More Travels with Mother

hotmama.https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/the-low-down-on-lunch-with-mother/
Travels With Mother (Part 2)

The Most Fun You’ll Never Have, Kathleen’s Amazing Bathroom Tour!

It’s Not What You Tank!

 

God was with us.  We got to our destination, Hot Springs, Arkansas without a lot more drama.  We checked into our room, a nice suite with two king-sized beds and an extra bed for the fifth in our party.  For some reason, though it was 104 degrees, we freshened up a bit before going out to see the town, allowing us to start out with a less vintage sweat.  Within minutes, we were rank.  Not to be deterred by a little thing like heat exhaustion, we explored every shop on Main Street, till Mother found a little shop selling belly-dancing costumes. She wouldn’t be budged.  Now, as I’ve said before, Mother is tight.  She had no intention of making such a frivolous purchase, but had to admire herself in one. Every inch of the stifling shop was crammed with exotic outfits with no space devoted to dressing rooms. The proprietor obviously didn’t expect belly-dancers to be overly modest. Not to be denied, Mother just slipped her favorite on over her clothes, despite the heavy customer traffic. She is a little old church lady, after all.  I would never have expected so much business in a store selling belly-dancing costumes. 

Mother had us hold her things while she tottered and struggled into her racy choice, bumping customers at every turn.  They had to have thought her mind was gone and we should have looked out for her better, or that we were in geriatric sex-trade, pimping her out to some perverted creature with a fetish for demented, antique belly-dancers.  Neither choice made us look good.  Eventually, she pranced a bit and had us take a picture or two for her Sunday School Class, before being convinced to leave.  The store clerk was not amused by any of this, but I figured if she thought she was big enough to straighten Mother out, she could go for it.  I know when I am whipped. 

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An amused motorcycle guy and his girlfriend were taking all this in and invited Mother to meet their friends waiting on their bikes just outside. I think the burly guys exact words were, “She reminds me so much of my mama!” With him as Mother’s escort, we escaped the wrath of the store owner who was obviously thought it was past time we left.

Mother charmed his friends.  Her new friend invited her for a ride, which she refused, but she did climb behind him on his bike to get her picture made.  Regretfully, he helped her off, after telling her, “Ma’am, you don’t have to go home with these girls if you don’t want to.  We coaxed her away after she exchanged phone numbers and addresses with them, insisting they all come visit.  
Later that evening, we made it back to our hotel, only to find the air-conditioning and bathroom both out of order in our room.  Mother took charge, went to see the manager, and got us transferred to the only room they had left, the Presidential Suite, complete with a hot-spring bath.  I suspect the manager thought, “She reminds me of my mama.”  For once, a bathroom drama with Mother worked in our favor.

We enjoyed the rest of our visit.  On the way home, my sister Connie hung her purse strap on a toilet handle and broke the toilet in a station.  She takes after Mother.

 

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The Boogerman’ll Get You By the Hair of Your Head!

shamMother and I natter on incessantly.  Yesterday we went to visit my aunt a couple of hours away.  As we rode along, I was asking Mother more about the details of her early marriage at eighteen.  She slipped up and confessed a tale she’s felt guilty about ever since.  I couldn’t believe she stumbled and told on herself after sixty-nine years.  She usually bumbles right away.  To set the stage, you have to know she has a ridiculous conscience.  If she suspects there is a rule somewhere, she is obligated to follow it, no matter how senseless.  If she fails, she is required to feel guilty.  That’s the rule.

Mother, married at eighteen.  Within months Daddy moved her into the house with his widowed mother and her two daughters.  They were poor and lived in a decrepit unpainted house miles out in the country, not the newlywed home she’d envisioned.  To put the icing on the ruined cake, Aunt Julie with her two squalling brats had settled in as well.  The house was uncomfortable, Mother felt unwelcome, Daddy was never home except to sleep.

The kids, two and four, whined without ceasing, unless they took a break to throw a fit.  One day, she was alone in the room with them and was totally fed up with the whining.  She told Yvonne, the oldest, “Stop that squalling or the Boogerman will get you!”  To reinforce the lesson, she stepped into the next room, scratched on the door-facing and wailed “Wooooooooo!”  The terrified kids shut up immediately.”  From then on, when the whining started, she’d give them another little dose of Wooooo, if she got the chance when Aunt Julie wasn’t in the room.

“Why didn’t I ever hear this great story before?” I had to know.

“Because I felt guilty, I guess. I didn’t mean to tell it now.  I’m still ashamed,” she confessed.

“Well, you should be.  I am sixty-five years old and I could have been enjoying this story my whole life!”

Pictorial Family History

parents wedding picBill and Kathleen Swain’s wedding photo, June 29, 1945.  Pic Pic revisedRoscoe and Lizzie Holdaway early marriage.Mary Elizabeth Perkins and Roscoe Gordon Holdaway Wedding PictuR G Holdaway Family with Johnny Bell early 1930'sMy maternal grandparents, Roscoe and Mary Elizabeth  Holdaway with their children, then elderly.family6Maw, Eddie, and Kids  Pictured above, paternal grandparents Eddie and Mettie Swain and their young family.  Next several of their childre, then finally, Mettie, much later in life.

family3Maw Maw by Car

Mary Ann Graybeal Hardin Jones McCarrell

Mary Ann GraybealThis is my great-great grandmother, Mary Ann Graybeal Hardin Jones McCarrell, born July 5, 1838 in North Carolina,  pictured with her second husband, my great-great grandfather John James Jones.  Her first marriage was to a Mr. Hardin when she was twenty-two.  He died in the Civil War, leaving her with young children.  She married Captain John James Jones when she was thirty.  They had two daughters, including my great-grandmother, Sarah Catherine Jones.  He was a Civil War Veteran, his left leg perpetually bent at the knee.  He had to have lived less than four years after the marriage, since she married Mr. Evan McCarrell, a widower with two sons and two daughters when she was thirty-four.  It is likely this was a marriage of convenience since he was several years her senior and both had children to raise.

Mary Ann Graybeal died accidently at the age of fifty-eight, July 8, 1886,  when she travelled with her step-son to Knoxville, Tennessee, to consult a doctor about a lump in her breast.  Unfamiliar with gas lights, when they went to bed in their hotel room, one of them blew out the gas-light instead of turning the gas off.  She was asphyxiated, though he survived.

Her older three daughters were married at the time she died.  The youngest, Sarah Catherine(Kate) lived with her married sister Carrie for a while.  At the tender age of fourteen, she married my great-grandfather, Gordon Perkins.  My grandmother always felt she married as soon as she could to get her own home.

People Ought Not to Have to Live That Way

imageAfter his father died , Daddy told of his family moving in a battered old shack sitting in a open field occupied by a bull and herd of cows.  It was really not much better than a barn, just unpainted planks with unfinished walls inside, tin roof visible above the open rafters. The  cows offered little threat, but the Jersey bull raged when the cows were in heat.  Mettie and the kids had to always had to keep a look out for him when they stepped outdoors to do laundry or fetch water from the well.  Mettie kept the little girls close by in case they had to make a run for the house.  She and the older boys made sure he was nowhere around before starting across the open field to the road. Continue reading

My Dad’s Early History

family3Back row Unknown 2nd Geneva, Edward, 1st Bill, Bessie Swain.

Bill Swain, my dad was born in 1924, fourth of seven children born to Eddie and Mettie Swain.  Eddie’s father, Thomas Swain owned a blacksmith and farm and was fairly prosperous.  His business was lost during the depression.  As he lay on his deathbed, in his delirium, he kept telling  his family he had hidden money under his bed.  None was ever found.  Poverty-stricken like so many others, Eddie made his way as a sharecropper,  moving farm to farm, hoping for greater opportunity.

Sadly for the family, Eddie died after four years of suffering with a brain tumor, leaving Mettie with five children under sixteen.  Much of the last couple of years, Eddie was either hospitalized at the Confederate Memorial Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, or in his mother’s care at her home.  His mother was willing to care for Eddie when he needed her, but did nothing for Mettie or the children.  The only help Mettie could count on was from her brother.  Brother Albert provided her a house and garden place on his farm when she wanted it.  Mettie was restless, sometimes moving away.   Bill was thirteen when his father died, Edward, sixteen.  Both boys had already taken to working away from home, more for something to eat than money.  They knew they needed to “get their feet out from under Mama’s table.”  If they didn’t havea place to live and work, they’d take a day’s work at a time, for what they were fed the day, or if they were lucky, a bag of meal, a half-bushel of beans, or some corn to bring home.  Bill lived most of the time with his Uncle Albert, taking work on other farms as well when he could get it.

Bill snagged his first paying job at fifteen as night-watchman on a drilling rig.  He was big for his age, able to pass for eighteen.  The site wasn’t too far from home.  He get hungry and slip home nights for something to eat.  From there, he went on to construction and operating heavy equipment, which he did till he went in the Navy during World War II.  He enlisted in the Navy, because he never wanted to be hungry again.

to be continued

Hard Times With Mettie Knight Swain

family3

Five of Maw Maw’s seven children.  My father, Bill Swain is the little boy with wet pants holding the cap.  One more child was born after this picture was made.  It is likely someone just happened by with a camera and snapped this shot. Continue reading

Trial by Fire

fireI don’t write much about the history of my father’s side of the family because they simply didn’t have the strong oral tradition that my mother’s family did.  This is such a loss.  My paternal grandmother was abandoned by her mother, raised by her grandmother till she was nine.  She spent the rest of her childhood in the home of an uncle whose wife made Continue reading

Diary of Simpler Times

Diary Jan 2Diary Jan 30002Mother and I were going through some of her things looking for pictures for my blog when she came upon her homemade diary from 1939.  I copied a couple of its tattered pages.  I found it endearing to get a peak at a day in her eleven-year-old life. Do little girls that age play dolls now?  It was delightful to hear of her playing and running errands.  I’m so glad to get this little peek.