The Flowering Vine: To Mary !




This is the most recent addition to our family’s story, as told through “The Flowering Vine” series.  If you haven’t already, please be sure to read:

The Flowering Vine:  A Family Story

The Flowering Vine:  Mother Speaks

Today’s story, written by Ron, is about our Great-Great Grandmother Mary, our Great-Grandmother Lula, and our Grandfather Leroy (Mother’s husband).


Lady G 😘💋



Let other bards of angels sing, 

Bright suns without a spot; 

But thou art no such perfect thing: 

Rejoice that thou art not!

-William Wordsworth

The year is 1910, but 1910 is not where the story began, but it is where the story is; like an old, sepia-colored photograph that has somehow rumbled magically to life and has shaken off its sepia suit to don a cloak of many colors; a multi-colored cloak rivaling the one which inspired so much treachery and envy amongst Joseph’s brothers; a cloak in “living color”.

At one of the countless crossroads in time, an old buckboard wagon; drawn by two tired, black mules, rolled bumpily down the dusty, winding way, which went from the “big house”—where old Marse Hatfield lived and where he sold goods from the plantation’s “store”—down the gently sloping hill towards the patchwork of parcels on Hatfield’s ample acreage; down to the battered barns on failing farms, occupied by the down-trodden denizens who sharecropped there.

The wagon, heavily laden with sundry dry goods and various vitals, purchased at the “store”, carried an even more precious cargo than the farm life fundamentals. It also toted life on board, for the black mules were driven to tow the toddling wagon, by the firm brown hands and booming voice of the formidable “head-of-household”, Miss Mary!

Heed not tho’ none should call thee fair; 

So, Mary, let it be 

If nought in loveliness compare 

With what thou art to me.

Riding shotgun for Miss Mary, was her good friend and widowed sister-in-law, Ella; while sitting, squatting, laying, dangling, and napping, on the rear of the wagon, were six of the seven children of the immutable matron and her sister-friend Ella. Mary’s oldest son, Jim, had stayed home on the farm, for there was always a mountain of work to be done for a sharecropper and he, by default, was the man of the house.

Mary’s second oldest—her golden skinned, mulatto daughter Lula—sat with her back to the others and her shapely, cream-colored legs, dangling from the open-ended back of the wagon and her pretty, bare-feet, barely brushing along the top of the dirt road passing slowly beneath her. A light trail of dust marked her passing, as it lifted from the road then whirled briefly, before becoming intermingled with the larger cloud, whipped up by the weighty wagon’s wooden wheels.

She had been charged by Mary to; “Keep an eye on the little ones Lula!” but the cool feel of the dust beneath her toes and the wiggling and giggling of the ten-month-old boy sitting in her lap, with his head full of straight, jet-black hair blowing in the gentle breeze, demanded all of her attention. His name was Leroy, and he was simultaneously; sweet, irresistible, and a whole, big handful, for he was a bundle of energy; always moving, grabbing, pulling, and trying to escape his young mother’s loving arms.

Also on the back of the wagon was Mary’s youngest son, the quiet, and sometimes sullen eight-year-old, Coley, and Ella’s rambunctious crew consisting of: seven-year-old Eddie, five-year-old Jesse, three-year-old Willie, and Ella’s baby boy; bad-assed little Pleas, at a squirming, one and a half, but going on twenty-years-old!

These four boys were Ella’s love—and Ella’s curse! A constant reminder that their father had been killed, while serving in the post-Civil War Army. However, he didn’t die in battle, for no battle had been fought during his lifetime. The army sent Ella a letter—along with his body which was contained within a pine box marked in bold, black letters, “PROPERTY OF US ARMY: FRAGILE” and that was it.

However, many—who swam regularly in “Rumor Mill Pond”—circulated a different story. They said that Ella’s husband had been killed by grown-assed White men dressed as “ghosts”, who variably called themselves; “Ghost Riders”, “Night Riders”, or “Knight Riders”, but knights, in the true sense of the word, they most certainly were not!

True beauty dwells in deep retreats, 

Whose veil is unremoved 

Till heart with heart in concord beats, 

And the lover is beloved. 

William Wordsworth

…to be continued



46 thoughts on “The Flowering Vine: To Mary !

  1. Pingback: The Flowering Vine: The Reaper – seekthebestblog

  2. Bitter-sweet. I love your story telling. Induces waves of nostalgia and being small around Big People talking about the past and taking you to far away places, another time, another place. If there were degrees earned in story telling, you would graduate with honours. Hope you don’t mind me putting in my tuppence-worth re the “mulatto” question. I find it makes me really angry, but in a very controlled way. It’s as if the days of slavery never quite leaves and shuts the door.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I completely understand Ron and I realise that it’s all in context. Thank you for explaining your view. I suppose in reading your comment “it’s not a bad word”, I just wanted to say although I know the word isn’t “bad”, but it’s the connotation that make it sound offensive and reminds me of the legacy of slavery as these words were used liberally to define different types of grading the origins of Black people.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Woebegone but Hopeful

    Gwin and Ron you are painting vivid and rich pictures with words.
    Hats off to Ron for once more taking me to another time and place..’TimeTunnel’ is just the right phrase.
    All the best

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aww… Thanks, Susan. but I can’t take the credit here.
      This one was written by Ron 🙂
      You know, a blogger once labeled him “The Black Mark Twin.”
      This post shows why that is a valid title!
      I am amazed at the way he tells a story. The imagery is sublime!

      Even though I know the outcome, I am, like everybody else, sitting on the edge of my seat –wanting to read more.
      Thanks for supporting the series!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Tareau Barron

        Why I gotta be bigheaded Lady G? Man brotha on vacay getting roasted hahaha. Where’s the love? Lady G mad cause she would probably not be hospitable when visiting. You would have to sleep in the fields and use the outhouse. Hahahahhaha

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh my, a cliff hanger! What a great story! I have so many questions! You don’t have to answer me, but I do have to ask, :D.

    Okay, so, I see what happened to Ella’s husband (heartbreaking, bless), but what about Mary’s husband to make Jim the man of the house? Who belongs to Lula and who belongs to Leroy (Ron, Gwin)? Oh my, I would so love to see your family tree for story’s sake, hehe! I don’t understand the mulatto reference? Will that come out in the story? Are all of Mary’s children mulatto? (is that a bad word?)

    I mean no disrespect and don’t mean to be nosy with the above questions, but I just love true history stories, and this is so fascinating! Ron, once the story is told, you should put in print… you are that good of a writer!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi, Paula! I started to post a family tree but I was afraid it might bore folks so I just wrote a bit background in the purple above the post.

      I also did not want to spoil the story because Ron might have a plan for how things are revealed.
      BTW, you are correct, the term ‘mulatto’ is not an appropriate term to use these days. However, it was the word of choice to describe biracial people back in those days. In fact, that is how they were identified on the US census.

      Unless they went up North and passed for White; but that’s another story 😉

      Having said that, I will go ahead and tell you that Mary is Lula’s mother. Leroy is Lula’s son. Both Ron and I belong to Leroy (LOL! ) He is our Grandfather: His middle daughter is Ron’s mother and his youngest son is my father. You’ve already been introduced to them via their writings on our respective blogs 🙂

      I really love your interest in our story! Thank you so much for reading these 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Ahhh, I get it now!! I just wanted to make sure I knew how everyone went together, 😀 (while I was reading it, I kept referencing your explanation of relationship)
        I read your post where you described you had a bit of everything in your bloodline and I found that fascinating as well! This is such a fabulous series!! 😀

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Hi Paula and thanks for the compliment. I’m so glad that you found the story interesting. I’ll try to answer a couple of your questions;

      Mary’s “husband” will be explained, probably in my next post on “The Flowering Vine”.

      Leroy is both Gwin’s and my Grandfather.

      Gwin’s post last week, gives some added insight, by way of context, on the mulatto issue.

      However, it will come out more in my next post on TFV.

      Yes, Mary’s children are all mulatto, and no it is not a bad word, but thanks for asking.

      Once again, thanks

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Dear Ron, may I say respectfully that though mulatto in itself is not a bad word, it is not a good word either. It was one of the many terms used by non-black people to describe black people who had other racial heritages as well as African heritage. I personally don’t like the term along with all the other descriptions: quadroons,(would you believe that the point I am trying to make is going to be slightly confused because I can’t remember all the other “oons”, I should really do my research before adding my comments:), I hope you’ll forgive me this) etc. I prefer bi-racial, tri-racia etcl if it is necessary to give an account of the person’s ethnicity. Respectfully, Marie

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Hi Lady Marie:

          Sorry for interrupting your convo with Ron.

          But I did want to warn you that you best grab a hold of your seat because we are going to address all the “oons” –ad nauseum. LOL!!!
          But all of that will be revealed in a later installment. No peeking 😉

          Anyway, you will continue to hear us use the term “mulatto” for this series as this was the term used by US census takers.

          That said, Black people (Outside of New Orleans) in the Southern US, even then, did not typically refer to mixed people as mulatto–they simply said, “He/she is half white.”

          That is pretty much still the case.

          As for the “oons” that was more of a Creole/New Orleans thing—Les gens de couleur libres (the free people of color).

          In Alabama, the census takers didn’t bother with calculating racial percentages. Though there are creoles down around Mobile, AL. 🙂

          Anyway, thank you so much for reading and supporting this series.

          Based on your comments and others, I now realize that we are telling the story of so many descendents of the African diaspora; so many people can relate–worldwide!

          Much love and light to you!

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Hi Lady G! Can I say I adore you???! I love your sense of fun and your intelligence! Yaaaasssssss! Love the way you said you’ll be addressing all the other “oons”. Priceless! ha ha

          Thanks for the details about the question of colour and how it was seen in different States. Very educational indeed!

          Much love and light to you, my love – Marie
          Oh, I was forgetting! Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your lovely family. You asked me in another comment, if we had something similar in the UK and the answer is no, but Christmas will be our next big celebratory period.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. Awww….You already know the feeling is mutual.
          I love the fact that we can learn from each other. There is so much that I’d like to know about the experiences of my sisters and brothers who traveled from the Caribbean to the UK.
          I think you’d be an excellent teacher in that respect.
          Nothing but love to you Lady M!
          Love you to pieces 💞

          Liked by 2 people

        4. Lady G, I was not expecting to hear from you today, it being Thanksgiving an’ all!:))) I’m not sure that I could do justice to your comment about writing about the experiences of those that travelled from the Caribbean to the UK. I know about my family and friends personal stories but I think I would need to put a lot of energy and research into looking at the whole process of emigration to Britain. I’m not sure if I have what it takes at present. Maybe it’s something to put in my ‘pending tray’. :))
          Lots of love to you Lady G and hope Thanksgiving is a ball!!!
          Love you back, honey. Lady M xxx

          Liked by 1 person

        5. I think anyone could relate to this story (even us all-whites lol). I am blown away by the power of Ron’s prose. The manner in which he weaves the story is as compelling as the story itself – even out of order, as it came to me through the “Nite before” post.

          This simply MUST be published (besides online, I mean). I, too, can see a blockbuster movie version – despite the bittersweet overtones, it is SO heart-warmingly filmic. Get it to Oprah!

          In ANY case, Ron – as you go forward with this story, stay in touch with my blog and let me know what would be best to link to in next year’s Christmas series. It would be an honor to share your work with my readers (many of whom are writers).

          I plan to go back and add a link to the your ‘Nite Before to my ADD version and the “coming soon” post (both still get hits). I have already begun to repost it yearly (I change the Related Content links, but yours will REMAIN)
          (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
          – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
          “It takes a village to transform a world!”

          Liked by 2 people

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