Archive for the ‘Elnora Age 9’ Category

Elnora at nine

Momma did not have to work the first day of school but I didn’t need her. I knew all of my information the school could ask. No one tried to fight me that year. I was a natural leader and I had made friends with my schoolmates. Whenever someone gave a wrong answer the teacher would call on me. I always gave the right answer, or most of the time I did. Well, some of the time I did. Well, I almost never gave a wrong answer. If I gave a wrong answer, I would ask Peggy to help me get the right answer the next time.
School was school. It was school as usual. This year I had a sweet teacher. They told me some of the teachers were mean. Thank goodness I never had a mean teacher. I don’t know what I would have done. Life was bazar enough at home, in the community and at church. I can’t imagine how I would have survived if school had been complicated as well. We played games at school such as “Poor little girl/boy can’t get of jail.” in this game, two people held hands and chanted: poor little girl/boy can’t get out of jail. Your momma’s bread is burning. As they chanted the boys and girls promenaded through the arch they made with their arms and were caught with the word burning. If the caught child could break loose, they would run to home plate and become safe. If they were caught, the child is brought back to jail. They are held there until the game ends.
Carlene and The professor came by one night for supper and brought a friend. He was a new professor at the college where Ernest worked. He was looking for the Lutheran Church. Uncle Paul wanted to know why he was looking for the Lutheran Church. The New Professor told him he grew up Lutheran. Uncle Paul said: Oh, you are Lutheran; you grew up with the Frozen Chosen. Daddy said: We don’t have a Lutheran Church. They may have one in town. Ernest, take him over in town and look for a Lutheran Church. I will do the same. I have to go into town tomorrow. I’ll see if one is there for Colored Folk. You are aware of the old saying, “Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America.” Well that’s not true in Alabama. We are always segregated down here. After supper Ernest new friend told Papa he sure did enjoy supper and the comradeship was genuine. Daddy said I am glad you enjoyed the supper. My mother and father told me they went to eat with an old couple. Pa said after supper Mu Dear said: I have dined sufficient. The old woman said: You say you went fishing. Mu dear said: No, no, I have a plenty. The old woman said: You say you caught twenty. Mu dear said: She can’t hear poor old soul. The old woman said: And you broke your pole. Ernest, Carlene, Daddy and their friend all had a good laugh and then they all said goodnight,
The next school day Aunt Mable did not meet us at the bus line. When we got home, Sister Virginia was there in the dining room with her jewelry spread out all over the table. Peggy walked over to her Mom and gave her a kiss. I did the same to my Mom. We knew Sister Virginia from church. We said: Good evening Sister Virginia. How are you today? Sister Virginia said: Oh, I’m fine. I am gathering my things and getting ready to leave. Can you girls help me get my things to my car? We said, of course and we did. When we came back to the house Peggy ask them what they bought. Mom and all of my Aunts answered nothing. Actually Sister Virginia didn’t want to sell anything. She came to spread mean gossip. She talked about Momma’s friend who had been killed on highway 47. Momma’s friend was also a member of the church. In fact she was president of the missionary society. Her car stopped on the highway and she was walking across the highway to a service station. Not paying attention to where she was going, a transfer truck hit her. Sister Virginia said: When the hearse picked her up she was as unorganized as she was with the mission. They found a leg over here, a foot over there, an arm over here, another one over there and what they thought was a torso only God knows where. After Sister Virginia finished talking about the Missionary President, she started a conversation on the church breakfast. Sister Virginia said old man Matthews knew that the breakfast was too early for him. He went to sleep with his mouth open and his false teeth fell out. I thought to myself; if Christians talked like that, no wonder Uncle Jerry don’t go to church. ,
Family History
When Momma and I were alone, I told her I missed Uncle Hosea, but why did all of us live together? It was at that time I received my true family history. Momma told me my great, great grandfather lived in Ohio. His family owned potato farms in Ohio and Idaho. My father’s great, great grandmother was the cook. She had five children for her master. One of those children was your great grandfather. When your great grandfather died, he willed the property to his son which was your grandfather. Your grandfather parted the land off and willed the property to his sons. The oldest boy was your father so he got the house, here in Alabama. During world War 11, money was scarce. Your fathers’ brothers moved in with us. At first it was still a big house until they had wives and children. She said she was only sixteen when she became engaged to my father. That is why she was only seventeen when Carlene was born. That came as a shock to me. I did not realize Carlene and Momma were so close in age. Carlene was fifteen years older than me. My feelings were a little conflicted at the time. Carlene was old enough to be my mother. At that moment I had to gather myself for a bit more respect for Carlene. After all, I discovered Carlene was an old woman. I was taught to always give proper respect to the elderly.
The next day after school, it was warm therefore Peggy suggested we go down to the pond for a swim. I said no, not without Bay Brother. It was good that I said that. When we got down there a long black snake decided to cool off as well. Bay Brother killed the snake but Peggy said she decided not to take a swim. The three of us came back to the house and Peggy’s daddy had a surprise for Peggy and Bay Brother. He brought home a nice brown pony he won at the county fair. We were all awe-struck by his winning. Peggy’s Dad had never won anything. All of the kids took turns riding the pony. Even the big kids wanted a ride. When Uncle Jerry came by and wanted a ride, Peggy said no, categorically no! He was too big and too old to get on her pony. I felt sorry for Uncle Jerry. I told him, if my Dad ever won a pony at the fair, I would let him ride my pony. Uncle Jerry said: Thanks Elnora, I’m sure you will. I’ll remember that if your Dad ever wins a pony. Bay Brother told Uncle Jerry half of the pony was his. He could ride his half. Peggy said: You cannot divide a pony that way. Peggy said: Uncle Jerry was too big and too old to ride the pony. Uncle Jerry said he didn’t want to ride anyway. He only said he did to see what they would say.
The end of the year was fun at school. We had May Day. The girls had to braid the May Pole. I remember my color was orange. There were about fifteen of us at each pole. We all had different colors to wrap around the pole. Some of us turn east and some of us marched west. We went over and under each other until completely covering the May Pole. We had sack races and all sorts of fun. Even some of our teachers played games with us. School ended in a blast. Lemon and I were friends again. His folk did not complain. His Momma moved out and took all of the children and grandchild with her. They moved in the house not too far from their old house. Their daddy came by to visit them. I think he missed their momma. For some reason, he could not leave his wife. If their arrangement worked for them, it worked for the rest of us. Rev. Hill said it certainly did work for him. That summer, Rev. Hill christened the baby. I never did discover who the father was. Lemon’s mother started dating one of the men in the church and started coming to church. There was no problem there. After all, she had never been married.
During the summer we played all sorts of games. There were times the guys allowed us to play with them. We played marbles, checkers, old maids and spin the bottle when our neighbors nearby dropped in. Lemon frequents the house as often as he could . We played every game imaginable. The boys played horseshoes, baseball, basketball and crickets. We continued to make dolls, doll clothes and pretended to cook. One day Lemon and I played marbles. He said if he won he had to kiss me. If I won, I had to kiss him. I thought for a moment. Something about his suggestion just didn’t sound right. I suggested the loser bought the winner popcorn at the movies. He said he didn’t go to the movies. He could not afford a ticket. I told Lemon to save his allowance money for the movies. Lemon told me he didn’t get an allowance. His mother was on a government program and they didn’t own goats and chickens the way we did. We finished the game of marbles. Lemon won, but I told him we would do a rain check on the kiss.
I told Aunt Mable what Lemon said. I told her Lemon had to be crazy. What he said didn’t make sense. Aunt Mable said not to worry. One day I would understand little boys. I sure would be glade when that day happens. I asked my big brother what was a kiss like. He said it was like the fourth of July, sparks and colors would light the sky. It was like a summer’s rain, a rainbow would shine in the sky and angles would sing the hallelujah chorus. Well, I figured he was lying. I had played spin the bottle. Also, I had kissed the dolls I made and none of that happened. The next day Lemon came over to play another game of marbles with the same rules. I told him no. We would play by my rules. Lemon got angry and blurted out, he had been allowing me to win all along. Of course I said not so! I can whip you at any game any time! Lemon said: not so! I have let you win! At that time I called all of my family, neighbors and friends to watch me bet Lemon. We sat under the shade tree in front of the house and waited to they all gathered. When we had a great audience, the game of marbles began. Lemon won. I said: Let’s play again! Again Lemon won. I said: Let’s play dot to dot. We played dot to dot and Lemon won. I was ashamed, embarrassed, mortified, and horrified. I felt disgraced, dishonored, demeaned, debased and shown up in the worst way possible. I thought Lemon was by best friend at school. Why did he let me win? I cried all night long.
To make me feel better, the next day Bay Brother, Peggy and I went black berry picking for a pie momma was going to make for supper. Bay Brother had his bucket nearly full. Peggy and I asked Bay Brother were did he find so many black berries. He told us farther in the woods we would find more black berries. Peggy and I went to look for more berries. We strayed from the path we knew and became lost. Night came and Peggy and I didn’t know the way home. Eventually, I looked up and I could see the church steeple. At the top of the steeple was a cross. I knew if I could get to the church, I could get home. Peggy and I followed the light of the church steeple because daddy always taught us the way of the cross leads home.
Summer was full of exciting news. Brenda got engaged, Aunt Ruby got married again, Carlene got pregnant and Lemon got his kiss. Lemon only got a quick one, something like the little boy in my first grade class. The only difference, Lemon kissed on the lips. Afterwards, I wiped my lips and face with my hand.
Brenda invited her husband-to-be to dinner to meet the family. Aunt Katherine peeped around the kitchen door at him. She asked: Is he rich? What does he do for a living? Daddy said Brenda hit the jack pot. He was an established lawyer. Aunt Katherine said: Good, good….he sure is ugly. If ugly was a sin, he sure wouldn’t get into heaven. Let us just be thankful to God he is rich. Little Earl was about to go say something to Brenda’s young man. I was big enough to catch Little Earl before he made a mistake and said the wrong thing. It felt good to be the one putting my hand over some one’s mouth rather than have someone put their hand over my mouth.
I had another birthday party. All of my girlfriends spent the night. Lemon asks my Mom if he could spend the night too. Mom is such a sweetie pie. Of course she said yes he could visit Bay Brother. Aunt Ruby always read us a story at bed time whither we had company or not. Bay Brother was invited to our room for the read. Bay Brother and Lemon were on their way to our room when Aunt Ruby saw what Lemon had on. She asked him: Where are your pajamas? Lemon said he was wearing all he had. Aunt Ruby said he could n