Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Family stories

Saturday night, after our activities were done for the day, we were all hanging out in my uncle's den. Biscuit was watching a movie in the living room, perfectly content to be spending some time alone.

And Mama and my Uncle started telling stories about themselves and our family members.

One story my uncle shared was that he was in the Air Force before he ever saw pizza. It was in the mid-60s, and he was in Orlando, Fla., and saw a pizza for the first time.

"All I could think was that cheese and tomatoes, that just didn't seem like a good combination," he said. He doesn't have that opinion now!

Then Mama was telling about when they were kids, living in the mill village. Back then, whole neighborhoods would be built near a factory, so the workers would be close enough to walk to work. It also meant built-in friends for Mama and her brother and sister. There were always other kids around to play with.

Mama was telling about when Granny worked second shift at the mill. She said Granny would cook up some vegetables, and Grandaddy would make biscuit dough. But instead of making round biscuits, he would just spread out the dough in a 9x13 pan and bake it. When it was done, he would slice it into squares, just like a sheetcake. My uncle said it had the best crust on it.

After dinner (or supper, as they call it), Grandaddy would sit in the porch swing while Mama and the other kids played. Grandaddy would fall asleep in the swing, and they'd just keep playing.

Granny's shift would end at midnight. Mama said the big whistle would blow, and you could hear it all over the village. So the kids would all take off running and jump in their beds, filthy as can be. But they'd rather go to bed dirty than get caught still playing when Granny got home.

Mama told about them getting bicycles for Christmas one year. There was nowhere to hide them at Granny's house, so Grandaddy put them at my Great Aunt and Great Uncle's house. And in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, Grandaddy, Uncle Harvey and Uncle D.D. rode those little-kid bicycles from my Aunt and Uncle's house to Granny and Grandaddy's house.

"I would've paid money to see that!" Mama said.

Then they moved on to the stupid kid stuff.

I've said before that I don't know how my brother and I are still alive. We did stupid things like putting an old mattress underneath the door of the hay loft, then jumped! It's the equivalent of jumping out of a second-floor window onto a mattress. I'm surprised one of us didn't break something!

But I felt a little better when I found out that my Mama and her siblings and her friends did stupid things, too.

Mama said they used to walk down to the park, where there were rows of concrete picnic tables. They used to start at one end and run and jump from table to table all the way to the other end.

"If one of us had slipped, and hit our head, it would've killed us!" Mama said.

There was also a big cast iron drain pipe that ran through the park and sat up on pylons. And it got higher and higher as it went along. They used to climb up on it and walk it as far as they could. But I guess walking in bare feet wasn't good enough because they decided to walk it in their roller skates!

"We had to turn our feet sideways with our skates on to walk it," my Uncle said. "It's a wonder we hadn't broke our necks!"

But they saved the best story for last.

My Great-Grandfather (who Mama calls PawPaw) was in the hospital. So my Grandaddy and his brothers took Great-Granny Ella up to see him. Well, Granny Ella had never been on an elevator before, and rightly so, she was nervous.

So they all piled in and rode up to the floor where PawPaw was. The doors opened, and they got off. Well, everybody but Granny Ella got off. And by the time everybody turned around to look for her, there she was, standing in the back of the elevator and the doors were sliding shut. They didn't catch her in time, and away the elevator car went.

So the brothers all ran down the stairs to try to catch her.

They made it to the lobby just in time to see a flash of Granny Ella as the elevator doors were sliding shut again. And away she went, back upstairs.

Well, the brothers took off up the stairs after her.

I'm not sure how many times this happened before they finally got her off the thing, but it didn't matter. Just the thought of that poor woman being paralyzed with fear to the point that she couldn't step out of that new-fangled moving box! It sounds like something out of a sitcom, not somebody's real life.

Biscuit was sad when I told him that his Grandmama and Uncle were telling stories and he didn't get to hear them. But it made him feel a whole lot better when I whispered and told him that I had recorded a bunch of the stories on my phone without them knowing about it!

I wish I could post one of the stories, but sadly, the TV was on in the background, and it's hard to hear them over John Wayne and Kirk Douglas. But between their thick Georgia accents and the stories they had to tell, it was an evening of entertainment.

No comments: