The five sisters: Aunt Eddie, Mammaw, Aunt Lu, Aint Bessie, and Aint Lo
A little more about Mammaw’s Sister, Aint Bessie (she of the Ole Fly fame). She was a fun, lively
woman, when we would be all gathered for talk and meals, but she became mysteriously stricken with a great weakness and pain of limb upon every rising from the dining table.I think that most of my opinions and views
in those days were formed and shaped by Mammaw---the greatest caretaker and
influence in my life. Probably Aunt B's being a younger sister gave
her some leeway that Mammaw didn't get, for growing up, the younger girls were mostly
exempted from the field work and cooking and washing for all that big family of
young-uns.Since all I really knew of Aint
B. came from her maybe-twice-yearly visits, I sorta leant toward Mammaw's
view that shecouldhelp out, if she'd just get up
off the couch.
Aint B. had a plump little figure and some beautiful
clothes. She took a morning bath which required
bringing in the big old #2 tub from the back porch (not by her) and
filling from the kitchen faucet, and then everybody out of the house while
she bathed (usually Mammaw and I were out in the garden, hoeing or picking
something to cook or to can). And she had lovely skin---she carried
a bag with lotions and her perfume and hair stuff in it, and she slept in a big
hairnet to keep her permanent pretty. We could come back in when
she got into her housecoat, and I'd empty the tub, pitcher by pitcher, into the
sink, then take the tub out, while I watched her lotion arms and legs and put
cream on her face, and later a little puff of powder and tiny dab of lipstick.
Then she sat down to wrap her legs. She had roll after
roll of gauze or cotton strips or some white fabric that she rolled round and
round her legs from knee to ankle before she pulled on her stockings and rolled
her garters on. She took all that off to sleep, re-rolling the
little rounds and sticking in a pin.
She kept repeating like a mantra about her Milk Leg she'd
contracted, and how sore they were all the time (I wonder now if it was
something like phlebitis, and that kept clots from forming like surgical
stockings). And her legs were just really pretty underneath all that
wrapping, so I, too, thought she might be exaggerating her malady a bit
more to account for her not being able to clear away or wash dishes
or cook, and that she had to get right up from the table after every meal and
go lie down and elevate her feet on a pillow.
And I envied the HECK out of the fact that she had a
"standing order" for a case of Co-Colas to be delivered and set on
her back porch in Mobile
every morning. She drank twenty-four six-ounce cokes in a day's
time. And guess what lucky person got to run over to Aunt Lu's with the
wheelbarrow every day to get that case of cokes? And back for three
or four more trips, for bananas or Bromo or the Pinkham's that she forgot
to bring. I even had to go get ice a time or two, because we ran out so
often, filling up those big tea glasses with Co-Cola, and all.
(Looking back, I wonder if the reason she stayed with Mammaw all
the time, despite the impossibly-tiny house, might have been ME).
The three rooms were Kitchen at the back, with a good sized rectangular
wooden dinner table and six chairs, the Middle Room, which held Mammaw and Grandpa's double bed on one wall, with a BIG round black pedestal Dining Table
under that saggy-screen window and the beehive in the wall that you could hear
humming. There was a big pump organ on the third wall, and the
fourth, of course, was taken up with the head of the bed and kitchen door, with
a space somewhere in there for a good-sized wood stove---a really pretty, curvy
one, like an immense black vase with pipes in the middle of the floor, all
taken down for Summer, and creating a marvelously-open space.
The belly of the stove had a garland of raised-up rose buds, one of which
had tattooed a permanent "rose" on Uncle Samalee's beeehind when he
was about four, and had just gotten out of the tub and bent over to get his
front room had another double bed on the north wall, a couch where I slept on
the opposite, covering a never-used closed up fireplace with a
doilied-and-what-notted mantel, which would take you unawares; if you sat up
wrong in bed, it would conk you in the noggin. The bed was Aint B's,
and there was also an across-the-corner dresser to the "suit" along
with a chest of drawers, and a pretty maroon-brocade platform rocker with a chunky metal smoking stand.
I just cannot imagine.
Aint B. had her own little built-in maid-servant every Summer
trip, for I fetched and carried cokes and cake-on-a-saucer and a funeral parlor
fan and her purse and her hair-scarf and her magazines---she was the first
person I'd ever seen who bought those Romance and Screen and True Story
magazines, and I was fascinated.
She told fabulous stories of the city, of the
streetcars and the train station and all the big stores and the parades.
And they went right down to the water and bought their shrimp right off a
boat. Not quite the enchantment of Aunt Eddie's Indianapolis (I was fated to be here), but I
was rapt, all the same.
from all over town would drop by and sit on the porch with Aint Bessie, and she
held court every day til the sun got too hot out there, or she'd get her
"parasol" ---Mammaw and all the Aunts had a big black umbrella for
shade, and they all called them parasols--and venture around the block to Aunt Lu's store or up or down the street to people's houses. She'd go to whatever
doings any one of the three churches was putting on---luncheons and teas and
watermelon-cuttings---all functions that Mammaw wouldn't have even come in out of the hot garden to attend.
from the internet---her silhouette, size, white hair, and certainly looks like Mobile to me
I know that the bit about The Fly painted her in less-than-her-best
light. I think it's just my memory of that one particular day---I
was maybe eight, and I can STILL hear her say, "Look at that OLE FLY!" and the sound of the flappy old worn-out swatter hitting the equally
fragile screen, right before the immense cloud settled on that good dinner.
She and Uncle Les adopted their nephew when his mother died
shortly after childbirth. They lived in Mobile, and I think I remember Uncle Les had
something to do with shipyards. Ron never came with Aint Bessie,
but would ride the bus by himself later to come for a couple of weeks with
Mammaw, Aunt Lu, and Aint Lo---who all lived that small Delta town. What an adventure that must have been, and
him not yet ten years old. I envied that
freedom, and still to this day LOVE the sight, sound and scent of a GREYHOUND.
a wonderful expression in the South which conveys happiness, pleasure, delight,
gratitude, and whole host of other good things:
the word is TICKLED. There’s no
gonna getcha anticipation or those fun-scary creeps associated with a Tickle
Monster, nor is any touching or jostling involved (well, there MIGHT be some,
at the Ticklee’s express request, but that’s nunna my
can be Tickled that the Grandkids are coming this weekend, Tickled to see them,
and Tickled to make their favorite nanner pudding. Other forms are when something’s just so
gosh-darned funny you’re Tickled to death, or you can be Tickled Pink (that would be my choice, of course) to
something dear to your heart, your lifestyle, your conscience or your
sometimes something can TICKLE YOUR FUNNYBONE so you laugh long and loud, or it can be just so fun and sweet, you just smile all over. Sis has a flock of chickens, and they are
just the dearest little clucky souls.
One, especially, is my favorite (and I think is secretly hers, as well,
but neither of us will ever let on---biddies have tender feelings, plus their
beaks are just ankle-height). Bonnie
Faye is simply the most beautiful barnyard creature I’ve ever seen---an almost
houndstooth pattern to her poufy elaborate robes, and the fluffiest stockin’-tops
I’ve seen since visiting the Clydesdales.
I don’t know if it’s too many Harry Potter movies, or if she’s seen the Buckbeak centerfold in Better Coops andGardens, but
she’s got the regal bow, the incline of the head, and the calm acceptance of the
reverence she’s due. Girlfriend’s got
quite the Royal Thing going on:
A fun comment from Sis when she saw this post just now:
Awww, I DO just love
her so much! She still lays a tiny little white egg about 3 times a week. She
also has short term memory loss now and when we let everybody out in the late
afternoon to play, she looks down to peck a bug and they all run off. Then when
she looks back up, everybody's gone and it's panic time!!! BU_KACK!!! about 100
times until we go out and show her where everybody went, then she waddles over
until the next time... Life is full of BU-KACKS isn't it. We all just need
someone to show us where everybody went from time to time.
not quite holiday weather here today, with the warmth of the sun and bright
skies and the snap of flags in the sunshine, the smoke of a thousand backyard
grills raising delicious scents into the Spring air. There were no sunbeams to wake to, but the damp skies will not dim the services and celebrations of this long Spring weekend.
weather hasn't much to do with the feelings that surround this special day,
this day of remembrance and honoring and taking stock of our nation's
blessings. The placing of wreaths, the little flags stuck into the earth of
countless graves, the floral tributes, the handful of limp posies clutch-wilted
in a child's hand, the tears of remembrance---those will quietly and reverently
go on even as the scent of charcoal drifts up and the promised rain comes down.
have a deep-imprinted vignette in my memory-collection, of sitting there in a
hot scratchy dress several years ago, to see my dear Mother-in-Law receive the
folded flag "With the thanks of a Grateful Nation." And so we
remember GrandDaddy, in all his twenty-something years of service, and I keep a
secret, heartfelt gleam of pride for our other servicemen and women, and those
we'll never know of as we sleep safely on their watch.
just looking at the flowers in the picture above, the two tall, stalwart reds
and the smaller, just-as-strong pink, I think of all our sisters and daughters
in uniform, especially the one determined young woman who left for training just this past Monday with the tiny tremolo of our long-ago bedtime “Twinkle, Twinkle Little
Star” echoing in my heart. I gratefully salute the strong, brave women
who step up to the mark, who serve standing proud beside the men whose strength
and bravery have stood true for centuries.
feel a surge of gratitude, of pride, of thankful praise for all the ones who
take our well-being and our freedom so seriously that they live and die for it,
so I say "Thank you," to each and every one, and give a prayer of
thanks for all of our service-people, past and present---those standing proud
in uniform today, those who have served, no matter what the term, those who
have retired from their service, but remain ever soldiers, those lying beneath
the brave small flags, and those in unsung graves around the world, known only
to the angels and remembered in the hearts of those who loved them. 114 YEARS AND SIX DAYS
addition to shirking my attentions to my own blog, I’ve missed out lately on a
lot of the wonderful ones I’ve enjoyed over the years. One of these is CAKE WRECKS, and today’s
little story-in-cake is absolutely charming.
tiny characters from all over the world of baking are simply the sweetest ever,
and the little poem to accompany is spot on perfect.