It’s simple. Mama.
“I want to ride the Mississippi Queen steamboat.”
“They threw us in the Chattahoochee River with tracing chains. Tied a rope to ’em. It’s how we learned to swim.”
“There were coachwhip snakes in the cotton fields we worked in. They would bite or try to attack. They (the snakes) made me run away from them a few times.”
Abbieville, Alabama. They (Mama & family) lived on the farm/homestead. Children and grandchildren worked in the fields. “The help” worked in the yards and house. “They were sharecroppers.” That was what most referred to them as. They lived on the land and worked the land and got a percentage of the crop. They earned money, which wasn’t much. Had their own land and grew food and had their own livestock. Annie (Eufalla, AL) helped cooked and take care of the kids. She had a collie dog. The dog had puppies. Mix breed. Papa knocked them all in the head with a bat. Annie got mad.
(Me asking Mama about her life as a kid in Alabama. Farming. Their help and all that)
Ironically I watched A Long Walk Home last night. And today this was my Mama talking in the kitchen about Annie again. (Her grandmother’s “maid” when they lived in Alabama) Hearing those stories of Annie walking my Mama and the other kids down to the end of their road because they each had a penny for “the rolling store” to get two pieces of candy and how the driver didn’t acknowledge Annie because of the color of her skin. Annie had a separate outhouse from my mama and the others. I’m in awe of these stories each time she tells them. Mama loved Annie. Mama is a walking history book. “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” (August 2013)
Mama rode sea turtles when she was little in Panama City, Florida at St. Andrews State Park. They were 4 foot wide. This story makes me giggle.