November 23 2021
I’m still working my way through the mountain of old photos. Found this gem. High school graduation, with my paternal grandmother (mammaw, as we called her), Elnor Downs.
She didn’t make it past elementary school as her mom died, and she had to help the family. They were sharecroppers. She was an expert at growing vegetables, canning, cooking, and baking. (And yelling out the door at us not to use her good silverware to make mud pies!)
The last time I saw her while she was still living in her house, I spent the entire visit with her, talking and learning her history (and some about the early years of her marriage) that I’d never known. That was around the year 2000. I’m grateful that I made that visit.
Especially the part where she told me that when my dad and his siblings were very young, her husband (my grandpa) left her and ran off to Texas with another woman. She had to get a job cleaning the theater (picture show, as she called it). She took all the kids with her.
When my grandpa came back, he was sitting at the kitchen table, talking about how he had decided to go back to the woman in Texas. (I know you know what Southerners drink their tea out of.) She clocked him upside the head with her tea glass, and told him, “No the hell you aren’t.” She says it knocked him silly! …. And … I grew up knowing my grandpa. He stayed.
I never knew this, and would not have known had I not gone for that last visit.
I also would not have known that her family were sharecroppers. Never knew that before that conversation.