Just Folks Getting By Part 2

Good baby0002Photo of my great-grandmother, Sarah Jones Perkin’s, still born baby circa 1900

For some reason, Lucille had always loved washing dishes.  After breakfast, she stacked the dishes in the dishpan, added the soap, ran scalding water over them, and brought a glass of milk and a cup of coffee to Jenny where she was nursing the baby on her shady front porch.  Jenny had been married seven years and had almost given up on a baby when Lucy surprised her.

“Thanks for the milk, Mama.  Did you have trouble getting pregnant like I did?” she asked.

“Lord, no!  I had Jimmy only ten months after I married, and me only fifteen.” she laughed.”  After that, I think I miscarried twice before I got that way with you.  Back then, we didn’t run to the doctor for every little thing, so I never was sure if I lost babies or not.  I couldn’t have been too far along, if I was.  We was about to starve, so my curse wasn’t real regular.  You didn’t come along till five years after Jimmy,” Lucille reminded her.

“I never knew you were that young when you got married.  Why, you couldn’t have even finished school.  What was your daddy thinking letting you marry that young?” Jenny was feeling protective of her own sweet baby.

“Honey, my daddy was was the reason I needed to git married.  He was a mean drunk.  My mama died when me and my twin sister Velma was about ten.  Seemed like he never got tired of beatin’ on her.  He’d come in drunk long after we was asleep in bed like a ragin’ bull.  We’d learnt to hide and Mama took the whuppin’.  I really think a beatin’ is what finally kilt her.  He come in and whipped her and kicked her around real bad one Thursday night.  She crept around three or four days till she died with the most awful black blood comin’ from her bowels.  Nobody never said nothin’ to him.  It was a man’s business if he felt like beatin’ his wife.

Daddy started in on me and Velma after Mama died.  We made sure not to get caught off alone with him or he’d a’done us some real dirt.  I met your Daddy when I was fourteen, but I let him think I was a lot older.  Me and Melba was stayin’ with Aunt Lucy by now.  That’s Mama’s sister I was named for.  She was so good to us.  I slipped out one night and went to the pictures with Russ.  I feel bad now about doing Aunt Lucy that way, now, but you know how boy-crazy young girls is.  I sat with him a few times at church, and he got to coming to see me at Aunt Lucy’s.  We wanted to gut married, but Aunt Lucy said I’d have to git Daddy to sign for me.  I wasn’t about to go to Daddy for nothin’.  The next Friday morning I skipped school and run off with Russ to Oklahoma.  His sister was an old friend of my mama’s.  She knowed how bad Daddy done Mama and knew I needed to get away, so she went with us and signed like she was my mama.  I always ‘preciated her doin’ that.  I left Velma a note tellin’ her I’d run off to got married so they wouldn’t think somethin’ awful had happened.  Lordy, I never meant to gab so long.  I got to git back to them dishes.”  She heaved herself to her feet and headed back to the kitchen.

Jenny caught her by the hand. “Mama, I’m real proud you came to stay awhile.”

“Me, too, Honey.  Me, too.”

 

It’s My Party

WC
Uncle Jerry drank a little. In fact, Uncle Jerry never drew a sober breath from the time he cashed his paycheck at the liquor store on Friday after work until he got back to the shop on Mondays with a killer hangover. One time he told Bud, “I get paid today and I gotta get drunk. I had the flu all week and feel so bad I cain’t hardly drag. I shore dread it.”
Bud, who’d never been initiated into drinking at the time asked, “Uncle Jerry, if you feel so bad, why do you HAVE to get drunk? Can’t you take a weekend off?”
“Oh no!” Uncle Jerry told him. “I always stay drunk on the weekends.”
He must have been concerned about his reputation. He was Aunt Myrtle’s second husband. At the time I knew them, they’d been married over forty years. If Aunt Myrtle stuck by Uncle Jerry, I can’t imagine what her first husband must have put her through.
Mother went over to visit Aunt Myrtle one Thursday morning, not realizing Uncle Jerry was on vacation. They went out to the garden first to admire Aunt Myrtle’s tomatoes and the green beans that were starting to put out, picking a few for Mother. When they made their way into the kitchen, they encountered Uncle Jerry down on his hands and knees in front of the icebox (not refrigerator). He’d pulled the drawer out and was eating onions and turnips raw with the garden dirt still clinging to them. Considering it was Uncle Jerry, neither one said anything.
He looked up at them and remarked. “This is my icebox and I’ll eat anything I G__ D____ please.” They got their coffee and took it out to drink in the shade.
“Don’t let Jerry worry you none. I forgot to tell you Jerry was on vacation when I told you to come over to get tomatoes,” noted Aunt Myrtle.
“Oh, that’s okay. It is his icebox after all,” Mother replied.