Posts Tagged ‘Cane Creek’

Uncle Hime, Part 3

…cont…

See, I had known him all my life, as a T&T drinkin’, walk-around-town drunk. Never seen him with no woman, and I aint heard of no woman tryin’ to be with him. So for him to tell me about a wife, well, that was somethin’ I aint never heard of. I wiped my chin while he just looked at me.

He said, “What’s wrong with you? You don’t think I had no wife? Didn’t y-y-you hear me t-tell you ‘bout all them wimmen I knowed?”

Well, he had a point.

I said, “I’m sorry, Unc, just nobody never told me you was married, that’s all. Tell me ‘bout it, was she good-lookin’? Was she fine?”

He leaned back, meal finished, and started with his pipe again.

“One last smoke, then I’m gonna send you to the sto’.”

He puffed, and he says, “Pretty? Fine? Boy, lemme tell you, d-d-dat woman had the biggest set of titties you ever wanna see! You know ol’ man Bradford wife? Think her titties big?”

He spat on the ground, an’ say, “Sheee-it, boy, Bradford wife packin’ p-p-peanuts. Peanuts! My wife had big ol’ titties! Man, my wife’s titties so big, she sent ‘em out on errands! One at a time! She named ‘em, y’know. The left one was, le’ssee, Sally, yeah, that’s it, an’ the right one was, uh, Betty! She talk to ‘em too, just like chirren. ‘Betty, move out the way, you pinchin’ Sally!’ Boy, boy, boy….I used to love it when she strap ‘em up, y’know, make ‘em stand up like so’jers, yes, indeed! She had that little tee-tiny li’l waistline….I used to wonder how her food pass down. But then—“ he started movin’ his hands out—“she had them hips….man, them what they called breedin’ hips, them good shakin’ hips. And don’t talk about her azz! What!?! Her azz so big, it cast its own shadow! When I put her on the Greyhoun’ bus, I had to buy two tickets! Big ol’ marshmeller azz!

He look at me e’ry now an’ then, just to see how I was takin’ it. I know he addin’ on some, but that’s just how storytellin’ go. I mean, I knowed aint no wimmen titties bigger than ol’ man Bradford wife. Lessen she work for the circus.

You wimmen gets mad when we men talk about the way y’all is made. I don’t know why, it’s the way God made you.

Read yo’ Bible, in the book of Genesees, God had made all the animals with a mate. Fido, he had Fee-Fee;  Elmo the bull, he had El-see the cow; Billygoat, he had Nannygoat; y’know, e’rybody had somebody, well, e’rybody but po’ Adam. Adam sittin’ there with all the fruit trees around him, apple, pear, banana, persimmon, mango, I mean he got it made! He lookin’ ‘round, e’rybody got somebody to play with but him. E’rybody all coupled up, an’ Adam, he sittin’ there like a fifth wheel. God look down at him, an’ He shook His head, cuz that aint right. Adam sit there too long, he get to singin’ the blues. Caint be singin’ the blues if you in Paradise.

So God, He fix a big glass o’ wine, handed it to Adam.

Huh?

What you mean, the Bible don’t say that?
It say God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam. It didn’t say how He done it!

Okay, let’s see…okay, God slip him a Mickey, an’ knock him plum cold…

You happy now?

Where you come from?

Yeah? Well, you need to go back. Go on, let grown folks talk.

Anyhow, God put him to sleep, cut his rib out, and took it to his studio, started moldin’ an’ craftin’, stuffin’ here and there, you know, puttin’ the cushion where it go. So when God finish, He take what He made down to Paradise, see how Adam like it. Adam wake up, rub the sleep outta his eyes, and he notice what God got standin’ there nekkid in front of him.

What!?!
A big ol’ fine, sexy thang, 38-24-36, nekkid, with a bowl o’ fruit in her hand! Brown-skinned, long, curly black hair, with a big ole smile on her face.

Well, Adam got so excited, he started preachin’! He say, “For this cause…uh-huh….. shall a man leave…….well, well….. his daddy and his momma, yessir…..and the two…….shall become one…can I get a witness?”

That’s preachin’, cuz what Adam know about a momma and daddy? Adam aint had no momma nor daddy!
So he took a good look at that fine Black woman, sprung out a good foot or so, and he say “the two shall become one.” Shee-it, Adam was ready to do his thang!

So don’t get mad when we talk about the way you made. Use what God give you. Be proud of yo so’jers, make ‘em stand up. Walk like yo’ caboose is loose.

We men likes that.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, Hime look at me, to see how I was takin’ it. I’m noddin’ my head, goin’ with the story. I know good an’ well her titties aint that big, she fall over when she walk if they was.

He says, “And boy, was she pretty! She had that look, you know, like she know she was the p-prettiest woman in the room, but she warn’t payin’ it n-n-no mind. She smile, an’ the room j-j-just light up. I fell in love with her, dint take long, neither.”

He puffed on his pipe, and I wonder how much tobacco left inside. If he send me to the store, I was gonna tie him to the step, don’t ask me how. But I was gonna hear the end of this.

“Now, Neph, this was the time when I was drivin’ trucks, hustlin’, makin’ good money. Y’know, when you haulin’ cross-country, not e’rything in yo’ rig belong to the m-m-man on yo’ paper. I’m runnin’ to Miami with a load, my return load might have a coupl’a pound of smoke an’ powder, y’know? Oh, boy, back in dem days, I made mo’ money mulin’ than truckin’. Never got stopped, neither.” He nodded his head, thinkin’ about it. “But, you gotta remember, boy, that was back when it was okay, long as you dint try to stiff nobody, just haul an’ hand off to the man, an’ he pay you, give you a little taste fo’ yoself.

So, I’m makin’ good money, got a fine, pretty woman, life be good. I sets her up, buy her a nice little house, buys it, paid cash money fo ’it, put it in her name, cuz I’m on the road alla time, somethin’ happen to me, it be hers already.”

He stopped, an’ pointed his pipe at me. He says, “Boy, don’t ever do that. Always have you a place to lay yo’ head where nobody kin put you out. Stay with yo’ momma, momma get mad wit’ ya, she kin put you out. See? Buy yo’ house, make sho’ yo’ name on it somewhere.” He clench his jaw aroun’ his pipe, and for a second I thought he would snap it plum through. I could tell he was getting’ mad, just thinkin’ about it.

He says, “We livin’ good, bill paid on time, I mean we doin’ fine! An’ me, I’m happy, got this pretty, fine woman, shoot, when I’m home, I drop it on her twice a day, I’m happy, she happy…or so I thought.”

He looked up, and I followed his look. I had been listenin’ so hard, I hadn’t heard the sound of the engine. Momma had done drove up. Oh, doggone! Now I wouldn’t get to hear the rest of it, f’shure.

Momma slam her car door, come out with a paper bag in her hand. She walk down toward the porch, then, lo an’ behold, she peep our way, and start walkin’ towards the barn!

Hime snorted, then he say, “Now what in the worl’ she huntin’? Aint nothin’ but Zora done give her a call, cuz she don’ know w-w-what we talkin’ about. Well, let’s send this chicken to the n-n-nest.”

Momma came up quick, but the sight of a sober Hime kinda slowed her up. Took her tongue, too.  She stood there for a second, then she says, “Aint nobody gonna speak?”

Uncle Hime say, “We sittin’ here. Y-y-you the one come up. How you doin’?”

Momma look at me, and says, “Boy, what you doin’ here?”

I says, real respectable, “Talkin’ with my uncle. Got somethin’ good in the bag?”

She answer, “Just a thimble and coupl’a spools o’ thread.” She hesitated, then she ask, “What y’all talkin’ bout?”

Hime look at her, then he kinda growl at her,”What you say?”

Well, she look like she would druther eat soap, but she was stuck with it. She say, “W-what ya’ll talkin’ bout?” She try to stick her chin out when she say it, but she wouldn’a skeered a puppy.

Hime pointed his pipe at her, an’ say, “I-I’ma tell you like I tole yer Ma. Go inna house, the boy be ‘long directly. Go!”

Momma look at me quick, but I just shrug. She knowed better than that, anyway.

Hime spat, then stuck his pipe back in. “Wimmen. Now she goin’ in there, an’ her an’ Zora gonna cluck their tongue, prolly call Mary to try an’ shake ya loose. Anyway, one day, I’m in N-n-new Orlin, haulin’ dry ice from M-m-m-memphis. I thought I was gonna turnaround to Mobile, but the company c-cancel. I had told the ol’ girl,  Charlene her name, I was gonna be home Monday, but since my t-turnaround c-c-ancel, I figger I supp-rize her.

Well, Neph, the supp-rize was on me. It was about one o’clock inna mornin’, I never forget. I walk in, tippy-toe, gonna flip the light, jump in, y’know. Good thing I flip the light, cuz if fin I wouldn’t, I’da landed on two people! Yep, she all wrapped up wit’ a nigger, I dint know who he was! I could tell the way she was clownin’ dat he warn’t forcin’ hisself on her, naw, if anythin’ she was killin’ him! I says, I says…naw, never mind what I says, it’s what I done! I reach in my pocket, an’ pull out my pistol. She scream, but it don’t matter none, she can scream all she want, scream don’t stop no .38. I was always good with a pistol, shootin’ rabbits an’ s-s-such. I put two in her, swung it on him, dropped one daid in the nuts. ‘Now,’ I tole him, ‘that’ll learn ya.”

He tapped the pipe, then dropped it on the step. “Law came, they put me inna jug. But one o’ those jailhouse lawyers tole me to plea not guilty, lessee how he said it, heat o’ passion. He warn’t lyin, there was plenny heat. Went befo’ the jedge, jedge lissen to the po-lice man tell what he saw, jedge tap his gavel, an’ off I go.”

He laugh, kinda bitter this time.

“Nigger woman daid, don’ make him no never mind. Be a Whi’ woman, come All Saint’s Day, you be buyin’ whitewash.”

He handed me a dollar. “I try to forget, e’ry whichaway I kin. No matter what I do, I caint get Charlene outta my mind. All t-t-t-that blood…..”

He put his head in his hands and start to cry. He raise up, an’ he say, “I pray, an’ I pray, ast the Good Lawd to f’give me. An, y’know what? I b’leve He done did it.”

He stopped, tears just runnin’ down his face.

Mine, too.

 

“But, me….I jes’ caint f’give myself…”

I left the dollar there.

Man ought’a get a free bag o’ tobbacca once in his life, don’t’cha think?

 

 

 

Uncle Hime, Part 2

Cont…..

 

 

Muh said, “That’s enough weedin’ fo’ today, baby. I’m’a go on in the house an’ make some cornbread. Sound good?” She pointed to the pile. “While I make lunch, get rid o’ that, please?”

I says, “Yes, ma’am,” and I look around for a couple of old rice sacks to put ‘em in. Muh lived two, three blocks from the rice mill, right across the tracks, so we always had some sacks around to put stuff in.

About halfway through, and I hear some familiar footsteps. Sure ‘nuff, it was Uncle Hime, coming home after a morning jaunt. I figger he gonna close the door and climb in bed, but he fooled me. He just set on the barn steps and cross his legs.

Well, since he come up and set, an’ he was my uncle, I spoke to him. Where I come from, you speaks to people, especially if they older than you. Just good manners, is all. And, when you speak, put a handle on they name, Uncle or Auntie, or Cousin, or somethin’.

Kids nowadays wanna call old folks by they first name, like they shot hookey with ‘em. White kids, ‘specially, be callin’ they momma an’ daddy Sally an’ Bobby… an’ the parents answer! They do that in front’a me, make me wanna slap em’!

 Ill-mannered bastards.

I says, “Good mornin’, Uncle Hime, how you doing?”

He look up at me, and says, “M-mornin, nephew.” He kinda squint at me, and says, “Y-you-you’s Abbie’s boy, aint-aint ‘cha?”

I says, “Yes, sir. The youngest one.”

He nodded, then he started filling his pipe. I go back to pickin’ wine bottles, but I got my eye on him, cuz it aint too often I see him like that, y’know? He fish around in his pockets, then he point at me. “Boy-boy, you got a match?”

Well of course I didn’t, I hadn’t tried to start smoking just yet. Muh kept matches in the house, you know, to light the stove and the heaters, in wintertime.

I answered, “No, sir, but I’ll go get you some in the house. Hold on, I be back.”

I went in the house, and Muh had a skillet on the stove, and she had poured the first batch of cornbread batter in. It was just starting to sizzle and bubble, and, in about fifteen minutes or so, she’d have that first one ready. Man! I hated to go back outside, cuz there was nothing like watching hot cornbread come out of the skillet, but I was on an errand, and the sooner I finished, the sooner I’d eat.

I said, “Muh, Uncle Hime asked for a pack of matches.”

She pointed at the cabinet, then she looked at me. “Hime’s back, huh? What he doin’? He’s drunk?”

I says, “No, ma’am, he’s sittin’ on the steps, fixin’ his pipe. He ask me if I’m Helen’s boy, so he aint drunk.”

Muh look at me, kinda in surprise. “He talkin? With sense?”

I nodded.

She sat down, an’ put her head in her hands. “Lawd, please remember Hime. Give him his good mind back. Please.” She stood up, and started stirrin’ the bowl for a minute, kinda hummin’ a church hymn to herself. Then she look at me, an’ says, “Go bring him the matches, ‘fo he takes off. But whiles you out there…” she paused a bit, “Talk to him, please. Just…talk to him.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said, grabbing the box, and walking to the door. I looked at her before I walked outside, stirrin’ the bowl of batter, and singin’.

Precious Lord……take my hand

Lead me on…….an’ let me stand

I…I’m tired……I am weak

I…..am worn

Through…through the storm

Through….through the night

Lead me on

To the light

Take……take my hand

Precious Lord

And lead….lead me on

 

 

I handed Uncle Hime the matches, and walked back to the last few bottles. “Thank-thank ya, Nephew,” he said, surprising me a little. Not that he didn’t have good manners, Uncle Hime was one of the most well-mannered men I knew. Even when he was on top ‘o his wine, he’d still tip his hat at the wimmen folk. It was just that he didn’t just nod his head when I handed him the box, which is what he’d normally do.

 

I turned around and said, “You welcome,” and just kinda looked at him. He fished a match out of the box, and struck it, and lit his pipe, just as smooth an’ calm as you please. No, he wasn’t drunk, not at all. He puffed, and blue smoke billowed around his head. He leaned back on the door frame, just a-puffin’, and you’d swear he was Governor Rockefeller, the way he looked, all calm and dignified. He says, “Nephew, when-when you fin-fin-finish with that, I nee-nee-need you to run t-t-to the store to pic-pick me up some t’bac-bacca.” He held up the package. “I-I’m run-run-runnin’ low.”

 

I nodded my head. “Soon as I finish this, and eat lunch, I’ll go to Benoit’s and get you some.”

 

It was his turn to nod now. He took a deep puff on his pipe, and said, “Zo-Zorah cookin’ some co-co-cornbread, aint she?” It was more of a statement than a question, cuz he said right then, “I-I-I can smel-smel-smell it.” You know how people who stammer talk. It’s like the words is kinda bobbin’ and weavin’ in they mind, then it come out all of a sudden an’ surprise ‘em, like… Bam! and it come outta their mouth. But don’t make fun of ‘em. They can’t help it.

 

I looked at him. He was really talking, and with good sense. Now how in the world he could smell that cornbread with all that Virginia Extract pipe smoke comin’ outta his mouth and nostrils, you, me, and the Three Wise Men will never figger out. But, he said it, so–?

He pointed at the four sacks I had filled. He said, “Zo-Zora got you pic-pic-pickin’ up all’a my dead-dead friends, aint she?”

 

“Yes, sir,” I answered.

 

He laughed, a wide one, where I could see all in his mouth. I don’t mean no harm, but I could tell my uncle aint had no close fellowship with a toothbrush in a long, long time, no sir. Black and yellow, and most of ‘em broke off.

 

“How-how l-l-long them b-been down there?” he asked.

 

I looked around at the sacks, trying to hide my surprise. Uncle Hime an’ me aint never held a conversation this long before. I don’t know, I guess we aint never had nothing to talk about, ‘fo this time. Usually, when I picked up his friends, he wouldn’t be nowhere around. “Week-and-a-half, two weeks, maybe,” I answered.

 

I got kinda bold, since we was talkin’ and all, and, since he knew who I was, and, more important, since I had been spending the last half-hour bending my back in two picking up somethin’ I didn’t get a taste of, I felt like askin’ a question.

 

“Uncle Hime?”

 

He looked up. “What?”

 

I hesitated a bit. I wasn’t that bold. After all, he was more than just my uncle, he was my great-uncle, Muh’s last living brother, at that. I had to make sure I asked my question right.

 

“Uncle Hime…why you drink…all of that?” I pointed to the sacks.

 

He looked at me kinda sideways, and I leaned toward the house, ready to make a run for it. Fists or a switchin’, I didn’t know what was comin’ next. 

But, he surprised me. He crossed his legs back the other way, and re-leaned on the frame of the door. “Tha-tha-thass a goo-ood question,” he answered, bobbing his pipe in his mouth. He patted the step beside him. “Sit d-d-down, an’ I t-t-tell ya,”

 

 

 

Whaat?

 

 

White Preacher, Part 2

Muh had said she could tolerate it ‘til the revival was over, but I warn’t sure. Rev would say stuff that I knew was raisin’ her hackles, and I was bracin’ myself for when she’d get mad enuf to blow. Not that I’da tried to stop her or nothin’, hell, I’da stole a coupla’ licks on him myself.

 

She held her tongue, tho’ but it was mighty, mighty close when he said, “You know, Sister Zora, it don’t make no sense for your pastor to only come twice a month. If he was a real pastor, he’d be here every Sunday, pastor y’all nigras right! You nigras needs somebody to look after y’all, make sure y’all do the right thing. Nigra left to hisself is just trouble lookin’ for a place to happen.”

 

She was cuttin’ okra when he said that, with her favorite okra knife, a nice 6-inch foldin’ blade with a buckhorn handle my Cousin Shug had give her from the Army, or so he told her. Shug aint never spent a day in Uncle Sam’s Army, but that’s a whole nother story.

 

Well when Rev. said that, I tense up, cuz I know Muh was gonna let go a’ that okra, and commence to cuttin’ her a slice ‘a redneck! Between him talkin’ bad about Elder Wimble, and Black folk in particular, he was skatin’ on thin ice, an’ bout to fall plum through. She stopped cuttin’, and she cocked her head a bit, and said, “You think so, Reverend?”

 

I had my eye on her knife, just a’waitin’ for her to slice ‘im up, but she just looked at ‘im, started whistlin’ real soft, an’ went back to cuttin’ okra, an’ let him continue talkin’.

 

Hmmm…..

 

When Muh whistled, things was real bad. Usually, when she worried, or grievin’, she’d pray. When she was happy, she’d sing. But whistle? The old people had a sayin’, Whistlin’ woman, or a crowin’ hen, aint no good to God nor men. Rev didn’t know it just yet, but he was messin’ with the wrong woman, trust me.

 

I tol’ Daddy about it, ‘cause I was mad. I was just learnin’ how to cuss, and I nearly let a few ripe ones out, but Momma was nearby, and she was already on edge because of Rev and all, and the last thing I needed was for her to let off a little steam on me.

 

Y’see, Momma’s cure for cussin’ depended on where in the house she heard you. If she was near the kitchen, red pepper; if she was near the bathroom, castor oil, so either way, you bridle your tongue around her.

 

Daddy says, “Son, man like that, that’s the way he think.  You could be in a room with a hundred Black people, man like that, he walk in, he figger he in charge.”

 

“Don’t worry, son,” he chuckled, “I been knowin’ yo’ grandmother a mighty long time. She done seed ‘em come, an’ seed ‘em go. Mostly, they go. This one aint no different. The fun is gonna be how she get him to git up an’ go. She started whistlin’, you say?” He looked at me, and winked. “Son, I b’leve I’m goin’ to church this week.”

 

I opened my mouth, then closed it. Daddy only went to Momma’s church on special occasions, or when the Masons was on program. If Daddy was goin’ to this revival, I warn’t gonna miss it, no sir…

 

 

“Abbie, I’m not sho’ I kin takes much mo’ of this,” Muh was on the phone with Momma. “That White man eatin’ me outta house and home, and them ugly gals is just plain nasty! When they takes a bath….yes, you heard me, when they takes a bath….Abbie…. baby….you should see the rang they leave behind!”

 

“Stop laughing, Abbie, that aint funny! Hol’ on, I aint tole you the killin’ part yet…..I caint prove it, they moves too quick, when one leave out the bathroom, the other jumps right in, but I b’lieve… they uses the same water! Cuz ain’ no way a bathroom rang be that color behin’ one person usin’ it!”

 

“What you talkin’ bout? Yes, I said color! Abbie, I been on this earth over seb’nty years, an’ I aint never seed a rang that color! What color it be? Green! You heard me! G-r-e-e-n! What you mean, how I know? Cuz they leave it for me to clean! Yes, ma’am! I’s the little cullud gurl that they got to clean up behin’ ‘em, I s’poze. Towel layin’ on the floor….well, I’ll be dogged, it jus’ hit me….they usin’ the same towel! They must be, baby, unless they eatin’ the other ones they use? All right, then! Nasty, just nasty! Uh, huh…uh-huh…they huddles up in my barn durin’ the day, in between meal times….yes, baby, three meals a day, plus snacks in between!”

“Fo him, breakfast, lessee…fo’ eggs, ten slice o’ bacon, he like it half cooked, grits with a slice a’ cheese on top, orange juice an’ coffee. Oh, wait, I forgot the pancakes…I aint lyin! Them wimmen don’t eat much, they is watchin’ they figger…if they ask me, I tell ‘em, take a look behin’ you, you find yo’ figger! But he eat pancakes on top a’ all that, chile…an’ he don’t stop ‘til he done et ten, sometime twelve! Then fo’ lunch, it’s double helpin’s o’ whatever I cook, chicken, po’k chop, gravy steak, whatever, plus a heapin’ plate o’ rice an gravy, an’ chile, he aint never met a vegable he didn’t like! An’ that’s just’ round one! Yes, ma’am, he be lookin’ fo’ seconds!”

“Then they goes into the barn fo awhile, I lissen once, they be havin’ church up in there, so’s I leave ‘em alone, I be glad for the break! In between time, he send one of them ugly gals in here…my little bird Sweeney can’t stand ‘em, he fuss an’ squawl long as they in here, the only way to stop him is to cover his cage wit’ a towel, so’s he caint see ‘em! They come in here, says, ‘Rev need a glass ‘a milk,’ or ‘Rev need some crackers,’ or ‘Rev was wonderin’ do you have any muffins?’ all prim an’ proper, like it’s my job to make sho’ I got somethin sweet whenever he ask!”

She nodded her head a couple of times and kept talkin’, “Well, baby, I been puttin up wit’ dis since Sunday, an’ tonight is his day-bew, like that ugly gal with the rotten mouf like to say when she drankin’ coffee. Baby, ‘twix you an’ me and the tree, I done made a point to mark the coffee cup she use! Oh yes, I make sho she gits the same cup, an’ I promise you, when they leave, dat cup gonna fly daid in the trash can! Yellow teef is one thing, but a rotten mouf like that? I ain’t got enuf disinfect to clean no cup she done used. Minute she gone, I’m gonna take the hammer to it, ‘fo I pitch it, make sho’ nobody drink behin’ it, never, no mo’ in dis worl’!  Stop laughin’ Abbie, that aint funny!”

 

Later that day, we kids was playin baseball out near the barn. Well, what we was really doin’ was tryin’ to get a lissen on what was goin’ on up in there with Rev an’ them two wimmen, but if we would’a just huddled around the barn, Muh would’a runned us off. It was me and my brother Jock, plus our cousins Bobby, Tojo, and Charlie, plus eight or nine of the neighborhood kids, Peanut an’ ‘nem, you know, the ones who lived on Garbage Alley, where the trashman made his round.

Anyway, we playin’ baseball, but we got our ear out on the barn. Sho, nuff, Rev and them wimmen havin’ church, singin’ and praisin’ the Lawd, carryin’ on, havin’ theyself a good time. They must’a been ‘Postollick or Cogic, cuz they cuttin’ up! Just three of ‘em, but they soun’ like twenny. They sang awhile, then they commence to prayin, an Lawd, did they make some noise!

 

I was playin’ first base, an Bobby was pitching to Jock. Jock hit a grounder to Peanut, and he threw it low, and ‘bout the time I scoop it up, Jock was safe. We listen in, and Rev an’ them wimmen just prayin’ up a storm! Jock grinned at me, and said, “You think we ought’a bust up in there?”

I said, “An’ do what once we get inside? Pray with ‘em?” His face fell, he hadn’t thought’a that. That’s how he was, he always come up with some devilment, but never think it through.

 

We kept on listening, and they was just a-prayin, you could hear them jus’ as clear as a bell, “Yes, Lawd! Thank ya, Jesus! Yaaaaasss! Praise the Lawd, Halleyloooyah, Halleyloooyah! Glory! Glooooraaaayyy!” I mean, just cuttin’ up! We just a listenin’ and laughin’ at ‘em, cuz we know they aint no good, but then, the sound kinda changed. That White man said, “Yes, sister, take it off! Take it all off for Jesus!”

We looked at each other, cuz we aint never heard nobody say that, not in no church we ever been to, an’ we been to plenty church, trust me. He says it again, “Take it off, Sister, take it off to Jesus!”

I said, “Take what off?”

Jock said, “Hush!” He waved Bobby over to take a lissen, an’ by the time he got there, she must’a had done took it off, cuz he says, “Yes, Lawd, nekkid I come into this worl’, an nekkid I shall leave! Praise the Lawd, Sister, we are nekkid befo’ the Lawd!” Then they started makin’ some funny noise for a minute, an’ Rev said, Yes, Sister! Yes, Lawd! Don’t stop, Sister! Praise the Lawd!”

Bobby said, “Ooo-wee! If that’s how they have church, I wanna join!”

I said, “What you mean?”

He waved me quiet. “If you got to ask, you too young to know,” and he started grinnin’. “Yeah, Ol Rev havin chu’ch up in there, heh, heh, heh! Praise de Lawd!”

 

The rest of them had crowded around by now, and Charlie said, “Wha—wha…what dey do-do-doin up in there?” He stammer a bit, you know.

Tojo said, “What you think they is doin’?”

“Well—well…if I—I knowed what—what—they doin’, I—I—I wouldn’a ask you!” he answered. We listened for another minute, and then the sound changed, sound like both them wimmen done gone crazy, gruntin’ an’ groanin, hollerin’ “Ooohh, Jesus! Jesus, sweet Jeeezus!”

Charlie’s eyes got big an’ roun’ like gingersnaps. He turned ‘round quick, and said, “I’m goin’ tell!” He ran off before we could stop him.

A minute later, Muh strode grimly towards us, Charlie in one hand, Matilda in the other. We stepped back from the door, as she asked, “What in the worl’ goin’ on here?” Bobby pointed to the barn. “Rev and them wimmen havin’ chu’ch,” he answered with a straight face.

Muh cocked her ear towards the barn. “Je-je-je-je-jeeee-zus! Jeeeeee-zus! Ohhh, Lawwwd!”

She raised her shotgun, then looked around. Charlie put his hands to his ears, Matilda being the next best thing to a cannon. Muh looked around, hesitated a bit, then lowered Matilda to half-mast. “Charlie, Jock, and Buck, y’all go in the house. The rest of y’all, go home! Bobby, when you get home, tell Pacon to come pick me up, y’hear? “

 

“Nasty, jes’ plain nasty! Yes, Abbie, they still in there! No, I didn’t bus’ up in there, them chirren was right there wit’ me! Oh, I had a mind to let a little double-ought fly around in there, but I’da have to pay to get the roof fixed….oh, but wait, baby, jes’ wait fo’ tonight! I’se gonna fix Revum’ Thibodeaux’s lil’ red wagon….Stop laughin’, Abbie, that aint funny!”

 

End Part 2

White Preacher Come to Town! (Part One)

 

This is another short story from my childhood; partly apocryphal, never mind which part…

 

 

 

 

My grandmother, we all called her “Muh” for short, was the church missionary, so’s we always had a preacher over for Sunday dinner, sometimes even durin’ the week, if somebody was runnin’ a revival.

I ‘member one time, this preacher come to town, White man by the name of Thibodaux. I don’t know who done it, but somebody tole him that Mom Zora was who he ought to see for lodgin’ and such. He was travelin’ with a couple of Black wimmens, they was his singers, or so he say. 

Well, he came by, told Muh who he was, and back then, preachers norm’ly didn’t have papers and such, all they had to prove theyself was they Bible. But this one, he come with papers, from the bishop,  an’ he come askin’ to stay, him and his wimmens, for a couple of days while he run his revival, at our church, no less. Well, Muh wasn’t havin’ all that settin’ up in her house, single man, White man, at that, preacher or not, it wasn’t decent, y’know? But, he was a preacher, he say, and he had his Bible, so she felt ‘bliged to put him up for a few days. Bible say to be hospitable to stranger, ‘cuz sometimes you could be entertainin’ angels an’ not even know it.

 

Humph. Warn’t no wings on his back, and wouldn’t be none growin’ no time soon, if you asked us kids. We said from day one he wasn’t about nothin’, but nobody lissen to us. Muh had a barn on her property, where she kept her preserves and such, and sometimes my Uncle Hime would sleep in there when he drank too much. She had fixed up a little bed and a gas heater in there for the winter, so she cleaned it out for Thibodaux, and let them two wimmens stay in the house.

 

Well, let me tell you, the next few days was, as Muh described it, “war in de camp.” The church ladies had gotten together and called a meetin’ over at Sister Agnes’s house to discuss the new arrivals and decide if they was “on de up-an’-up” or not. Of course, some of what I’m tellin’ you now, I didn’t find out ‘til I was grown. Grown folks didn’t discuss grown-folk’s bizness with chirren. But I was always quiet, and I knew a good spot to sit in Sis. Agnes’ kitchen to stay out of eyesight while they talked, so I got this part first-hand.

 

Sister Agnes was the oldest, and they was holdin’ the meetin’ in her house, so she sot in the head seat, an’ call the meetin’ to order. She rapped the wooden punch bowl dipper on the table, an’ clear her throat. “Brudders an’ sisters, let us be still, while we bow our heads an’ ask the Lawd to grace us with His presents.” She looked around, and spotted her husband nodding off. 

“Bow yo’ big head, Elmer!”

Bro. Elmer looked up, and said, “My haid be bowed, Agnes. An’ I don’t ‘preciate you callin’ my haid big. My haid ain’t big.”

“Yeah, yo’ head big,” she answered. “Yo’ head so big, yo’ momma couldn’t have a C-section, she had a A-B-C-D-E-section, doctor just a-cuttin’…D-E-F-G…” They all laughed, while she kept clownin’ him. “G-H-I…doctor still be cuttin,’ ‘cept they stop him!”

“Go ‘head, woman, you spo’sed to be prayin,” Bro. Elmer said.

They were still laughin’, so she rapped with the dipper again. “Bow y’all’s head, so I  kin pray…God of Abraham, Iiii-zic an’ Jacom,” she began, “We’s gathered round dis table….hmm…seekin’ yo’ mos’ Holy Presents….hmmm…we thanks you Lawd…welll…”

 

“Time you finish wit’ all dat, revival be over,” Bro Elmer muttered.

 

“Well, well,” Sis. Agnes kept goin’ without missin’ a beat. “Lawd remember us gathered ‘roun’ dis table…welll, especially the one wit’ the big ol’ head….yeeeaaaasss, Lawd, remember him, Jesus, he need you bad, Lawd…” She  stopped and looked up.

“Pray, Sister,” Bro. Elmer sighed.

“Yes, Sister…pray, Sister,” the others chimed in.

Her point made, Sister Agnes continued. “We needs yo’ wisdom an’ yo guidance, Lawd, concernin’ these peoples dat done come in our midst. We bind every sperrit that’s not like you, Lawd, e’ry confusion sperrit, e’ry backbitin’ sperrit, we cast in the pits of Hell from where it come…yaas, Lawd, an’ leave us with Yo’ sweet Sperrit o’ peace, in Jesus’ Name, Amen…”

“Amen!” everybody answered in relief.

“Ayy-men!” Bro. Elmer said, wiping his head with a red handkerchief. “Abraham jus’ left from de back do’.” he said. “He said the Lawd sent ‘im to ask you to please finish prayin’, cuz He got to get back to work, but He got to wait ‘til you finish, so He know what to work on next.”

 

Sis. Agnes said, “Humph! The Lord don’t need me to tell Him to work on dat big head of yourn! Dat wasn’t Abraham at de do’, dat was yo’ Momma’s doctor! He lookin’ to finish cuttin’ yo’ big head loose!” She lifted her voice and said, “Look he here, Doc! Put dat scappa down an’ pick up my butcher knife, you got a whole lotta meat lef’ to cut!” 

“Y’all quit dat foolishness,” Mom Zora said, wiping her eyes. “Ya’ll is funny, but we got a big problem on our hands. Mostly, I got the problem. Dis White man, call hisself a prophet, come to my house, lookin’ for a place to stay fo’ a few days. I tell you what, I better not fin’ out who tol’ him my house was the place to lay up in!” She looked around the room. Nobody said nothin’, so she went on. “He come there with two wimmen, and now y’all…” she paused and dropped he voice a little, “I don’t mean no harm, an’ God knows I aint got no room to talk, but, that’s two of the ugliest wimmen I done ever seed in my life!”

Sis. Agnes said, “They is ugly, Mom Zora?”

Mom Zora looked over her glasses and nodded. “Yes, Sister, they is ugly. They’s more than just ugly, they’s oogly! They so ugly, they could clabber a glass o’buttermilk! I aint lyin’! They come in my house, all prim an’ proper, like butter wouldn’t melt in they mouth. But then they fool aroun’, and open up they mouth! Sister! The firs’ one, she get to talkin’, her teef yellow like butter! Look like corn onna cob sittin’ in her mouth!”

 

“Ewww, that’s nasty!” Sis. Agnes exclaimed.

“But, wait, Sister,” Mom Zora said, “Then the other one commenced to talkin’ to me. Sister….! Her breff…!” she paused and shook her head, “She open’ her mouth an’ hit me with a blast…smell like a dead goat! An’ her teef? My Lawd!”

Sis Agnes asked, “Them’s yaller, too?”

Mom Zora shook her head. “No, cher. Aint no teeth sittin’ in that mouth stayin’ yellow. No, ma’am. Them teeth was rotten!”

 

“Come on, Mom,” Sis. Agnes said, “Come on, now, was they rotten?”

 

“Rotten? Them teeth had mo’ black spots than the fireman’s dog, you hear me? Look like a set o’ dominoes! I look in her mouth, I almos’ holler ‘Big six!” She slapped the table while they howled.

 

“Yall stop, now, an’ get back to bitness.” She tried to straighten up a bit, but she couldn’t help it, you know how wimmens is when they get to talkin’ bout somethin’, specially if it be scandalous. She leaned forward, still telling the story: “They sits down, I offer them coffee, you know me, I’m gonna be hospitable, like the Bible say.” They nodded. “So, while I’m settin’ the pot on the stove, he tellin’ me where he hail from, an’ how he know Bishop Walker, an’ how he a travelin’ evangelis’, an’ how he done preach in twenny-five states, an’ he gonna preach in all forty-eight ‘fo he die, the Lawd done promise him that. What he don’t know is, I’m secon’ cousin to Bishop Walker, an’ as soon as he outta eyeshot, I’se gonna give my cousin a phone call, an’ see if dis preacher is on the up-an’-up! If he fo’ real, I give him a place to stay, but if he just humbuggin’, he gonna have to get to steppin’! I’ll swing Ol’ Matilda ‘round on ‘im, and if he move too slow, I’ll quicken’ him up wit’ some double-ought buck, praise the Lawd!”

“That’s right, Mother! Praise the Lawd!” the others chimed in agreement.

 

Well. This was some hot stuff. My leg was itching, but I held off scratching it, cuz I didn’t want to draw no attention to myself, and get runned off.

Muh kept Matilda in the kitchen next to the pantry, and she kept it loaded. I was twelve or thirteen, ‘bout that time, so it was my job to keep Matilda cleaned, so I knowed she warn’t lyin’ bout that double-ought buckshot.

But anyways, let me finish tellin’ you…

 

“Well, I starts to pour the coffee, an’ that’s when he ask me ‘bout stayin’ for a week to run his revival. He says, ‘Mother, the Lawd tole me that you is a woman’o’ Gawd, and this is the place for my evangelistic headquarters, while I preach the devil out of this Godforsakin’ city, praise the Lawd!’ and them wimmen say, ‘Praise the Lawd!’ and gets to shakin’ like they got the Sperrit, you know?” They nodded. “I almost burned myself when he said that, he was soundin’ like he was plannin’ on stayin’ a looong time! So, you know me, I asks him, point blank, ‘What you do with these wimmen while you settin up yo headquarters,’ and he say, ‘Well, Mother, they always stay with me.”

 

She looked around at the shocked faces. “Yes, Lawd, that’s what he say.”

They gasp and carry on, cuz they was scandalized! White man is one thing, but White man and two Black wimmens? Stayin’ together? Oh, no, not in Mom Zora’s house, they wasn’t. They mumble and hum ‘bout it for a while, then Muh said, “I was bumfuzzled for a minute, ‘cuz you s’pozed to put preachers up, I been doin’ that fo years, y’all knows that, but the Bible also say let everythang be done decent and in order. So, I puzzle on it a spell, then it come to me, praise the Lawd, put them wimmen in the house, and put Rev. in the barn! If it good enough for Hime, it good enuf for him. So I tells him what the ‘rangements gonna be, an’ I can tell that warn’t his first choice, but it beat layin’ in the ditch, so’s he says okay.”

 

She went on: “Sisters, let me tell you, that man can eat! I fried some chicken and some potatoes, I figgered that’ll fill ‘em up pretty quick. Sisters, that man polished off two whole chickens by hisself! I ain’t lying!”

She wasn’t. Y’ see, me and my cousins always try to make it our bitness to come by Muh’s house just around mealtime. The two wimmen ate normal, almost po’ly, but him? He stacked his plate three stories high, and that was just for starters. Muh always had a sweet bread or teacakes hanging around, but not now.  Thibodeaux sucked up them sweets like a Hoover vacuum, and then that nervy s.o.b. had the gall to look around in my plate and make comments like, “Don’t you think you done had enuf?” First time he tole me that, I open my mouth to cut ‘im down to size, but Momma was standin’ there, an’ she give me the eye to keep quiet, so I picked up my plate an’ went outside. 

Later, I tole her, “I be glad when ya’ll get some sense, run that White man ‘way from ‘round here. He ain’t after nothin’ but some money, plus whatever he can pick up on the side.”

Daddy said from behind his newspaper, “Dey’s hard-headed, son. Don’t tell em nothin’. Long as he don’t try nothin with yo’ momma or grandmomma, I aint got nothin’ to say ‘bout it. Minute he slip, tho…I’m-a put my foot so deep in his azz, his breff gonna smell like Absorbine Junior…don’t be lookin’ at me, woman, I is serious!”

 

Muh smiled, a grimly satisfied smile. “Revival meeting starts tomorrow. I kin put up with ‘im fo another day or so. I gots my eye on him, him and them ugly wimmen of his’n. I put in a call to my cousin the bishop, he say Thibodaux’s a preacher, all right, but he a little too loose with money, that’s why he don’t stay in one church, ‘mongst other things. Pastor be here Sunday, by then, I’ll have the whole story. Just keep yo’ eyes and ears open, Mom Zora gonna take care of some bitness ‘tween now and then.”

 She chuckled. “Yes, sir, it take a pretty early bird to bild’ a nest in my hair, trus’ me. Come Sunday, Ol’ Rev be done find out how we do the shake down o’er here in Cane Creek!”

 

 

 

End Part One

Roots

I’ve decided to go back to my roots….

 

Huh?

 

No, I’m not putting a Jheri curl in my hair, you dimwit. I’m going back to the original intent of this blog, that is, to instruct White people on the ins and outs of Black Culture…

 

Yes, Black Culture.

 

Stop saying “African-American;” that was just some humbug Jessie Jackson came up with to confuse you…

uh….now that I think about it, we like you confused. Never mind.

 

What I’ll I’ll be doing is, to take you back to the time when Black people were in the process of moving from “colored” to “negro” to “Negro.” Big difference, that capital letter…

 

Huh?

What happened to the marital advice?

 

Well, if you must know, the second-to-last couple I gave advice to ended up…uh…er…in front of Judge Mabelline.

 

Shrug.

 

Read about it:  https://revmatthews.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/super-bowl-party-pooper

Hey, the heifer should’a left the poor schlub alone. Now she’s just alone.

 

Anyway, I’m going to post a few of my short stories of my childhood here, for your approval.

No, I don’t mean I want you to approve of my childhood, you dolt, I want you to….

 

Oh, I see. Trying to be funny, eh?

 

Sigh.

 

In the future, kindly leave that to moi, sil-vous plait?

 

What does that mean?

 

Go ask your mother.

 

(See, in the Black community, when you White people work our nerves, we make a reference to your mother. As in: “Yo mama’s so stupid that she thought that babies came from the infantry!”)

 

Anyway, here goes…

 

When I was a boy, I spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s house. She lived on the corner lot, Hoffpauir and Jacob Street. She was about 2 blocks from the railroad tracks and the rice mill, so we were raised with the sounds of trains passing and the mill in operation, ‘specially in the fall, when the fall rice was harvested. Every mornin’, the mill whistle would blow at 6 o’clock, sharp. Sounded like a foghorn, mournful, deep and slow. Just like an alarm clock to us kids, you couldn’t stay in bed after that horn blew.

 

 

Old folks didn’t need that mill whistle to get up early, no sir. My grandmother, her name was Zora, but nobody called her that except for the White woman she worked for, Miz Savelle. We called her Mother, or Muh for short. People in town called her Mom Zora, ‘cause she was a church mother, but I’ll tell you about that later. Muh woke up early, like old folks did back then. 4:30, 5 o’clock, she was up, less’en she was sick or something. Time us kids woke up, she had already had company come by for coffee, usually my Uncle Scott, but he drank tea. Lipton, boilin’ hot, with a little lemon. Everybody else, tho, was coffee. Mello Joy, the old kind, brewed strong enough to stain your cup.

 

 

Muh was one of those wimmen people come to with they problems, what they call counselin’, nowadays.  She was a church woman, and I guess if she done now what she did back then, she’d be called a pastoral counselor. People like to come to her and talk, get help with stuff goin’ on in their life. She’d give them good advice, straight out the Bible, she could quote it word for word. That’s how she lived, right out the Bible. She was a widow woman, my grandfather died when my momma was 12 or so, with 6 daughters and a son to raise. Raised ‘em, too, without a man in the house.

 

She was strict on ‘em, had to be. 6 daughters? Man, you best run a tight ship with six daughters, or you have hell on your hands. Momma would tell us stories about how Muh would make ‘em wash dishes, and then come behind ‘em and check to see if they cleaned ‘em right. She’d say, “Don’t make no sense to half-do no dishes. Wash ‘em right the first time, you don’t have to back-track and do ‘em agin’.” Momma said if Muh found one dish half-washed, you had to was the whole sink o’ dishes again. “Washin’ dishes aint good to eat, so you did it right the first time,” she’d tell us.

 

She ran a tight ship, Momma said. They couldn’t “go out” to the local dances until they turned 16, then my Uncle Alfred had to chaperone. My Uncle Alfred, now that man’s something else, but I don’t have time to tell you ‘bout him today. Momma told us, one time Ray Charles was comin’ to town. Yep, Ray Charles used to play Cane Creek. You see, there was way back what they called the “chitlin’ circuit’, where Black musicians would tour the Deep South. All the big names would play the chitlin’ circuit back then, and there was a lot of little towns like Cane Creek that had a nightclub the big boys would play in. B.B. King, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Muddy Waters, Lazy Lester, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Momma Thornton, you name ‘em, all the big names played in Cane Creek, usually in the Blue Diamond or the Stork Club, place be packed!

 

Well, anyway, Momma was 15, hadn’t turned 16 yet, but she was close to it. Ray Charles was comin’ to the Blue that Friday night, and she wanted to go. See, she was the second youngest, so my older aunties was goin’ to see Ray with Uncle Alfred, and since she was close to turnin’ 16, well, she made her plans to go. She knew the drill: you wasn’t goin’ nowhere before you did your chores, dishes washed, floor swept and mopped, furniture dusted, clothes washed and hung out on the line, brought back in when they was dried, folded and put up in they place. Whatever your job was, you got it done befo’ you stepped outside. Aint no need of arguin’ about it, that’s just the way it was.

 

So Momma did her dishes, and started getting’ ready, ironin’ her clothes and stuff. She got dressed with the others, and made up her face, I mean, she was ready to step out! Time to go, they lined up near the door for inspection, Muh looked ‘em over, checkin’ hemlines and necklines.

 

Huh?

 

What do I mean, “checkin’ ‘em over”? You wasn’t leavin’ Mom Zora’s house with your “neckidness out,” like she called it! No, sir!

 

She checked them over, Momma last in line. Muh gave her usual final instructions before they left out, “Now, be yourself!” that was one of her favorite sayings, “Be yourself! Just ‘cause somebody jump the ditch, that don’ mean you got to jump, too!”

Momma turned to the door to walk out, and Muh said, “Hold on, baby. Where you goin?”

 

Momma said, “To the dance. Ray Charles is playin’.”

 

Muh answered, “I don’t care who playin’ in the club. Where you think you is goin’? How old is you?”

 

“Fifteen,” Momma answered miserably.

 

“Then lock the door behin’ ‘em, and stay in this here house. You know you don’t go out ‘til you hit sixteen.”

 

Momma begin to plead her case, while my aunties waited to see what the decision was. Momma went on for a minute, how she was grown, and ever body else could go out, and why couldn’t she, and then Muh put down her sewing and looked at my aunties. “Y’all goin’ out?” she asked.

 

“Yes, Ma’am,” they answered.

 

“Then, y’all best git goin’ then, befo’ it be too late. Abbie, shut the door behind ‘em,” and picked up her sewing.

 

Well, that was that. They knew better than tryin’ to argue with her, fool around and nobody was gonna see Ray, not tonight, anyways.

 

“Bye, Abbie,” Aunt Marie said, as they went outside. Momma said she cried like a baby for a good while, then Muh said, “Now, that’s enough o’ that. You need me to get my flyswat’?”

 

“No, Ma’am.”

 

“Alright, then, stop all that noise. When you hit sixteen, you can go out.”

 

I know that seem hard, but in those days, rules was rules. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way it should go, and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.” That’s in Proverbs, the 22nd chapter. It don’t mean that chirren won’t do bad, but it mean that good home-trainin’ stick to ‘em, and they never forget what’s right an’ wrong, even if they don’t do right.

 

Momma ‘splained all that to us, and we understood it. But every now and then “Georgia On My Mind” would play on the radio, and Momma’s shoulders would slump a little bit, and a minute later, she’d have a Kleenex in her hand. “Something in my eye,” she would say. It was okay, though, ‘cause by the time supper came around, she’d bake a chocolate cake.

 

My brother found out that you could call the radio station and request a song. One week, we had chocolate cake three times, ‘fo she caught on…