Sunday, May 18, 2008

Earliest Memories, Mississippi and Uncle Sam

During the summer of '65 my Father packed up the family's belongings, rented our house on the farm to strangers and moved the family to Jackson, Mississippi. For several years I thought the memories surrounding our Mississippi days were my earliest conscious memories. However, I realized one day while talking with my mother, that another memory pre-dated these.

I remember seeing Ann, the daughter of an old black man [that's not racism, it's a recalling of adjectives used during the time/place--apologies extended to anyone who may be offended!] named Sam who worked for my Papaw--we knew him as Uncle Sam--, standing in the kitchen, just inside the back door where the sunlight streamed through the window panes making half of her licorice dark body appear chocolate. [That's a delicious lingering!] Mother told me that Ann used to babysit for us, the four girls -- yes, another had been Felita, Mary, Belinda, Pauline.  Click for larger image. born before we moved to Mississippi.

Back to Uncle Sam for a moment, one of my sisters told me a few years later that he really wasn't our Uncle. I did not believe her and the wild story upset me so that I ran crying to my mother to tell her of the horrible thing she was saying. This was when I learned that skin colour did have something to do with somethings. It was a sad day.

As for conscious memories, while in Mississippi I met my two older sisters, Felita and Mary, my eldest half-brother, George (my father's son) and my mother. I don't know if the sequence of events is actual yet, they all occur within a three month period (our total time in Mississippi).

I remember watching Felita walk towards the house in her stiffly starched blue plaid dress, returning from a little boy's birthday party. I recall thinking how pretty she looked and how lucky she was to have attended a birthday party.

I remember being behind the house on a concrete slab which was in front of some other storage-type building on the property. Mary was there also and had just been stung by a bee -- a bumble bee I believe. I watched with tears streaming down my face as George pulled out of the driveway in his old green, bulbous looking car, taking Mary to McDonalds -- because she was stung by the bee. I recall thinking he could have taken me also. I didn't think you had to be stung by a bee to go to McDonalds.

And lastly, I remember standing in the middle of a basin, water running, my mother's hand holding onto one of my arms, her pregnant stomach, the cold cloth and the blood flowing from my face, over my lips, off the chin and further down my naked body. I was crying. Yes, it was fright but at the same time I felt safe -- my mother was taking care of me. I also remember thinking she was pretty. (Wonder why that sticks in my memory -- with she and Felita.) Mother tells me I had fallen down on that concrete slab and busted my nose quite severely. I don't remember the fall. However, I had some pretty healthy reoccurring nose bleeds into my teen years.

On our return from Mississippi (due to complications in Mother's pregnancy), my memory meets Daddy. He was in the driver's seat, driving up the driveway to our house--the one on the farm, the one he had rented to strangers. There were kids playing in our sandbox! I remember thinking they shouldn't have been there in our sandbox. But of course, they were living there. Not for long.

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