Grandma’s Funeral and the Great Hat Feud

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I love this story my mother told me as a kid. I never met Grandma Perkins, who from all reports was an old war horse. Neither my mother nor my grandmother had a warm thing to say about her, so I feel no guilt in sharing this tale. Also, from what I heard, she had plenty of axes to grind with relatives she actually met, so surely she won’t bother with haunting me for speaking ill of her.

Grandma Perkins always said she loved a good fight. Well, she must have died happy, because she and her daughter-in-law had a whing-dinger going when she had a stroke and keeled over. Ruby Nell was a sweet woman and didn’t usually get into it with Grandma, but hadn’t been able to avoid her that day. Her sons, Dave and Harry, and their luckless wives, Ruby Nell and Ethel, had both built houses on Grandma and Grandpa’s place, so Grandma felt free “straighten them girls out” whenever they needed it. Ruby Nell was making pickles when Grandma decided to come over and straighten her out. If she’d given over, Grandma would have ruined the whole batch of much needed pickles. Enraged, Grandma threw a fit, had a stroke, and died on the spot. Of course, poor Ruby Nell felt awful.

Having been the object of Grandma’s temper many times, the other family members tried to console Ruby Nell, but she felt so guilty, she insisted she couldn’t possibly go to the funeral. Finally, her friends and family reminded her of how she been like a daughter to her, despite Grandma’s frequent fits. It could have been any of them that day. Ruby Nell had been the best of all to Grandma. Dave assured her, “Mama knew you loved her. You have to go to the funeral.” Then the clincher, “What will the neighbor’s think?”

After all this loving reassurance, Ruby Nell decided she had manage the funeral after all, but didn’t want to face the small-minded gossips to shop for a new hat for the funeral. She had a new, black bombazine that looked great on her, but she couldn’t show her face without a hat. Her friends, probably the same gossips she was hoping to avoid, showed up bringing all their best, hoping to spare her tender feelings. Hat after hat covered Ruby Nell’s bed: veiled black felts, sequined hats with feathers, cloques with wide ribbon bands. Though, Ruby Nell had never had access to such a plethora of millinery finery, she wisely chose the veiled, black felt, to best hide her tear-stained eyes.

Once Ruby Nell made her dowdy choice, her sisters-in-law Ethel and Maude, Grandma’s unmarried daughter descended on the delightful confection of frothy hats. Both immediately laid claim the loveliest of the lot, a forest-green fedora trimmed with a stunning green band and jaunty plume. It was unbelievable to find such a beauty on loan! They almost pulled it apart! Their argument got quite loud with Maude screeching “it ought ‘a be against the law for a fat little dishwater-blonde like you to be wearing a beautiful hat that, when I’ve got this beautiful red hair!” Harry got concerned about the neighbors seeing a “hair pulling” then and took Ethel out to buy her own new hat.

Smugly satisfied, Maude, proudly wore that gorgeous hat to the funeral. She was a vain woman, proud of her secretarial position down at the bank. Though the hats had been loaned to Ruby Nell, Maude scooped them up, taking them next door where she still lived with her father and recently deceased mother. Those lovely hats made appearances regulary over the next couple of weeks at the bank. Embarrassed in front of her friends, Ruby Nell finally had to have Dave go next door and collect them to be returned to her friends.

Need Immediate Help Here with Relocation

Reblog, our friend needs help

Barb Caffrey's Blog

Folks, one of the reasons I’ve been cagey for months here at my blog is because I’ve been enduring hardship. I can’t go into that many details as most of them are not mine to tell; all I can tell you is that in seven days, I am going to lose my home. And I need immediate help to relocate, get set back up on my feet, and to continue to create — because my goodness, CHANGING FACES is due shortly.

All of this upheaval is not conducive to creativity, to put it mildly. But I need somehow to get it done anyway.

Of course, I don’t know how I get all this done. Right now, I feel overwhelmed, overmatched, and extremely frustrated. I have tried very hard in my current situation to make everything right, and yet I could not do it.

I’m hamstrung in many ways trying to…

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Miss Laura Mae’s House. Part 4


Once a month Miss Laura Mae caught a ride to the Piggly Wiggly with Mother so she could cash her check and get more for her money. “That randy ol’goat, Darnell won’t cash my check unless I trade at his store, an’ his ol’weavilly flour is way too high an’ ain’t fitten to eat, no how.” I was tickled when I found out she was going. As Mother and Billy went off to shop, I trailed her through the grocery store where we looked at things Mother never bought. She picked up jars of pickled pig’s feet, sweet pickles, vanilla wafers, tiny, little sausages, and Cheerios, considering them carefully before putting them in her cart. I admired the cute little cans of Del Monte Niblet Corn and Petit Pois Green peas as I turned up my nose at Mother piling her cart high with the ten for a dollar store brand canned goods. I decided then and there I’d only buy the good stuff when I got grown. Miss Laura Mae never failed to slip me and my brother Billy a little paper bag stuffed with B B Bats, Kits, and jawbreakers which we tore into the minute we were settled in the back seat.

Soon Billy was asleep and I was busy with my candy. I think the ladies forgot me as Miss Laura Mae launched into her story.

“That big ol’farmhouse over there reminds me of where we was livin’when Mama died. I was the baby, just turned fifteen. Mama’s diabetes shut her kidneys down an’ she did’n last a week. She just blowed up like a toad frog. Oly was married an’ livin’ way off in Carthage an’ Ory had just married Hugh Pearson. They was a’livin’ with his mama in a shotgun house on the Malley place. Miz Pearson was real hateful to Ory, claimin’ she “trapped” Hugh, even though it was over a year before the baby come. Mia Pearson swore Ory had a miscarriage right after they got married, but I know it was a lie. Ory was a’cryin’ to Mama about starting her monthly the day before she got married, thinkin’ it wouldn’t be decent to hit married like that, but Mama said they was nuthin’ to do but got married since ever’thing was all set. Hugh would just have to wait, so she could’n a been that away when she got married. They ain’t no way Ory could’a took me in.

I went to live with my sister Beulah after Mama died. Beulah was fixin’ to have a baby an’ was havin’ a good bit of female trouble. It seemed like the best thing, at the time. I had been goin’ with Floyd a few months before Mama died. He wanted to got married right off, but I still kind’a had my heart set on Bill Harkins. We’d been goin’ together awhile before, an’ I still thought a lot of him. I was kind’a hopin’ we’d make up. Anyway, about the time Mama died, the doctor put Beulah to bed till the baby come an’she had to have help with them other kids. I thought I caught Beulah’s ol’ man peeking at me through a knothole in the outhouse one day an’ then I was standin’at the stove puttin’on a pot of beans one day
when he sneaked up behind me an’ grabbed a handful of my behind. I popped him with the bean spoon. He claimed he thought I was Beulah, but I knowed it was a lie. Beulah was a’layin’ up in bed a few feet away, big as a house with his youngun. Floyd had been a’wantin’ to hit married anyhow, so I went ahead an’ married. At least I’d have a home.”

To be continued