missed the party at the center as I can’t find my car keys this morning. They are in the house… somewhere!”

Vegetables:

I asked mama again tonight about the root cellar granddaddy had on the farm, I thought I had it written down in these conversations, but couldn’t find it today when I was looking for it for my April A to Z – maybe I wrote it for another story somewhere… Mama says “My daddy began questioning  why so many vegetables had been disappearing from the root cellar… than he remembered taking out. He had made a big dirt mound behind the car shed, and he dug a root cellar under it – there was a tunnel we crawled in to get what was needed. One afternoon, he sent me, mama and Leroy to town and he crawled up inside with his shotgun – to wait… Well it wasn’t long after we left, when he heard someone coming in the tunnel. They  opened the door to find him sitting there with the rifle – they quickly retreated with daddy in tow. It was the tenant who lived on the hill, and worked on the farm. Daddy just looked at him and told him to pack his belongings, he was done! After he left, that’s when Aunt Lou moved in with her family. I liked Aunt Lou, she often wrote poems for me and would let me stay up there all day cutting out paper dolls and pasting them on the walls of the cabin.”

While watching a TV commercial showing Chili… mama said “I never liked anything with beans, and if I don’t like it, I’m not eating it for any reason. I am spoiled growing up on the farm, having all our vegetables out of the garden. I don’t want any vegetable out of a can and especially turnip greens. I’ll only eat them if they’re fresh – I used to cook them, sometimes even adding a few collards in. I don’t know how anyone can eat them out of a can! I used to cook turnip greens and they were really good, but I don’t want to cook anymore. I only want to eat Brunswick Stew now.”

“My mama loved living on the farm, she had a lot of shelves in the dining room and kept them all filled with her canning jars. She enjoyed canning and grew a small garden just so she had plenty of vegetables to put up for the winter.”

“I went over to feed Sadie today; she’s gotten used to me coming over and becoming very spoiled by me. I wasn’t going to brush her today, but she got right up under me, so I got the brush and brushed her – she loves to be brushed. It’s so hot here – you think it’s hot there baby girl – come on down here and I’ll show you what hot is. There’s plenty of tomatoes on my plants right now, but I think they’re gonna be tough as there hasn’t been enough rain this summer to make the vegetables have juice. If this weather doesn’t change soon, I don’t think we’ll have any vegetables.  I did have plums on the tree, but they’re just falling off now. I have some big squash vines, but no squash yet. I wish I could cook some turnips to eat like I used to. I’d bring the greens to a boil, then pour off the juice to get rid of the bitter taste… then add fresh water and a piece of ham hock with salt and pepper and cook till they were tender. I would cook a big pot of them and freeze in small containers.”

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!

signature-blog-card

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2017: A to Z... Conversations with Mama, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

U

U…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

U is for Uncles and Union Point…

Uncles:

I called Mama tonight to tell her the woman I met online was also from Siloam. She recognized her last name, and said, “she must have been the youngest of the family, but I did know her older brother (Gilbert).” The woman told me about riding the school bus and it was her uncle, Jimmy Copelan, who had been the bus driver. When I asked Mama… “I remember Mr. Jimmy, as we also called him. He was the one who always waited for me because I took so long in fixing my hair every morning, and deciding what I wanted to wear to school. He said that the best gift I ever gave him, was when I graduated from high school and didn’t ride his bus anymore! I remember always being the first one on the bus in the morning, and the last one off in the afternoon. I also remember how he’d sometime just stop the bus if he saw someone he wanted to talk to – and leave me sitting on the bus – and often in the heat of the day…. I think that was my punishment!”

“Daddy’s cousin, Lawson McKinley, owned Ulmer’s store in Siloam, and was the Mayor of Siloam – bet you didn’t know that, and Uncle Joe McKinley was the Chief of Police. They literally ran the small town of Siloam. Daddy was given Uncle Joe’s police revolver after he died, and I gave it to you along with Daddy’s two rifles. It was always told to me that the pistol had notches on the handle to mark the men Uncle Joe shot.” (There are no notches on the handle – only a few cracks)

On my nightly phone call, Mama began telling me about the Fuller School House that Granddaddy owned. “Daddy owned 10 acres on the road to White Plains where the old Fuller School house sat. My father and Aunt Lena, his sister, bought it for Uncle Villa and Aunt Mae McKinley to live in. Uncle Villa (McKinley), daddy’s brother, had TB and they needed a place to live away from everybody. While living there, a tornado came through and picked the house up with Uncle Villa and Aunt Mae inside and sat it down in the woods on top of some tree stumps; this was probably sometime in the 1940’s. They weren’t harmed, but the house was no longer livable. They then came to live at our house for a few months, and stayed in the back bedroom, while Daddy and Aunt Lena built them a small house on Daddy’s land, just up the road from our house.”

“Back in the old days, people held dances in their homes. I remember dances at my Granddaddy McKinley’s house near Slip Rock. Uncle J.W. McKinley, Uncle Walter McKinley and his wife, Aunt Marie  played and she sang; they also played in other people’s homes. I still remember seeing them play and sing from when I was young. They would move all the furniture out of the dining room – they had big rooms in those old homes. They sang and square danced all night.”

I mentioned that Steve had pounded the dents out of my baby cup and … “Mrs. Rhodes of Rhodes Drugstore gave you that silver cup and bracelet when you were born. Actually she probably gave it at the baby shower that Mrs. Cleo Sisson gave me; she lived next door to my mother-in-law in the mill houses. The baby ring you have was given to you by Uncle John William Gossette, your grandmother Bryan’s half brother. Sometimes I’d take you to visit Miss Donah Brown and we’d spend the day. She wasn’t married and loved me to bring you so she could hold and rock you;. she was an artist and made hooked rugs.”

“I loved to sit in my father’s favorite rocking chair by the fire on cold nights in the cabin… Daddy always had a favorite chair. My mother’s brothers, Lewis and Roth Askew often came to come visit us every couple of weeks; they walked everywhere they went. Uncle Roth had lost one hand in an accident when he worked in the sawmill. If no one was home when they came, they’d go in and let the window shade up to let daddy know, out in the field, that they were there. They lived together in Powelton, which was below Sparta, and often spent nights with different brothers and sisters; Uncle Roth died at his sister Annie’s house. He told her the night before, that he was going to retire, he went to bed and when she went in to wake him the next morning, she found him dead.”

“I remember Aunt May (Uncle Villa Askew’s wife) used to sew dresses for me sometimes; she had no daughters, only boys. For some reason back then, when they made you a dress, they always made them too big. I liked my dresses to fit me, not swim on me. I bet that after I got it home, I redid it somehow… as I was very fussy about clothes, as I still am today. Uncle Villa was my mother’s brother.”

“I liked when Uncle Charlie and Aunt Emma (daddy’s sister) came to visit; they lived in Atlanta near Lena, her sister. Uncle Charlie would ask me, “do you want some chicken feed?” I’d follow him all around and he’d give me pocket change. He only did that after he’d had whiskey up at the barn. Whenever family came, the men always headed up to the barn to have a drink. My father always had liquor hid up there, as he sold it also. We lived in a dry county – which meant it wasn’t sold. He’d buy it in a wet county and bring it back to sell. People stopped by the farm, usually on the weekends, looking to buy. The law came sometimes, trying to find it, but they never did. I never knew where it was hidden, but it had to be up in the barns somewhere. Aunt Emma always got all twisted when Uncle Charlie came back to the house drunk – I thought it was funny as I liked the money he’d give me, so I didn’t care.”

Union Point:

When I asked about the City Hotel in Union Point….  “I often stayed at the hotel on the weekends with Willie Mae – my best friend; her parents owned it. I met her on the first day of school in first grade. One night Willie and I were in the bathroom taking a bath when we heard her uncles, in an adjoining room, talk about the whiskey they had, and where they were going to hide it while they went out. After they left, Willie snuck in and took half of it for us. We got so drunk chasing it with chocolate milk – what were we thinking! We were two drunk chicks in the bathroom, and ended up… throwing up. When they came back, we heard them in their room almost fighting with each other over the missing liquor; Willie went in and told them before they fought. They probably took one look at her and knew where it went!”

I mentioned to mama that James Smith Oliver wrote on the Greene County History Facebook group that he remembered live music by locals on Friday and Saturday nights at the City Hotel in Union Point. Mama said… “ I remember music on the weekends there, my Uncles J. W., Walter McKinley and his wife Aunt Marie had a little band and often played there. Aunt Marie sang, not sure if she played to, but I remember her singing. There was another juke joint place between Siloam and Greensboro called The Beacon. All the young people went there for music and dancing; I remember my brother talking about going there.”

When I called mama tonight, I asked her about a picture taken at the farm of her as a young girl, Leroy, a baby and a blond headed girl, and … “If that younger girl had blond hair, that was Grace’s daughter Margaret. They often came to the farm when Uncle Earle visited his father.” And then the conversation turned to desserts… “Our desserts were cornbread and buttermilk after dinner, or a left-over biscuit sopping up sorghum syrup; mama made teacakes and pies but not often. When I came home from school there was usually a baked sweet potato sitting on the back of the stove… that was my treat! I’d grab that potato and enjoy it out on the stoop!”

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Union Point, Georgia…  ironically a “one-street town.”

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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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2017: A to Z... Conversations with Mama, Cemetery Sunday, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

T

T…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

T is for Tornado, Television and Thanksgiving

Tornado:

I called mama to check on her several times today as bad storms and tornado’s were touching down in Georgia all day. Every time I’d call, she’d say, “I don’t see or hear anything, I’ll just keep myself home and mind my business and let it pass on by. I remember being in the log cabin and the rain beating on the windows so hard that they rattled. Daddy often stuck paper in between the frames to keep them from ratting so much; there was bad storms when I was small.”

“I was at at school one day when a tornado came through… we sat under our desks during the storm; it was pretty scary, I couldn’t wait to go home. A dog showed up at our house later that afternoon after the tornado – a small black and white dog with spots, so I called him Spot. We never heard about anyone looking for him, so he stayed with us. Whenever a cloud came up, Spot would go in the house and hide under my bed. He lived with us on the farm for a long time until he died.”

“When I was young I’d get in the bed and pull the covers over my head when it stormed – and sit there really quiet. We used to have some really bad clouds come up, loud and noisy storms, not like today. The storms we have now are nothing like I remember when I was little. But even now, I still like to be quiet when it storms. I’ll turn everything off – no TV or lights on. I’ll just sit in the dark and be real quiet, and I still sometimes even pull the cover up over my head so I don’t have to see the lightning. If it’s stormy like a tornado warning, I’ll get in the hallway and shut myself in until the storm is over.”

When Mama answered the phone, I asked her what she was doing and… “ I’ve just laid in the bed all day. It’s been raining and thundering with tornado watches all day. My house inside sure looks like a tornado hit, I think her name was Helen.”

I called Mama tonight to ask about the bad weather I’d heard about (April 29, 2014)… “We didn’t use to have weather like this when I grew up. I only remember one bad tornado when I was young. That’s when the tornado picked up Uncle Villa’s house while he was sleeping in the bed. It set it down “intact” further down in the woods. A tree stump came right up through the floor. After I moved back to the farm, I remember heading home from Holiday Inn one night with a bad cloud coming in. When I got home I tried to pull the mattress off the bed to get underneath as I heard a lot of noise outside. The tornado came close by and laid a pine tree on top of the front porch roof. I called my cousin Kenneth McKinley and told him I was dead. He laughed! He headed over to the farm but had to turn around to get his chain saw as there were so many trees across the road to the farm and he couldn’t get through.”

“When you come down in the fall you can dig up some hydrangeas to take home, but don’t expect them to be the same colors up there – it depends on your soil. Years ago, a really long time ago, this land here used to be the dump; no telling what you’d find if you dug down, might even find a money box. I can tell my house has sunk, just from the years I’ve lived here. There was once a well here too, but way before I came or even when Allen bought it. The well was where that ditch is between my house and Mr. Knights. If you throw something in the ditch, it eventually disappears – I’ve done it and later could never find what I threw in. Mrs. Cooper, who lived across the street, is who told me all these things. Did you know that way back at the end of my property, between me and Mr. Knight, he buried a school bus to use as a tornado shelter. He nailed the windows shut and built an outside door and cement steps leading down into it. I’ve looked down the steps but never went down there. Allen went in there once – it’s actually more on my property than his. The kids used to like to sneak down in there and I’d have to run them off. Later someone locked it up and it’s pretty much all grown over; I’ll show you where it is… if you want to go in there, but it’s probably loaded now with snakes.

It was bad weather in Georgia today and mama remembered… “I’ll never forget the tornado that laid a pine tree across the front porch. I had just came home late from work and I was doing something with the mattress, as I had it off the bed. When I heard the noise of the pine tree hitting the front porch, I dove under it. After everything stopped I called my cousin Kenneth and told him I was dead… he laughed and said well you’re talking to me. Those winds pulled up that pine tree by it’s roots. That tornado came from the top of the road and must have came right down, stopping long enough to pull that tree down, then it went on down the road below me.”

I called several times today as Georgia was under severe weather with tornado’s all over the state. Every time I called, she’d tell me I’m not really seeing anything. I’m just keeping myself home today and minding my business… it will pass on. I remember having bad storms and tornado’s when we lived in that log cabin…. we were poor folks. The rain would be beating on those cheap glass windows that they be rattling so bad that daddy would stick rolled up paper between the frames to keep them quiet.

Television:

Many of our late night chats are often after I’ve gotten comfortable in bed to watch TV, but sometimes we often chat during my bath-time… I take long baths!

“I worked at the Holiday Inn as a bartender, after my divorce, and moved back to the farm to care for my father. My girlfriend, Willie Mae, worked there also – she was a waitress.  I remember once there was a movie being made around there – this same actor came in everyday and ordered a grapefruit and vodka. He always sat at the end of the bar and talked to me while he smoked his cigar. He had been in a series on TV earlier, because I recognized him when I first saw him, but I can’t remember his name now.” (He was Richard Baseheart from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.)

I asked Mama tonight what TV programs did I watch when I was small. “When we lived in Union Point your father was a TV repairman and we had one of the first TV sets in town. You didn’t watch much TV when you were young, you were always too busy trying to sell something. Your father sold insurance for New York Life and you’d take his free give-a-ways, like combs and rulers, and even his blank insurance policies, and go up and down the street selling them to the neighbors. You always came home with a pocketful of change. One time you took his wallet that held the weeks collection of money from his customer’s insurance premiums and hid it. When we asked you about his wallet, you kept saying you didn’t know, but I knew you must have hidden it as you always hid things. I let you overhear me say, “well I guess the police will have to come and lock up her Daddy since he doesn’t have the money to give to the insurance company.” You quickly ran home and brought the money to me; you hid it in one of the shoe pockets that hung on my bedroom closet door. I had looked all over the house, but never looked there – usually I’d find what you had hidden. When we moved to Perry, I found coins hidden under everything throughout the house as I packed.”

When I asked tonight what she was doing… “I’m just laying here with my eyes closed, nothing much on TV but a western; don’t know what I want to watch, so I was just thinking.” Then I laughed and told her, well I bet there’s some dishes in the sink you could wash if you’re bored… Mama said “Oh My Heavens let them stay in there! I bet Steve would cuss knowing all those dishes are piled in the sink. Things like that don’t matter to me anymore.”

I began telling mama about the great “almost” escape of the mouse tonight. Steve had went to pick up pizza and while I sat on the couch, Penelope came into the living room with something dangling from her mouth. I stood up to see and… she dropped something alright – a small grey mouse. Yikes! I only had a book in my hand, so I dropped it on him, but after a few seconds he scrambled away behind the TV with Penelope in pursuit. I ran into the kitchen looking for something to catch him in, but couldn’t find anything right away. Finally he ran under the couch and I gave up… waiting for Steve to come back. After we ate, we began the game of playing “mousetrap”… me armed with a kids butterfly net and him with the vacuum cleaner. Finally he yelled that he had him corned and when he said go… turn on the vacuum…. he sucked him right up! Mama laughed, and said… “Poor little mouse, he took his last ride up the vacuum tube. I used to have a baby mouse as a pet. I had found him in the barn and kept him in a matchbox… he was so tiny. I tried to feed him, and called myself raising him… until daddy discovered him! Well that was the end of the mouse as daddy stomped him. He was such a bitty baby of a mouse, but daddy fussed about how they carry diseases and I better not ever bring any more into the house.”

“I’m very good at laying in the bed watching TV… I could win a prize! Sometimes I feel like I want to go out and dig in the dirt, in my flowers, but not as much as I used to.”

While we talked, mama skimmed through the TV channels…. “Girls are on TV doing gymnastics and swinging on the bars. Now that’s something I would have liked to do when I was young. I swung in the trees a lot, it’s a wonder I never busted my head! I did relay races and high jumping at school too. I could outrun every boy! Wish I had a time machine, I have a lot of things I’d like to go back and change.”

When I called tonight, I told Mama that I played her today, laying on the couch and watching TV like her. “Well that’s OK, it’s called “spring fever” – and then you get over it and get energized! I piddled around for awhile in the yard, but there’s nothing in the house that interests me to do!”

Thanksgiving:

I called Mama the night before Thanksgiving and told her I was making her favorite dish for the first time – she calls it Pink Stuff, but the real name on the recipe she sent me was Cherry Fluff. My GA sis Donna makes it every holiday and they always tell me about it, but I never got around to actually making it. So I decided that I would finally make it to add to our holiday dinner this year. Mama immediately told me… “ I sure wish I could have some right now – I love that stuff and could eat myself silly with it. Allen’s mother made it a little different from Donna. She put chopped grapes and bananas in hers, and chopped everything up small. I really loved hers. Her pink stuff was the first time I ever ate it – and I was hooked from the first taste. I like to eat it with my dressing.”

“I finally feel a little better tonight and will probably go to the Senior Center tomorrow for their Thanksgiving dinner. I drank all my Ensure, so I need to get out and buy more.”

When mama answered, I said “I know where you went today as you didn’t answer the phone this morning.” Mama said… “I told Boo to take my calls while I was gone, I guess he was napping! I went down to the Senior Center for our Thanksgiving Dinner and it was really good…. After not eating much the past week, I ate myself silly. It was so good that I even bought a plate to bring home, I’ll probably eat it tomorrow. Donna said she’s bringing me a Thanksgiving meal, so I can have that on Thursday. We had turkey and dressing, it was really good… it reminded me of my mama’s. There was green beans, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie for dessert. I couldn’t even finish all on my plate and hated to leave it, but I didn’t want to open up my covered dish to bring home.”

Just called mama to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving…. “I’ve been eating myself silly all day… I have a fridge full of food that Donna brought over yesterday. If I had all that food in there all the time, I guess you’d have a fat mama!” I told her that we were still waiting to eat; I made home-made dressing this year and I’m excited to eat it. Steve made the cornbread yesterday and I made biscuits this morning. “Too bad you can’t send me a piece to try, you’ll have to freeze me a square to taste next time you come.”

I asked if she had dinner yet when I called tonight…. “I had an Ensure, wasn’t really hungry, but I’d sure like a Thanksgiving dinner with some cranberry sauce.” I told her she’d better get in that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans… she laughed! “I’m all over that! It was a little cold today… I had no desire to even go outside. I’d prefer to just lay in the bed today and watch TV. I did enough out in the yard yesterday!”

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I made this “butterfly” sign for mama one year!

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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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

 

Posted in 2017: A to Z... Conversations with Mama, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

S

S…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

S is for School, Soup, Sewing, Story, Sayings and Swings

School:

“Mr. C.C. Wills taught me geometry… everyone got 100 in his class; the year I graduated Mr. Wills was principal. One day on the bus I sang “John, Jacab, Jingle Hiner Smith all the way to school, with each verse becoming louder and louder. I did that because the bus driver wouldn’t make the boys let up the windows… all of the girls hair was getting wet and ruined. As soon as we arrived at school, I immediately was sent to the office! When I told Mr. Wills what I did and that I was Leroy’s sister, he handed me 10 cents to get a Coke and sit down for awhile. Once he heard Leroy’s name, he knew I was Edgar McKinleys’ daughter. He was the very one who pushed for my brother to be drafted into the Army out of school – and he was the one my daddy punched in the nose when word came that Leroy had been killed.”    

“I always liked to help daddy in the field – if I stayed inside mama made me churn butter and I hated that; I didn’t like being confined in the house… I liked to follow daddy in the field. My brother, Leroy, spent more time with mama, especially when he wanted money for something at school; mama always gave it to him.”  

“School and me didn’t jive very well and I sometimes skipped school. One day the truant officer came around and daddy ran him off, telling him he’d take care of it and to never come back around his farm again. The workers in the field laughed as the man jumped over the fence as he ran away from daddy.”

Mama began talking about clothes when I called… “I was a tomboy when I was young – I even wore overalls when I was little,  I never liked dresses. When it was really cold mama made me wear long johns under my clothes to school… I hated that. When we got to school, Willie Mae and I would cut the sleeves off our shirts underneath. One time I wanted a pair of white shoes – in as we were lucky to get one new pair of shoes a year, I painted my older black ones white – they looked pretty until it rained.”

“I have never done anything I didn’t want to do – when I was young, I’d just make myself go limp and faint. I often fainted in the cotton field and daddy would just carry me back to the house. Sometimes at school I’d faint and Mr. Burke, the principal, would carry me to the office. I don’t need to faint anymore, now I just say… I’m not going to do that and walk on.”

In mentioning basketball… “Mr. Burke often said, Helen is gonna play where she wants to play, not where you tell her. I played guard position, but I always wanted to be the shooter, and if I got a shot to shoot, I took it… no matter what was said to me. Mr. Burke did everything at school, he was the principal, basketball coach and anything else needed; I was his pet.”

Soup: 

I mentioned vegetable soup to mama as I was reading a recipe of a vegetable soup that had cabbage in it, and… “I’d like cabbage in it, but you can keep the spinach, I wouldn’t want that in my soup. You can make some soup and send me”…. and she laughed. “I wonder what the mailman would say if I told him I’m sitting here waiting for the soup my daughter is sending.” Then we began talking about the Poor Man’s Soup she used to make. I make it also, but basically only Melissa and I like it, especially when I put Butter Beans in it. Stephen and my husband aren’t partial to them, but we did. “They make a good vegetable soup down at the center, but they make terrible cornbread. I want a thick piece of cornbread so I have something to put in my soup and all they give you is was thin piece of cornbread… I don’t call that cornbread. I don’t know why they can’t make good cornbread. The next time they make it, I’m going to go in the kitchen and ask them for a piece of the cornbread they make for themselves, I bet it’s better than what they’re serving the old folks. I used to make good cornbread, but probably can’t make it now. All I used was White Lilly cornmeal and buttermilk; it’s already got the salt and baking powder in it. I have put an egg, but not generally. Now I don’t want to cook anymore, I’d rather just go open an Ensure if I’m hungry.”

Another night I mentioned vegetable soup and in telling her I put Lima beans in… “I don’t like Lima Beans – no way; I do like butter beans though. When I made that soup we call Poor Man’s Soup, everything but the kitchen sink went in – whatever I happened to have on hand. I usually put corn, okra, tomatoes and some potatoes. I used all 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.

Sewing:

Mama was sewing tonight when I called, then she asked… “Do you know what flip flop socks are?” “Hmm, no I don’t I told her, unless they are the ones that look like fingers for your toes.” “Everyone is wearing them here and I thought I’d make myself a pair out of these Santa socks I had, but I’m having a problem. The first one came out perfect, but when I made the second one, I messed up.” I laughed telling her, “I bet you made the second one just like the first.” “Yep, that’s exactly what I did.” I told her, “I’ve done that plenty of times.” Mama said, “I’m so mad at myself for cutting it wrong, but I’ll fix it somehow tonight as I want to wear them to the center tomorrow.”

I called mama before lunch… and no answer, which told me that she probably went to the center with her “found” car keys. Later I called about 3:30 and just as I was about to hang up, she answered… out of breath. “I crawled over to get the phone as I’m sitting on the floor sewing bells on the bottom of this curtain going into the living room.” Why, I asked? “I’m sewing the jingle bells on the bottom so when Boo walks through I hear the jingling noise.” My husband just shook his head, thinking… another noise for us to hear when we sleep in the living room and Boo walks in. “It’s just something to do, I saw them laying on the bureau and thought I’d sew them back on. The reason it took so long to get over to the phone was because I couldn’t get up that fast, so I just crawled over to grab the phone… I knew it was you.” I told her to take the phone back with her…. “No one will call now, you’ve already called.” (We had a blizzard today, about 14 inches)

“Did I ever tell you that the only sheets we had for our cotton-filled mattresses were made from flour and fertilizer sacks? Mama saved every sack! She bleached and sewed them together to make large enough sheets to cover the mattress. There were no fitted sheets back then – they were all flat sheets. I even had some at our house when you were small – you slept on them, but never knew it. Sometimes she even saved the pretty, printed flour sacks to use for her quilts or sewing. She also made my underwear with them. I never had store bought underwear until much later.” 

When I asked Mama who taught her to sew…. “No one taught me to sew, I taught myself. I never went by patterns either, I can’t follow written directions on sewing or crocheting. I took old clothes apart and made my own patterns using newspaper or either someone might have given me a pattern. Any clothes I didn’t wear anymore, were ripped apart and the material re-used. That’s probably what happened to your father’s Navy “whites.” They most likely became white slacks for me or you. I re-used everything until it couldn’t be used again – I was frugal then and still that way today! (I watched Martha Stewart show today and they were teaching kids to knit using these words – “Under the fence, catch the sheep, back we come and off we leap. I knew if I didn’t write it down here, I’d never remember it. I told mama and she said “that would never make me learn how to knit!”

Story:

“One time, while attending the Siloam Grammar School, Mr. Burke told the class to write a story. I didn’t like to write, but I wrote one and he said it was the best in the class. It wasn’t a long story as I remember writing it quickly. I can still remember him praising me on it, but to this day… I can not remember what I wrote about; sure wish I kept it! That’s like the time you wrote a story about the window fan in our living room, and how we threw it in the dump because we bought an air conditioner. You wrote how you liked the fan and the way it made the house smell as it circulated the smell of coffee in the morning. The fan was later picked up out of the dump, painted green and put in someone else’s house… where it didn’t smell so good. You got an A on that story! I kept it for years and still had it at the farm, but I don’t know what eventually happened to it. In the Siloam School, everyone always said that I was Mr. Burke’s pet.”

rat hole fix

The Rat Hole!

In reading through the Greene County book, I discovered a story on the Rat Hole behind the Hosiery Mill – it was something I never knew of, so I asked Mama. “I don’t remember anything called the rat hole.” But once I told her it was behind the hosiery mill and built under the railroad for people to cross through from one side of town to the other when the train stopped on the tracks, she said. “Oh yea I’ve been through that opening there, it separates the town from the other side, but I never heard it called the rat hole. Me and Willie Mae used to cross through it going to town. She walked through it daily when she walked to school, but she was always afraid and usually ran through it.” I called Willie Mae and asked her and … “Oh yea I remember the Rat Hole – I crossed through it every day when I went to school. Sometimes when I ride by now I stop and look through it.” (While we were in Ga. in June (2010) I rode by and took photos.)

“My mama had no life, she cooked, washed clothes, canned, ironed, quilted, worked in the field and vegetable garden. She had nothing she did just for fun. I remember her reading to us at bedtime. I still remember the story about a cat who lived during the Civil War – his name was Kitty Ken. I got a cat soon after that and named him Kitty Ken, but after I married and went to Memphis he was run over. When I asked Daddy about him one day, he told me that he caught a ride.”

Swing:

We used to jump over the barb wire fences like high jumping, it’s a miracle I never missed and cut myself all up. I remember jumping in the muddy water down in the pasture one time and stuck a rusty nail in my foot. They never took me to the Dr., daddy pulled it out and then poured kerosene on it. I remember sitting in the swing on the front porch with my foot all swollen. Daddy used kerosene for everything!”

“I was always doing something, either jumping over big gullies or swinging on vines across deep ditches – it’s a wonder I never broke my neck. Leroy hunted with guns everyday but wouldn’t let me go, so I’d sneak and follow him. I’m lucky he never accidentally shot me – maybe he knew I was following! I liked to follow him and the boys… especially when they wouldn’t let me come… I’d write down everything they talked about. One night at supper, when daddy asked what was new, I proceeded to read their news of the day. It wasn’t very nice what they had said, and I didn’t even know what it meant, but daddy wasn’t happy.

“When you and Steve come down, we’ll check out the property where my grandparents lived – it was just down from our cabin on the left going toward Slip Rock. I wonder if the tree where the swing was is still there. That’s where I always played – a swing hung on that tree. The house originally belonged to Dr. Lewis’s father, Judge Lewis. They also owned the log cabin we lived in; it was on the same property as their new house. Daddy sharecropped for him until he bought the farm.”

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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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

R

R…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

R is for Rabbit, Riddles and Rocks…. Oh My!

Rabbit:

“I don’t know why I still remember this, but I can still see you and your friend Janet doing the Teaberry shuffle as you crossed the street. The two of you held your invisible rabbit Harvey’s hand as you walked down the street, upon reaching the corner, you let go of his hand to do the Teaberry shuffle, then continued on across the street. Then you walked to the drugstore, plopped on the stools, always leaving an empty stool between you, and order a coke for yourselves… and Harvey – your invisible rabbit. It was after watching the movie Harvey, that you girls found your invisible rabbit.”

“My daddy ate possum, squirrels, rabbits, doves, and probably would have eaten bear if the opportunity had been there. One time we had a possum who would come to the back door nightly to eat the bread I put out for him. I remember mama cooking possum one day afterward, but I didn’t want any… thinking it was my possum.”

“When I moved back to the farm with daddy, I’d come home to find the doves he’d shot in the yard. He’d throw out corn in the yard, then sit quietly with his rifle – waiting. I’d clean and cook them for him, but I really didn’t want any. I remember him and Leroy putting out rabbit boxes in the woods. That was another meat I didn’t want any part of. They often came into the yard to eat the apples that fell off the horse apple tree. All kinds of animals came around the farm… we lived in the country. I remember your father going rabbit hunting with Bobby White in Perry; they went at night with the jeep and shined the lights to blind the rabbits. (I remember going with them one time)”

“Your father had pretty eyes – often referred to as bedroom eyes and you have eyes like your daddy. Melissa has eyes like me, round eyes. Allan used to say I had rabbit eyes – not sure what that meant. Your father often said my eyes could stare a hole in you. Allan’s son Clark would say, “if Angel starts looking at you with those eyes – look out, you were in trouble.” You can always tell how I feel about you – from my eyes – they talk! Stephen has eyes more like you.”

Riddles: 

Mama always told this riddle through the years and have to think really hard to understand it… and remember it: “My father told me this riddle when I was a little girl and I have told it to many, but they never get it. I’ve tried to explain the answer, but they usually end up saying, yea OK! “A man goes to jail to visit another man. He tells the jailer,” if you can answer this riddle, will you let the man go free? The riddle is “brothers and sisters I have none, but this man’s father is my fathers son!” So who is the man?”

Rocks: 

When I called tonight, somehow this came up… “ There was a tree up on our hill, a sapling growing up right between two big rocks. It was my favorite place to ride – I’d shimmy up the tree and wrap my coat around me and the tree and get it rocking – almost touching one side of the ground and over to the other side. It’s a miracle I never flew off and hit those rocks. Daddy would be out in the field plowing, never saying a word to me. Behind the barns was a tree we called the “lighting tree” – as it seemed to be petrified from being hit by lighting too many times.”

One of the more popular “large” rocks in Siloam – Before and Now!

I was thinking about Flat Rock from the other night. Yes there was a spring there. I remember hearing my cousin Kenneth talk about it. While I’ve never seen it, but he used to go swimming there with some of the guys. I probably wouldn’t have even jumped in, thinking there were snakes lurking under that water. Too bad they didn’t make Flat Rock into a resort, as it was something to see; you could walk around and around, and see nothing but flat rocks. I never knew who owned it back then, but everyone went there to have picnics. Daddy even went fox hunting down there sometimes. The dogs would track the foxes over the flat rocks, while the men sat and probably had a few cigarettes, told tales, while listening to the dogs bark and howl. They could tell by their yapping if they were just running or had treed a fox.”

There was no water running through Slip Rock the day we rode by – we stopped on the small bridge and could still see some big rocks on both sides of the small wooden bridge, but now they were all dry; it was once a place I used to walk and wade through. Mama said… “this used to be “the place” to come in my day, the water was crystal clear as it ran over the rocks. They called it Slip Rock because the rocks were so slippery and smooth from the water running over. The large rocks at the end, way down through the woods, were really slick, especially the big one that slanted down toward the pool of water. We used to slide down into the water below – that was our entertainment and where we cooled off! “

jeanne slip rock

Me on top of one of the big rocks at Slip Rock.

slip rock

 

This is the big rock that we slid down at Slip Rock.

 

I didn’t go to the center today as I overslept… so I just rolled over and went back to sleep. I’m really sore from moving around all those rocks in my garden the other day. Boo didn’t mind, he just rolled over with me, the two of us are so lazy!”

“Jernigan’s Bridge was an old wooden bridge down from White Plains. There were wide flat rocks alongside the stream of water – just right for sunbathing. I remember one time I was down there with my best friends daughters, Pat and Debbie (Willie Mae’s daughters) and we pinned big leaves all over our bathing suits. We looked like we were only wearing leaves! I don’t remember who’s idea that was, but I was just as crazy as the kids back then.”

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

After talking about rocks, Mama remembered about the Lime Rock Plant in Perry. “Outside of Perry there was a place called the Lime Rock Plant. Daddy and I took you there once when you were small, but you probably don’t remember. We’ll have to go there again when you come down sometime. I remember riding around on some dirt roads through there and picking up rocks and even some seashells. You could find rocks that had plants or animal indentations in them… like fossils. I don’t know if it’s even open anymore, you’ll have to find out.”

While riding through Greene County, Mama’s words were. “All around Siloam you see those big rocks in the farmer’s fields. There was a large rock back in my daddy’s back fields that I loved to crawl up on and sit. Somewhere around Siloam there is one really big rock that looks like the head of an eagle. It’s been said by many that all the big rocks around Siloam are the actual roots of Stone Mountain. You don’t see these type of large rocks in the farm fields anywhere else except around Siloam and White Plains. The granite rocks of Stone Mountain are said to stretch for many miles underground, so they could very well be the roots of Stone Mountain.”

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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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2017: A to Z... Conversations with Mama, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

Q

Q…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

Q is for Quilting, Quarters, and Queen For A Day…

Quilting:

I asked Mama tonight if she’d ever seen a show called Hoarders on TV and … “My mother was a hoarder about quilting material. She made one quilt after another and constantly pieced scraps for the next quilt. She never stopped using a quilt either just because edges became  frayed – she’d continue using the old ones even though she had a stack of brand new quilts… just sitting there. She also gave away a lot of quilts to the family. I guess I’m a hoarder with my clothes, shoes and jewelry. I found four long skirts today that I can wear with my boots. Everyone loved them – they are almost to my ankles. Went to FISH after the center today but can’t remember what I bought. I try to buy something everyday – about a dollar’s worth – have to support FISH!”

Grandmama’s Flower Garden and Wedding Ring Quilts

“Most days mama was busy ironing and chopping in the vegetable garden. She’d wake up in the morning to chores, chores and more chores… wash day was all-day, but she still had to cook lunch and later dinner. The only thing that was entertainment for mama was reading.. Cousin Ulma (McKinley) often gave her True Romance books, she’d read and then I’d read too. If she wasn’t reading, she was quilting or sewing.”

Quarters:

In talking about Celia’s house tonight, (Dec. 20, 2015), mama asked if we’d found any money – yea, LOL…. and we laugh every time we find a nickel or a quarter. Everyone always thought we’d find money, but there was none to be found, and Steve looked everywhere. He had a dream once of finding money behind the wall in the bathroom, and he went over there the next day and went through the closet to get to the panel to look… to satisfy himself that the dream hadn’t been a clue. He even went through every sawdust bucket in the cellar, thinking that maybe his dad might have buried something. He did find a burned pan his father buried in a junk pile down there…. his mother had looked for it for years, always asking who took her pan…. dad kept mum! Mama said… “After my father died, I cleaned out his clothes and almost burnt up the jacket with over three-hundred dollars in the pocket. I had a last-minute decision to go through the pockets of a jacket I found hanging out on the back porch, and boy was I surprised when I found that money.”

When I called tonight about 6:30 p.m…. “I was sleeping and having a good dream.. I was happy in my dream, but I don’t remember why. I’m just bored, but there’s nothing I know that I want to do. I need to clean this house, but I’m not interested in doing that. We went to Holcomb’s yesterday for BBQ and Stew and I brought home about four or five quarts of stew; that will last me for awhile. It’s clouding up out there now, but it’s not going to rain… it never rains here.”

Mama has TV channels we don’t have like “Decades”…  “Buzzr” …. and “Me TV”… and as I  watched “What’s my Line” – the contestant was catching quarters lined up on his elbow, and mama said “I used to put quarters on my elbow and flip them up – and caught them. Don’t know if I could still do it now – now I’m just lazy!” Melissa called and we video-chatted with her and the girls – they were being shy, but McKinley yelled, “I want to say hello to Pop.” She is Pop’s girl for sure!

The first thing I asked when I called tonight was, “did you fix your socks last night?” Mama said, “I threw those socks in the trash, they were aggravating me, I’m not like you, I’ll just throw them out and call it a day.” LOL… (she knows that I will drive myself to drink to fix something – I don’t give up easily.)  She asked me what time it was while she was on the phone, and after I told her, she said… “well one clock is an hour ahead and the other one says a quarter till 12, so I don’t know what happened.” I told her that we turned our clocks back a few weeks ago, so that’s what happened to your clocks! She laughed, “Oh, they’ll catch up to the right time soon.”

“When we ran Moss Oaks Lounge in Perry, I could tear up those slot machines we had there. I’d sit on the bar stool and watch the men play, and I almost always knew when they would hit. They’d walk away, and I’d go over and put my quarter in, and often, out came loads of quarters. If I could feel the handle click, I knew that I would make a hit. Sometimes I’d put my ear next to it and hear that click; I milked them dry many nights. I guess those were some of the best times I had, when we ran that club. Most nights I’d bring home most of the change and leave it on the top of your bed. You’d wake up to find a headboard full of change and know that Mama hit on the slots.”

“While I was at the Senior Center this morning, I went in the clothes closet and tried on a vest, then the lunch bell rang and we were called to lunch. I went into the lunch room and while sitting at the table I realized I still had the vest on but hadn’t paid for it. I didn’t want to say anything then, so I just kept it on and decided I’d tell them tomorrow that I stole it and here’s my quarter.”

Queen For A Day:

“I remember how you liked to come home from school and watch the show, “Queen For A Day”. You used to ask me, wouldn’t you like to go on that show and wear that cape? My answer was always No. I don’t think my mother watched it, her favorite show was Art Linkletter’s show… Kid’s Say the Darndest Things. She’d tell me when I came home that he had come to visit her that afternoon in his little car he drove; this was when her mind was going.”

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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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2017: A to Z... Conversations with Mama, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

P

P…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

P is for Perry, Plowing, and Pig

Perry:  

“My friends in Perry liked when I brought my father out to the club. He’d sit at the bar and they’d buy him drinks… as he told them he liked to drink. They got him really drunk one night and had to put him in the car for me to take home. He enjoyed his nights out once in awhile and talking to them. One night while sitting on the stool, smoking his cigarette, a man said, I don’t like smelling that smoke. He just turned around to him and blew the smoke right in his face.”

While telling mama about the playhouse we bought (Nov. 2011) Ella for next summer, she told me…” I built you two playhouses. The first one was built from scratch while living in Union Point. I got the wood from the sawmill in town for free and built it while Granddaddy Paul often watched. I think he was amazed that I knew what I was doing; I didn’t want any help. It had a door, windows, shelves inside and I sewed curtains for the windows. The playhouse you had in Perry was made from a huge crate your father brought home from the base. I cut windows and a door, painted it brown and made curtains.” (I remember that house very well, but I really don’t remember the one in Union Point.)

“Do you remember the time you had a real Stop sign under your bed when we lived in Perry? I don’t know how you got it, but I remember you coming home with it one night and you hiding under your bed.” (I do remember that and vaguely remember stealing it)

“We never had fire ants in Greene County when I grew up, they later migrated there from South Georgia. I remember first seeing them in Perry when we moved there – they also had sandspurs there also – which I hadn’t seen before, but now they’re here also. Sandspurs are small pods with thorns all around like cactus spines – it is most definitely no fun stepping on them and really hard to get out of your foot.”

“We also didn’t have the kind of gnats in Greene Co. like we did in Perry; they’d eat you up and drive you crazy getting in your eyes. I learned quickly how to blow from both sides of my mouth to get them away from my face.”

I mentioned that Stephen was painting, and …. “ One time, when we lived in Perry, I tied a rope to myself and crawled out the attic window to paint the outside. The other end of the rope I secured around the rafters in the attic. I remember the neighbors walking over to tell me I was going to fall, but I was determined to paint the outside of that window. I always did everything, even cutting the grass in Perry. I used to cut my grass here until a few years ago, but now my friends husband cuts it for me, and I take them out to eat. We often go down to Holcombs for BBQ after he cuts the grass; I stock up on Brunswick stew when we go.”

In telling mama that Steve has jury duty on Wednesday, she said… “I think I was only called once for jury duty in Perry, but I was sick and our doctor gave me a note to send in. I was never called again there or here in Monroe and I’d never go now – they better not send me a notice!” (I told here not to worry because they can’t make you when you are over the age of 70 – but again she just said, “well I won’t go.”)

 When I called Mama tonight, I asked, “do you ever remember your dreams – I don’t seem to dream, as I haven’t remembered any in a long time.” Mama said, “I dream a lot and I always go back to the farm when I was a little girl. Even when I lay here awake, I put my mind back to the farm and think of all the things I did there. I guess those were good times – I had no problems, no worries. Those were truly the best times of my life! I’ve also dreamed about when you were a little girl. I never seem to dream about living in Union Point or Perry though… I can’t hardly remember living in our houses in Perry any more.”

“I know you don’t remember, but I collected a set of mini-dolls from Tide when you were young; We lived in Union Point at that time. They were advertised on the back of the Tide boxes – I sent in many box tops to get them. The dolls were about 4-inches tall and each one came dressed to match a country. I never let you play with them and kept them high on a shelf, but after moving to Perry, I don’t know what happened to them. I don’t remember having them in Perry or even seeing them again. I must have thrown or gave them away when we moved; I wish I knew what happened to them.”

“Did I ever tell you I was a good runner in school? I was so good that I outran all the boys in school. Kendrick Lewis and I often fought to see who’d be first in line at the lunch room…sometimes I’d beat him – sometimes he’d beat me. When we lived in Perry I used to run around with all you kids, one time I raced one of the boys down to the tennis court around the corner, but I don’t remember who won. I don’t think I could do anymore running now, I’d be afraid I’d fall and break my neck.”

“The very first time I saw snow was when we lived in Perry; it was a bad storm with snow and lightning. There was so much lightning that you even saw it strike the poles and run down to the ground. Everything stopped – cars were abandoned all over the local roads and I-75. No one was on the roads. All the motels were filled and local people began offering rooms to strangers because they had no place to go and were stranded. Many trees broke from the wet snow and we all lost our electricity. I remember looking out the window and saying out loud, “I guess it’s the end of time.” You heard me and started crying and asked me if it was really true; you were only about 5 or 6. We had just recently moved to Perry, and that was also the first time I’d ever seen snow in Georgia – I never saw any when growing up on the farm.”

“I never cared about any sports, but I did enjoy going to the basketball games at the Perry High School. I liked to watch the group of boys we had there that went to the state championships every year. There was one short boy on the team, and when he stole the ball, he’d head down the court to make the winning shot before the boys on the other side even knew what happened – he was very fast when he took off with the ball. Later in life I became interested in the Atlanta Braves baseball team, but after my favorite boys were traded… I stopped watching.”

Plowing:

Often when daddy plowed, he picked me up and plopped me on the mule’s back. I’d ride up and down the rows as he stood behind the plow, yelling “gee, haw, you son of a bitch.”

When I called tonight, somehow this came up… “ There was a tree up on our hill with a sapling growing up right between two big rocks. It was my favorite place to ride – I’d shimmy up the tree and wrap my coat around me and the tree and get it rocking – almost touching one side of the ground and over to the other side. It’s a miracle I never flew off and hit those rocks; Daddy just plowed in the field, never saying a word to me. Behind the barns was a tree we called the “lighting tree” – as it seemed to be petrified from being hit by lighting too many times.”

Mama talks about her father plowing the fields: “Daddy plowed from early morning, till dinnertime, he’d then come in and eat lunch – lay down for awhile and then go back and plow till dark. It was “gee, haw, you son of a bitch, turn around” as he walked behind the horses. He usually wore two shirts and two pairs of overalls so the sweat would keep him cool. Sometimes he even poured water on himself to keep cool during the hot afternoon.”

Pig:  

“I raised a pig on a bottle when I was young; no sooner after filling a bottle with milk – he’d grab ahold of it and suck it dry. I toted him around in a blanket when he was small and he even came in the house and slept either under the stove, or under my bed; once he grew up daddy made me keep him outside. Leroy and I made him mean like a bull dog by pushing on him with our feet as we’d swing. One day a man came up on the back porch and when he pushed him away – the pig bit him. Daddy decided to sell him after that as he was getting to be a big hog and he was afraid of what he might do to one of us. He told us that the man who bought him wanted him for a pet, but we knew better; daddy couldn’t kill him.”

“Fishing is not for me, you have to sit too still and too quiet and I can’t do that. I used to go with your father, but I’d do other things like catch bugs or dig worms for him. One time I went with him and Bobby, at his farm, but I decided to sunbathe instead and took a blanket and laid in the field. All of a sudden I heard grunting noises and looked up to find myself circled by the pigs, they had discovered me. I jumped up and ran back down to the lake, afraid that they might eat me.”

When I called Mama today she told me about Alice, the pig next door; she somehow got herself loose and was waddling, walking down the middle of the road, and that led to… “We used to have wild boar pigs on the farm back in the marsh back-forty. Daddy used to get really mad when his fox dogs got off the fox trail and onto the scent of the boar. Those boar were pretty dangerous and could kill your dogs when they were cornered.”

Helen new2_0002 (800x593)

I was so happy to find a photograph of mama and her pet pig! If you’re curious why many of my photos are cut… well mama decided to put them all in an album for me several years ago… she made them fit!

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!

signature-blog-card

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2017: A to Z... Conversations with Mama, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

a to z header

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, then to gleam 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.

O

O…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

O is for Oak and Ola Lily

Oak:

“I’ll never forget the one night your father drove over to the farm after having had a little too much to drink. Upon pulling into the yard, he went really fast, around and around the big oak tree in the yard, before flying back out the driveway and up the road. After turning around he came back into the yard and found my father standing in the yard with his shotgun pointed. He told Clayton “boy you better not ever do that again, I was ready to shoot the fool that had just come flying in my yard.” “I had told him not to do that, but he wouldn’t listen because he’d been drinking. He never forgot… and didn’t dare trying it again. You didn’t play around like that in those days – people would shoot first and ask questions later, especially my father..”

“Do you remember the jar of pennies I kept in the top drawer of the old oak bureau sideboard you have; it sat in the dining room in our house in Perry. One day when I looked in the drawer, it was empty – not a penny left. When I asked you what happened to them, you told me you used them to buy ice cream from the ice cream man. That bureau I used as a sideboard was a piece that had been in my parents house from the time I was a little girl. It sat in the backroom behind the dining room – it originally had a mirror attached, but it needed to be redone, so I took it off when I brought it to my house; it belonged to either my mother or father’s parents.”

“In looking at the oak spool cabinet in my living room she said… “ I had forgotten about that cabinet. It came from Mr. Johnny Jackson’s general store in Siloam when he closed… I had mentioned I liked it and he told me take it. It originally was a cabinet that thread came in; I believe the name of Coats & Clark thread was written on it, but can’t remember exactly if it was on the front or inside the drawers. I was very proud when I managed to erase the writing off  it! It’d be worth more now if I had left the name on.”

On our way back to mama’s house, we went through White Plains and… “see that old house burned over there, that was the Lewis house… that’s where the oak table and chairs that daddy bought for me came from. It was sitting out in their front yard and he bought it for probably a few bucks. He brought it home and stripped off all the paint; it was painted several colors, but he cleaned it all up. I used it for many years until I moved back to the farm and then you married and wanted it.” (I have used this table and chairs for forty-plus years.)

Ola Lily:

“Did you get the box of bulbs I sent? I sent you Iris’s – one of every color I have in my yard. They are yellow, white, purple, blue and I think one more color. I also sent Ola Lily and Elephant Ear bulbs for Melissa and some Amaryllis for whoever wants them. I started to send you some buttercups (Daffodils), but didn’t know if you wanted any. You can always bring home some bulbs in October if you come. Mine have already bloomed and died, so they won’t bloom again until next Spring. Did you know that you have to thin out Iris’s when they multiply in one area, or they won’t bloom so much?”

“I’ve always planted flowers wherever we lived – and I’ve always had Ola Lilies at every house we lived at. I had them in the yard in Union Point, and by the back door on Smoak Ave., I had a really big one there and they are all around my house now.”

In asking Mama about the flowers Grandmamma had at the farm, she said; “Mama never planted flowers in her yard – she didn’t really have time. I planted a few flowers – actually what flowers grew there came from me planting them. I don’t remember where we got the Ola Lilies from, but they were found around all the old farmhouses in Siloam. You can still see them all over Siloam, even today. My mother worked too hard outside in the field and the vegetable garden to have time for flowers. But I do remember her having a ‘thing’ for water – every bucket we had on the back porch had to be kept full – all the time. And if I didn’t, she’d do it. I don’t know how she did all she did throughout her life – she cooked all the meals, worked in the field, took care of the vegetable garden, scrubbed the clothes on a washboard, ironed all our clothes with an iron heated on her wood kitchen stove (I have the irons), canned the vegetables she grew, and made many pies of blackberry and peach; her blackberry pie was always my favorite. We had good eating in our house – my Mama was a good cook.”

olalilly

The “Ola Lily” outside of Mama’s back door; actually it’s a Crinum Milk and Wine. These older plants are often referred to as “Passalong” plants because you usually inherit one from someones garden.

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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