Image from Smithsonian collection
“Did you ever get to go see Daddy in prison, Mama?” Jenny and Lucille were reminiscing over coffee.
“Only once, when your daddy was up for parole. For him to git out early, I had to show up with my marriage license saying I would take him back. I hadn’t ever asked no time off from work before, so when I talked to Mr. Peabody, my boss, he didn’t give me no trouble. I was surprised, but he gave me five dollars for my trip, almost a week’s pay. Anyway, I took two days off and rode the bus down a’gittin’ there about five-thirty. I walked to the YWCA and got a room, then got the Blue Plate Special at the Woolworth across the street for supper. I even finished off with a piece of lemon meringue pie and cup of coffee. It was kind of nice knowing somebody else was a’washin’ my dishes. They was gittin’ ready to close, but I had time to buy some blue earbobs and a lipstick. I ain’t seen your daddy in almost four years and wanted to look purty for him. I felt almost like a bride. I didn’t hardly sleep none that night. I was a’waitin’ at the door when they opened at eight. A trusty brung me to see the warden. He told me Russ was up for parole, but they had to know he had somebody and something to go home to. I showed him your picture and my bank book. He was right surprised I’d managed to save money from my job. I told him about you a’livin’ in the Hope Home and me a’stayin’ in the pantry where I worked. A year or so before that, I had bargained to make the pies and cakes Mr. Peabody had been a’sendin’ out for. I even sold ’em to a couple of other places. That’s how I really filled my pocketbook. I knowed by that time your daddy had a chance a’ comin’ up for parole and wanted us to have a start. Anyway, the warden stood up and shook my hand when we was through a’talkin’ and said I was a fine woman. I ‘preciated that. He told the trusty to bring your daddy to his office. I never would a’hoped that.
When he brung him in, it was like I was a’seein’ him for the first time. I had thought I would a’run and grabbed him, but we was bashful till the warden said we could hug. When I was in his arms, it was like no time had passed. We didn’t want to let go, but was embarrassed to keep hangin’ on to each other. Back then folks was more private-like with their lovin’. Anyway, the warden give us a minute to talk then sent Russ back.
When I left, the warden said our meeting was confidential and I’d be hearing after the parole board met. I felt real hopeful as the trusty showed me out.
That was the best day I’d had in a long time.