Friday, August 26, 2011

The Tractor - Brenda and Carol

The Tractor

One weekend Carol’s Mom and Dad left to go on a fishing trip to Florida with Carol’s sister and her husband.  They were going to do some deep-sea fishing.
“Yee-haw”, we squealed when we found out.  Hot dang, pay dirt.  Carol and I thought that we would have the two-ton log truck all to ourselves.  That would mean Friday and Saturday night in town.  We couldn’t wait.
Peter Dick was smarter than we gave him credit.  Carol and I had talked and planned all week for the weekend.  Peter Dick left a load of logs on the truck.  Chained down and everything.  There was no way on God’s green earth that we would be able to get those logs off that truck.  Carol’s brother, Ray, was in Viet Nam and his car was parked in their driveway.  Carol knew where the keys were. Gone.  Yes, gone!  Or, was it that her older sister let the air out of the tires?   They really had our number!  That left the trusty old tractor.  That Friday night, Carol and I got all dolled up and got on the tractor.  The lights did not work, so I held a flashlight for Carol so that she could see.  We backed the tractor out of the driveway onto the road and headed for town.  We did not get too far.  It went dead right smack dab in the middle of the road.   We tried cranking it again.  Nothing. 
About that time here comes my Mama down the road.  She had been visiting Memma and Granddaddy.  “They Lord have mercy,” she signed.  “What in the name of God do you two think you are doing?”
“Nothing now,” I muttered.
“You two are gonna kill your fool selves,” Mama yelled.
A girl and her boyfriend came along and helped us get the tractor off of the road and back in front of Carol’s house.
My Mama said that we had better never pull anything like that ever again.  I don’t think she told Carol’s Mama.

More Me and Carol

Me and Carol

Me and Carol and the Log Truck

            Carol and I were inseparable growing up.  Several times a week we would spend the night with each other.  We were together on the weekends, too.  Carol’s daddy was a cousin to my daddy.  We lived just down the road from each other.  Carol’s daddy was a logger.  He had a big old two ton log truck that he used for his logging business.  He would go up on Skyline Mountain, cut a load of trees, and haul them back down the mountain to a little place across the road from his brother’s grocery store (Latham’s Grocery).  He hired people to split the logs or posts. 
            Carol and I loved that truck.  The truck was our only means of transportation.  We would beg her daddy, whose name was Dick, but we called him Peter Dick just for meanness, to let us take the truck to Joan’s house.  Joan was the preacher’s daughter who lived up the road about a half of a mile from us.  We would say that we had to go borrow paper from her.  Peter Dick trusted the preacher’s daughter so he would let us use the truck to go up there.  We were about fourteen or fifteen years old.  Of course, we never went to Joan’s house.  We would head straight for town and ride around the square.  Back in those days, everyone hung out on the town square.  The courthouse was in the middle of the square and the thing to do was ride around that square.  You would get drunk from riding around the square so many times.  We would look for some of our friends – boys of course. 
            One night we thought it would be clever to get a bunch of boys on the back of the log truck and dump them off.  We drove around and around the square until some of the boys that we saw some of the boys that we hung out with sitting on the square in their car.  We pulled up in the truck and Carol revved the motor.  “Yawl wanna ride on the back”, Carol asked.  They were eager to ride on the back of the truck.  They thought it was kind of like a hayride with no hay.  We rode around the square a time or two and Carol kept trying to work the dump.  She was also smoking a cigarette which sometimes we would do.  She kept working the dump and I kept looking back but the truck wasn’t lifting up. 
            After awhile I smelled something burning.  “What’s that I smell,” I asked.  “Turn the radio down,, I really smell something burning,” I yelled.
            Yes, Peter Dick had finally installed a radio in the truck for us.  I guess he thought we needed a radio for our nightly jaunts to Joan’s house.
            “Check the ashtray,” Carol giggled.
            Carol checked the ashtray.  “Are you sure you put your cigarette out? She questioned. “Did it go in the seat?”
            “No, I am telling you it ain’t no cigarette I smell”, I quipped.

            One of the boys starting yelling and screaming, “Trucks on fire” as they pounded on the rear window of the truck.
            We pulled over on the square and climbed out.  There was a fire underneath the truck.  One of the boys yanked his shirt off and crawled underneath the truck and put the blaze out.  What a brave soul.  It is a wonder that the gas tank didn’t explode sending all of us to Jesus.  As it turned out, Carol wasn’t fooling with the dump thing after all.  She had somehow managed to get the emergency brake on and it burned out.
            As we started for home, I reminded Carol that we would have to tell her daddy.  “What, have you lost your mind,” she said.  “He will never let us have the truck again”.
            “Well, do you wanna see your daddy go flying off that mountain with a load of logs and get himself killed?” I asked.
            “Good point,” she remarked.  “You’re going in with me,” she ordered.
            “Ain’t dun nit” I cried.  “He’s going to beat the living daylights out of us”.  My voice was shaking.  I was scared to death to tell him.  We got home and of course, Peter Dick was in bed.  He got up with the chickens and went to bed wit them.  Chickens went to roost early, you know.  When we got home, we went to her daddy’s bedroom and I lay down on one side of the bed and Carol got on the other side. 
“Peter Dick,” I gently called in a shaky voice.  Carol picked up the story from there and told him what had happened.  Now, she did not say that we were messing around with the emergency brake.  She told him, “You see, daddy, Joan was out of paper so we had to go to town.  We went to a store to get paper, and I don’t know how the emergency brake got on, it just caught fire”.
“Should have let he damn thing burn,” he retorted.  “I have good insurance; I could have got me a new truck.”
That is the easiest we ever got out of anything, you can trust me on that one.

White Lightening

Darling, I Love My Cosmos

            “Hmm, I will have a Bellini, no make that a watermelon Martini, no a Cosmo.”
            Growing up, Memma declared many times that you could take all of the liquor in the world and throw it in the ocean for all she cared.  Drinking was the root of all evil.  Most of the drinkers in our family were closet drinkers.  As I got older, I questioned this a little bit.   As a teenager, I was never really into alcohol.  As I got older, I tried Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill.   The county that I lived in was dry as a bone.  I mean, to get alcohol you either had to go to a boot egger or drive to another county.  There were bootleggers all over.  I stopped at a gas station and asked the attendant to give me one of regular (that was when they filled up your car for you) and he said, “What kind did you want, M’am?”
I said, “regular”. 
 “M’am, we got all kinds.” 
I must have appeared to be dumber than Joe’s old turkey.  I hadn’t a clue as to what he was talking about.  Finally, it clicked.  He was going to bring me some booze.  I said, “Regular gasoline?
I don’t know who felt crazier, me or him.
One afternoon, when I was no bigger than a bean post, I remember coming in from the fields, all hot and sweaty and thirsty as all get out.  Mama usually kept a jug of water in the refrigerator.  I could taste the cold ice water.  I flung open the refrigerator door and grabbed a glass of ice cold water sitting on the shelf. I turned it up and took a big old swallow.   Lord, I thought I would die.  I gagged and coughed and spit like an old mad dog.  My eyes were burning and I thought I would choke to death.  It seems that a friend of my daddy’s had given him some wildcat whiskey and he had set a glass of it in the refrigerator. 
            My daddy was quite the drinker.  He made some homebrew one time.  He and an old sot buddy of his slipped off down into granddaddy’s pasture and set up a place for their brew.  Mama found out about it and raised holy hell.  Daddy and his buddy got scared that she put Epsom Salt in it so they wouldn’t drink it.
            When I was an adult and still living in Alabama, I went to a Christmas party.  I was going from table to table talking to different people.  I would just visit a spell at each table.  Well, most everyone offered me a sip of their drink.  Well, little did I know that these people were drinking pure white lightening straight from the distilleries of Alabama.  White lightening mixed with lemonade is actually not bad.  However, when I got home, and got in bed, the room was spinning around so fast, that I put one foot off the bed trying to stop it.  I had heard people say that placing one foot off the bed would solve that feeling.  Well, I was so bad that I just got off the bed and lay in the floor.  No more wildcat for me.  Unfortunately, I really did not know that I was drinking that stuff – that is my story and I am sticking to it.
            Today, of course, I have been spoiled by my husband.  He bought a bottle of Silver Oak wine and now, I can tell cheap wine from the good stuff.  Just ask my husband, Tom.  He says that he has created a monster when it comes to taking me out to dinner.  Never let me pick the wine, he would tell you.

In Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home

                You can get the tan of your life in them old cotton fields.  I think back to the days when Carol and I would spend our summers hoeing (chopping for those of you don’t know what hoeing is) cotton in short shorts.  We would roll our shorts up as high as we could get them without getting yelled at from our Mamas and go hoe cotton.  My granddaddy didn’t question why we always wanted to hoe cotton.  He was just glad to get the help.  Of course, now, we didn’t roll those shorts up until he was out of sight.   The best way to get a good tan was to work in the cotton patch.  We worked from sun-up to sundown.
                One summer I convinced my Uncle Wilson to hire my friends and me to hoe cotton.   One of the girls was a city slicker who was visiting her Aunt Raye from Chattanooga.  Raye was the local postmaster and I spent a lot of time with her in the post office.  She would let me sit in the back of the post office where her office was.  I got to help her sort the mail.  She introduced her niece to me and my friends so that we would hang out with her.  We thought we were something to have a city slicker hangout with us for the summer.  Being from Chattanooga was like being from New York City to us.  And, like us, she was really anxious to fit in and was excited to get the opportunity to make a few dollars. My Uncle was a little reluctant to hire all us.  But, being the good soul that he was, he gave all of us a job.    All of us included myself, my cousin Carol, my friend Nancy and the city slicker from Chattanooga. 
We thought we were in high cotton getting to go to work.  Early on the morning of our first workday, we started out down the old graveled road to Uncle Wilson’s house.  We had our hoes slung over our shoulder.  The sun was just coming up over the mountains.  We each carried a brown paper sack filled with our lunch.  I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a canning jar filled with ice water.  The field was beside Uncle Wilson’s house.  We walked up into Uncle Wilson’s yard.  He was standing there with a few other field hands.  Uncle Wilson always wore a wide brimmed hat.  He tipped his hat to us and grinned, “You girls do know how to hoe?”
Of course, we all nodded that we did know how to hoe cotton.  I remember being a little insulted that he would ask.    The city girl shuffled her feet and looked down at the ground.  That should have told us something.
Uncle Wilson started walking toward the cotton patch.  I wondered what the city girl thought about Uncle Wilson’s overalls and dusty old work boots.  His hat had sweat stains on it.  Uncle Wilson was a hard working man. 
 Uncle Wilson showed us where to start.   Each of us had our own row to hoe.  The field looked like a road map with cracks running here and there.  It hadn’t rained in awhile. I raised my hoe and began to dig away.  I can still hear the metal of that hoe hitting against the ground..  I knew that this was the first hoeing so I had to thin some of the cotton out, along with getting rid of the weeds.  I took it for granted that our city friend knew what she was doing.  The rows were long and started at the edge of Uncle Wilson’s yard and went all of the way out to the highway on the other side of his farm.  That was a long row to hoe.  Have you heard of the old saying, “long road to hoe?”  Well, I know where it came from.  I bet your botton dollar that someone hoeing in a cotton patch some where came up with “a long road to hoe”. 
By noon, I am not sure how many rows we had cleared.  Unfortunately, when I say cleared, I do mean cleared.  To say the least, Uncle Wilson was a little bit ticked off at us.  The city girl had hoed everything in site, weeds, cotton and all.  So, at twelve o’clock sharp, when we should have been finding a cool shade tree to eat our lunch under, we were unemployed.  Uncle Wilson fired all of us.
Our tails were dragging as we trudged along towards home.    None of us bothered to put our hoe over our shoulder.  We just let the hoe hit the gravel as we slithered along with our tails tucked between our legs.  Dragging along with full of despair, we all felt pretty darned bad..  We were not so anxious to get back.  I didn’t want to blame the city girl but I wondered what the heck she could have been thinking.  I didn’t realize that she did not know the difference between cotton and a weed.   It was hotter than a witches brew.  It was so hot that the tar in the pavement was bubbling.  Finally, Nancy broke the silence. “I don’t know why he fired me, I always thought I was a good hoer.”
We all sniggered.  Carol told her that didn’t have thing to do with us getting fired.  I don’t think she got it..
                Uncle Wilson later told my Granddaddy that he would have kept me on, but the rest of the girls were chopping all of his cotton down.  He felt bad about letting me stay and firing all of the other girls, so he just fired us all.  At least, that is the way he explained firing me to my Granddaddy. 
Uncle Wilson’s farm was across the road from an old cemetery.  Some of the graves were dated way back before the Civil War.  A few of the graves had stones piled on top.  Memma always said that the Indians buried their people like that to keep the animals out of the graves. There were lots of stories about that old cemetery.  People used to tease and say that one of the girls that hoed with us that day had an experience in that cemetery.   Supposedly, she went home one night and told her Mama that her back hurt.  Her Mama pulled up her shirt and replied, “Says here you died in 1949.”  It seems that some of the kids would frolic in the cemetery.  And, frolic is just a nice way of saying that they did the wild thing.   I think that was just a joke. 
Me and Carol used to go back to school after a summer of hoeing cotton and our classmates would ask where we got our lovely tan.  We would always say, “Panama City”.  Panama City is also known as the Redneck Riviera.  Must of the people from Alabama go there for vacation and weekend getaways.  We didn’t know of any other exotic places.  Florida sounded good to us. 
To get a really great tan, Carol and I would mix iodine and baby oil.  We would spread it all over our bodies, and lay out in my back yard on a towel.  Sometimes we would be butt naked if we thought no one was around.
                And, the girl from Chattanooga – my guess is that she never saw another cotton patch in her life.   But, to this day, my husband and I have been back to Alabama or driving down interstate in South Georgia and when we pass a cotton patch, I just get the itch to get out of the car and pick me some cotton.  I can tell you, when I am back in Alabama, I have done just that.  I cannot pass up that fluffy white stuff. 

Hey, You Know What? (Written A long while back)

Good Lord!  You wake up one day and realize that you are paying two hundred dollars to get your hair highlighted and that doesn’t even include the cut.  You are having your eyebrows waxed and your daughter is trying to talk you into getting a Brazilian and you wonder, “What the hell is that?”   I went to get a pedicure and was trying to tell the lady that I wanted my eyebrows waxed.  “Wax, wax,” I repeated.  She grabbed me by the hand and said, “You, follow me”.  Like a dummy, I followed.  She took me to a room in the back and pointed to a cot that had a sheet and pillow on it. “Eyebrow, eyebrow,” I said. “No tookie, no tookie,” I emphasized as I made pretense of making a big “X” on my crotch.Can you imagine?

And, what about this botox stuff?  I haven't had it, but I 'm just saying....

   Here I am, Lord, from hoeing cotton in the foothills of Alabama to a body makeover revolution.  Why, my memma would have never had her hair colored and I never saw her toenails painted.    Bless her heart.  The only thing she ever used on her face was “Oil of Olay”.  Yes sir, and she doesn’t have wrinkles at ninety-seven.  Of course now, she always wore a bonnet when she was out in the sun.   And, speaking of hair coloring, why, I remember my cousin and best friend Carol coloring my hair when we were in school back in Alabama.  She put yellow food coloring in my hair to turn it blonde.  If you want blonde hair, I would not recommend this; however, if you don’t mind a shade of green that rubs off on your hands when you run your fingers through your hair, then you might consider it.  I never will forget going to school the next morning after we had spent half the night working on my hair.  The lighting wasn’t real good in our house.  I actually thought my hair looked pretty darned good.  I don’t know what happened while I was standing at the bus stop waiting for the old yellow school bus to come.  Maybe it was the air or the early morning sunlight that hit it.  But, by the time I got to school, my hair was a very light sap green.  And, it rubbed off on your fingers when you touched it.   I heard more than once that day, “Yuk, ooh, what the heck did you do to your hair?”     I have been thinking about the differences in my life, then and now.  Living in Atlanta might be just stone’s throw from Alabama but it is a world apart from where I grew up.  I have lived in Atlanta for twenty plus years and you might think that things in my little country town of Larkinsville, Alabama have changed with the times.  Nope.  People have pretty much stayed the same.  Latham’s grocery store closed long ago and the feed mill and the cotton gin are gone. Nothing new has come in.  People are still the same, though.  My aunts are still growing vegetables in the garden and canning everything from here to Sunday.  My Mamma still says that she is going “over yonder” to see somebody and she is always “fixing” to do something or another.  I love it.  Guess that old saying is true.  You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.  Lord knows, my husband has tried.  I am still a country girl at heart.  I love my pinto beans and cornbread.                 I will go along losing weight, then I go over to Alabama for a visit and woe is me.  I stuff my face with fried corn, fried okra, pinto beans, cornbread, fried pies and whatever else they have cooked up.                So, what am I doing here?                  I could be considered a storyteller.  I used to get a good whipping for telling stories.  I love to share stories about growing up in the South with my friends.  Some can relate and some cannot.  Two of my best buddies, India and Malik, whom I work with, are gluttons for punishment.  They listen eagerly to my stories about growing up in Alabama.  Malik suggested that I write these stories down and share them with others.  Of course, this could just be a tactic to get me out of his face.      So, let me take you around the bin a time or two.  Hold onto your horses. 

Hey, How Ya'll Doing?

You know the old saying, “you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl?”  Well, I reckon, that would be me.  I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and we were poor.  No one told me we were poor.   I reckon I just figured it out on my on.   We were as poor as Joe’s old turkey.  We didn’t need an alarm clock to wake us up.  As soon as the sun came up, the rays from the sun woke us up as they beamed through the cracks in the house.   I mean, I don’t think this house even had sheet rock.  Yep, we knew it was time to get up.  Why, when we got running water in the house you would have thought that it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.   We lived in a little old three bedroom shack right by the railroad track.   There was no indoor toilet.  Just the outside two seater and a Sears and Roebuck catalog.   Today, things are a little different for me.  I no longer have to use the outhouse.  In fact, I have quite a few bathrooms to choose from.   I am not bragging now, ya hear?  Cause guess who has to clean the dang things.    Back then, I had to go out the back door and walk across the yard to use the outhouse.  When the Sears and Roebuck catalog was missing, we knew where to find it. Gosh, it sure was different back then.  Just think there was no such thing as credit cards, well manicured lawns or putting pine straw down in  your yard.  Why, Memma used to take a broom and sweep the yard.  My husband and I got a notice in our mailbox the other day from the subdivision telling us that we needed to put fresh pine straw down.  Can you imagine that?  I asked my husband, “what’s wrong with the old?”I tell you what, though, you can say all you want about being poor, but let me tell you one thing.  We ate good.  My Mama always had a pot of pinto beans and a pone of cornbread.    There was always a jug of sweet tea, too.  Mama always cooked our breakfast before she went to school.  I feel really guilty about that.  I hope my kids had a bowl of cereal before school, I mean, I think they did.Today, kids have all of those fancy games to play.  We used to gang up at Memma and Granddaddy’s farm, go down to the barn and have a good ole corn cob battle.   Memma and Granddaddy had a house full of kids and just as many grandkids.  We were always at their house.  Going down to the barn and throwing corn cobs at each other was good, clean fun.  Yes, it was until someone rolled a corn cob in cow manure.   Of course, we played Annie Over, tag and we were always jumping rope.Yes, I went through a time when I tried my best to be a Southern lady.  You know, there’s a lot to learn about dealing with Southern women.  You just learn the tricks of the trade a lot quicker than anyone else.  Like knowing how to act, what to say just comes natural to Southern girls.  For example, you just play dumb when you know it pays off to play dumb.  It all started in the movie Gone with the Wind with “I don’t know nothing about birthing no babies”.  There are times when I have had a flat tire and I have stood there like a knot on a log, “I don’t know nothing bout fixing flat tires.”  Works everytime, especially before you hit a certain age.  And, let me tell you, I don’t know anything about fixing flat tires and I don’t want to know.  And, you notice, Southerners are always fixing to do something or going over yonder?  Yea, we may play dumb to some things, but we can drive tractors, trucks and, if we have to, cuss like a sailor.Charm, charm, charm.  Southern girls can charm the horns off of a billy goat.  We just smile, act dumb and sip our mint juleps.  Now, sometimes, it pays to act smart.  Especially, if you are around a girl that is dumber than a truck, you have to outwit her by showing your smarts.  Southern girls have a knack for sizing up a situation and playing the right cards.  We Southerners also have our pride and all of those little rules that have been handed down for generations stick with us forever.  For example, one thing I cannot get away from.  No matter how hard I try.  I will never wear white before Easter or after Labor Day.  I have stood in my closet with my hand on a pair of white pants and, nope.  I cannot make myself take them off that hanger if it is before Easter.   That is a definite no, no because Mama said so and her Mother said so, and my Great-Grandmother said so.There are a lot of rules to abide by when dealing with Southern girls.  Never talk about her family.  I don’t care if her family is poor white trash, you better not say anything about them.  Now, she can trash them all she wants, but no one else can.  That will get her dander up quicker than anything.  If she is talking about Uncle Joe being a sorry sack of crap,  and a good for nothing piece of pole cat, you best just listen.   If you say, Yea, that sorry old so and so.” Better watch out because she will go nuts.Don’t ever get too uppity with a us either.  And, you best layoff our men.    Case in point:  An uppity girl who definitely forgot her raising comes to visit in her designer clothes, Jimmy Choo shoes and Gucci sunglasses.  Miss Southern Girl’s beau is definitely drinking in the cleavage that Miss Uppity is displaying.  Miss Uppity knows it and continues to lean in a little close to the beau.  She laughs and giggles and smiles coyly.  After all, she has been up north for awhile and she thinks hers doesn’t stink.  Miss southern girl standing there in her unclaimed baggage jeans that turns out to be designer just didn’t cost as much as Miss Uppity’s.  Finally, having had enough, Miss southern girl’s eyes get all squinty – you know that beady look.  She takes in a deep breath and watch out, here comes the fangs.   She turns to Miss Uppity and says, “I love your dress, honey.” Miss Uppity smiles and looks down at her polished nails.  “Thank you,” she shrugs. Miss southern girl continues, “Sugar, I didn’t know your Mama was still sewing; did she make that dress for you?”This should put her in her place really quickly.  Miss Uppity might also hear the following quips:“You’ve lost a ton of weight, Bless your heart”“Your sister sure did look sickly the other day, bless her heart”“Yeow, hmm, uh huh,” means shut the hell up because she has tuned you completely out.“I didn’t know you took Home Ec in school”“Don’t you just love home-made dresses”“I really like those jeans, yea, Wal-Mart is really coming along”“Love that dress, honey, don’t you just love a bargain?”And, to someone that has been trying to lose weight for awhile “Yea, don’t you just love weight watchers; did you just start?” Too, tacky is a favorite word of the southern girl.  “God, can you believe she wore that God awful tacky dress to his funeral?”
There are lots of other Southern sayings that you might find amusing.  You might find that you use some of these words: “Are you serious?  Serious as a heart attack”“I’m fixing to go”“I’m going over yonder”“Whar”“Well, I’ll say…“Honey, you ain’t whistling Dixie”“Cold day in hell”“Serious as a Christmas turkey”“If I’m lying, I’m dying…”“There ain’t a cow in Texas“Honey, sugar wouldn’t melt in her mouth”“that will make you slap your Grandma”“She’s looking might pekad”“She looked purt (pert) today”“Come sit a spell”“She looks like death warmed over”Yap, yep, death’s knocking on her door”“Someone ran over my grave”“Putting on the dog”“Crazy as a Bessie bug”Yes, for sure, you need to know how to deal with Southerners.  They don’t cotton too well with anyone who has forgotten their come uppance.  I never will forget a cousin of my Mother’s who went off to Chicago to work.  He was up there about a month and came back for a visit.  Lord have mercy.  You would have thought he was speaking Chinese when he came back.  Everyone talked about his “northern brogue”.  He really put on the dog.  I know that his poor old Mama was embarrassed to death that he forgot his come uppance.  In other words, he forgot how he was raised.  He came back home talking like a Yankee.  That went over like a lead balloon.  People sniggered behind his back.  But, I can tell you one thing, no one said a word in front of his Mother.  Yep, it is hard to leave your roots and then go home.  Those that you left behind always feel a little slighted.  So, another big rule is to never ever forget your upbringing. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Volunteering at the Nursing Home - Oh the Memories

Many moons ago, (and thanks to "you know you are from S'boro crowd for reminding me)...I would go after school or Saturday's, to help the old people.  I so proudly took a tray of orange juice around to them and fed them their dinner, etc.  This was back when those tent dresses were popular..loose fitting.  Anyway, there were so many of the old folks that I grew to love and some just kept me laughing.  So, here are a few stories.  Hopefully, they will give you a chuckle and if you ever want to enhance your life or get an extra bit of satisfaction or enjoyment out of life, try helping them.

So, there was one lady who sat daily out in the hallway in a wheelchair.  Her hands were arthritic and she kept a hanky clutched tightly in her bent up fingers that she could not straighten if her life depended on it.  Well, the hanky was used to wipe the snuff from her mouth because she loved a dip.  The staff at the nursing home cautioned me about how much I could let her have.  She would beg me for an extra little helping of snuff.  Some days, as I walked by, she would reach out with her crumpled little hand and try to grab me.  She knew that I would give her an extra little dip.  Anyway, there was an African-American  gentlemen that worked there that was so good to those people.  He had all of the money in the world, it seemed.  Well, one day, this man walked by and the old lady said to me, "see that black man there?"  I quietly said, "yes, that is...".  And, I said his name.  Well, she told me that he used to be white and after he turned black, her daddy made her stop dating him and that she still loved him.  Well, what a hoot of a story.  God Bless her!  We used to laugh and tease the black gentlemen about this.It was so funny.  Every time he walked by, she would try to grab him.

Then, there was the lady from the mountain who wouldn't eat a bite.  She had to hold her "baby" which was a rubber doll and she would take her food and feed the doll.  But, she could spin a yarn.  She would have a conversation with the preacher from her church imaginary conversation out loud (of course, the preacher was nowhere around) and the story went like this, "Brother so and so, what are you doing fooling around with Sister so and so out behind the church?"  Now, one could not help but wonder...I mean...did he really full around out behind the church or was it something that she had concocted? 

And, there was another old lady that was loud and boisterous.  She talked negatively about everyone that walked by.  So, one day, I, dressed in my cute little dress, walked by, and she yelled as loud as she could, "See that girl going yonder?  I bet she's pregnant."  

Then, there was the old guy.  Oh, mercy, he had to have been the meanest man in Jackson County.  Yes, I had heard the tales about him.  The nurses told me not to get too close to his bed when I delivered the juice.  He could not get out of bed because he did not have legs.  For whatever reason, his legs had been amputated.  But, he let me know right off that having no legs wouldn't stop him.  I took him the juice and he tried to grab me.  "Get over here in this bed young lady and I will show you what an old man with legs can do."  Oh, Billy Bob.  No thank you.  I believe I will take a rain check on that one.

And, finally, there was a lady who was not really that old, but for health reasons, was in the nursing home.  Her husband and daughter-in-law would come and visit her.  One day, they were visiting and a nurse and I walked into her room.  She looked at us and said, "See that hussy?  She is my daughter-in-law but she is "bonking" my husband."  Well, she did not say bonking, but whatever.  You get the message.  Well, the daughter-in-law and her husband looked like they wanted to crawl under a rug or something.  I thought that maybe she was right.

But, anyway, those were the funny stories.  A lot of the old people shared stories, life stories, etc.  And, there was a cute little couple that would roll their wheel chairs together in the hallway and sit there and hold hands.  So sweet. 

Memma and Carol's Mama - Ms. Ruth Latham

Carol and I used to keep the pavement hot going back and forth between her house and mine when we were growing up in LA (Larkinsville and I call it LA as a tribute to my cousin, Boyd.  I think of him often and miss him).  Often times, we would sit at the kitchen table at her house and I can just see her Mama now, sitting there with us.  If any of you reading this, knew Ruth, you know what I mean.  She always had a sparkle in her eye..I guess you would say a twinkle.  And, so did my Memma.  I never knew growing up, how much alike they really were.  Both of them were great story tellers.  Ruth had this quiet little chuckle.  She would sit at the table with Carol and I, telling us stories and often times, it would be late at night.  Well, you know, 8:00 or 9:00 PM.  She would tell about the old days when people died and back then, they did not have embalming.  People were laid out at their house.  She said that she had dressed many people in the day.  Memma told us the same thing, sitting at her table.  They both told about bathing the deceased family member, or neighbor, and dressing them in a pretty dress or gown and they would be placed on a couch or bed until they were buried (in a wooden box).  So, one time, Memma was dressing someone and the lady's hand curled up around Memma's hand.  Scared the Bee-Jesus out of her.  And, of course, Ruth had similar tales.  I remember one story about someone having to be "dug up" and they found claw marks on the casket. Memma also told us about a bright light hovering over a window of a house before someone passed on.   Well, fast forward to I had to walk home after hearing these ghostly tales.  I would run backwards from Carol's house to my house.  Yes, because I could just feel someone grabbing my back and I felt safer running backwards.  And, anyone from LA knows that it is darker than crap in Larkinsville at night.  I mean, all of those big old shade trees hovering overhead was enough to give anyone the hibby jillies.  And, Lord only knew who hopped on and off of those freight trains that whizzed by during the night.  When a freight train switches tracks, no telling who gets off that train.  I mean, back in the day, hobo's used to come to the house looking for food.

Well, after hearing all of the stories that Memma and Ruth told, I would often call my Mother and beg to spend the night.  I mean, come on!!!  I would tell my Mother that I was afraid to walk home and she would say, "Well, if anything gets you, it will turn you loose come daylight."  That did not give me too much comfort.  I always responded, "Yes, but a lot can go on between now and daylight.!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Memma's Orange Slice Candy Cake

Title: Memma's Orange Candy (Slice) Cake

Description:Yummy!   Memma made this each Christmas and it is so good. .   This is her recipe.  I hope one day that I will make it as good as she did. 

Ingredients:1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 TBSP vanilla
1 LB pkg orange slice candy - chopped
1 8oz pkg chopped pitted dates
2 cups chopped pecans
1 4oz can shredded coconut
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 cups sifted flour
3/4 c buttermilk

Glaze --1 tsp of grated orange peel and 1 tsp grated lemon peel 1/4 c each lemon and and orange juice and 1/2 c confectioners sugar

Directions:Cream butter and sugar until fluffy - beat in eggs one at a time.   Add vanilla.   Mix dates, candy, nuts and coconut with 1/4 cup flour.   Sift (HA HA) remaining ingredients; alternatively fold into creamed mixture with buttermilk.   Fold in nut mixture.   Spoon into well greased floured 10" tube pan.   Bake in slow oven 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  

Remove cake from oven and pour on a syrup consisting of the glaze ingredients listed above

Memma always wrapped in tin foil ---you can freeze

Football Season is Here!! Mexican Dip for Tailgating - Roll Tide

Title: Mexican Dip

Great Dip


1 large block of softened cream cheese
1 can of Hormel Chili with beans
2 cup package shredded Mexican blend cheese
Chopped green onions
Small can chopped black olives

Spread cream cheese out in square baking dish (first spray with Pam)
Spread chili on top of cream cheese
Spread shredded cheese on top of chili
Scatter green onions on top (use as many as you like)
Scatter black olives on top (use as much as you like)
Bake at 350 for 20-25 min or until cheese is melted and getting bubbly
Serve with tortilla chips.

See above----you should double and get fat.

Fall is Coming....Pumpkin Dip

Title: Pumpkin Dip
Description:Fall Recipe
Ingredients:1 8oz pkg cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar (you can use more if you want this to be like a ball)
1 Pkg semi sweet mini chocolate chips
4 TBSP pumpkin butter (but this is what I did...I used a can of pumpkin (not the big can but the smaller can) and 4 TBSP of butter mixed in)
cinnamon and nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:Mix all of this together..cream cheese and powd sugarr, put in the pumpkin and butter mix, and choco chips..
Then, I really really douse it good with cinnamon and nutmeg...

Then...slice apples and dip..or use crackers...

Making Gift Bags with Mod Podge

Do you have a special occasion coming up?  An anniversary celebration, engagement party?  An idea that I saw in a magazine is really neat and I am working on this for a party that I am hosting.  All you need is:

Photo copies old pictures fitting the and white or color
Two sided tape
Gift bags (the kind where you can take the handle out and substitute with ribbon is nice)
Mod Podge (from Michaels) I used the gloss sealer
ribbon (or use the handle that comes with the bag)

Take the two-sided tape and attach the pictures to the bags (trim the photos to fit)
Apply a coat of Mod Podge (according to decorations)

Remove the handle (if you can) and subsitute a pretty ribbon

You now have a nice gift bag can send leftovers or a small gift home with your guests in a rememorable bag.  Neat, huh?  Except when you have to make 50 of them...

Remembering Maria

I think I have written about Maria before, but am just curious as to who from Larkinsville remembers the sweet, Polish lady that spoke very little English?  She lived down the railroad tracks and made the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ever.  She would walk up the railroad tracks and pick cotton with us.  She always brought me a bag of candy and a sandwich for lunch.  She also brought a jug of tea that she shared with me.  I thought she was so pretty.  I never thought about the fact that she left her home in Poland and came to America after the war as a refugee.  She lived and worked for a lady in Larkinsville.  I wander now if she ever thought about going back?  She lost a child and her husband during the war...I think in the ovens.   Maria died and I got her obit from someone and thought it sad that no one really knows anything about her.  It did not seem to matter then that no one knew anything at all or I just find it sad that we couldn't really talk to her. 

She was a part of Larkinsville and I carry memories of her always. 

Rest in Peace, Maria and I am glad that you are with your family now.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Help - the Movie ----Mimi's Take

What can I say? I read the book twice.  Yesterday, I decided to go see the movie.  It has been out since August 10th.  I went to a theater near my house.  Once I purchased the ticket and was inside the theater, I noticed that there was a long line.  The lady infront of me asked, "Did some movie come out this weekend?"  Her companion said, "Yes, Conan, something or other."  The kid taking up the tickets heard us and said, "the line is for "the Help".  It has been like this every since it opened."  Well, was I shocked.  I mean the movie opened August 10th.

After seeing the movie, all I can say is "whadda  burger."  That is Tom's saying for..WOW.

The author, Kathryn Stockett's friend, directed and wrote the script.  They were friends from high school.  What a job.  He was very true to the book.  The movie was 2 hours and 17 minutes long.  The casting of the maids was incredible.  Can you say Academy for Minny and Abilene?  And, although a small part, the guy that played the editor of the newspaper was so like a newspaper editor that I worked for back in the day in Scottsboro.  Not in looks, but character. 

I am praying that this movie will receive and Academy Award.  Best Movie, Best Director for sure, Best Screen Writer, Best Best Best........The lady who played Skeeter's mother was also very good.  And, a special surprise performance by Cicely Tyson as Constantine. 

This movie brought back a lot of memories.  No, growing up, we certainly did not have maids.  However, I do remember a friend of mine back in early 70's who was just devastated of the death of Kennedy and then Dr. Martin Luther King.  I remember going over to see her and she was down on her hands and knees scrubbing the stairs in this building where she worked, tears streaming down her chocolate brown face.  "We've lost a good man," she said speaking of Kennedy.  I  hope that she sees this movie.

So, could rave on and on.  But I will let my actions speak....I am meeting Michelle, Linda and Stephanie at Phipps plaza today to see if for the second time. It is funny, it is sad, if it doesn't touch you, move you, entertain you, make you laugh (yes, the entire theater is clapping and laughing), then I don't know what to tell you.  You probably don't have heart if you are not moved by this movie. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Homebrew and Wildcat

Someone posted a comment about the Blue Hole and mentioned Home brew.  I am telling you. Back in the day my Daddy made a batch of home brew.  We lived in a little old shack across the railroad track and next to a pasture and a orchard of apple trees and thickets of wild flowers.   You know, the kind that smells horrible, although the tiny little blooms of white and yellow are actually quite pretty.  Well, my Daddy and one of his buddies slipped (I say slipped because they did not want my Mother to find out) and made a batch of home brew.  I have no idea how home brew is made.  I was very young when this happened.  Anyway, this man kept coming over to our house and he and my Daddy would slip off down in the pasture claiming they had something to do.  Check on the barn or whatever.  My Mama got very suspicious and I think she might have even followed them one day.  Not really sure.  But, I recall that she found their brew and I think she poured a box of Epsom salt into the mix.  I know that my Daddy and his buddy got really nervous about drinking the brew.  I think they ended up having to pour it out.  Because, I think that his buddy got a little antsy and tried it.  Oh, yes.  Then they knew. 

One time, my Daddy placed a glass of wildcat in our refrigerator.  I had worked in the field hoeing (I prefer to say "hoeing cotton" rather than "chopping cotton" as this always reminds me of my old friend, Nancy, who used to live in Larkinsville and along with myself and some other girls, got fired because we were not good "hoers" of cotton).  Anyway, I had been helping my Granddaddy hoe cotton all day and I came home at noon one day, hot and thirsty.  I opened the refrigerator and saw a glass of water just waiting for me.  I took a big swig and I thought I would die.  My throat felt like it was on fire.  Yes, I drank wildcat, unknowingly.  I guess that I should have asked myself why a "single" glass of water would be in the refrigerator.  But, I didn't ask myself that and Yuk, yuk!

Those were the days!  And, I thought they would never end.  But they did!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Blue Hole

Growing up, my grandparents lived on a farm and the Blue Hole was at the end of their cow pasture.  There was no way my Memma and Granddaddy would ever let me go near the Blue Hole.  The Blue Hole was a big hole of water that a spring running the length of the pasture emptied into.  The story always was that the Blue Hole didn't have a bottom.  Many of the Larkinsville boys (including the Larkinsville Mafia as I saw them called) tried to find bottom.  I always heard that they couldn't find bottom.  I heard that someone lost their false teeth in the Blue Hole.  Also, Memma always told me the tale of the horse and buggy that ran off into the Blue Hole carrying a man, his wife and two daughters.  They were never seen again.  And, God only knows how many times I have seen cows near the Blue Hole...I mean meandering around the edge and I am certain that cow poop ended up in the Hole.  So, there was seemingly no way for the water in the Hole to be cleaned??  So, why the heck are people still swimming in the Blue Hole?  Does the water not get hot and stagnant?  I don't know.  Back in the day, people always said that the Tennessee River flowed under Larkinsville so I always figured that the man, woman, horses and buggy floated off down the Tennessee River somewhere.  I am not the only one that knows this story.  Most people from Larkinsville heard the story from being passed down for generations.  I know that Marilyn Morris knows about the story. 
Anyway, you want catch me taking a dip in the Blue Hole.

Comments from my Larkinsville buddies??

Memories - Ritz Theater in Scottsboro, Alabama

I saw a post by my BFF's daughter, Kellie about sneaking food into a theater and it brought back memories of going to the Ritz in Scottsboro.  I used to spend a lot of time with my cousins who lived on Scott Street in Scottsboro.  They were brother and sister and we were very close.  Their family moved from Skyline to the city and I have plenty of tales about our adventures on Skyline Mountain where the most beautiful shade trees abound.  Anyway, back to the Ritz.

My cousins Mom and Dad were visiting relatives one Friday night and we were home alone.  We decided to go to the movies.  We scrounged enough change to get into the theater; however, we didn't have enough money for popcorn, candy or drinks.  So, what did we do?  We popped a pan of popcorn (there were no microwaves back in the day) and we filled a paper sack with popcorn.  We made a picture of Kool-Aid and took three glasses with us.  We also took some candy bars.  How on earth they let us into the theater with all of those bags, I do not know, but indeed they did.  Wow!  What fun.  I am sure that everyone seated around us could hear the clinking of glasses as we poured the Kool-Aid. 
Oh, did I mention that we left a note for my Aunt to pick us up after the movie?  So, here we come, out of the theater, with our glasses, empty jug that had been filled with Kool-Aid and I don't know what else.  My Aunt was parked in front of the theater waiting for us.  I think she slid down in the seat and tried to ignore us when we walked out.  We embarrassed the living daylights out of her.  She almost gave us a beating for sure.  She, of course, told my Mom, but by the time she told my Mom, she was laughing about it.  We didn't see a thing wrong with what we did. I mean, hey, we were making do, don't you know?

Thanks, Kellie, I had forgotten about our little episode oh so long ago, back in the day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

PGA Championship

I am not really into golf, but it was fun to attend the championship on Sunday with all of the kids.  We watched some of our favorite players.  Of course, all of the girls wanted to watch Phil.  I was a tad bit disappointed; however, when he finished on a green and started to the next hole we were standing there waiting for him to walk by.  A security person walked by first yelling, "all cellphones in your pockets, no pictures."  Okay.  Then Phil walked by with two armed officers.  Really? 

Well, anyway, it was an exciting day..but hot as blazes.   We ended up leaving before the PGA concluded and watched the rest of the game on TV.  It was fun, though just to watch the people, even if I don't know shinola about golf, nor do I care to know shinola about golf.  I mean, you hit the ball, you try to get in on the green in a hole.  And, you try to keep the golf ball out of the woods and the water.  That's about it, I guess.

Visiting Upstate NY

I learned several things while visiting Upstate NY this past week.  First of all, I have had their sweet corn before, but it seems that this year it was better than ever.  My sister-in-law cooked the corn in a pot of boiling water; however, my father-in-law simply stuck several ears of corn in the microwave (in the husks) and it was just as good.  So so good.

Secondly, someone told a story about a man who was over a hudnred years old whose skin was wrinkle free.  When asked what he did to have skin like that, he replied, "Noxema".  Well, that sounds easy enough.  You think it is too late to start now?

I have to get a recipe for the clam linguine that I had.  So delicious!  Also, ate at a restaurant called "Eddie's" in Sylvan Beach.  They had the best food and their coconut pie was so good. 

Taylor and I had a blast.  Her Grandpa Leo taught her how to make home-made pizza.  What a wonderful time we had.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Hi, everyone!  I have become an Advocate/volunteer for UNICEF.  I wanted to very much do something about the famine that is so devastating in East Africa.  My team link is below.  If you can donate and/or sign on to be a member of my team, that would be so appreciated.  See below from an excerpt that I copied from their website...for volunteers to use.  Also, see my link to my team page.  I chose the team name of "STAMP OUT HUNGER"  because I believe that we can do it.  My Mother always said, "Where there is a will, there is a way". I have the will and I am trying to find the way.  I want to make a difference.  HELP~~PLEASE


It may surprise you to learn that in 60 years of operation, UNICEF has saved more
children than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Our work is simple and
pure. Working in over 150 countries and territories, UNICEF is the only organization that
confronts the whole range of interrelated issues causing kids to die. From nutrition to
protection, emergency relief to education, no other organization surpasses UNICEF’s
vast experience, extensive resources, global presence and perspective in helping save
children’s lives.
There are few issues in the world that are as important and as solvable as saving the
world's children. And, because of that – our work transcends those things that tend to
divide us and divide our world
Supporting UNICEF doesn’t mean that you are of a particular group or belief. It says
nothing about your gender, your religion, your politics, your ethnicity, your nationality,
your sexual orientation, your wealth, or anything else that oft-times separates us. No,
supporting UNICEF means simply that you are willing to act on behalf of children.
Saving the world’s children sounds like an enormous task....and it is. But it isn’t so big a
goal that it's unattainable. It isn’t some pie in the sky mission that’s beyond our reach
Quite the contrary, everything’s that's causing the needless deaths of children each year
is fixable.
UNICEF is the leader because only UNICEF can address all the important issues that
are necessary to change reality for the world’s kids. We represent boots on the ground
expertise; strategic planning; training for mothers and healthcare workers; and delivering
life saving supplies in emergencies.
We know how to do it. We have the tools and the procedures and the connections. But
we need your help. It’s simply a matter of our collective will to say that it's
to fix...that the survival of the world’s children begins with us...each and every one of us.
I hope that you will join us in the fight for child survival, by becoming a volunteer, making
a donation, writing your congressperson, or simply telling someone what you’ve learned
today. Every activity in support of UNICEF has an impact. What will you do?
On that note I thank you for your kind and courteous attention, and for your support of

Thursday, August 4, 2011

UNICEF and American Refuge Committee and Action Against Hunger- Helping in Somalia

It seems that this day and time all of the news is bad and even down right depressing.  If some man is not killing his wife, a child is being murdered or abducted..if that is not enough, I read that in the past 90 days 29,000 children have died from starvation in Somalia.  A state of famine has been declared.  The pictures coming out of the region are horrific.  You can help by visiting the websites of the above mentioned agencies by either donating or becoming a volunteer.  I am actually going to set up a fundraising site and set a "goal" to raise money.  Also, you can buy nets to ward off mosquitos or help provide clean drinking water for children.  It is so sad. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Funny or Not so Funny - Twitter or Not to Tweet

So, guys, there were tweets going back and forth last night between two people.  The tweet involved Alabama and one of the guys tweeted, "I heard that the tornado that hit ALA did $3M in improvements".  I am quoting verbatim.  I thought that was tacky.  Not sure what all of the squabbling was over...had to do with Arkansas too.  Anyway, I butted in and said that the comment on Alabama was "tacky".  Guess, what?  This person said, "Just like your fine art."  So, I got out of the fight.  But, given the devastation that happened in my home State, I still say, the comment was worse than tacky.  And, I guess he got me with coming back at my art.  I have two words for that person, "AW".  Figure that one out!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Plant

I am going to take a picture of the most beautiful plant.  I put a sweet potato into a tall cup of water, change the water daily and after a couple of weeks, placed the plant out on the porch in direct sunlight.  I continued to keep the glass full of clean water.  Now, I have the most beautiful green leafed plant.  The potato started to get roots or thin, fine fibers.  So, today, I planted it in potting soil.  I hope that it continues to have those beautiful green leaves.  I love it. 

Aspen Green

Aspen Gold

Here is a painting that I am working on..Aspen trees...Aspen Gold....