It doesn’t seem fair to leave you hanging with John and Wanda’s story, but Mother didn’t learn any more for more than twenty years. It came by way of John’s second wife, Cathy, who had no particular reason to lie. John never mentioned any of this. John got out of the army after the war but stayed in the Army Reserves for twenty-five years. He went to law school on the GI Bill, but decided to teach instead. He later became a principal and married a teacher. They both taught the children of migrant workers dividing their year between South Texas and California. When they were teaching in California, a young man approached him, telling him he was one of twins and had been born a Holdaway, but was told his father was killed in the war before his birth. His mother married an old boyfriend who had adopted the babies, raising them as his own. At the boys insistence, the two couples met. The sister had married young and he didn’t meet her. It looked like the father-in-law engineered the whole story to break up the young marriage. He and his wife were long-dead, so they all let it drop, not affecting their long marriages. Wondering if it could possibly be true, I searched and found the birth and death records by the adopted name. Indeed, there was a man by the right name, born in the right time period born to Wanda. She did have a marriage recorded shortly after the boy’s birth. Unfortunately, John and Cathy never had children.
I got my biscuit and settled on the back step, singing the alphabet song.
Mother launched right into her conversation before Miss Laura Mae got the coffee poured.
“Laura Mae, I just got the strangest letter from Mama. You remember I told you my brother in the army got married not long ago and his wife was expecting.”
“Sure do. How’s she doing?”
“Well, Mama got a letter from John saying Wanda, that’s his wife, had gone back home to stay with her mama till the baby came. He didn’t say anything at the time, thinking she’d be back. I don’t know if she’d left him, or what, but he hadn’t let Mama and Daddy know. Her daddy was high up in the military on a base up in Nebraska. Anyway, the first thing anybody knew was that he’d gotten a letter from Wanda’s daddy saying she’d had twins, a girl and a boy, and that she and the babies had been crossing a railroad track and hit by a train. He said her daddy said they’d all been buried and to never contact him again. He said he just let it be.
Mama and Daddy, of course, were all upset, and Daddy caught the first bus to New Orleans to see about John. When he got there, John said he was fine and insisted Daddy go straight back home. He said he didn’t have any leave coming and didn’t even want Daddy to spend the night. Daddy came on home, like he asked. My sister, Annie came in that weekend. When she found out what happened, she told them something strange she had kept quiet about since it didn’t seem right. She’d gotten a letter from Wanda announcing their marriage. She wrote and told her and John she was coming over for the weekend. Well, when she got there, John met her at the bus station and told her she couldn’t stay. Wanda had gone off somewhere with her mama and daddy and he had to work. Annie couldn’t imagine what was going on. She went back home and reread her letter from Wanda, and thought it looked like it might be John’s handwriting. Mama went back and pulled out a letter she’d had from Wanda and thought it was possible John had written it, too. They don’t know if the whole thing was made up or what. I don’t know what to think. It all sounds too crazy to be true, doesn’t it? Have you ever heard such a thing? Please don’t repeat what I told you. I haven’t told another soul, but I just thought I’d pop if I couldn’t talk to somebody. I sure don’t want Bill to find out. He already thinks my family’s crazy. He’d never let me forget it.”
“Now, Honey, I hate to hear all that, but don’t be worryin”bout me tellin’ yore business. That whole story doesn’t sound right, but I didn’t git to be this old without learnin’ when to keep my mouth shut. Besides, since I’m the only one you tol’you’d know where it come from, wouldn’t you? Has your brother ever done anything odd before?”
“No, he’s always been steady as a rock. He went in the CCC when he was fifteen, then on his off time he took any job he could get, and always helped Mam and Daddy as much as he could. He finished high school in the Army since our little country school only went to tenth grade. I don’t know what to think. I’m just worried to death about him.”
“Well, I know you are, but folks deals with trouble in all kinds of ways. You’ll just have to let him be.”
“You’re sure right about that. I’ve got three little kids and I couldn’t go see about him if my life depended on it. I do feel bad for Mam and Daddy worrying about him.”
“I know you do, but they’ll have to make their own way, just like he will. Things have a way of workin’ out.”
I eagerly await the posts of my talented friend, Jacquelen Oby-Ikocha from A Cooking Pot and Twisted Tales. Please check out her lively blog. She is so full of life. I often think how I’d enjoy spending time with her. I am grateful to have the opportunity to exchange guest posts with her on the subject of our younger, naughtier days.
I Was a Young Tycoon
Daddy loved National Geographic and had quite a collection gathered through his bachelor days even before I was born. Like clockwork the pile grew each month with the arrival of his subscription. They were vivid with pictures and moved with us each time we moved house.
Then we lived in staff quarters that were made of blocks of eight blocks and eight three bedroom apartments for each block with servant quarters. Like you can imagine that was a lot of human beings.
One of the neighbours’ daughters was my good friend and I will call her A. A was two years older and seemed very World-wise to me. She always had lots of goody-goody rubbery chocolate, Bazooka Joe or Chat sweet which she gave at her whim and after following her around like a drooling young pup.
She was reluctant to divulge the secret to her young wealth, but I kept my eyes keenly open to observe her mercantile skills which paid off eventually.
The secret was that the garbage collectors that came around several times a week were also willing to buy broken/used household items and I daresay she sold a good bit of her family’s crockery. I got to learn that they collected old tins, gallons and newspapers which would otherwise be tossed into the trash.
So my triangular trade business started off very nicely. I began to exchange my dad’s old newspapers for some kobo’s and purchased goody-goody like an heiress.
Newspapers ran out and we graduated to the glossy National Geographic *I say we because I had unwittingly enrolled my younger sister whose eagle eyes were sharper than mine and the regular scent of sweet on my breath drew her in like an ant*
Unfortunately, during our trading days, my grandma moved to stay with us to help my mom care for a brand new brother and grandma was far too sharp and shrewd for an older lady.
Soon enough she took note of the refuse collectors that seemed to court our house far more than other locations and she burst my bubble gum.
The paddle that she gave me taught me a lesson or twenty and took age off my life.
Surprisingly, my dad was not as physically livid as I thought that he would be *it was just mom and grand-mom that heckled and made enough fuss*, but dad was pragmatic in his negotiations and I believe that I paid for those magazines with extra portions of chores till the day he handed me over to my husband in great relief.
Needless to say, I must have contributed a generous portion of mischief that expressly propagated the grey hairs on my parent’s heads.
© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha