The Flowering Vine: Mary, Don’t You Weep


Mary, Don’t You Weep

Oh, Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you mourn.

Oh, Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you mourn.

Didn’t Pharaoh’s army get drowned?

Oh, Mary, don’t you weep.

Cheer up, sisters and don’t you cry.

There’ll be good times bye and bye.

Didn’t Pharaoh’s army get drowned?

Oh, Mary, don’t you weep.

(Aretha Franklin – Mary, Don’t You Weep)

“Why didn’t he come Lee?”, Bernard asked his older brother plaintively. “Don’t you understand ‘Nard? There ain’t no such thing as Sandy Clause, probably nevah wuz”, replied Leroy, in a voice laden with sadness, disappointment, and a tiny tinge of anger. Always an extremely astute child, in the few hours since finding the empty stockings, he’d come to realize, that Mary’s absence was directly connected to the absence of stuff in their stockings. “Why didn’t Jim tell us?” Leroy whispered under his breath, to no one in particular.

The boys got dressed slowly, lethargically; like two convicts clothing themselves before meeting the hangman. That’s what facing a Christmas Day felt like for two boys begrudged the boon usually associated with Christmastide. Once dressed and outdoors, they sat on the woodpile, staring at the ground; frozen, white breath fleeing their mouths, like souls exiting cold, lifeless bodies.

Then faintly, at first, gradually growing louder, like thunder from an advancing storm, the boys heard it; the unmistakable grumbling rumble of wagons approaching. The boys lifted their heads, straightened their bodies and turned towards the approaching sound. “Hey boys!”, came the liltingly gay voice of Ma Hallie, as her wagon rolled to a halt in front of the house. Pa Babe sat at her side atop the buckboard. Their wagon was followed by the blacksmith’s wagon, the owner of which, pulled sharply on the reins while emitting a hearty, “Whoa mule!”. The sharply dressed figure of Doc McCoo, rode shotgun.

Ma Hallie sprang down from the wagon, dress tail flying, like a sheet hung out to dry on a windy day. She reached in the back of the wagon and pulled out a wicker basket covered with a snow-white cloth. As Ma Hallie approached the boys, the smell of fried chicken marched before her, like an advance guard, striking the boys in their guts, causing their bellies to growl like angered lions. The rest of the group stepped down from the wagons as Jim and Coley exited the house to investigate the commotion.

“Take this basket in the house boys!”, Ma Hallie commanded, an order the boys obeyed with the zeal of Zouaves toadying to some great general. The smithy came forward holding three iron rings of ascending circumference, paired with hooked iron rods, which lengths duplicated the diameters of the hoops. The hoops and rods clanged together musically as the smithy approached Coley and Jim. The blacksmith conveyed the hoops and rods to Coley, along with the instructions; “The big ‘un fer you and the lil’ ‘un fer the youngest ‘un. Give the other’n to that brave boy Leroy”.

The blacksmith’s gifts, forged in his foundry, were called variably; “hoop-and-rod” or “hoop-and-stick”. The rod or stick was used to usher the hoop, as it rolled along the ground in whatever game the hoopsters might be playing; the number and variety of games that could be played with the toy, were limited only by the hoopster’s imagination. They were a common and popular toy among rural children. Some were simply bicycle rims and sticks; few were custom forged like these.

Leroy exited the house, licking his fingers. He’d obviously, taken an advance on a chicken leg, and was now, smiling with satisfaction, but the sight of the hoops elevated his elation. The boys were about to take off down the dusty dirt road with their hoops, when Doc McCoo stepped, abruptly, in front of them. In his hands, he held three, small, burlap bags, which rattled and clicked as he handed them to the boys. “Enjoy”, he enjoined, his grey eyes sparkling over the top of his round, wire-framed spectacles as he looked down at the boys and smiled a huge, pearly-white smile. He then handed Jim a neatly folded, crisp, one dollar bill. Jim thanked Doc profusely, while quickly shoving the buck into his pants pocket.

The younger boys opened their bags and reached in. Inside each bag were seven shiny, bright, multi-colored marbles. The joyful shine in the boy’s eyes rivaled that of the marbles’ that they held in their excitedly trembling hands. Leroy, especially, stared; mesmerized at a quarter-sized, green, and yellow, “Cat’s Eye”, marble. “This one”, he spoke quietly. “This one will be my ‘shooter’. I ain’t gonna never lose a game with this”. This declaration proved to be bona fide; that is, until Coley cut off two of Leroy’s fingers.

To be continued…

141 thoughts on “The Flowering Vine: Mary, Don’t You Weep

  1. You know what Lady G and Mr Do Ron Ron, I’m going to step away from you two love birds. I can see that I’ve put the cat among the pigeons in trying to get a fiancé from this situation. LOL Killing two birds with one stone on this occasion has not worked out for me. I have a few other interested parties (no not Darryl!!! we would be divorced before the engagement even. He would put ‘debates on black hair and white supremacy’ as part of the pre-nup and if I didn’t carry out that conjugal right, he would divorce me in a heartbeat. LOL) hahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaa

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lady G’s talents are endless, Ron. I love the way you killed two birds with one stone here: bigging up her talent and shamelessly (lol) promoting her blog. What a wonderful cousin you are!
        Hey! I met you on a Monday and you looked so fine, dey do RON RON, dey do RON RON…:)))

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yeah, my heart stood still
          Yes, her name was Marie
          And when she walked me home
          Da doo ron-ron-ron, Da doo ron-ron

          (Hope I’m not treading on any toes here: wives, girlfriends, significant others, partners …) lol

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Yea I get ya Lady G. I had major crushes on two of my cousins when I was a kid too! We’re not so different you and I. lol
          So Eric is looking for a nice hardly used lady from the UK? Two owners, plenty of mileage on the clock (shows I know the way, don’t need no sat nav). LOL!!!!!!!!!!

          Liked by 2 people

        3. Oh what a shame both you and Eric are taken! There goes my Green Card. LOL!!!!!! Are there any other brothers in the family that aren’t booed-up, or is there any chance of an un-booing any time soon? LOL
          Ron, it’s good to have a laugh! There is so much heartache and sadness out there, so it’s good to have some fun here.:)

          Liked by 2 people

        4. ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s what I meant Lady G! I’ve forgotten current car parlance.
          You gotta keep up m’lady! Me and Ron are already engaged. LOL
          You need to catch up with the comments! You been fixing dinner for the family? Or watching a soap?
          Me and Ron are engaged and singing alternate verses to ‘da do ron ron’. hahahahahha

          Liked by 2 people

        5. Do you know I’m usually quick to pick upon things like that! But I didn’t notice that you had bequeathed me to Ron. Does that mean your earlier ‘crush’ is dead and buried and I can now lay hold of my inheritance? Haaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Liked by 2 people

        6. You’re still a little behind Lady G. Me and Ron got engaged AFTER he informed me that Eric was booed-up and he was NOT.
          So of course, I took advantage of the situation.
          Ron knows I’m all his! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!
          Do I detect a frisson of jelly osie? ?

          Liked by 2 people

        7. No need to be jealous Lady G. You know you are my first (platonic) love. Girl, if you want me to get un-booed from Ron – it’s done!
          I just hope I haven’t broken his heart.:( It was such a short engagement – I guess he may not have bought the ring yet …. LOL

          Liked by 2 people

        8. You never know what’s lurking in the mind of that one.
          He’s a sly little fox 🙂
          Something tells me he’ll bounce back 🙂
          Either way, little cousin will nurse him back to health if he needs it 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        9. You are so funny! One minute you are all loved up. The next minute he’s a sly little fox. The minute after that, you’re going to nurse him back to health if necessary. Lady G – there’s a lot of mixed messages you’re feeding me. LOL

          Liked by 2 people

        10. So it’s your daughter’s birthday? You both have January birthdays? I could’ve sworn that you mention that your birthday’s in January in an earlier post. You sure are making me work to get this information out of you Lady G! LOL

          Liked by 2 people

        11. Lady G, me and you were getting on so well. Why can’t you just answer a straight question? Is it or is it not your daughter’s birthday?
          I don’t want no riddles for an answer!!! LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!
          I might just go and ask Ron if he still wants us to get together …. hahahahaha

          Liked by 2 people

        12. And we gon’ continue getting along well and you know it!
          We are in too deep Lady M!
          You CANNOT quit me now…I won’t have it!
          Our birthdays are this week but not today! LOL!
          I try to keep the real date on the low-low for privacy reasons 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes, “We telling de bad things meal joke!” I love it. Sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying. Me tink det be one of me grandma’s seyins. LOL (I know said it wrong, but no Jamaicans on my vine unfortunately) 😂😂😂

          Liked by 2 people

        2. I love you Ron!!!! LOL It takes a pretty wonderful sort of person to talk Jamaican (when it isn’t your first language lol) to another Jamaican.
          Your first attempt is Iree (ask Lady G what Iree means lol)
          How you know say, no Jamaicans no dey pon you vine? Jus becarse dem no delare it like me, no mean say you no have none! You mighta surprise when you find out, ya. (How do you know that there are no Jamaicans on your vine? Just because other Jamaicans haven’t declared it like I have done, does not man that there aren’t any. You might be very surprised when you find out.)
          You’re a real sport!!! lol

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I really do love the way you ended this, Ron. It made my hair whip back and forth. It was like a record on a turntable screeching to a halt. I elated the boys got a present and now this… have my attention, sir! Another fine installment.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, what she said….but now gosh darn it you’ve got me hanging again with “what’s up with the two fingers cut off”? sigh….such a happy story but now I think you’ve got something up your sleeves……waiting….patiently as always and with a smile. 🙂 Kim

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Ron!

    Bravo! Bravo!

    This piece speaks so beautifully to the tradition of helping one another. In those days, we were our brother’s keeper–better yet, we were our brother.

    As your story indicates, there is no way in the world that Ma Hallie and Pa Babe would have knowingly allowed these boys not to have some semblance of Christmas-albeit without their Grandmother.

    I only wish that we could revive this spirit of community and generosity.

    Excellent post Cuz 💋

    Liked by 2 people

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