Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Embarrassing Moments

Speaking of funerals, I recall going to a small baby's graveside funeral with Maggie Lee, the friend who you will recall got me in trouble many times. The undertaker was in charge. He did as they often did then and asked for anyone there to help with song. These were hard times and no one bought floral arrangements, but some people brought bouquets if they had flowers blooming at home.

As we were singing, Maggie Lee and I both saw this ribbon at the same time. I suppose it was all the folks had, but it read "Merry Christmas." Well, I knew not to look at her. All she had to do was poke me with her elbow. This cracked us both up. Bad as it was to laugh at a time like this, we came unglued.

Another time we were in a grocery store at Erin, a small town which was a big city to us. We had no money but were just prowling around. Evie, my sister, was there too, trying to act dignified.

There was a wire crate in the store which had been used at one time for displaying Clabber Girl baking powder. They had filled the crate with sweet potatoes, but left the Clabber Girl sign on it. She said to me just as solemn and dry, "Have you ever had Clabber Girl sweet potatoes?" This was all it took. We came unglued again.

Evie got so mad she said, "Don't come close to me. I don't want anyone to know I know you two." I frequently embarrassed my sister. Evie always like to dress up. Slacks were not worn too much yet. Once we were walking with my friend and Mrs. Haywood, our preacher's wife, in Clarksville. I had on what I thought was a real cute slacks set. Well, Evie again made us walk ahead of her so no one would know we were together.

When the depression came, however, I had one good dress and Evie, the sister born before me, had one. Evie was courting, so she wore her dress one weekend and mine the next.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Doodle Bug, Doodle Bug

When we were children, we had a game we played in early summer when June bugs came out. June bugs were large bugs about one-half inch long and almost as big around. We would catch one, tie a thread ever so long to its leg, and let go - holding on to the string.

Boy, could they fly and buzz! They sounded like a little motor humming. This game could last all day. The June bug would come down to rest and go right back up. We ran to keep up with them. We got a lot of exercise that way.

We used to play under the schoolhouse on rainy days. There were these little bugs that dug holes and went underground, piling the dirt around their hole as the dug. They were easy to locate. We would get down over one and start this little chant. I cannot remember were we got it from. We would say, "Doodle bug, doodle bug come out and get your 'lasses. Your house is burning down - your house is burning down." For some unknown reason they came zooming out backwards. We could spend hours doing this. It was one of our favorite games on rainy or cold fall days.

We used to have funerals for our dead pets, chickens, mice, or whatever. Once three small mice without one hair fell out of the paper on the ceiling of the sitting room. We carefully lined a matchbox with brown satin left over from Took's dress and made a pillow to match.

We rowed up three little bald heads on the pillow, had a funeral, and took them to our very own pet cemetery and laid them to rest. The cemetery had many graves in it. Roses were growing that we had planted, and we went by often to care for the cemetery and plant flowers.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Southern Hospitality

I remember how my mamma had a way of having enough food for last minute visitors. Once, I remember, company came just at meal time. She had cooked only enough for the ones there. She usually made an extra dish, perhaps a platter of fried eggs. But this time she had fixed pork chops.

So, she turned her back to the company, took each pork chop by hand and simply pinched them in two. Then she turned around and announced, "Come on, there's plenty of pieces of meat." Those who knew had a good laugh with her afterwards.

I have seen her start a fire up again in the wood-burning stove when a late visitor came in. She would make a quick dish of eggs or gravy, whatever she could add for a quick addition. She would always say, "It will only take a minute, so sit and eat."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Wildflowers and my Grandma

Grandma Bullard
I remember many simple things that were dear to me as I grew up and still are. Some of my favorites are: mushrooms, butterflies, sassafras trees and the smell of tea made from the roots of the red sassafras, and wild flowers, especially bluebells. I like best anything resembling an iris or of the lily family.

I learned early in life which flowers came in bloom at what time of the season, when to start looking for them and where most kinds were most apt to grow. I loved the dainty little woods flowers. I always loved to pick them ever so gently. Most of them wilted so quickly.

I learned the fragrance of woods flowers without even seeing them. I always knew what was growing nearby. Sweet Williams, especially, have such an aroma you never forget the smell.

We did not really put much time and effort into growing yard flowers except roses, bushes, and a few things that came up on their own without much care. But my pappa always let me have a whole row in the vegetable garden to grow flowers to cut for bouquets - zinnias, and such.

I used to always wish for a lilac bush. My grandma had a lovely one and she let us break off big flowers. They were beautiful. She loved the orchid color and lilac always seems like the color of my grandma when I think of her. She was buried in a beautiful orchid dress.

Grandma Bullard was a pretty little petite lady with the loveliest white silky hair, always long and worn in a soft little bun on the top of her head, held with pretty combs. She wore very modest clothes, sleeves below her elbows and necklines comfortably high, with little lace collars and cuffs. Aprons were worn to cover her dress for cooking and working. Slacks or short clothes were never worn.

She wore the neatest little hats with a flower on one side, and she was never without hosiery and beads. She always had a clean smell. She wore white underwear and she called her slips, all handmade, her "shimmies."

I do not know if anyone else every thinks of a person as a color. But I always did and still do think orchid when I think of my grandma. That is the sweetest compliment I could pay her for all the memories I have of her.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ghost Stories

We used to have a silly way of talking that no one but us understood. For instance, if something was good to eat, we would say it was "larapin." I do not know why, but we used a lot of expressions like this. Instead of "I dare you" we would say, "I double dare you and you're a coward unless you take it." Well, one could not pass that kind of dare.

I guess my folks did not realize back then that you should not frighten kids. Many times, if we were really naughty, my mamma would say, "I guess you've forgotten that 'old rawhead and bloodybones' is in the attic and hears you misbehaving." Well, need she say more? I had a vivid picture in my mind of a bad, mean monster of some type that I had never seen, but who, none the less, heard all things at all times.

Old folks would sit around at night and tell us ghost stories. Then we were scared out of our wits, afraid to go to bed. They told of such things as seeing caskets floating at a local cemetery. When the young men passed by there at night and called out for Uncle Nathan to come out, they swore he came out, casket and all, and followed them home.

This was a way to show how brave they were, or so they thought. My pappa never believed in ghosts. He always said, "Anything can be explained if investigated." He was very brave. He went anywhere at night or day.

Mr. Camel, a neighbor of ours, was so frightened of storms it was said that he always got in a ditch or between feather beds to keep the lightning away from him. We thought he was strange. He had a crooked forefinger. When he dipped it into his snuff bag, it was just right to scoop up enough snuff to sniff up his nose, which was how he chose to use tobacco.

Poor fellow did not die from lightning, though his death was accidental. He chopped down a tree for wood and somehow it fell on him. He died from the injuries. That was an unhappy time in our community because everybody cared for their neighbors.