A Hog a Day Part 20

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I’ve got to end this series, since it is the basis of my next book and I don’t want to give it away but there are so many stories I want to share.  One is about a suicide and a mean Christian.

Mrs Rivers was as old as the hills. I believe she was born that way.   Widowed more than forty years, no one ever spoke of her husband.  It was impossible for me to imagine anyone could have ever wanted to marry her, as unpleasant as she appeared.  Still living in the house where  she raised her children, her son had built a house on her lot. My mother often remarked she’d be a trial as a mother-in-law as we drove  by and saw her dressed in a dark, long-sleeved dress and sun bonnet working her garden with a push plow. I’m sure she refused her son’s offer to plow her garden, because no one would have expected someone that old to plow.

Old Lady Rivers, as she was known, was a practicing Pentecostal, though she attended the Baptist Church just across the road from her house and interfered with its runnings as much as she was able.  While she didn’t have a vote, she did have opinions and battered the faithful with them as often as possible.  She was the first at services, wakes, and funerals, eager to share “how they took it” and why.  Never losing track of when a marriage was made, she was the first to predict should a baby appear to be coming “too soon.”

She was a skilled craftsman of gossip, eager to bear bad news or scandal. In the days before telephones were common in our rural community, it could be a challenge to get messages to people in a timely manner.   One sad day, a poor old gentlemen shot himself in the head out by his mailbox. His panicked wife called her son from next door for help.  The son covered his father with a sheet, but left the body lying awaiting the sheriff. A neighbor hurried to a local store to call the school principal to intercept his daughter, Alice Fay,  a school bus driver, before she left school with a bus load of children.  Sadly, they missed her by about fifteen minutes.  The principal summoned the coach and together, they hurried to catch up, hoping to spare her happening up on the grisly scene at her parent’s home, not realizing a couple of her stops had been eliminated.  He was behind her at every stop.

Old Lady Rivers heard the news before the bus was due.  She waited on the porch and puffed her way out to flag Alice Faye’s bus down.  The principal skidded to a stop behind the bus just as Alice Fay opened the bus door to see what the excited old lady wanted, Mrs. Rivers propped herself on her cane and announced, “Alice Faye, yore daddy done shot hisself in the head! God help him, he’s going to Hell for shore!”

Alice Faye reacted, as you might expect, erupting into hysterical tears as the principal and coach rushed up to comfort her and restore order to the traumatized children, three of whom were Alice Faye’s.  It was a horrendous situation.  The principal drove Alice Faye and her children home, and the coach finished the bus route on that awful day.  It was a shocking announcement of tragedy Alice Faye and her children could have been spared.

Just Folks Gettin By Part 6

busThe next day, Lucille got a letter and read it to Jenny over lunch. “Oh listen to this.  It’s from Cousin Sally, Aunt Lucy’s daughter.  Remember I told you Aunt Lucy had her widowed daughter and grandchildren livin’ with her.  Well, this is the one.  I sure was crazy about her.  Me and Velma run around with her a lot while I stayed there.  Anyway, listen to this:

 

Dear Lucille,

I hope this finds you well.  I made you a copy of that dishtowel embroidery pattern of Mama’s you wanted.  Remember how she done it up in yellow and blue to match them dishes she got down at the Five and Dime with her birthday money that time?   I done some for a wedding gift for Maybelline’s  daughter, Jessie’s wedding shower.  She acted like she really liked them.  I done two pair, one in blue and green and one pair in yellow and orange.  They didn’t look as good as Mama’s but the girl seemed like she liked them.  She said that’s the first bit of needlework anybody give her yet.  Used to didn’t nobody have no money to buy nothing, so I never got the habit of buying gifts I could make.  Bless her heart, if I was the gossiping type, I’d say that that gal’s going to need a baby shower soon, but that ain’t Christian, so I won’t. 

My garden is doing real good.  I already put up two hundred jars of tomato vegetable soup and fifty quarts of peas.  That soup will be real good this winter when we ain’t had nothing fresh in a while.  I can add a little meat when I get tired of it plain, but I never got the habit of needing meat every meal.  I know you remember we had meat it was just on Sunday, and then it was probably just an old hen that had quit laying Mama didn’t want to feed no more.  Boy, I was scared to death of them chickens after Mama cut their head off.   Lots of times they’d run in circles till they just dropped over.  I never thought much of something it didn’t need a head, especially after that one run me up under the porch.  I had nightmares about that for years.  You and Velma laughed like that was the funniest thing you ever seen.  I hid every time Mama killed a chicken after that.

Mavis (“That’s her daughter, Jenny”) is expecting in the next couple of weeks.  I am supposed go stay a few weeks after the baby comes to help out.  Soon as she found out she was thataway she made me promise to come.  She sent me a ticket last week.  I’m all packed just waiting to hear the baby is here.  I made arrangements with Myrtis down bus stop to git the mailman to let me know.  He always runs by nine and that would give me time to get to the noon bus.  It’ll get me to Bonneville by four and they can have somebody pick me up.  I sure hope they have a girl this time.  Them four boys is cute but Mavis is sure wanting another girl after she lost that baby girl last year that was a blue baby.  She ain’t got over it yet.  She says she’s carrying this one high like she did Brenda.  I’m hoping she’ll be too busy to keep on mourning.  It sure was a blessing when she found out she was thataway about two weeks after Brenda died. They would have been about sixteen months apart.  I’m worried about her, but I believe she’ll be okay.  Don’t forget to keep praying for her.

I better close.  You can write back to me at Mavis’s house at the same address you used last time.  I’ll let you know how things go.  Keep in touch.

                                                                                                               Love,

                                                                                                                Sally

Well, ain’t that nice she’s gittin’ to go stay with Mavis.  She was real worried about her after she lost her baby.  She wouldn’t git out of the bed for about three weeks till her husband told her she had to.  Sally said she walked around like a ghost till she found out this new baby was coming.  Sally was real worried about her.  I thought I wanted to die after your daddy got in trouble and Jimmy died, but I knew I had to scrap around and figure out some way to take care of you.  After that, I was workin’ so hard I just felt numb.  I do believe Uncle Marsh helping me git that dishwashing job saved me.  When I wasn’t workin’ I was so tired I staggered to the bed and passed out, then got up and did it again.  My best days was Monday’s when the café was closed.  I just lived to go see you on Mondays.”  Lucille mused.  

Jenny broke in, “Oh Mama, you’ll never know how I looked forward to your visits.  I was about the only kid who ever had a regular visitor.  It made me feel so special.  Sometimes we’d all be in the to the classroom and a couple would come in.  We weren’t supposed to know, but they were looking for a child.  All the kids would be looking at each other, real excited, hoping to get a chance to shine.  Later they’d whisper, wondering if they’d be chosen.  Once in a while, a kid would be called to meet folks, and we’d be buzzing, wondering if they’d be adopted.  I felt so happy, knowing I had you.  It put me in a special class all to myself.  Once in a great while another kid would be lucky enough to have a visitor, but no one else had a mama who came every Monday. You always reminded me we’d be together again with Daddy.  I didn’t much remember him, but I always held onto the idea of going home.

 

 

 

Miss Laura Mae’s House Part 9

gossip 1Once again, I was sitting on the back step of Miss Laura Mae’s house with a biscuit. Miss Laura Mae was all flustered. I heard the phrase, “female trouble” and my ears perked up. Anything about “female trouble” got kids shooed outdoors. “Complications” rated even greater secrecy.

I’d just heard both. I hummed a tuneless something just so they’d be fooled into thinking I wasn’t listening. Occasionally, I said something to Miss Laura Mae’s old hound.

“Bessie, Floyd’s oldest sister was wild as they come when she was comin’ up. She slipped off an’ married when she was fifteen, and just stayed long enough to have them two young’uns. She like to drove her mama crazy. You couldn’t believe a word she said. She’d climb up on top of the house to tell a lie when it would’a been easier to stand on the ground and tell the truth. It seemed like she settled down an’ was gonna do good when she married Ben. He was a good feller an’ treated her kids good. He had that nice house his mama left him, worked steady and put his pay in the bank. I never heard him fuss with her. She was even Sunday School Superintendent down at the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church fer a while.

One year right before Christmas, she went to work in her sister’s café, waiting tables to git a little Christmas money. Ben didn’t want her to, said he could git whatever they needed, but she was bound an’ determined to do it. Wasn’t long before she was runnin’ around. She dumped them kids on her mama and run off with a feller named Jett. ‘Course, that didn’ last till the water got hot.

Next thing we knew, Bessie was in the hospital, her kidneys ‘bout shut down an’ she like to had a stroke. She pulled through but wasn’t able to do anything for a long time. Her sister Marthy took her in an’ took care of her an’ them kids for a good while. When she finally got back on her feet, she went back to Ben. The crazy thing was, she told ever’ body she’d been the one takin’ care of Marthy, ‘cause Marthy had been runnin’ around an’ got thataway while her husband Joe was off in the service. She claimed Marthy had took a bunch of quinine an’ got rid of the baby but it like to kilt ‘er. The whole thing was crazy. Ever’body knew what Bessie had been up to and knew about her being so sick in the hospital. I don’t know why she tol’ that crazy story layin’ it off on Marthy after she’d been so good to her. They just wasn’t no need. That was just how she is.

From my perch on the back step, I listened in, making no sense of the story, but knew it was good. I made up my mind to remember when I got a little older and smarter, I could figure out what it was all about.

https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/miss-laura-maes-house-part-10/

Miss Laura Mae’s House Part 5

baconI dawdled a bit to talk to Miss Laura Mae one morning as she put plum butter and a piece of bacon on the hot biscuit she’d split for me. “Floyd died twenty years ago today. It shore don’t seem like it?”

That caught my attention. “Who shot him?”

She and Mother both burst out laughing. “Why nobody shot him, honey. He just got sick and died.”

“Looks like she’s been watching too much ‘Gunsmoke’.” Mother said, but I could tell she wasn’t really mad. “Linda, don’t be asking stuff that’s none of your business. Get your biscuit and go stand on the top step!” Mother sputtered. I certainly knew better than to ask nosey questions, but sometimes my curiosity got the best of me.

“She didn’t mean no harm,” Miss Laura chuckled, “But I tell you who I could’a shot.”

I lingered on the top step to listen in. I needed to know who Miss Laura Mae could’a shot.

“Floyd come in awful sick after work one Friday evenin’. He had a pain in his groin an’ it was all swole up. I couldn’t get him to let me call the doctor, but he was ready to go long before daylight. Betty Lou and the baby come to stay with the kids while me an’ her ol’ man Roy took Floyd in to the doctor in his truck. They done surgery soon as we got there, but Floyd had done got gangrene in his intestines. They wasn’t a thing they could do. I stayed with Floyd and Roy went on home to tend to stuff. I told him not to let on to the kids that Floyd was a’dyin’. I figured they’d find out soon enough when I was there to tell ‘em. Glomie was a’goin’ with Mack Thompson to the pitcher show that night like she’d been a’doin’ Saturdays for a while. They’d been a wantin’ to git married, but she wasn’t but sixteen and I told her she was too young. I got married at fifteen. I knowed what it meant to be tied down too young.

Well, Floyd died along about ten-thirty Saturday night. It was up in the morning before I got home. I let the kids sleep, and had biscuits in the oven before I went to wake ‘em up. When I went in the girl’s room, Glomie hadn’ ever come in. Myrt said she slept so hard she didn’ even know. I was scart to death. I didn’ know if her an’ Ray had had a wreck or what. Seems like we would have heard somethin’ though. Well, I had to go ahead an’ tell the other kids. O’ course they took it somethin’ awful. I was worried about Betty Lou. She was about four months along with a new baby, but she done alright. There wasn’t nothing to do but wait. After a while, Myrt came in a squallin’ an’ tol’ me she thought Glomie and Mack might’a run off and got married. Glomie had been talkin’ about it. I could’a shot her and Mack Thompson fer pullin’ such a trick.

Sure enough, about eleven-thirty that morning, just as neighbors was a’startin’ to bring food in for the mourners, here come Glomie and Mack, all nervous-like. Glomie thought all them folks was there to look for her. She was hurt that while her daddy was a’dyin’ she had slipped off and got married. I told her, ‘Well, you done made your bed. Now you got to lie in it.’

Mack turned out to be a purty good feller. He works and goes to church with ‘er ever Sunday and breaks up my garden ever’ spring. They been together ever’ since an’ had three kids. The oldest one is ‘bout to graduate, valedictorian of his class. You just can’t never tell how things is gonna turn out. Sometimes, it’s good God don’t let us run things.”

https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/miss-laura-maes-house-part-6/

Nosey Old Biddies

imageMy two grandmothers were a lovely pair.  Saccharin sweet to each other, they sat with veiled claws, looking for a chance to swipe at the other.

Grandma:  “Well , you looking healthy.  I believe you put on a few pounds.”

Maw Maw: “No ma’am.  My weight’s been falling off some.  I got some old dresses I was gonna offer you, but ‘pears now they might be too little for you.”

GM:  “Your’s would be way to big, but I don’t need ’em anyhow.  My son took me shopping and bought me six dresses when I was out at his house.  He could have just bought me a bus ticket, but he wanted to come get me in his new car.  It sure is good to see your kids doing good, isn’t it?  Did your girl, Bettie’s, husband ever get a job after he lost that one last time I was down here?  Now isn’t he the one who drinks a little?””

MM:  “None of my kids drinks.  You must be think in’ a’some o’ yore folks.  Jack’s moved to a job makin’ twenty more a week.  My young’uns might not’a gone to college like yourn, but they all got good jobs. I brought a cake.  I know Pore Ol’ Bill loves a cake an’ Kathaleen don’t have him something sweet ever’day like I always did!”

If not interrupted, this could go on indefinitely, trading swipe after swipe.  Mother tried to intercede if she heard Grandma might be about to hit the motherlode, ferreting out just how long Cousin Yvonne was married before the baby came or discover that Cousin Ross was in the pen for robbing a filling station.  Should all else fail, Grandma could hit us kids up for tidbits of information that could be stitched together to satisfy her curiosity.

MM:  b

I Ain’t Havin’ It!

Pointing finterJust this morning Mother told me this fascinating story.  Before she started school, she’d tagged along behind her father to the local blacksmith shop to have a bit of work done.   The blacksmith, Dud Baker, was fairly new to the community and newly-married.  His young wife was a widow.  She’d brought the men a cup of coffee.  As they were drinking and visiting over Continue reading

Mother and the Rapist

Kathleen, my eighty-year old mother was snatched from sleep at three in the morning by the sound of hysterical screaming and pounding on her front door.  Through the peep hole, she recognized her neighbor, a frail, single mother clutching her toddler and tiny infant, begging to come in.  Mother was horrified to hear of Melinda’s rape at gunpoint, the lives of her tiny children threatened.  Nonetheless, Melissa called the police and an investigation was begun. Continue reading