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