Miss Laura Mae’s House Part 14

biscuit and jam

I had been waiting all summer for Miss Laura Mae’s dewberries to ripen.  For weeks we had strolled down to check the progress of the berry patch right behind her barn.  She said berries loved manure.  It’s hard to imagine how anything loving something so stinky, but I couldn’t wait till they turned black.  While I was sneaking a couple to sample, her old dog sauntered up and lifted his leg on the bushes, convincing me of the value of soap and water.  I hoped they loved pee, too, ‘cause they’d just gotten a healthy dose.

Finally, one morning, she spread me two hot biscuits with fresh dewberry jam.  “I kept these biscuits hot just for you.  I wanted them to be just right for this jam.”  I don’t know that I’ve ever had anything better than those hot biscuits and that heavenly dewberry jam so sweet and tangy it almost made my jaws ache. 

“Oh, this is so good.”  I licked the jam that spilled to my fingers.

“It’s my favorite.  I’ll give you a jar to take home with you,” she promised.  “Don’t let me forget!”

“I won’t let you forget!  And no one else can have any of my special jam,” I blurted out in my greed.

“Well, maybe I better give you two jars so everybody gits a taste.” I could tell she was trying not to laugh.

 That seemed like a tragic waste of jam, but answered.  “Yes, ma’am.”  In my gluttonous imagination, I’d envisioned myself sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor, eating jam with a spoon straight from the jar.  Mother must have read my mind, because those jars found their way to the top shelf of the cabinet with the honey, coconut flakes, and brown sugar as soon as we got home.  I’d learned from sad experience, stuff on the top shelf was emphatically off-limits.  Not two weeks ago, I’d nearly broken my molars chomping down on white rice straight from the package, thinking I’d found coconut somehow left in reach.  When I was settled safely on the back steps with my messy snack, the conversation began.

“Well, how was your trip to Myrtle’s?” Mother began.  “I sure missed having coffee with you in the mornings.”

“Ooh, I did too!  It was fine, but I sure was glad to get home.  Myrtle’s a good woman, but she’s got kind’a snooty since she married Joe Jackson an’ he’s got a little somethin’.  Well, I guess she always was a touch snooty.  Mama always said her mama had her nose in the air.  I guess Myrtle got it from her.  She sure didn’t get it from me.  Anyhow, me an’ Myrtle didn’ coffee in the kitchen even one time.  Wednesday, while Myrtle was a’gittin’ her hair done, I slipped out an’ helped Thelma, the woman that comes in to help a couple of days a week. I got to know her last time I was there.   I cleaned the refrigerator an’ stove while Thelma was a’ironin’ so we had a fine visit.   Then I made sure the back door was locked and me an’ Thelma sat a few minutes an’ had coffee.  I probably wouldn’a had to lock the door with that yappy little dog o’ Myrtle’s, but I sure didn’ want Thelma to git caught a’settin an’ a’gittin’ in trouble on my account.   I’d brung her a pound cake from home ‘cause I remembered how much she loved the one I’d brought Myrtle the last time.  They are so much richer made with yard eggs and homemade butter.  Yeah, I always thought a lot o’ Thelma.  We had a fine visit.”



Broken Hearts and Pink High Heels

Kid in pink dot heels          Mother was always last on her own list, but she’d had enough when she admired Cousin Franny’s new dress, and Franny turned her nose up and said, “This old thing.  It ain’t fit for nothing.”   Franny was a doll-like woman who reveled in only weighing ninety pounds and wearing a size four shoe.  She dressed beautifully even if she charged her clothes and had to outrun creditors.  She took pleasure in making sure other women in the family couldn’t ignore her, putting them down at every opportunity.  Her girls were daintier, cuter, better dressed, and she had to work hard to get them to eat; a stark contrast to our voracious appetites and hand-me-downs.  I always wanted to be a picky eater at Franny’s, but her goodies always suckered me in.

“This ole thing,” was the last straw for Mother, a giant of a woman at five feet and one hundred and ten pounds.  She always indulged herself and made sure she had a new dress and shoes after having a new baby.  Spurred on by Franny’s snotty put downs, she pinched back nickels and quarters her whole pregnancy and was able to buy enough fabric to make two beautiful spring dresses and buy two pairs of matching pastel pumps to finish off her gorgeous ensembles.  She agonized over which to wear at the first family gathering to show off her slender figure and new baby. Finally, she decided to wear the green and save the pink outfit for church Sunday, her first back since having the baby.  Not surprisingly, she was the center of attention.  Her dress clung to her tiny waist as her post-partum bosoms imposed on her bodice.  All her sisters in law praised her eye for design and her perfect sewing.  She wore an apron to protect her new dress while helping get lunch on the table and carefully kept a burp towel on her shoulder while feeding her pretty new baby.  Her only regret was that she hadn’t been able to show off the pink dress and pumps that day, too.  Even better, Franny was bewailing her fifth pregnancy that day.  She was miserably sick but Mother saw her envious glances between episodes of throwing up.  It was a perfect day.

Mother needn’t have regretted not being able to show off her pink shoes that day.  She could always count on her children to anticipate her needs. At eleven Phyllis was a girly, girl. She got in Mother’s make up and gowns at every opportunity.  She wore dresses and wanted her hair curled every day.  She had coveted the beautiful shoes months before when Mother slipped them in. She was able to put them out of her mind when they disappeared deep in Mother’s closet, but as Mother twirled around in her new dress and mint green high heels, it was more than Phyllis could stand.  She was overcome with jealousy and righteous indignation. Mother had two new dresses and matching shoes to match and expected her to wear old scuffed saddle oxfords!!!  Phyllis sulked self-righteously until it got the best of her. Kicking the hated saddle oxfords far under the bed, she slipped in Mother’s closet to just see how the pink shoes felt.  They were perfect!!!   She had to wear them just a little while.  When she took a trial stroll by Mother, Mother didn’t say a word.  Okay.

After lunch that day, the kids went out to play. Predictably, it was not long before howling brought all the mothers flocking to the front yard.   The appropriate mother dragged the damaged kid in for examination and first aid, while the others ordered their kids to stop jumping off the high front porch in the mud.   Mother made a horrible realization.  Phyllis had abandoned her normal prissiness and joined the others, primly jumping off the high porch into the mud in Mother’s new pastel pink pumps……the ones she hadn’t even worn once!!!!!  Mother ordered her indoors, confiscated the precious shoes, and set Phyllis to cleaning the mud from the inside and outside while pondering the inevitable consequences she could expect once Mother had time to deal with her.

The shoes cleaned up better than Mother expected, so Mother was somewhat mollified and Phyllis’s life was spared.  The next Sunday came and went, and Mother looked great at church in her fancy new pink outfit.  Even that snooty Sally Greeley admired her.  Life was good.

Time rocked on.  Mother went to town on Thursdays to buy groceries and run her week’s errands.  She dressed in her pink outfit and was blissfully pushing her cart through the grocery store, generously acknowledging the compliments of all the other ladies who were also doing their Thursday shopping.  Mother was shopping for seven, so her cart was heavy as she teetered her way toward the checkout, a vision of pink loveliness.  An unhappy snap interrupted her pleasant jaunt.  Horrified, she looked down to see the heel of her pink pump snapped about one inch up its four inch height.  Worse yet, the break was not complete.  A thin sliver of dainty pink leather held the broken portion dangling crazily.  She looked around, hoping no one had noticed.  Fortunately, she and a couple of the children were alone in the aisle.  She sent one of them speeding for a roll of cellophane in hopes of salvaging her pride.  The tape held almost till she got near the front of the store, betraying her just as she was chatting with her friends, and of course, Sally Greeley was right there waiting for her, pretending to be sympathetic.

More Snotty Girls

Good baby0002

See this beautiful dead baby photographed outdoors in front of a black drape.  He was the cause of my first major social failure.  Before you get too outraged with me, bear in mind this child was my grandmother’s baby brother, stillborn in 1898.  Even she never knew him. From the time I could remember, whenever I caught Mother Continue reading

Sorry, Your Highness, My Mother’s a Snob

My mother is always taking digs at the Queen. It’s not like she’s ever met her, nor even been slighted by her in any way.  They’ve never moved in the same social circles since Mother has always lived in the United States. Nor has Her Highness ever had the opportunity to snub her, except when Mother made a twenty-one day tour of Great Britain. The Queen failed to invite Mother to tea, even though she was in residence at Windsor Palace at the time.  Mother said if the Queen didn’t have the courtesy to invite her, she wasn’t about to beg for an invitation.  I reminded Mother the Queen may not have even known she was in the country, but the damage was done.  The only positive thing Her Majesty has ever done is be a year older than Mother.  Mother is vain about being younger, prettier, and having a better sense of fashion than the Queen.  She also accuses her of being a snooty, nosy mother-in-law.  Despite the fact that Mother has issues with the Queen, any time the Royal Family is featured in the media, Mother is right there. She is pointing out all the Queen’s flaws, insisting she’s gained weight since the last time.  There.  The truth is out…I hope the Queen doesn’t take it too hard.


Addendum:  I am ashamed to report how joyously my mother received the recent news that the DNA of King Richard III, Queen Elizabeth’s forbear, revealed there was some Royal hanky-panky going on, indicating he was not legitimate!