Tag Archives: laughter

Miss Rosalie…

Miss Rosalie was in my Nana’s Sunday School class. Which, of course, meant that she knew me. One day, I told Nana that I had somehow come across a pomegranate, and that I liked them. Well, Miss Rosalie mentioned one day in Sunday School that her pomegranate tree was in bloom. So, of course Nana asked if she would bring me a pomegranate when the fruit came in. I knew Miss Rosalie was a hardy soul. She walked to church every week. Granted it was only a few boulevard blocks, but she always walked. She was a cute, little bitty thing who lived in this neat, little brick home on “the boulevard.” In the 70’s, the time of my pomegranate story, the Boulevard had fallen on hard times. Most of the homes had or we’re beginning to wrinkle and sag like their owners. Some no longer housed the most  upstanding. But Miss Rosalie paid no never mind to that and refused many a church lady’s offer of a ride and walked on…”Kept her healthy,” she contended. Well, of course, Miss Rosalie brought me a pomegranate. I had never seen an actual tree, much less the actual tree my pomegranate came from. So Mama and I drove by Miss Rosalie’s after church one day. I was thinking of a bush like tree, so was Mama, based on any pomegranate tree she had ever seen. But it was a giant, surely planted along the new Boulevard in 1910 or so. We so hoped my fruit had dropped down from one of the  high branches that seemed to hold my pomegranate’s brothers and sisters. The next week at church we asked Miss Rosalie about her tree, how long it had been in her yard, etc. “Do you have many more pomegranates falling right now?” we asked. “Falling?” They don’t fall ’til they are near gone bad,” she offered to our ignorance. “Miss Rosalie, how did you reach Kim’s pomegranate?” my Mama pressed. “Don’t you worry about that…I get ’em all the time. Besides, since that good one was sort of high, I made sister hold the ladder for me.” Obviously, her walking was working for her…Miss Rosalie climbed a ladder way up that pomegranate tree for me…People did lots of crazy, kind stuff for me, like it was nothing…right regular. We calculated later that Miss Rosalie had been … she would not let on exactly…ninety-six at the time.

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Miss Irene and Miss Brenda…

My mama, well, all of us really, have these friends: Miss Irene and Miss Brenda. We all  lived in the same neighborhood growing up, Green Acres. Yep, that really is the name and it was pretty perfect. Miss Irene and Miss Brenda lived in the “old” part of Green Acres with us for about ten years,  then they moved to the “new” part with us. By old I mean pre-1970 houses, by new, I mean post -1970 houses. The moved gained us each about 500 square feet and an extra, non-converted car port, living space. Now when I say Miss Irene and Miss Brenda moved…I mean that their families who had lived next door in the “old,” moved next door to one another in the “new,” of course. You just had to know the inseperableness of Miss Irene and Miss Brenda. They each had several: 3, 4, or 5 children, I forget exactly.  But the kids kinda lived in flux between the houses.  It was Kids Central. They liked it that way. And when their own kids took off to school, Miss Irene and Miss Brenda went back, of course  to teaching more kids. Enough background. These two are a scream and so central to so many impacting events or subtle influences in my life. Miss Irene taught me kindergarten. Miss Brenda gave me my first job, babysitting part of her crew. Miss Irene was the type of southern woman who never, did I say never? exited her home without makeup, a full on effort. She was in spite of the obvious famial chaos perfectly coifferd and painted. And I don’t that think she ever “went under” at the pool. That would have compromised her unblemished record. Miss Irene is a sweet lady, who was not ever in a hurry, and as far I as I know, didn’t really cook. (She had gone to some uppity girls school in Virgina or something.) Which is fine if you have a cook, but did I mention where we lived. There were no cooks, in Green Acres. What she did have was a professor (southern grown I might add) husband who did cook for the family. It was a mystifying thing…for us neighbor children. Her women friends were amazed and were always commenting upon the oddity and her good fortune. When Laura, my sister, was in first grade, she was injured on the playground, badly. They were playing tug of war and the rope tore her hand apart, literally. My mother could not be found.  I, the 4th grader, was called in to solve the problem. No, they did not rush Laura in terrible pain and obvious injury to the hospital, not without parental permission. I had to find someone to take her??? I called Miss Irene. She came on some bolt of lightning and took us to the hospital. From the hospital, we called anywhere we could think to find my mother and grandmother. Finally, someone called the other hospital…they located my mother, in the ER with my grandmother and grandfather, who had one lung and was unable to breathe, due to an onset of Pneumonia. My mother, never a calm or stoic personality, rushed to our hospital. She was quite distraught but able to sign papers so that emergency surgery could commence on Laura’s hand. I still cannot focus on that day without waves of spiritual nausea. Miss Irene kept Laura calm and ran interference for me with my Mama for days…did I say how emotional my mother was prone to be? Daddy took a couple of days to get back…it was winter and a huge blizzard had shut down all the airports. Thankfully, for me, Mama stayed with Laura, who seemed okay; my mother, not so much. She was back and forth between hospitals, very concerned about both patients…He father was in poor shape, her child was in great pain. It was tough. Miss Irene took pity and took me up and out of it all. I was pretty scared for Laura, the emergency surgery was just the beginning of the surgeries, treatments that she would need. And my grandfather, Dada ( see my blog about him), was, I could discern, not responding well to treatment. Mama or Nana slipped and let on to someone in my earshot, that he was asking for me…over and over. They never let me up to his floor. Why my germs were more deadly than my Mama’s or grandmother’s no one could tell me. But I was refused. I think that they have since changed that rule. Dada had a heart attack and left me that week, without a goodbye…in that damn hospital. Laura was in the care of the nuns and brothers at St. Mary’s Catholic Hospital…They let me up…Years later…when Nana was dying…they brought my kids in to see her, even unconscious. Any justice/mercy callings in me where fertilized by those sisters. And I have not willingly entered or sought care at the regional hospital since.

Miss Brenda was from Camden, Alabama, one step short of heaven, she contended. Although Brenda had graduated from the University of Georgia, had married a pharmacist who was a fine and gentle man, had raised three kind children and had been a teacher, her real claim to fame and proudest moment she explained occurred during her senior year in high school. It happened on the fifty yard line, when she successfully twirled her fire batons in front of a home-town crowd. “It was a crowning achievement in Alabama,” she explained to us non-Alabamans…”You have no idea how big a deal that was. Hardly, anyone ever gets to twirl fire batons at a game. And you do know, don’t you? that twirling is the thing in Alabama.” I figured twirling was pretty prevalent in Alabama..but I had no idea until I moved here and attended several small town Christmas parades how very true Miss Brenda’s assessment had been. She is probably considered a goddess in Camden. She was a short, cute figured brunette with a bounce in her step and charm in her voice. She loved to entertain people, any age, even all ages all at once. Her yard and house were always filled with toys, food and folks. Here is my favorite story about Miss Brenda. We, the neighbor folks, were gathered at Miss Brenda’s for Millie’s third or fourth birthday party. Miss Brenda had elaborately decorated the dining room in high style: streamers of fine ribbon, balloons and fresh flowers…it was gorgeous and all the real deal. The table was set with the most beautiful and dainty china I have ever seen, the stemware was tall and obviously sang angelically. At each pre-schoolers place was the usual set up of sterling, complete with napkin rings. That was not so extravagant to me…beautiful, but not all together eye popping. My grandmother and godmothers each purchased me a piece of sterling cutlery on every birthday and Christmas. But what happened next sets me to laughing in wonder, even now. Miss Brenda called out from the kitchen, where she was preparing parfait glasses with fruit or something, for me  to bring her a serving spoon from the buffet. “Yes, mam,” I called back. I went to the great buffet which probably once set in General  T.R.R. Cobb’s House. “It’s in the top drawer,” she hollered anew. I grabbed the two ringed pulls and applied what I thought would be appropriate pressure. It didn’t budge. It wasn’t stuck. It was full. The drawer, about five feet wide and two feet deep, was literally filled with haphazardly arranged, sterling silver serving spoons, forks and tongs of every and all varieties. I had found what Sherman had not. In Miss Brenda’s modest home, decorated tastefully with antebellum Georgian style furnishing and Fisher Price occasionals, was probably hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sterling serving pieces. Mind you, all that drawer contained was serving pieces. The rest, the big stuff: trays, water pitchers, goblets, candlesticks were still at Mama Cobb’s. This was just her party stash, she laughed when I asked had she thought to insure that drawer? “Who would rob us?” she countered. I agreed, her home always awash with kids was hardly the kind of place serious thieves expected to find fine antiques and precious metals. Miss Brenda and Mr. Nubin (his nickname, he was the smallest Cobb child) sent their children to college at the University of Georgia and Birmingham Southern and then one on to law school. I imagine she might have had to sell a spoon or two…

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