addendum to Elnora (age six)

The last night was fish night. Regardless of the weather, unless it rained, we always cooked our fish outside in a big black pot. The pot would always be filled with sizzling hot lard and there would be a blistering hot fire underneath. A grownup, wearing thick gloves, would place the fish in an iron filter with a long iron handle that was wood on the end. After the fish cooked, it would be brought up to drain and placed on a plat
Uncle Jerry drop by to get some fish. His girlfriend went on a bus trip to New Orleans to gamble and he was hungry. Uncle Jerry did not attend any services, nevertheless, he wanted to know how Evangelist Woo found his stay in our home. Dad walked by and told Evangelist Woo to ignore anything his baby brother had to say because everything that came out of his mouth was a lie. Uncle Jerry had been drinking and the smell of alcohol lit up the entire yard. Uncle Jerry retorted, well, sometimes I do tend to stretch the truth. However, I tell you for a truth something my father told me. Now, if I’m lying, I’m flying, and I haven’t flapped a wing all day. Uncle Jerry declared his father told him back in “the day” many colored folk couldn’t read. The church had line readers who read a line of a hymnal and collectively the people would sing what the leader allegedly read.
One night he left his eyeglasses at home. At that time people called them spectacles. His grandfather revealed to the congregation: My eye are dim, I can not see, I’ve left my specks at home. The people started singing “My -a-eyes–a-eyes are dim- e-dim- . I can-not seeeeee. I’ve left- my specks -eks at hommmmme”. Grandpapa tried to stop them. He cried, No. No, I’ve really left my specks at home. The people went right on singing “No, noooo, I’ve real-y left my specks at hommmme. Grandpapa was so disgusted, he said, Aw shucks, and sat down. After church, that pastor told him to be careful what he said in church. The way he said shucks could be mistaken for a cuss word and some of the women may be offended. Gramps said he said, Aw shucks Pastor, You’ve got to be kidding. At that point, the pastor asks him to leave the church and never return. Later he received a letter stating he was formally dis-fellowshipped. Daddy exclaimed: He’s lying! Uncle Jerry quietly stated: Explain to me why Daddy and none of the other Chambers in our family never go to Saint John Baptist Church. Daddy walked away mumbling, he’s lying.
Uncle Jerry turned to Evangelist Woo and said, I can tell you about a friend of mine called Buffalo. Aunt Mable said: Don’t tell him that story. Uncle Jerry said why. You’ve not stopped me from telling it before! Uncle Jerry turned back to Evangelist Woo and started again. Here is the story. One day my friend Buffalo and me went to the state fair. We rode everything we could and when we were near exhaustion, Buff saw a man doing tricks. The magician was standing there talking to a crowd of people. Buff wanted to go over and watch the man. I said no Buff, let’s go home. Nevertheless, Buff persevered, so we went in a little closer. The magician asked a man for his watch. The illusionist amazed the crowd when he got the watch from a lady’s ear. They were even more astonished when another man volunteered his watch and did not get it back. The magician told him: That was the mess he had to watch at a state fair. The magician asked for another volunteer. Buff had just that day bought a new expensive watch. I begged Buff not to fool with that illusionist. However, Buff wouldn’t listen. He gave his brand new expensive watch to that magician. The Magician swallowed Buff’s brand new expensive watch. Buff waited for him to give it back. However, he did not. He told Buff: That’s the mess at a fair you have to watch. Buff pulled out his new 44 and pointed it at the magician head and said: No, that’s the watch you had better mess at this-hear fair or you will find your brains on these-here grounds. The Police came and got poor Buff and I never heard from Buff or that magician again. Now that’s the truth.
Aunt Mable said, un hum. Here’s your fish sandwich, some slaw and chips. Now go home with your drunk, lying self. You are a lazy, worthless, lying, idle, son of….Uncle Jerry interrupts her in mid sentence and said: Watch yourself. Evangelist Woo is about to see the real you come out. Uncle Jerry said un-hum as he walked away with a duck like gait. That is a Christian for you. Uncle Jerry told Aunt Mable: When you get to heaven, I bet you get a rusty old halo, a skinny white cloud, some second hand wings full of patches. Aunt Mable snapped: Yea! I bet you don’t even get to heaven. She then twirled around and walked into the house as she said: I hate that black, horny, lying, drunk man. Uncle Jerry replied: Un-hum, that’s a church loving, preach-eer loving woman for you! As Uncle Jerry continued to walk away, Evangelist Woo asked: What’s wrong with loving your church or your preacher? Uncle Jerry answered: I love my dog. Evangelist Woo said: I have a dog and I love him too. What is wrong with that? Uncle Jerry asked: Do you love him more than your wife? Evangelist Woo said, I don’t have a wife. My family will find one for me before I go home. Here in America you have an interesting custom of selecting your own mates based on love. Yet, you have the highest rate of divorces in the world. Is that really working? Uncle Jerry turned his head to the side, put his finger to his head, thought for a moment, then said: I don’t really know. You are just like Chester. How is that, questioned Evangelist Woo. Old Chester had many questions concerning pretty girls. Evangelist Woo told Uncle Jerry: As I have said repeatedly, women’s faces are covered in my country. In that way, men are not tempted to commit adultery. Uncle Jerry said speaking of adultery, come a little closer. I moved a little closer behind a tree so I could hear. Uncle Jerry told him a tale about his father’s father. He said Grandpa Chamber was Nigger Rich. That was an expression acceptable in “that day”. He owned a Tobacco Plantation up in North Carolina. A few Negros were free to own land and have a business. All of his workers lived in the shotgun houses owned by Grandpa Chamber free of charged. Grandpa Chamber had a girlfriend too. Grandma Rosa Lee (his wife) did not know about the girlfriend until after his death. One Sunday afternoon, after Grandpa Chamber’s death, Grandma Rosa Lee was lonely. Bubo, one of her sons decided to take out old Betsy and the carriage to take his mother for a little buggy ride. They went all around the plantation visiting all of the workers until Rosa Lee got tired. They headed home. Bubo was a little tired too so he turned the reins a loose, climbed in the buggy with his mother and told Old Betsey take us home. They both went to sleep. When they woke up, they were under the Apple Tree outside Grandpa’s girlfriend house. Grandma Rosa Lee asks Bubo was this some kind of a crazy, sick joke. If so, it was not very funny. Bo said: No Ma! Papa came here all the time. We were so close, Old Betsey thought this is where we wanted to go.
Evangelist Woo said: Yes, this is why women’s faces are covered. men are not tempted to commit adultery. Uncle Jerry said: Yes, but that would not work here in America, especially with Black Women. We can not do that. We are not that far away from slavery. Our women are skeptical of anyone who wants them cover their face. Then Uncle Jerry said: I have enjoyed talking to you. When you come back to America and you are in Alabama, look me up. Evangelist Woo said I will do just that. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May his face shine upon you and give you peace until we meet again. they shook hands and Uncle Jerry went home.

The Sunday after Evangelist Woo left, again it was my turn to take a bath. I took too long and mother came in to hurry me along so the household could stay on schedule. Mother asked if I had washed everywhere. I told Mom I had washed up as far as Possible and I had washed down as far as possible. Aunt Katherine asked if I had washed possible. I told Mom I didn’t understand the question. Momma came in washed my hair, face, under arms, bottom (front & back) legs and feet (even between my toes). As she cleaned me, she said I do not want you to smell like Momma Lucy. Momma Lucy was her mother-in-law and our grandmother who had died before I was born. All of her children, grandchildren and neighbors’ children called her Momma Lucy. Mom told me early in her marriage, Momma Lucy went in the kitchen to cook breakfast when she smelled a foul odor. Momma Lucy looked down near the sink for the odor, but she couldn’t find it. She looked up in the kitchen cabinets, but she still couldn’t locate it’s origin. Momma Lucy told everybody she could not find the odor but it was getting louder near the sink. Momma Lucy stoop down to get a better sniff when she recognized the odor came from her. Momma Lucy screamed: Lawdy, Lawdy, it’s me! Oh, Lawdy, Lawdy! I got out of the bathtub and Momma wiped me off. She told me to go to my room and put on my Sunday slip, Sunday under ware, Sunday dress and Sunday socks & shoes. Later Momma came in and combed my hair and put me on Sunday Ribbons. Everybody said I looked cute in all of my Sunday stuff.

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