Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday's Memories

Good morning. Ya'll come on in for a glass of iced tea. I just made a fresh pitcher and will go out and snip some fresh mint to go in it for that extra flavor. Fresh mint gives it a great flavor along with lemon slices. Now some people don't like to doctor it up. They want the plain, sweet, iced tea and I like that too, but every now and then I like to add a little umph to it. So come on in and sit a spell for I am in the mood to remember.

Summer is here - 90+ today - and I know many will be going on a vacation. We'll probably do something in July but since we are retired we can vacation anytime. When we were children, vacation meant going to Mississippi to visit our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Now there were not a lot of them so we extended it to great aunts, great uncles and 2nd and 3rd cousins, once removed, twice removed and further. Here in the South if there is a drop of shared genes, we are "kissing cousins." Some I didn't mind the kissing part, but others I kinda wished I could pass on. A few of them dipped and chewed and that was a little nasty to me.

Our grandparents lived about 15 miles apart in separate counties. Mama's parents, Granddaddy Burt and Grandmother Mae, lived in and around Bunker Hill most of our childhood. Daddy's parents, Granddaddy Sam and Grandmother Polk, lived out in the country from Bassfield.

All our folks lived in the country and farmed except Granddaddy Burt. He was a carpenter, cabinet maker, oil field worker, farmer, fisherman and preacher. He didn't preach all the time, but off and on for he had trouble with his throat. It was probably from preaching very forcefully when he first began to preach. I never heard him, but I can imagine he could get a rant going when the Holy Spirit hit him for he was an energetic man. One day I will give you his history for he was a colorful character in his younger days.

Grandmother Mae was our favorite of all the grandparents or at least she was mine. She had been born to George and Fanny Cox in Bunker Hill, MS and was named Ella Mae Cox. She had 2 sisters, Ruby Lou (Aunt Bee) and Texie Ray and brothers Hubert and Hollis. The 2 brothers built houses and lived just down the hill from their parents.

Grandmother graduated from the school in Bunker Hill and went to what is now, University of Southern Mississippi in Hattisburg. Back then it was Mississippi Normal School to be educated as a school teacher. At that time school teaching, nursing , wife and mother were about all a young lady could do. I'm not sure if she ever taught, but if she did it would have been at the local school.

It's interesting that all 3 of her grandchildren graduated from University of Southern Mississippi later. Arvin and Sam graduated with undergraduate degrees and I with a Masters of Library Science. In fact, Sam couldn't get enough and has 2 degrees from USM. History has a way of repeating itself sometimes. We didn't plan it this way, it just happened or rather it was God's plan for our family.

She met and married James Burt Williamson at some point. Now this was not a match which was approved of by her parents. J.B. Williamson had a reputation for being a little rough around the edges or as they would say, "He was a rounder." He was from a little community close by and I don't know much about his growing up years but his mother, Grandmother Ella, was still alive when I was a child and would live with grandmother and granddaddy occasionally. I have one of the quilts she made while visiting for that is what she did when visiting with her children. She always left a new quilt behind.

I think I remember correctly that they slipped off and got married, but my memories fade sometimes, so Sam if you remember let me know. Grandaddy was working in the oil fields of Arkansas, then had a plumbing business in Clinton, MS. He had found the Lord as his savior and was living in Clinton and going to college there to become a preacher.

The depression put an end to that for he lost his business, had to quit school and returned to the oil fields to make money. Grandmother, Mama and brother and sister stayed in Clinton for awhile but eventually had to move back to Bunker Hill and live with her parents. It was not a happy time in many ways for the depression changed a lot of lives. Grandaddy came and got them soon and they lived in Arkansas and Louisiana and back to Bunker Hill while mama was growing up.

Grandmother birthed 7 children,and only 2 grew to adults. A son died when 2 and a daughter when she was 7. The son, James Murphy, died from colitis and one of adult daughters had polio and Scarlet fever at the same time which left her mentally retarded and a crippled right foot. The daughter, Lynn, which died at seven, while they lived in Bay St. Louis, died of a childhood disease which now is easily cured. It was a shame that out of 7 children, only 2 lived, but that was life at that time.

Granddaddy moved our grandmother from pillar to post as mama would say and mama had some tales to tell about her childhood and living in many places and many houses and attending many schools. Through all of this our grandmother kept her strong belief in the goodness of God and was one of the most Godly women I have known. She could quote many verses from the Bible, was active in Women's Missionary Union and witnessed about her Lord and Savior anytime and anyplace if you would stop and listen. I am sure she is president of the WMU in a Baptist church in heaven or she is trying to organize one.

I did not hear her complain about their living conditions, which were not always the best but she would sew up some curtains, tat some lace to go on the bottom, clean that place until it would shine and go on with her life. She was amazingly strong and loving. Many times it was hard living for if granddaddy had any money, he spent it. There were always some fishing gear he needed, or thought he did. Grandmother could stretch a little a long way but always shared with those less fortunate.

Now that I am an adult and can look back, I don't know how she did it except she loved granddaddy and the Lord. Eventually they moved in with her mother after Granddaddy Cox died for the two sisters lived in Louisiana and could not come and live with their mother. She took care of her mother and crippled daughter, gardened, raised chickens, cows and talked on the party-line for hours. The telephone party line was her link to the community since grandaddy worked away on carpentry jobs and came home on weekends. I remember when he retired, it was a little tense around there for grandmother was not used to having him around all the time.

In a small community where everyone is kin folks there was lots of visiting and phone calls for she was well liked by everyone. She was also a good cook and we loved her chicken pie and fried chicken. Her biscuits were awfully good too.

I admire my grandmother for I'm not sure I am as strong as she was. She was Godly, loving, smart and caring. I sure do miss her and will tell some more about her as the days roll by.

I pray you have good memories of your grandparents for they are truly a blessing. Write them down so you won't forget like I have.

Nuff said,

The Georgia Peach

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