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Author Topic: a book my mom is writing  (Read 14933 times)
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swolt
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« on: June 02, 2011, 02:29:00 PM »

My mom is writing a biography on my Grandmother. A lot of this is coming from my grandmother's notes, letters and journals, so it is written in first person. Here is the first chapter.

It seemed like an ordinary August day. The birds were chirping, the sun was peaking out, and the aroma of bacon filled the house. Daddy would soon leave for work and chores would begin. I was the oldest girl with one older brother and four younger. We loved our new home in the rolling hills of Alabama and had finally settled into our routine after moving only months before from Lucedale, Mississippi. At the grown-up age of seven, I was Mama’s big helper. There were diapers to wash, babies to tend, breakfast dishes to clean and dinner to cook before Daddy got home at noon. Mama was quite the cook and house deeper. Life was eventful for her with five kids under age nine. But she had learned to manage things well. Everything had a place and everything must be in place, was her motto. She was beautiful and vibrant with dark flowing hair and black eyes that sparkled when she smiled. I adored her and did my best to help with the little ones.

Today was wash day. Mama, William Earl, Robert and I strolled down to the creek which was about a half mile away. Every Monday we washed our clothes there. Mama always tried to make chores fun so it was as much of a play time as it was work. William Earl or Willie as we called him, and Robert skipped rocks and splashed in the creek. Even though Robert was younger, he would chase Willie around in circles. Willie was such a Mama's boy, he never wandered far from her. “Now boys,” she spoke in such a tender tone, “I'll never get this washing done if you don't leave me be. Daddy will be home soon and we will celebrated Thomas' birthday.” We spent all morning washing, laughing and working together as a family.

It was getting close to lunch when we brought the clothes up the hill from the creek. Mama would hang them out on the clothes line Daddy had made by stringing wires between two China Berry tress near our house. There was an extra spring in our step today for two reasons: Today was my baby brother, Thomas' one year birthday, and Aunt Frances, my mama's younger sister had come to stay with us for a week.

Aunt Frances was nine years younger than Mama and since I was the only girl, I got special time with her. She taught me how to braid hair, paint fingernails, and have tea parties. Real babies became our dolls and I loved it when we played house together. Aunt Frances said she would take me and Moran, my older brother to the creek to swim. My cousin, Mazie, and I use to sneak off all the time to the creek where we would play skin the cat. This is a game we invented where we flipped ourselves over a branch hanging out over the creek. We thrived on adventures and on day Mazie had challenged me to see who could “skin the cat” the most times. “Wenzie,” she called, even though my name is Eloise, “I can flip way more times than you.” At that moment it was on and I pulled myself onto the branch and flung my body so hard I lost my grip and plunged into the creek.” Now you’ve done it, Mazie screamed. How are we going to explain your wet clothes?” After trying to conjure up several stories we decided to just tell the truth and take our chances. Well, the result was that we now had to have supervision at the creek. Since we had moved away from my cousin, my creek playing days had come to an end. But today Aunt Frances had promised to take us to play in the creek.

While we were busy washing, Aunt Frances had stayed behind to watch over Thomas who was taking a nap and cook dinner for daddy. He was very demanding and a sandwich would never do. Fried meat, rice, gravy, and biscuits were expected.

As we neared the house, Frances bounded out the door onto the porch and exclaimed to her big sis, “Margaret, I'm done with dinner. I even baked a birthday cake for Thomas! Do you need some help?” Mama was always so grateful to have her lively, energetic sixteen year old sister visit. She nodded and Frances took her place at the clothes line. Willie stood between the two of them handing each of them the wet clothes from the washtub.

I entertained Robert on the make shift slide Daddy had made us on one of the China Berry trees. At four years of age, Robert delighted in climbing up the tree and sliding. He would squeal with delight as he zoomed down, and even though I was not much bigger than him I dutifully stood at the bottom to catch him.

What would happen in the next few moments would change our lives forever. Our picture perfect day was about to turn into the greatest tragedy that Rock Creek Community had ever seen.

The sun that had only peeked out earlier had risen with the morning and was glowing intently. While we were absorbing the warm rays, unnoticed to us all, sneaking up like an unwanted enemy, a black cloud appeared in the sky. Without warning, a bolt of lightening shot out from the cloud and hit one of our China Berry trees. I was thrown several feet from the slide and was knocked out for a minute. Slowly I opened my eyes and stood up in a daze. My dress hung loosely open and I noticed that the buttons had melted off. My legs stung in a few places where they had been burned. The slide with Robert on it was knocked over and he lay unconscious on the ground. Nothing could have prepared a seven year old child for the sight I was about to see. As I turned around there lay Aunt Frances, William Earl, and my dear mother. They had been killed instantly by the devastating bolt and their charred bodies lay motionless on the ground. Panic rose in me as I cried out their names. “Mama.”

No answer. “Willie” No answer. “Aunt Frances,” my voice trembles. As I stared at the dark bodies, I knew something was terribly wrong. There were Aunt Frances’ glasses. If I could only put them on her face she would wake up and see me. But our faithful watch dog, Shep, would not allow it as he circled the dead bodies barking wildly, not letting me get close. A piercing scream from Robert drew me away from the horrible sight. I ran and scooped him up to comfort him. His ears were leaking fluid and his left arm hung lifeless from his body. All of a sudden I remembered baby Thomas. I ran in the house to see that he lay still sleeping on the bed undisturbed by all the commotion.

Clutching Robert who was screaming in pain, I walked back outside. While I stood there, as if frozen in time, the vicious cloud began pouring rain on us. From around the corner my older brother, Moran, appeared. He had gone to the store to buy a loaf of bread for dinner which would have been a big treat. He was cutting through a nearby field when the thunderous boom resounded through the community. He barely escaped the wild bucking of a couple of spooked horses and ran home. He halted in horror at the sight before him. As his little nine year old mind tried to comprehend the scene, he grabbed me and Robert in his arms, looked up to heaven and cried out, “God, please don’t let it rain on my mama.” Instantly the rain stopped.

It was almost lunch time and Daddy would be home soon. But we could not wait for him. Moran took off in a flash, I ran after him as fast as I could while Robert hung on. The path was well worn and we knew we would run into Daddy. Sure enough there he was, punctual as always, puttering home from the saw mill for dinner in his 19?? car. We always met him here for a little ride on the fender of the car. Of course, since I was the only girl, I got to ride on the seat. We all jumped in this time though and Moran blurted out,

“Daddy, daddy, “Mama is dead.”

“Don’t you ever say that about your Mama, again,” fumed Daddy. He thought that we had gotten in trouble and were mad at her. “You gonna mind your Mama, no matter what she tells you. You hear me. Don't you ever say such awful things about her again.” You gonna get the strap for that.”

Cowering under the harsh tone we had grown so accustomed to, we sat in silence on our ride home Maybe it was just a bad dream. Maybe reality was that Mama would greet us when we walked into the yard.

You can only imagine when he drove up to the house – the shock, the hurt, the grief he felt to see that indeed we had told him the truth. There his precious family lay dead on the ground. He gently picked Willie up and took him to the bed inside. He lifted Frances up and took her to a bed, too. But when he started to p ck up Mama, he collapsed. He was so overwhelmed with grief he could not lift her. He knelt on the ground, pulled her to his chest and wept uncontrollably.

Then next few days were lived in a fog. The bodies were taken to my grandparents house about five miles away. Mama had a brother overseas in the army. He was called home, so it seemed that the bodies were there forever. The community had rallied around us, but my heart ached for my mama, my aunt, and my little brother. Arrangements were made and on August 8, 1947 a triple funeral service was held at the Rocky Creek Church. The paper would state:

“The service was at 2:00 for

the victims of the tragedy

that occurred Wednesday

of last week, when Mrs.

Margaret Bonner West,25,

her son, William Earl West,

age 6, and her sister, Miss

Frances Janette Bonner, 16,

were killed by lightning.

Mrs. Bonner and her sister

were in the act of hanging

up clothes when lightning

struck killing them instantly,

and the son, William Earl

was standing near his mother

and was also struck,

dying instantly.”


Rocky Community Church had never held so many people. The entire community had been shaken. Everyone had been touched in some way by this tragedy. Those who know our family well were grief stricken, and acquaintances came with heavy hearts trying to imagine how they would handle such a tragedy. The bodies were so badly burned that the caskets remained closed. Rain hammered down in sheets. It seemed as if heaven itself was weeping over our loss. Somehow, I was forgotten in the shuffle and as the preacher preached his sermon, I sat in the back, alone, with questions swirling in my head. What would I do without a mama? Who would take care of me” What about the boys? Thomas was a baby; Robert, just four. And poor Moran. Daddy was so hard on him. Who would protect him now? As I stared at the three caskets in the front of the church, I resigned myself to my fate. Nobody else could love them or care for them like me. At that moment, I closed my grieving heart and resolved to fill the shoes of my precious mother.
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2011, 07:43:38 PM »

That's a really good story, and has the potential to be really really interesting. 

If you want feedback, I'd suggest cleaning up the tense (for lack of a better way to say it).  In the beginning it seems like I'm hearing a story from long ago, and at the end it seems more like I'm reading it as it's happening (which I prefer, personally). 

Also, Moran.  el oh el. 

What a sad story though, seriously.  That's heartbreaking.
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2011, 01:31:12 PM »

I have a cousin named Moron.  Seriously.  He's Israeli -- it's a semi-common name there. When he's in the States, he insists we call him Joe.

Good luck to your mom with the book writing. Sorry about your greatgrandma.
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2011, 11:04:49 AM »

Right now mom is just putting it all together and will get it to an editor later.
Here is chapter two:

CHAPTER 2


Daddy was lost without Mama. She had waited on him hand and foot. At first she joyfully served this handsome man five years her senior. Her girlish dreams had come true when she married him at age 15. It didn’t matter that she was already carrying his baby. And it didn’t matter that her parents had not really approved of the older man in her life. She was in love. She would show them all, with their disapproving stares, how blissful life could be.
Reality set in pretty quickly though. It was not as easy as it had been in her dreams. Her new husband was much more harsh and demanding than he had been in their whirlwind of a romance. One baby after another had been added to the family with not much time for adjustment. Even with the strain of five children she still managed the demands of an impatient husband. The joy of serving him had long given way to the necessity of trying to keep him happy. He was spoiled and having his needs met became a priority for the whole family, or else there would be hell to pay bay all.
A few weeks after the funeral, Daddy made another life changing decision for our little family. There was no way he could work and take care of us kids. He had become even more oppressive trying to cope with his tremendous loss. He would go out west to work on the pipeline. The best thing for us all would be to drop us off at Grandma Bonner’s house, my mama’s mama. She still had quite a few children at home who were around mine and Moran’s ages. Grandma Bonner was glad to have us and this arrangement probably would have been fine, but there was one problem: Aunt Laverne.
A couple of years after Mama married, Aunt Laverne, her younger sister also came to be in the family way. Watching Margaret struggle in her relationship with James, my dad, their parents were determined not to let the same fate fall to Laverne. She was sent off to a home to have the baby, give it up for adoption, and return home as if nothing ever happened. However, the more she tried to put the nine month event out of her mind, the more tormented she became and the more she tormented those around her. She resented the fact that Margaret had gotten to keep her baby. And although she was sorry about her death, the injustice of having to help with the responsibilities of her older sister's kids was unbearable.
We could do nothing right. We were yelled at about everything and it didn’t help that Robert and Thomas were experiencing health problems. Thomas was sickly and Robert had severe allergies and cried with headaches. Daddy did not believe in doctors and Grandma Bonner could not afford to take them to one so we were left to deal with them the best we knew how.
Grandma had her hands full with cooking and cleaning for such a big family. School started in September. I should have been going to third grade, but I didn't get to attend very often. The boys required a lot of my attention, specially when they came down with whooping cough and chicken pox. When they contracted the measles, we had to cover the windows with blankets to keep out the light for fer that they might go blind. (It was a common practice to keep anyone who had the measles from the sunlight because the belief was that it might cause blindness.)
One of our big chores every fall was making soap. Once we butchered a hog there would be plenty of fat to cook down to make lard. Red Devil Lye was added the the lard and this concoction was cooked outside in a large black kettle over a fire until it hardened. The whole process took a long time, but we made enough soap to last us for a year. The soap was used for everything from washing the dishes and floors to bathing the babies.
The fall after Mama died we made soap one day as was the custom. I was still not used to being a full time mom since I was not quite eight years old. While we did our chores we would also break into a games of chase or hide and seek. As we worked/played and as the adults made the soap, Thomas went unattended. When adding the lye to the pot, someone opened the can of lye with a knife and laid it on the porch next to a basket of apples. Little Thomas wandered onto the porch, picked up the lye laden knife and licked it. The lye began to burn the inside of his moth and throat very badly. From my hiding place in the nearby bushes, I heard a blood curdling scream. My heart sank and I raced to the porch to find Thomas standing there with the knife still in his hand. We did not have a car at the time. I spotted the only bicycle we had leaning next to the house and without much thought,, jumped on the bike with Thomas tucked under my arm. Adrenalin allowed me to pedal relatively effortlessly for several miles before I reached the doctor in town. Unfortunately he was not home. The country store was near so I stopped in with my screaming baby brother. Once I explained what had happened, the clerk took a bottle of vinegar off the shelf and we rinsed him mouth. The vinegar helped neutralize the chemical reaction that was going on in his mouth, but the damage had been done. His mouth eventually completely healed, but not without weeks of suffering and careful care from me. I rocked and cried with him a many a mile over the next weeks and I promised to look after him better.
After a year or so Grandma Bonner had to make (as she explained to me when I was older) one of the hardest decisions she had ever had to make in her life. She wrote a letter to Daddy telling him that he would have to come pick us up. Aunt Laverne was not getting any better and Grandma would not let us be raise under her abuse. We dutifully packed our bags and waited for Daddy to arrive. We never knew when he would show up, but we knew we better be ready when he did.
For the next five years our home would be in Land, Alabama with my Daddy’s brother, Uncles Thomas, Aunt Renee, and his five children. We had lived close to them before moving to Rocky Creek Community and we found some comfort in being back in familiar surroundings. Maybe I would finally find the security so desperately needed by any child, but especially having had so much ripped away at such an early. The years would prove, however, that tragedy would become my companion, but never my friend.


. . . . . . . .


Mazie, my creek playing cousin and I were the same age and our favorite past time was to dig a big hole, big enough for us both to sit in. We spent hours playing our make believe games, and even made up our own language. The other kids would get so mad because they could not understand us. They laughed and said it was gibberish, but we understood each other perfectly. Hard work was the norm for country folk, and we were no different. Every Saturday the entire yard was hoed and swept. Brooms were made from long stalks of dried grasses tied together in a bundle. Aunt Renee was very meat and clean like Mama and she would not be disgraced with one spring of grass in her yard.
Although there were nine of us we all had a bath every night. That was not a problem in the summer when we took a bar of soap to the creek. But winter was a different story. With no indoor plumbing or electricity, water had to be drawn and boiled on the wood burning stove. Enough water had to be drawn for baths and dishes. Without paper plates or convenient foods every meal was a major ordeal. Three meals were cooked every day and with that came three tremendous loads of dishes. Ida, Mazie's sister was older than us and entertained us with her teenage stories while we washed dishes. We could never giggle too much, though, because Aunt Renee would think we were getting into mischief. She would storm into the kitchen with her hands on her hips and fuss. “Don't you girls be a goofing off. There's a work time and there's a play time, and this ain't no time to play.” It always unnerved me to be scolded. Even though I tried my best not to be any trouble, deep down in my gut was the nagging feeling that I might somehow cross the line and we would be sent packing again.
Each of us girls was assigned a younger sibling or cousin to be responsible for. Robert was my responsibility and the grief we shared over the loss of our family gave us a special bond. Robert's health was not the same after being struck by lightning. (At this point I might write about the effects of being struck by lightning.) His ears constantly dripped and he cried with headaches. I would hold him close at night and try to sing to him like Mama did. I couldn’t carry a tune, however, and after a while he would gently cover my mouth with his little hand.
Since Ida was older, she took care of Thomas, who was not quite two. Thomas had been sickly even at Grandma Bonner's. We all felt sorry for him, being the baby and all, and losing his mama on his very first birthday, so his whining went basically unnoticed.
Uncle Thomas was a farmer so we always had plenty to eat. He had a huge garden and it was a good thing. Come the first of May, Aunt Nell and Uncle Henry, daddy and Uncle Thomas' older brother would show up with their nine kids. And I mean not just for a short visit, but for the entire summer! We had to scrape the chicken poop out of the chicken coop, wash in down with bleach and that is where we bunked for the summer. The line at the out house grew longer so you got pretty good and timing when you did your business! We stayed pretty busy cooking, cleaning, cooking again, and putting up vegetables. The older boys picked the vegetables, the middle group of kids like me shelled and the big girls helped with the canning. There were rows and rows of veggies as far as the eye could see. At the time we did not realize how blessed we were. We just saw it all as work. By the end of the day our fingers were numb from shelling. Our house was up off the ground, high enough for the chicken to run under. The slats that made up the floor were not completely together, making a slit just big enough to slip the whole pea shell through. When the grown ups weren't looking, we fed the chickens.
Sugar and flour came in cotton sacks and those sacks were used to make our clothes. Mama had been an excellent seamstress and my dresses had always fit just right. Aunt Renee was good too, but with so many kids to clothe, and so much work to do, being fashionable was not high on her list of priorities. But since we all looked the same, we were just glad to have something that covered our body. We each got one pair of shoes a year. If you were lucky, they lasted during the cold winter months. When they got holes, we got very inventive binding them together with string from the cotton sacks.
You can never have that many kids together without lots of fun, fussing, and fighting. We had our share of each. Moran got in trouble the most. I felt so sorry for him. Since he was older than me, he would not let me “mother” him like I did for the younger boys. He and Eugene, one of our cousins would get into mischief, but Moran always got blamed. One day while we were playing outside, I left the gate open. Old Betsy, our mild cow, got out and stomped some of the vegetables. Uncle Thomas automatically blamed Moran although I tried to tell him that I had done it. Moran got a strapping for my mistake. I would have to be more careful to never get him in trouble again.
Moran did do some things he should have been whipped for, but never got caught. His favorite past time was to fish at the pond. He didn't do much fishing though; he caught snakes and chased us girls. If the snakes slithered away he would settle for a frog and put those down our shirts.
Moran was a smooth talker, too. He could convince us kids on anything. One day while Uncle Thomas and Aunt Renee had gone into town he go a sheet of the bed and made a home made parachute. Well that's what he said it was anyway. We all climbed up on top of the barn to take our turn trying his new devise. Luckily for the first “guinea pig” a pile of hay broke his fall as the plummeted straight down like a lead balloon. The rest of us scrambled down and vowed never to believe Moran again.
Sometimes at night, after a hard day on the farm, Aunt Renee would bake special biscuits with a hole on the top to pour honey in. This was a huge treat and we would get so excited especially knowing what would follow. The men folk would get out the guitar and the mandolin and strum and pick for awhile. The West men were very musical because their mom had been a music teacher. She saw to it that they each played an instrument. They would belt out their hillbilly rendition of Hank William's (who was also from Alabama) “You're Cheatin' Heart” or “Hey Good Lookin.” We laughed and sang along. It was a good family time and a great way to help relieve the pressures of the hard work of farm life. Most of the time I joined right in, but sometimes I would drift back to the days when Daddy would pull out his guitar and sing to Mama. I missed them all so much.
. . . . . . . .
Thomas gradually grew weaker and weaker. The whining got less tolerable and Uncle Thomas was convinced that we had just spoiled him. “exercise is what he needs,: retorted Uncle Thomas one day. “This boy needs to get up and run and jump. The next time you kids walk to the store take him with you. It will do him some good.” Soon after that we did walk to the store and took Thomas and a cousin Thomas' age. Half way to the store, he got so tired, I had to carry him. On the way home, I got to thinking about Uncle Thomas' remarks. “Thomas, I think you are just lazy.” I'm going to put you down and you are going to walk,” I said in a stern tone. “Here, Eloise. Use this switch if he won't listen.” One of my older cousins snapped a limb off a tree and handed it to me. Thomas had plopped down on the ground and would not budge. I popped him a couple of times. “Give that switch to me. I'll make him mind,” retorted my cousin. She stood him to his feet and warned, “Thomas, you stop being honorary. We are not going to carry you home. Let me see you jump.” She struck him hard on the leg. Thomas' lip quivered and he tried to muster up a jump. She hit him again. “I told you to jump.” Tears welled up in his eves as he cowered under her stare. After several whelps on his skinny little legs, he sank to the ground in despair. His frail two year old body could not cooperate. I could not take anymore. “I'm okay. I'll carry him home”, I sighed and I lifted him off the ground. He put his frail little arms around my neck and whispered in my ear, “Sorry, Wenzie.”
The walk home was long and hot. The burden of his weight on my back was nothing compared to the burden that settled in my heart. How could I have been so mean to him? Warm tears streamed down my cheeks and I purposed in my heart to try to protect Thomas better.
I never really got the chance, though. I think Thomas' little spirit was severely wounded that day and he never recovered from it. A couple of weeks later he was taken to the hospital and I never saw him again. He was diagnosed with hook worms. He was in the hospital for several months, but there was nothing the doctors could do at this stage.
One night at the dinner table, Uncle Thomas abruptly announced that little Thomas was no longer with us. It was like someone had punched me in the stomach and I wanted to run and scream. How could I stand never holding my precious baby again. I had vowed at Mama's funeral to take care of him and I had failed. Could I ever forgive myself. “Thomas, I am so sorry,” I whispered to myself.
“Eloise, Eloise,” I was jolted back to reality. “Pass me the peas.”
I was learning very well to show no emotions. Life went on as normal with one less child to tend. I cherished the memories of my lost family and day dreamed of the days that we were all together.
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2011, 03:15:24 PM »

OMG this is so sad!

If I didn't know how it ends up (you know- with you being here and all) I'd just cry.
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2011, 03:56:30 PM »

I agree with what Jessie said about the tense changes.  Journal entries can be like that since they're written separately.  Changing tense might smooth out the story.

But I don't think I'd let an editor change any of the spelling or other grammar from what appears in the journals and letters.  It comes together as your Grandmother's voice, and wouldn't sound the same if it were corrected and "modernized."
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2011, 04:11:49 PM »

OMG this is so sad!

If I didn't know how it ends up (you know- with you being here and all) I'd just cry.


It gets sadder. Only one of her brothers lived to be an adult, and he died the week I was born. Her husband (my grandfather) died of a heart attack when she was 26.
She passed away about 5 years ago at age 63 (I think, somewhere in her 60's.)
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2011, 03:12:52 PM »

CHAPTER 3


Daddy was out west “making his fortune.” We did not see him often. He would come, once maybe twice a year for a short visit, but mostly to give Uncle Thomas money. Ida was the letter writer of the family. She would keep in touch with Daddy and occasionally we would hear from him. Robert had been especially restless since Thomas' death. I'm sure it had stirred some very raw emotions that were having trouble settling down. Although Ida was a great “big sister,” she got frustrated with all the extra responsibilities. And who could blame her? We had been there for almost five years now.
One day after listening to Robert crying for his Daddy, she helped him compose this letter.
Dear Daddy,
Please come home. Please leave us here and you stay too. Brang me a'
red tractor one that i can ride. Brang Eloise a doll and tea set. Brang
Aunt Renee some house shoes. Brang me some shoes with a low top so
i can go to sunday school.
Love,
Robert


After several months of no response from my daddy, Ida, the nervy one of the bunch, wrote a letter herself. This one was not so pleasant. She told my dad, her Uncle James, that he needed to come get his bratty kids because we were getting out of hand.
Not long after that, Uncle Thomas had another big announcement at the dinner table. Thankfully this was happy news. “Moran, Eloise, Robert, your daddy will be coming to get you soon.” Oh, wow! The day I had been waiting for, but thought would never come. I should have been ecstatic, but I had knots in my stomach. “By the way,” continued Uncle Thomas, “you have a new mother, and a half brother.”
Now my stomach was turning flips. I had been around a lot of boys, a house full at Grandma Bonner's and here too, but I had never seen a half brother. “I wonder what half he will be,” I thought to myself. “Front, back, top , bottom, split in the middle?” This was a real concern. I wasn't sure I wanted a half brother.
Where we lived there was never even a mention of divorce or blended families. We were never allowed to listen to adult conversation, so this was a brand new term for me.
As August grew near, I found myself pondering and worrying about this half brother. I was pretty sure that I didn't want one. Of course nobody knew what I was envisioning and they all assured me that I would love this baby half brother. “Love him”, I thought to myself. “I don't think so.” I didn't want to see, touch, or have anything to do with him. I was scared of him already. And what about this new mama? What does she look like: Was she all there or was there just half of her, too. Was she mean maybe she was, to have a half baby! I will really have to mind and do what I'm told. I better watch out. If I'm not good maybe there will only be half on me.
Well, the day finally arrived. We were outside playing when we saw the big white car coming around the curve. We hardly ever saw cars and this one was huge. We quit our hop-scotch game and stared ahead. I was flooded with so many different emotions: happy, proud scared, nervous.
The car pulled up to the gate and stopped. Daddy stepped out and seemed the same. The other door swung open and out stepped my new mama. “She is beautiful,” I gasped. “Oh, the baby. He is wrapped in a blanket.” As she handed him to me, my trembling hands pulled him close. I gently took off the blanket and to my amazement he was whole. He was all there, and the most precious thing I had ever seen! I was so relieved that I started to cry. Mazie poked me with her elbow. “You should be the happiest girl in the world.” I burst into tears of joy. “He's not half, he's whole, a whole baby, not a half brother!” I exclaimed with glee.




As we left the red dirt and tree covered hills of Alabama, I was overcome with anxiety. I had never been more than 60 miles in a car and we would be traveling for three or four days through country towns and big cities, with people I hardly knew. I know he was my daddy, but I had only seen him a few times in the past five years. I was barely eight years old when he left us and now I was close to being a teenager. It would be interesting to see how we would all adjust.
Over the next few days as we traveled to Kingsman, Arizona, I reflected on my life. Would I ever find a place to live where I didn’t worry about whether we could stay or not? Growing up from one place to another, I felt like we were being rejected by each of the ones where we had to stay. My daddy didn’t even want us. While we were living in Alabama he was making a new life for himself out west. He would not have even come for us if he had not been forced to by the letter. He already had a wife, Dorothy, and a new baby, Richard. He was completely satisfied with his new little family and we would be in the way.
He did come get us, but we never felt like we belonged. From the beginning it was like he had it out for us - watching, waiting to see if we might do something wrong. After all, the letter had said we were “out of control.”
I was afraid of him. I remembered how he used to spank us with the back side of a butcher knife. Now my new Mom was amazing. She was so sweet, kind, and soft spoken. I watched her like a hawk and fell in love with her in just a hew days. Oh how glad I was to have my very own mama. I would have done anything for her. But there was only so much she could for me because he was mean to her, too.
We lived in a trailer park with lots of other pipeline people. I was responsible every Saturday to wash and hang out clothes, cook dinner, and babysit Richard and Robert while Daddy took Mama to town to buy groceries and riding around. Mama never learned how to drive so Daddy had to take her everywhere. Robert wasn't any trouble. He had always been mine from the time Mama died. We were very close and he always did what I ask him to. He was nine years old now and had become a big helper. Richard on the other hand became hateful and mean, but only because Mama and Daddy let him do what he wanted. One day while I was babysitting him and and two of my little cousins. While I was cooking dinner, they went into the bedroom and tore the sheets off the freshly made beds. Furious over this, I stood them in the corner and dared them to move. About this time Daddy and Mama walked in the door. Seeing his opportunity to get me back, he started screaming as if I had just beat him. Of course, Daddy only listened to him and would not even let me tell my side of the story. I asked them not to leave him with me anymore because I could not make him mind. His response was, “You are mean and you don't make any sense when you punish him.” I really loved Richard and was good to him regardless of what Daddy said. He would get mad and say very hurtful things about me and to me. I guess he was mad because he had to take responsibility for us.
Many of our neighbors had small kids and I started babysitting. All the money I made went to buy groceries or wash clothes. We had to use the laundry mat since we didn't have a washing machine. At least I wasn't washing clothes in the creek and beating them out on a log. I also had to buy material to make my own clothes because Daddy wouldn't let me go to the store to shop. He said it was too expensive. Thankfully I inherited some sewing skills from my mama, but I still didn't look like the other girls with their store bought clothes. I could never ask for money for school supplies so I saved my pennies and would buy my pencils and paper for school.
Well, you can just imagine how this country girl from Alabama fit in at the city school in Arizona. I felt so out of place. The school was overwhelmingly big. The other kids in my grade were so much smarter than me. I realized that I knew nothing in comparison and it was very embarrassing. I dressed funny, talked funny and was definitely the outcast.
The biggest school I ever went to was in Midland Texas. The school was overwhelmingly big. Midland itself was a huge town especially when you had to walk places. I entered school here after it had been in session for a couple of months. I was the new girl, a little country girl, come to town. My clothes were not fashionable so therefore there was not place or time for me in this new school.
The beginning of this strange feeling of being left out started in the office on my first day of school. The principle insisted that I be called Margaret. That is my first name on my birth certificate and he said this was the proper thing to do. I have always gone by my middle names, Eloise. Needless to say for the first few days of class when the teacher would call Margaret, I didn't answer for awhile. The kids would all laugh when I finally realized she was talking to me. Plans in homeroom were made to have a party. I was excited because I had never been to a party before. The party would be at the skating rink on the other side of town. The only stipulation was that we had to have our own ride home home. I could not depend on Daddy to take me because he would be working. It looked like I would not be able to go. As it turned out it would have been better if I had not gone.
A group of girls approached me during recess and said that I could catch a ride with them and they would bring me home. We would leave school early afternoon after lunch and stay for a couple of hours and them return home.
I was so excited. My first trip to the skating rink. I had never even had a pair of skates on. I stayed close by the rail to keep from falling until I got brave enough to venture out with the other skaters. For a few minutes, I actually skated, slowly but surely, until another skater zoomed by and knocked me off balance. My feet flying out from under me and I hit the floor with a thud. As soon as I hit, I felt a warm spot under me and I thought I must have landed in some water. Oh no, I only wished I would have had water all over me. I had started my period!
This whole monthly thing was new to me, too. Only the month before, I had started my menstrual cycle for the first time. Since I was already fifteen, I'm sure my new mama thought this was old news for me. But the month before had been my first time. I had never heard of a period except at the end of a sentence. Such things were not talked about. At first, I did not even know where the blood was coming from. I was hysterical thinking that I might be hemorrhaging like my brother Robert had. Would this be how I would die?
There I was a month later and it was happening again. How many times is this going to take place? The only thing I could do would be to take my skates off and sit to the side and watch the other kids. I was okay with that since I wasn't a very good skater anyway. It was amusing to watch the different levels of ability. There were some like me who could not stay on their feet, and there were others who glided along gracefully making skating look so easy.
After a while my friends spotted me from the other side of the rink. I perked up and waited anxiously to talk to them. As they approached me I noticed that there had a different demeanor about them. “Margaret,” one of them said smugly, “We are not going to take you home. You have to find your own ride.” “But you said you would take me,” I replied. “Margaret, did you really think we would take you home to your trailer park?” retorted another girl. “It was all a joke,” piped in another, “you'll have to get home the best way you can.” And with that they went off giggling and saying, “We showed her didn't we?”
I knew I should not ask the teacher for a ride. She had made a huge deal about not going to the party if you did not have a ride home. But I was desperate. What else could I do? So I found her sitting at a table enjoying a soda, and timidly ask her if she could give me a ride home. She flew into a rage.
“I was very specific about this young lady. I know you are new to this school, and obviously don't know when I say something, I mean it.” I told her that the girls had told me they would bring me home, but when she questioned them, they denied it. “You should not have come,” yelled the teacher. “I'm sorry, but you got yourself into this mess. Get home the best way you can.”
I turned and walked away before I burst into tears. My insides were crying, crying out for help, but I was determined that they would never see the hurt, frightened person I was. What a cruel joke to play on someone.
I stepped outside the roller skating rink. It was about 3:00. Maybe I could make it home by dark. But which way was home? I didn't have a clue. So I started walking, walking, walking. I walked for a couple of hours and finally came upon the school. Oh, what relief – some place I was familiar with. Now I could find my way home.
Home never looked so good. It was getting dark by the time I got there. The next day I went back to school and had to face my so called friends. They waited for me to respond but I just smiled and passed them by, and took my seat. Who needs friends like that? Another lesson learned, but not in school! They would have to do much better than that to get to me, I had endured much harder knocks in life.
We had moved three times in a year and were about to make another move to Aztec, New Mexico. Robert was crying more with headaches and demanded more attention. The move was hard on us all and while we were still trying to unpack boxes Robert became gravely ill. His head hurt so badly that even the slightest rattle of turning a page in a book caused him to grab his head in sheer agony. Even though Daddy did not like to go the the doctor, Mama could not take Robert's suffering any longer. She pleaded with Daddy to take him. The doctor immediately put him in the nearest hospital in Durango, Colorado. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Daddy had to leave him in there by himself for six weeks. I missed him so much. I was thrilled one Sunday to finally get to go see him. There he sat under an oxygen tent and to my amazement looked very well. It was noon and the aid brought him his lunch and asked me to feed him. Robert was in such a good mood and said, “Sister after dinner I have something really good to tell you.” I stuck my hands through the tent to feed him. After a few bites he blurted out, “Hey, you're going to slow. Let me do it so I can hurry and tell you my secret.” He took one bite and started hemorrhaging out his nose and mouth. Blood was everywhere. What was happening? I pressed the button near the bed to call the nurses. Two nurses came in and called the doctor. Something is terribly wrong. “Please help him,” I screamed.
The doctors and nurses drove us out. I was so afraid. What was happening to my sweet little brother that I had cared for for so many years. A minute later the doctor came out and said, “It's all over.” What is all over I wonder - the hemorrhaging? No, that's not what he means. He means he is dead – gone, gone forever.
Daddy flew the body back to Mississippi for the funeral and to be buried with Mama, William Earl, and Thomas. It was like a nightmare. When we got back home, I had dreams of Robert rocking in a little red rocking chair whispering, “Sister, I have a secret to tell you.” He never got to share that special secret with me and it haunted me for months.
My older brother, Moran had already left home and I didn't know where he was. I needed to see him. He was the only one of the boys left. I worried about him, but didn't blame him for leaving. I often thought that he had lost the most. Maybe if we had gotten to stay with Grandma Bonner, life would have been better for him. She had boys his age and even though she was raising them by herself she knew how to handle them in a loving nurturing way. Things were different for him at Uncle Thomas'. Daddy was very hard on him. Moran began to rebel and get into big trouble. He walked out one day and we did not hear from him for months. He did not even know that Robert had died.
Robert had died in April and school was soon be out. Mama's brother's wife was going to have surgery . They had two kids, an eight year old boy and a four year old girl. They asked Daddy if I could stay with them in Carlsbad, New Mexico for the summer to help with the housework, cooking, and kids. I could not wait to go. I knew it would help me forget how badly I hurt inside.
My step grandparents, Grandpa and Grandma Moreland lived there as well. They had a son, Bill, age 20, who still lived at home. We had actually lived in Carlsbad for a few months when I was in eighth grade. Bill, Moran, and I walked to school together, and I had a great crush on Bill. He was a big senior so he didn't give me the time of day. Things were different this time. I was sixteen now and had become quite an attractive young lady, if I must say so myself! It turned out to be a marvelous summer. There was plenty work to keep me occupied in the day, and on the weekends I had a boyfriend to go dancing with. I had become quite the dancer and loved to “cut a rug” at the American Legion Hall where they sponsored dances.
At the summer's end, I dreaded going back home. School started pretty much right away, and Daddy and I were into it again. Here I was in tenth grade and he would not let me shave my legs. Sometimes he still treated me like the seven year old girl that he had left years ago. I begged and pleaded with Mama to sneak me a razor. At sixteen I was tired of being humiliated about my dark, hairy legs. Mama felt sorry for me but had to weigh out the wrath she would endure if he found out that she had rebelled against him. I was scared too, but the humiliation out weighed my fear of him. One day, in a moment of weakness, she slipped me a razor. Oh my goodness! My soft, sleek legs were incredible. Now I just had to keep them hidden from Daddy. I would keep a pair of blue jeans hidden in the bushes outside and would change out of my skirt before coming into the house.
The joy of having sleek legs was short lived. Daddy came home unexpectedly one day to find me all dressed up in a skirt. Of course, it was the first thing he noticed. “I told you not to shave your legs,” he screamed. “Where did you get a razor?: he continued him tantrum. I just stood there with my head hung. I was not about to get my mama in trouble. She had been so good to me. He grabbed me by the shoulders. “Look at me while I'm talking to you.” As I raised my head slowly and my eyes met his, courage from deep within rose up in me. It had always been there, hidden under layer of rejection and insecurity. I decided at that instance that I would not cower under him any longer. But before I could open my mouth to defend myself, he pushed me aside and went straight for Mama. He shook his finger in her face and yelled, “You gave her that razor didn't you? I will not be defied in my own home.” He grabbed her arm and pushed her into the bedroom.
There I stood. Once again I had failed to protect one of my loved ones. The flood of emotions- anger, guilt, fear, grief, that I had grown so accustomed to in my sixteen short years, over took me. I ran out the door sobbing. I had only allowed those emotions to surface a few times. I remember now why. They were too painful and I was helpless to do anything about them. So once again, I stuffed the pain even further, and composed myself.
I began to skip school with my friend, Mona. She was a free spirit and I longed to be like her. A few months into school, Mona thought she was pregnant. Her boyfriend was a truck driver and she decided to leave home and go with him. I begged her not to go. I had finally found a friend and couldn't bare to see her leave. She said that her daddy would kill her when he found out that she was pregnant. I could not let her go by herself, so we made plans to run away.
She told her parents that she was spending the night at my house and I told my parents that I was spending the night with her. Mona's boyfriend was in Utah and one of his trucker friends, Jake, would take us to meet him there. We left early the next morning. It was very exciting to be up so high in the cab of a eighteen wheeler. I felt like I was on top of the world. I was not sure what I would do when we got to our destination, in fact I wasn't even sure where that was, but I could not worry myself about that. I wanted to just bask in my new freedom. We drove all day and finally arrived at a motel where Mona's boyfriend met us. I was so naive that I did not comprehend the plan until Mona and her boyfriend disappeared into one of the rooms. Jake took my hand and begin to lead me to the room next door. I was scared to death and begin stammering and stuttering about how I was only sixteen and my daddy did not know where I was. And that he would kill me and whoever he found me with, when he found me. And that he was out looking for me and could arrive any minute. Jake saw the handwriting on the wall and let me sleep in the cab of his truck. He was not very happy, but did not want to get into any legal trouble.
The next morning Mona's boyfriend told us that we were stupid for running away. “Where are you going to stay? How are you going to make money,” he grilled us. “I'm taking you girls back home, but I have to deliver my load first.” We rode up into Utah with him. Coming back we whispered to each other that we were not ready to go back home. We had tasted freedom and we were not ready to give it up. The next truck stop we went to the bathroom and never came back out! We climbed through a window and ran. There was a grassy lot near the station. We hid in the tall grass until dark.
We weren't even sure where we were, but it didn't matter. We would just walk the streets until we figured something out. A couple of boys were cruising the town looking for a good time. They were feeling mighty -----------, because their parents were out of town and they had the house to themselves. Slowing down, they pulled up beside us and offered us a ride. We hopped right in. I still had not figured out that young men only have one thing on their mind, so I was stunned at what they wanted when we got to their ranch. I scrambled to bide some time while we tried to figure something out. That is when my years of cooking come in handy. “Hey fellows,” I teased. “How about I whip us up something to eat.” I'm starved. How about you Mona?” She nodded and I helped myself to the kitchen. Since food is the only other things on a guy's mind, our new friends were happy for the time being.
As we sat around the table talking, eating, stalling, a car pulled up. One of the boys jumped up. “Who in the world is here? We ain't expecting nobody.”
His parents had decided to cut their trip short and were home early. You can imagine their surprise to find a home cooked meal and two strange girls. Our plan had worked. I had managed to escape a --------------- situation for the second time in a couple of days.
The next morning the boys drove us back into town and dropped us off. We were both ready to go home now, but we only had $3 left between us. We wandered over to the bus station and ask about fare to Aztec. It was considerably more than we had. What would we do? A bus attendant had been watching us. We must have looked pretty pitiful. He had over heard a young couple talking about driving to Aztec. After the man pleaded our case, they agreed to give us a ride.
I didn't really even get in trouble once I got home. It was like Daddy had not even noticed that I had been gone. I began to take my life more seriously and I wondered what was going to happen to me if I stayed in Flora Vista with my present friends. I asked Daddy to let me go back to Mississippi and live with my grandmother. She had boys my age and Grandpa had died since we had been out west. I had written her a letter asking permission to come and she had said yes. Daddy thought about it for a while and agreed to let me go in the summer when school was out. Some things happened during my wait for summer that confirmed to me that I needed to leave.
Daddy came home for dinner as usual one day to find my aunt and cousins visiting. One of my cousins, Dennis, was a little brat. He was always beating all the other kids up, so he thought he'd beat me up, too. When he swung at me, I grabbed him and held him so he could not hit me. He immediately started screaming like a little girl. He was so mad; he couldn't believe I was stronger than him. As this scene was unfolding, Daddy walked in the front door. Of course, Dennis yelled even louder that I was trying to beat him up. Beat him I was – at his own game!
Daddy started hollering at me and would not even let me explain. He walked into the kitchen mumbling something about how he could not believe how unruly I was. Something in me snapped. I could not take him any longer. I propped my hands on my hips, glared at him and stated emphatically, “Would you just please listen to me for once.” He jumped up from the table, picked up the broom and struck me across the leg hard enough to break the broom. I ran out the back door and stayed outside until he left for work. All the things I did for him. I tried really hard to please him, but the harder I tried the less he was pleased. I'm sure Mama and Aunt Lola told him what had really happened. I could tell he felt badly when he came home at the end of the day. But of course, he never said he was sorry.
Also I knew I was causing problems for Mama. She would let me do some normal things that girls my age did, and he would get so mad at her. Like with the issue of shaving my legs, he was so unreasonable. I could hear her crying sometimes at night. My heart hurt for her. I could not wait for summer so I could go to Grandma's.
The very first day of summer, I had by suitcase packed and I was ready to go. I had said good-bye to my friends. I had been especially kind to Richard and all the little obnoxious cousins knowing that I would not see them for a long time. We were on our way to bus station when Daddy had a change of heart. I think he must have started thinking about how much I did around the house to help Mama. Who would be their babysitter now? The abruptly turned the car around and proclaimed, “I have decided you are not going to your grandma's. You would be too much trouble for her.”
I was so disappointed. The anger and hatred I felt for him at that moment was unnatural for me. I knew better than to challenge him so I just sat in silence, contemplating what I would do. There was no way I was going to stay home. I decided that as soon as I could, I would leave again, not for Utah this time, but 1500 miles away to Meridian Mississippi.
Skipping school had become a habit by this point. One day my girlfriend and I skipped to go the movies. We were walking down the street, talking and enjoying ourselves when a van pulled alongside us. “You girls need a ride,” he inquired. “Oh, yea,” I said flippantly. “All the way to Mississippi.” Much to my surprise the man said he was only going to Carlsbad, New Mexico, but he would be glad to take me that far. This was the opportunity I had been waiting for. He told me that he was leaving at 9:00pm and if I really wanted a ride to meet him at the service station.
I was nervous and excited. I would have to pack my bags discreetly and sneak out after everyone was in bed. At dinner that night I tried not to show my excitement. It was after all bitter-sweet. I had totally fallen in love with my new Mama and would miss her. But I couldn't wait to get away from Daddy. After the supper dishes were done, I excused myself to my room to “study for a test.” I gave Daddy, Mama, and Richard a hug and told them that I loved them. When things got very quiet in the house, I made my exit. I left a note on my bed telling them where I was going.
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 03:13:32 PM »

CHAPTER 4


As I walked along the road, I reflected on my life. No doubt I had endured some hard knocks. But other people had hard lives, too. I determined not to consider myself a victim. My new found courage caused me to hold my head high. With each stride I allowed the gentle evening breeze to blow away bits of my past.
There was the van at the gas station just like he said. As I pulled my tall, slim frame onto the front seat, I was oblivious to his sinister grin. We drove for several hours before he pulled off onto a side road. I was so dumb it never occurred to me that he might have something else in mind. I realized that I had gotten myself into a precarious situation once again. I begin to fidget and nervously spoke up “Where are we going? This is not the way to Carlsbad. You know I am only sixteen.” And on I went chattering as fast as I could. Suddenly the man slammed on his brakes. A sheepish grin came over his face and he blurted out. “I don't know why, but I can't do to you what I had planned. I am very tired, do you want to drive?” “Sure,” I responded. It was as if someone had put a spell on him and made him go to sleep. It would be years before I understood where that protection had come from.
I had never driven much, in fact I did not have a license.
Wow! The mountainous roads were quite challenging especially at dark. I sped carelessly through the night navigating the curves and steep inclines with abandoned recklessness. Freedom at last. I drove eight hours, all the way to Carlsbad, New Mexico. As soon as I got close to Grandma Garland's I pulled the van over. My passenger had been passed out the entire night. When I slowed to a stop he popped his head up from the back seat. “Where are we?” he inquired. “We are in Carlsbad. Thank you for the ride. I am out of here.” Before he could even respond, I slammed the car door and took off.


Grandma was surprised to see me rocking on the porch when she opened the door to get her milk that the milk man faithfully left twice a week. “My child, you startled me.” What in the world? Where did you come from? Oh, my, you have run away, haven't you?” She bombarded me with questions before I could respond to any of them. Grandma was wise. She had seen problems ever since she had been part of the family and was not surprised by my decision to leave home. After breakfast we went to Western Union to wire a telegram to my parents telling them where I was. We also wired Grandma Bonner asking her to send me the money for a bus ticket to Meridian.
As the bus traveled through the hot mountains of New Mexico and Texas to the soft, green, rolling hills of Alabama, my body began to relax. Life would be better now. I could go back to school and get my high school diploma. That was very important to me. I was not satisfied to be a dumb country girl. I desired to make something of myself and a diploma was the first step. I had missed Grandma Bonner and her family so much.
She was the picture perfect grandmother. She loved children and had the sweetest disposition. Her life had not been easy, though. Grandpa died of a cerebral hemorrhage leaving her the rest of their twelve children to raise. Their first born daughter, Bernice, had died at age two. Her second oldest son was captured by the Germans in World War II. Two of her daughters and a grandson had been killed by lightning. Her only remaining daughter had been mentally unstable form having to give up her baby as a young teenager. Her home had even burned to the ground one day while they were all away. She walked through each of these trials with amazing grace and her life saying was, “This too shall pass.”


Once again my hopes were dashed when reality caught up with my dreams. Grandma was sick and was trying to raise her two remaining sons on $126 a month. Raymond, who was two years older than me had just started working construction. David and I were the same age, sixteen, and Grandma wanted him to finish out his schooling. David and I were very close. He had the same spirit as Grandma Bonner. He was funny and compassionate. We always had a good time together.
“You are welcomed to stay here, child,” Grandma said. “But you have to get a job. I'm sorry, but I just can't feed another mouth.” Her kind, gentle eyes filled with tears. “I know things have been hard for you. I wish I could do more. I can give you lots of love!” My check brushed against hers wiping the lone tear that had escaped from her eye. The warm embrace let me know that everything was going to be alright. My stay there would have been perfect except for – you guessed it – Aunt Laverne!
She nagged me about everything. According to her, I was a flussie and would end up “in the family way.” None of us knew of her secret so we didn't have a clue why she would go on about such things. I had to sleep with her at night and after lecturing me about being a good girl she would yell at me if I even slightly moved.
All was okay, though, because I got a job at Kresses, a nickel and dime store. It had been easy finding a job because in was Thanksgiving and they were hiring part time employees for Christmas. The manager put me at the candy counter because I could reach over the tall candy bends. I loved interacting with people. No matter their disposition, they were all happy buying candy. My talkative personality blossomed and I actually began to enjoy life for the first time since my Mama died. I made $21 a week. Twenty cents a day went to ride the bus back and forth to work, six dollars bought dinner, and I paid Grandma three dollars a week for room and board.
David and I stared going to dances on the weekends. I loved to dance. Now this was what I called a party, a far cry from the last one I had been to at the skating rink. I felt so liberated. Here I was, young and pretty, and free from my daddy's oppression. I definitely could turn heads with my dance moves, and all the guys wanted to dance with me. I longed for attention from a man and this seemed like a good way to get it. Life was good.
During my free time at work when I had no customers I began to daydream of the future. I would marry a tall, dark, handsome man . We would live in a small town in a little white frame house with a front porch loaded with hanging baskets of beautiful flowers. I didn't want to have children, though. I would not dare take the chance that they would be raised like me. It just wouldn't be fair to them.
I met two girls right away and we became fast friends. Sybil was engaged to get married so we didn't hang out as much. Nell and I worked in the same area of the store so we saw each other often. We would meet on the weekends at the dance hall or go to the movies together. Nell had a twin brother, Dell. He was a doll and drove a beautiful red car. It didn't matter to me if he was twenty years old. I had taken a liking to older men anyway. I never would tell anyone how old I was. Even though I was only sixteen, everyone thought I was at least eighteen to twenty years old. So Dell asked me out and we began to date.
Sybil happened to stop by the candy counter one day to inform me that she had a cousin in the Air force that was coming to see her during the Christmas holidays. She asked me if I would be interested in going out with him when he was here. He was twenty three years old and his name was Billy Todd. I told her no, that Dell and I were dating.
It turned out that Billy was not interested at the time anyway, so we never met during his break. Christmas came and went. Fifty of us girls had been hired specifically for the holiday rush and all but one was let go. The manager called me into his office and commended me on the great job I had done. He offered me a full time job. I was so excited! I knew this move to Mississippi was right and good things were beginning to fall in place.
At the end of January, Sybil received a letter from Billy. He asked her to give his address to that Mexican girl. She had told him that I had long, black hair and big brown eyes. He assumed I was Mexican. I took the address because I liked to write and already had a couple of pen pals. My first letter to him was long and detailed about my life. He was still in service so he found my letter to be amusing. He wrote me back right away, and that began our two month letter relationship.
Aunt Laverne met me at the door one evening when I got off work. “Now Eloise,” she began to lecture as only she could do, “ there is a place in town called the Rat Race. It's really the American Legion Hall, but I've heard tell that there are awful things that go on there. I better not catch you putting one foot in that door.” Aunt Laverene was oblivious to the fact that I had already developed a love for honky tonk places. Her threat only stirred up curiosity in me. I had heard of the Rat Race and was eager to try it out. I found out that Raymond and one of his buddies went there sometimes and I talked them into taking me with them. I was hooked after my first time and went every weekend. Raymond would drop me off if he wasn't staying and pick me up at 11:30pm.
One night he forgot about me and I didn't know how I was going to get home. It was already later than I should have been out. I asked Marie, a new friend I had made if her and her boyfriend would take me home. They were not ready to leave yet, but Glen, one of their friends would take me. It was way past midnight when we pulled up to my house. In my hurry to get in the house I left my coat and purse in his car. I sneaked in and was able to slip into bed with out waking up the old tyrant, Aunt Laverne. I breathed a sigh of relief and drifted off to sleep, proud of my prowess.
Early the next morning Grandma was awaken by a banging on the door.
“I need to see Eloise, right now,” this stranger demanded. Grandma came and woke me up. “Some lady is here to see you,” she said annoyingly. I walked into the living room and there stood a lady that I had never seen before. “Come go with me.” Her tone was angry. “No,” I told her emphatically. “I don't know who you are.” She raised her voice, “Come with me now.” “Don't be so loud,” I answered. “My grandma is sick and she doesn't need to hear all of this.” “Well, I”ll just tell your grandmother where you were last night and who you were with.” I led her to the door and we walked to her car. She reached in the call and pulled out my coat and purse. “Are these yours”? I nodded. “What were they doing in my husband's car?” she interrogated. “I will teach you to fool around with my husband. Now get in the car.” I was scared to death, but what choice did I have. I was sure Aunt Laverne's wrath would have been worse. I hollered in the door that I would be right back.
On the way to her apartment, she showed me two ticket stubs she had gotten from my purse. I tired to explain that my aunt and I had gone to the movies together just the day before. She was not buying that story. I never did have a good track record of being believed. When we got to her apartment she made me go in the bedroom where her husband and her baby were asleep. She began to beat on him yelling at him to wake up. He jerked around to find me, almost a stranger, standing at the foot of his bed. His wife stood over him screaming like a crazy woman. The baby began to cry so she calmed down. After much explaining we finally convinced her that her husband had only given me a ride to Grandma's.
Monday morning at work my first customer ordered fifteen cents worth of M&Ms. Right away I recognized her as Glen's wife. She had not really noticed who I was until she started to pay. She threw the M&Ms at me! I must have run into that woman everywhere I went for the next few weeks. I was always very nice and assured her that I was not after her husband. I felt sorry for her because he was cheating on her, but it wasn't with me.
Marie set me up with a hunk of a man soon after that, but failed to tell me that he was married. During our date as soon as I found out I made him bring me home. It seemed like I attracted married men. They were all the time hitting on me and asking me out.
I still liked Dell but he found out how old I was and thought he was too old for me. He liked to drink a good bit and said he didn't want to bring me down. So we quit dating. By the end of March Billy had decided he wanted to meet me. He wrote and asked me if we could meet. We set up a date for Saturday night. When he got to Meridian he went by Kresses to find Sybil, his cousin. He wanted her to point me out so he could get a preview before our date. He said if he didn't like what he saw he would not show up that evening. I got off early that day to change from my white uniform so I would not be late. He just missed seeing me. He must have like what he saw on our first date because he kept coming back time and time again.
I liked him, too. He was getting out on the Air Force in June. He had been looking for a job, but could not find one. Before going into the Air Force he had worked for his Uncle Hilton on a candy route in Greenwood, Mississippi. Reenlisting in the Air Force was an option he was tossing around. We were getting very serious by this time. He treated me like a queen. I thought he was the most wonderful man I had ever met. I didn't want to date anyone else. I was in love with him. We talked about our years of growing up and I told him that I never wanted to have children or have to move all the time because I had moved so much already. After talking over our dreams and desires, Billy decided not to reenlist in the Air Force because it would require moving a lot around the country. He didn't realize at the time, but I would have followed him anywhere.
We got along so well even though he was six years older than me. My age had not come up before now and he was shocked to find out that I had just turned seventeen a couple of months before in March. It was too late, though, I had already hooked him! One night as we made our way to The Spot, a drive in car hop, he asked me, “If I don't go back into the Air Force, will you marry me?” “Oh, yes,” I squealed with delight. As we talked about our future together his eyes twinkled and a smile danced across his face. I was the luckiest girl in the world. Little did I know that tragedy was lurking in the distance.
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2011, 03:14:56 PM »

These last two chapters are very disjointed. At this point mom is just trying to get it all typed up and then work on the story flow.
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2011, 02:17:02 AM »

The only reason I'm aware of this thread is my Junto bot that searches for the term "menstrual cycle".
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16:26:25 [DownSouth] I'm in a monkey rutt
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