Miss Laura Mae’s House. Part 4

Aahouse

Once a month Miss Laura Mae caught a ride to the Piggly Wiggly with Mother so she could cash her check and get more for her money. “That randy ol’goat, Darnell won’t cash my check unless I trade at his store, an’ his ol’weavilly flour is way too high an’ ain’t fitten to eat, no how.” I was tickled when I found out she was going. As Mother and Billy went off to shop, I trailed her through the grocery store where we looked at things Mother never bought. She picked up jars of pickled pig’s feet, sweet pickles, vanilla wafers, tiny, little sausages, and Cheerios, considering them carefully before putting them in her cart. I admired the cute little cans of Del Monte Niblet Corn and Petit Pois Green peas as I turned up my nose at Mother piling her cart high with the ten for a dollar store brand canned goods. I decided then and there I’d only buy the good stuff when I got grown. Miss Laura Mae never failed to slip me and my brother Billy a little paper bag stuffed with B B Bats, Kits, and jawbreakers which we tore into the minute we were settled in the back seat.

Soon Billy was asleep and I was busy with my candy. I think the ladies forgot me as Miss Laura Mae launched into her story.

“That big ol’farmhouse over there reminds me of where we was livin’when Mama died. I was the baby, just turned fifteen. Mama’s diabetes shut her kidneys down an’ she did’n last a week. She just blowed up like a toad frog. Oly was married an’ livin’ way off in Carthage an’ Ory had just married Hugh Pearson. They was a’livin’ with his mama in a shotgun house on the Malley place. Miz Pearson was real hateful to Ory, claimin’ she “trapped” Hugh, even though it was over a year before the baby come. Mia Pearson swore Ory had a miscarriage right after they got married, but I know it was a lie. Ory was a’cryin’ to Mama about starting her monthly the day before she got married, thinkin’ it wouldn’t be decent to hit married like that, but Mama said they was nuthin’ to do but got married since ever’thing was all set. Hugh would just have to wait, so she could’n a been that away when she got married. They ain’t no way Ory could’a took me in.

I went to live with my sister Beulah after Mama died. Beulah was fixin’ to have a baby an’ was havin’ a good bit of female trouble. It seemed like the best thing, at the time. I had been goin’ with Floyd a few months before Mama died. He wanted to got married right off, but I still kind’a had my heart set on Bill Harkins. We’d been goin’ together awhile before, an’ I still thought a lot of him. I was kind’a hopin’ we’d make up. Anyway, about the time Mama died, the doctor put Beulah to bed till the baby come an’she had to have help with them other kids. I thought I caught Beulah’s ol’ man peeking at me through a knothole in the outhouse one day an’ then I was standin’at the stove puttin’on a pot of beans one day
when he sneaked up behind me an’ grabbed a handful of my behind. I popped him with the bean spoon. He claimed he thought I was Beulah, but I knowed it was a lie. Beulah was a’layin’ up in bed a few feet away, big as a house with his youngun. Floyd had been a’wantin’ to hit married anyhow, so I went ahead an’ married. At least I’d have a home.”

To be continued

https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/miss-laura-maes-house-part-5/

Don’t Start! Just Don’t Start

man with cigarGrocery shopping with Mother was a thrilling excursion. Until after I was three, Mother bought on credit at Darnell’s Store, the only store in our little neighborhood. Housewives danced around out of Old Man Darnell’s reach while Mrs. Darnell scowled from behind the counter. Her mean little Pekingnese ran out nipping at us every time we stepped in the store, seeming to prefer the tender legs of toddlers, while Mrs. Darnell snapped that he didn’t bite, even after he drew blood. Mrs Darnell’s bald spot was set off spectacularly by her frizzy-dyed black hair. Mrs. Darnell and that hateful little dog will always be burned in my mind as a witch and her familiar. Old Man Darnell always had a big brown stogie hanging out of his mouth, which I was convinced was a turd. Any urge to smoke died then and there. I could never ask Mother about the cigar since I couldn’t phrase my question without forbidden words. I would have had to substitute gee-gee for the much-admired doo-doo word my cousins tossed about so freely. Even, at three and a half, knew it wouldn’t do to ask why Old Man Darnell always had a piece of gee gee in his mouth.

Eventually, Mother learned to drive, freeing her from Darnell’s Store. She insisted on driving into Springhill, the nearest town with an A & P and a Piggly Wiggly. She had to agree not to spend more than twelve dollars a week, since “money didn’t grow on trees,” nor were we a rich two-car family. Unless Daddy caught a ride to work, on grocery day, Mother had to take him to work, come back home till the business day started, Attend to her business, then pick him up at the end of his shift. That was eighty miles of driving, not including in-town driving, all this in company of at least two and maybe three small children if Phyllis were not in school. A timid driver, Mother never went above twenty-five miles per hour and often pulled on the shoulder if she saw a car approaching. First we had to drive by Piggly Wiggly where Mother parked to read all the specials posted on on butcher paper in the windows. With that money-saving information firmly imbedded in her mind, off we headed to the A&P where her genius proved itself.

Piggly Wiggly

Piggly Wiggly 2
Before entering, Mother powdered her nose, put on fresh lipstick, combed her hair, then turned her attention to us. In the days before she “had so many children, she didn’t know what to do,” we were all dressed up. Mother was sure to remark later who she saw who “went to town without lipstick.” We’d be eating whatever was ten-cans-for-a-dollar, reduced for quick sale, or was on special that week. We always got a box of Animal Crackers to munch in the cart as Mother inspected every can, potato, and chicken for the best buy. When we’d start badgering her for cookies, candy, and cereal with prizes, she’d say, “Don’t start! Just don’t start!” While Mother was critiquing the chickens, I remember poking my finger through the cellophane into the hambones. I don’t think she ever caught me. No Kellogg’s Cornflakes for us. We got Sunnyfield, the store brand. Long after the Animal Crackers were gone, Mother finally let the bag boy load her groceries in the trunk. He needn’t expect a tip. If she had another nickel, it was going for the specials at Piggly Wiggly.

Not long before I started school, Mother unwittingly discovered a way to ensure good behavior the whole time we were in town. She’d say, “remind me to take you by the Health Unit to get a polio shot.” I was perfect till we passed the outskirts of town.

Onward to Piggly Wiggly, where she’d grab up their specials. Eventually, we’d head home with bags and bags of groceries: twenty-five pounds of flour, five pounds of dried pinto beans, a three pound can of shortening, twenty- five pounds of potatoes, five pounds of meal, three pounds of coffee, powdered milk, since it was cheaper. It seemed like it took a dozen trips to drag all those paper bags in. Invariably, a couple would break and have us chasing canned vegetables. She usually bought chicken, since that was the cheapest meat, but sometimes there’d be hamburger, roast or fish.

When I go to the grocery store with Mother now, I don’t get Animal Crackers, though I could if I wanted to. The other day were were headed into the grocery store when Mother laughed and said “Linda, will you buy me……?”

She does this as a joke every time we go in a store, now. As always, I answer back, just like she always did when I was a kid, “don’t start! Just don’t you start!” This particular day, an infuriated elderly gentleman heard the exchange, and inferred I was being unkind. I could have lost an eye before we made our explanations. It’s good to pay attention to what going on around you before opening your mouth.

Don’t You Start!

imageGrocery shopping with Mother was a thrilling excursion.  Until after I was three, , Mother bought on credit at Darnell’s Store, the only store in our little neighborhood.  Housewives danced around out of Old Man Darnell’s reach while Mrs Darnell scowled from behind the counter.  Her mean little Pekingnese ran out nipping at us every time we stepped in the store, seeming to prefer the tender legs of toddlers, while Mrs. Darnell snapped that he didn’t bite, even after he drew blood.  Mrs Darnell’s bald spot was set off spectacularly by her frizzy-dyed black hair.  Mrs. Darnell and that hateful little dog will always be burned in my mind as a witch and her familiar.  Old Man Darnell always had a big brown stogie hanging out imageimage

his mouth, which I was convinced was a turd.  Any urge to smoke died then and there.  I could never ask Mother about the cigar since I couldn’t phrase my question without forbidden words.  I would have had to substitute gee-gee for the much-admired doo-doo word my cousins tossed about so freely.  Even, I at three and a half, knew it wouldn’t do to ask why Old Man Darnell always had a piece of gee gee in his mouth.

Eventually, Mother learned to drive, freeing her from Darnell’s Store.  She insisted on driving into Springhill, the nearest town with an A&P and a Piggly Wiggly.  She had to agree not to spend more than twelve dollars a week, since “money didn’t grow on trees,” nor were we a rich two-car family.  Unless Daddy caught a ride to work, on grocery day, Mother had to take him to work, come back home till the business day started, Attend to her business,  then pick him up at the end of his shift.  That was eighty miles of driving, not including in-town driving, all this in company of at least two and maybe three small children if Phyllis were not in school. First we had to drive by Piggly Wiggly where Mother parked to read all the specials posted on on butcher paper in the windows.  With that money-saving information firmly imbedded in her mind, off we headed to the A&P where her genius proved itself.

Before entering, Mother powdered her nose, put on fresh lipstick, combed her hair, then turned her attention to us.  In the days before she “had was so many children, she didn’t know what to do,” we were all dressed up.  Mother was sure to remark later who she saw who “went to town without lipstick.”   We’d be eating whatever was ten-cans-for-a-dollar, reduced for quick sale, or was on special that week.  We always got a box of Animal Crackers to munch in the cart as Mother inspected every can, potato, and chicken for the best buy.  When we’d start badgering her for cookies, candy, and cereal with prizes, she’d say, “Don’t start! Just don’t start!”  While Mother was critiquing the chickens, I remember poking my finger through the cellophane into the hambones.  I don’t think she ever caught me.  No Kellogg’s Cornflakes for us.  We got Sunnyfield, the store brand.  Long after the Animal Crackers were gone, Mother finally let the bag boy load her groceries in the trunk.  He needn’t expect a tip.  If she had another nickel, it was going for the specials at Piggly Wiggly.

Not long before I started school, Mother unwittingly discovered a way to ensure good behavior the whole time we were in town.  She’d say, “remind me to take you by the Health Unit to get a polio shot.”  I was perfect till we passed the outskirts of town.

Onward to Piggly Wiggly, where she’d grab up their specials. Eventually, we’d head home with bags and bags of groceries: twenty-five pounds of flour, five pounds of dried pinto beans, a three pound can of shortening, twenty- five pounds of potatoes, five pounds of meal, three pounds of coffee, powdered milk, since it was cheaper.  It seemed like it took a dozen trips to drag all those paper bags in.  Invariably, a couple would break and have us chasing canned vegetables.  She usually bought chicken, since that was the cheapest meat, but sometimes there’d be hamburger, roast or fish.

When I go to the grocery store with Mother now, I don’t get Animal Crackers,  though I could if I wanted to.  The other day were were headed into the grocery store when Mother laughed and said “Linda, will you buy me……?”

She does this as a joke every time we go in a store, now.  As always, I answer back, just like she always did when I was a kid, “don’t start!  Just don’t you start!”  This particular day, an infuriated elderly gentleman heard the exchange, and inferred I was being unkind.  I could have lost an eye before we made our explanations.  It’s good to pay attention to what going on around you before opening your mouth.