Bobo and the Bloomers(Part 5)

Panties fallingDuring The Great Depression, people had to wear it out, use it up, or make do.  Inner tubes were a valuable commodity, used for everything from cutting into strips to use as elastic for clothes, making overshoes, to wrapping pipes.  They were the duct tape of the era.  One of the favorite stories about Cousin Bobo demonstrated his excellent taste and Continue reading

Aunt Vola, Love at First Sight (From Kathleen’s Memoir of The Great Depression)

Aunt VolaHungry one afternoon, I raced home ahead of John, hoping there might be a leftover biscuit and slice of salt pork or piece of cornbread left from dinner.   Opening the kitchen door, I was surprised to see Mama and a guest sitting at the table drinking coffee.  Mama had neighbors popping in all the time, but this guest had skin the color of deep chestnut.  Continue reading

Swapping Lunches (from Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression)

velda n melbaI was fascinated with the twins, Velda and Melba Peterson, from a family of eleven kids on a poor farm way down in the low country. Their daddy “drank.” They often came to school beaten and bruised. They carried their lunch in a silver-colored syrup bucket and ate it under a big oak on the Continue reading

Annie and the Hinsons

Annie Lee Holdaway0001 (2)enlargedPictured is Annie Lee Holdaway 1941

Excerpt from Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression

To my great sorrow, Annie had finished all ten grades in Cuthand.  On Mr. Kinnebrew’s recommendation, she’d gotten a position as mother’s helper to Mrs. Hinson, his wealthy aunt who lived almost adjoining the Clarksville High School. Judge and Mrs. Hinson were one of the most prominent families in Clarksville.  They’d had only one child, Laura, who was “sweet but simple.”  They’d always doted on Laura, giving her a privileged, though very protected life.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Hinson was hospitalized for a while when Laura was about fifteen, leaving Laura in the care of the housekeeper by day and her father at night.  The gardener who clearly saw how they doted on Laura was able to woo and win her without her mama’s interference.  Naturally, she fell for the first man to ever allowed to pay attention to her, even though he was nearly fifty.  When he caught the housekeeper was too busy to notice, the old goat slipped her off to marry one afternoon.

He convinced Laura to keep the secret of their marriage until it was obvious a baby was on the way.  Not surprisingly, for the sake of decency and their daughter’s happiness, the Hinsons did their best for Laura and her family.  Laura wanted her useless husband.  He had enough sense to know which side his bread was buttered on, so was always good to her and the children, though he never worked again.  The Hinsons built her a nice house, adjoining theirs. Over the next few years, Laura had a large brood, but was never capable of keeping house or caring for the children, so Mrs. Hinson had a housekeeper to take care of the house and help with the children.  Annie’s job was feed and dress the school kids off in the morning and make sure they got their homework in the evening.  For this she got room, board, a small salary and generous bonuses.  She had to be there Monday afternoon through Friday morning.  It was a wonderful job for a high-school student.  It broke my heart to see her catching a ride in with the mail carrier at six am on Monday morning, but was the high point of the week when he dropped her back off Friday afternoon, full of tales of the Hinsons, high-school, or life in Clarksville.  She always managed to bring me a tiny gift or two, such or a damaged book or toy one of the kids no longer wanted.  Best of all, was a piece of Laura’s candy.

Any story Annie brought me from her time at the Hinson’s was golden.  Though Laura was simple, she had a gift for making candy.  Hotels, stores, and high end business competed for the confections she she’d learned early to make candy at the hand of the housekeeper who raised her.  Her husband was only too happy to serve as delivery man for her, selling all the candies Laura cared to make.  What a stroke of luck for him!  He’d married the goose who laid the golden egg!

I Quit! (From Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression)

One morning about a week after I started first grade, Daddy finished up the last of his coffee and ground out his cigarette as Mama scraped the few leftovers onto a plate for Ol’ Jack.  “All right kids.  Best be getting’ ready for school.”  He got up, putting on his felt had as he headed out the back door to do a couple of things before heading to his janitor job at Continue reading

My Own Circus (Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression)

circus parade0002

Illustration by Kathleen Swain.  Story by Linda Bethea.

One warm spring day as the sun beamed brightly in the open window, Miss Billie read a story about Billy Boy and the Buffalos.   I loved to hear her read but was distracted by a couple of flies who had slipped in and were buzzing a vase of daffodils on the ledge.   Almost hypnotized by the droning, I caught an inkling of faraway music on the breeze.  Continue reading