The Flowering Vine: More To The Story

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Our Grandparents:  Leroy and Annie aka ‘Mother’ with Lady G’s Son

 

I thought I’d take a second to thank all of the readers who have supported “The Flowering Vine Series.”

Both Ron and I really appreciate your kind comments about our family.

I inserted this picture of our Grandparents, Leroy (Daddy) and Annie (Mother) so that you can see them as they were in later years.

This picture was taken ONE MONTH prior to our Grandfather’s death.

Here’s the story behind the photo.

Basically, my son had just been born a few months prior and something urged me to go visit my Grandparents and take pictures.

While I can’t say that I had a premonition, I can say that I clearly remember my Grandfather saying to me, as he struggled with his cane to rise from his seat, “Whew Bay, Granddaddy can’t haaaardly get around no more.”

 

His rich baritone voice wrapped itself so closely around my heart and I tearfully responded, “I know Granddaddy….I know.”

The next month, he was gone.

Friends, I can’t tell you how much we all miss him.  He was one of the kindest people I have EVER known and he sincerely loved us all so much.

I distinctly remember how he would wait until EVERYBODY, including all of his children, their spouses and his grandchildren had eaten before he would eat.

He’d say, “Did everybody eat? Did everybody have enough?”

Then, he’d pile the leftovers along with some home grown tomatoes and peppers into his favorite bowl.

Boy let me tell you! That bowl of food looked so GOOOOOD!

God knows they don’t make them like our Granddaddy anymore.

Frankly, there is so much more that can be said about both of our Grandparents, and, as long as you’re interested, we hope to continue sharing those stories here.

Anyway, below is a family tree that includes some of the people that you all have come to know and love.

Because our story includes so much information about our biracial heritage, I decided to include a bit of a descriptor under each person’s name.

Note:  The term “mixed race” applies where there is some interracial heritage but the specifics are unknown.  “Recent mixed race” indicates that this person had at least one confirmed white parent.

On a related note, both Ron and I would like to offer a special thanks to two Caucasian cousins who were kind enough to share DNA and Family records in order to help us to confirm information on our Grandfather’s side.  Had they not been willing to step forward a few more of these boxes would have been marked “unknown.”

Also, a BIG thanks to Ron’s Mom (Jet) and my Dad (Jim) for sharing their memories.

Now, let me stop rambling!

Here’s the Tree!

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The Flowering Vine: Notice that there should be a Mr. H and a Mrs. H (LOL!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flowering Vine: Only The Strong Survive

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ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE

Oh, you’ve got to be a man, you’ve got to take a stand

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

Well, you’ve got to be strong, you’d better hold on

Only the strong survive

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

Well, you’ve got to be a man (yeah), you’ve got to take a stand (yeah)

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

(JERRY BUTLER, the ICEMAN)

Summers were the worse!

Those hot, sweltering, sweating days, increased the demand for ice ten-fold! When the demand for ice increased ten-fold, Granddaddy Leroy’s workload increased ten-fold

In the 1940’s and 50’s, Granddaddy managed the “ice plant” in Eufaula, Alabama. In those days, folks stored their ice in “iceboxes”; not refrigerators–those new-fangled contraptions were only available to the rich, but the average middle-class family could probably afford the less expensive “icebox”.

As for the poor, well they generally dug a hole out in the yard; then lined the hole with sawdust; then placed the block of ice in the hole; then insulated it with more sawdust; then covered the hole until they were ready for some ice. Then, when they were ready for ice, they’d simply go out to the “ice hole”, armed with an ice pick, hatchet, or an ax, and “chip a piece off the old block”.

When that sizzling, searing, summer heat hit, people craved the cool, cold, comfort of ice. They wanted whatever storage mechanism they had on hand, to be chocked full of ICE! Hence, the “ICEMAN”.

Curiously, no “White” men worked in the ice plant. Granddaddy was the closest thing to a White man there, so I guess that qualified him to be the manager. But being “manager” did not mean his workload was any less than anyone else’s; as a matter of fact, he may have been the “hardest working man” in the ice plant. Granddaddy worked, and worked, his fingers to the bone—all 8 of them—trying to keep those ice-making machines humming.

That truck? Wow man, that truck was something to behold! I think I might have a picture of one here somewhere. Kids would see that truck coming and stop whatever they were doing to chase that truck. No, it didn’t have a cute jingle ringing out; playing a “Pied Piper-ish” tune to entice them to follow. Ha! No colorful markings to E.N.T.I.C.E, but it had chips of I.C.E.I.N.I.T. There was no ICE CREAM MAN, but there was an ICEMAN, and that was good enough on those hot, hot, summer days.

The “Truck” went around every morning. Part of Granddaddy’s job, as manager, was to hire and pay men to drive the truck around the city to sell 5, 10 and 25 cent blocks of ice. The men would carry the ice into the homes with a set of ice tongs which would hook onto each side of the ice, making it easier for the “Icemen” to handle. Leroy Jr., also known as Uncle Leroy, even worked with Granddaddy from time-to-time.

Folks would put an “ice card” in a front window of the house which would indicate what size block of ice was needed. The card had four large numbers, usually “15”, “25” and “35”, with “50” on the reverse side. By taking note of these cards, the “Iceman” could tell, at a glance, how much ice was needed to fill the ice box chamber.  If a housewife wanted 25 pounds she would place the card in the window with the 25-pound number up, and the 35-pound number upside down.

For the younger siblings, having a Dad who was the manager of the ice plant had its perks. The plant was located by the railroad, alongside which they walked each day, to and from school. They would stop by the plant after school on hot days, and gather up ice chips in their hands and eat them on the way home. Who needed ice cream?

The ICEMEN who made the ice deliveries, wore capes. They were made of rubber, to protect them from the cold and wet, as they hoisted the ice blocks to their backs with the tongs and carried them into customers’ kitchens. The cape gave them the look of cape-wearing SUPERHEROES. But, Granddaddy’s children and grandchildren didn’t need to see him in a cape to know that he was a SUPERHERO; watching him fight the oppression that all Blacks faced in those days just to provide for his family, was good enough.

But alas, like all SUPERHEROS, he had his hamartia. For Superman, it was Kryptonite. For Granddaddy, it was the ammonia that was used in the ice-making process; that and the constant cold conditions, which together, caused irreversible damage to his lungs. However, despite the effects of his KRYPTONITE, he survived to a ripe old age. He SURVIVED because he was STRONG, and ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE.

“You can’t be too careful about work. It’s the most dangerous habit known to medical science.”

Eugene O’Neill, The Iceman Cometh

Love ya Granddaddy Leroy

Your New Year’s “To Do” List

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Alternate Title:  Your New Year’s What NOT “To Do” List!

Like a lot of folks raised in the South, Mama had some STRONG beliefs about what you could or could NOT do on New Year’s Day.

And baby, we all knew to cooperate- or ELSE!

In fact, one of my dearest friends, Gloria, calls me every New Year’s Eve to make sure that she is, as she laughingly states, “compliant.”

Compliant?

So typical of a Healthcare Exec 🙂

Anyway, without further adieu, Lady G shall now act as your personal New Year’s Compliance Officer for 2016-2017!

Here goes…

What NOT to do on New Years Day:

  1. Wash hair ; you are washing someone out of the family if you do.
  2. Wash clothes; Why? See rule 1. (Just to be safe, she extended that to drying clothes as well).
  3. Have a Christmas tree, including any associated decorations, still on display.
  4. Allow a woman be the first person to enter your home after midnight.
  5. If you are in doubt, please contact me, your personal New Year’s Compliance Officer, in comments before proceeding with most ANY action 🙂

According to Mama,  a violation of any of these rules could lead to death, destruction or worse…

By the way, we’re not done…

You must also prepare/procure and consume:

  1. Green leafy vegetables (Collards, Turnips, Mustards or Kale) to attract foldable money for 2017.
  2. Black-eyed Peas for good luck in the new year; some say they are also good for attracting coins.

In addition, you should also have some money (debit or credit cards will not suffice) in your pocket when the new year arrives.  This ensures that 2017 will not find you…for lack of a better word…BROKE!

Remember, whatever you’re doing when the New Year comes in is what you will likely be doing for the rest of the year!

Uh oh….

I don’t know about you but Lady G shall be praying and meditating!

🍀🍀🍀

And so…

You have been duly warned!

LOL!

Seriously guys, this was all in fun!

But you best believe that I’m hedging my bets by getting in compliance 🙂

Happy New Year !!!

Much love and light to you!

-Lady G 😘💋

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BROTHER TACK!!!!!!!

I’d love to hear any superstitions, rituals, habits or traditions that you and your family adhere to for New Years!

*** “The Flowering Vine” will continue next Friday, until then, catch up by going to the category labeled, you guessed it, “The Flowering Vine.” 

 

 

 

The Flowering Vine: Thank You

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In today’s installment of The Flowering Vine, we find Ma Hallie (Mother’s maternal Aunt) talking about a situation that she and her brother Babe had encountered earlier that day.  

Note:  Mother’s side of the family would often add the terms “Ma” or “Pa” to the first names of older relatives.  

Here, Ma Hallie refers to her brother as Babe, but, Mother would have referred to him as Pa Babe just as she referred to her aunt Hallie as Ma Hallie.

 

Lord, y’all….. me an’ Babe done had us a day to-DAY!

Whew!

You know we had to go out Clayton way this mornin’?

Well when we was comin’ out from out there we run up on this l’il White boy in the woods lookin’ for somebody to help his granmamma.

He say they was in a accident an’ his granmamma done hurt her leg an’ can’t move.

Cos’ Babe told the boy to get on up in the Buggy so he could lead us to her.

Allie, I tell you, this li’l boy warn’t no older than Annie Maude and Ted but he led us right on through them woods to where his granmamma was.

Chile, Babe hadn’t even stopped good when that po’ creeter jumped down out that buggy an’ ran over to a colored ‘oman layed out on the ground wit’ another  li’l boy huddled up ‘gainst her.

The other li’l boy was colored too!

God….Y’all…that thang know it confounded the devil outta me!

I couldn’t make no sense out it!

Cos’ I didn’t say nothin’…..that warn’t the time.

I jus’ wonder where she got da li’l White boy from?

Uhmm!

Jesus!

Anyway, she looked to be pretty bad off an’ we ain’t had no time to waste.

So, I looked at Babe an’ told him to go ‘head on an’ take dem boys to get help cause I knew this was gon’ be mo’ than a notion.

By time Babe pulled off, I looked up to the sky an’ said, “Lord, this ‘oman in a bad way, she got li’l chillun an’ she need you Jesus.”

Then I got on my knees …right ‘side her…put ma hands on her leg and said my scriptures:

By His stripes, you are healed.

By His stripes, you are healed.

By His stripes, you are healed.

Y’all I done that near ’bout the whole time.

Next thang I know, Babe done pulled up wit’ somebody….say he gon’ take care of everything.

Elvy…Allie…y’all…when I went to get up, that ‘oman grabbed hold my hand an’ look me dead in my eyes Jesus!

She held me there for the longest time…

Jus’ lookin’!

Ain’t said a word!

Then… she went on an’ let me go.

Babe say it seem like she done that to tell me “Thank you.”

I thought ’bout what he said.

So I whispered– where only God could hear me–

“You welcome.”

 

 

The Flowering Vine: Dem Bones

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Today’s “Flowering Vine” entry tells the tale of an event involving my and Ron’s Grandfather (Leroy), our Great- Grandmother (Mary), and our uncle (Bernard).

 

Dem Bones

-By Ron Brown

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

Leroy’s sixth birthday was made even more special because Mary was headed into town and—as was her custom—had invited Leroy and—by default—Bernard to ride along.  When Leroy turned six years old, he was already tall. He towered over his little, “brown brother”, Bernard. Leroy was Mary’s pride and joy. He was, in her words, “Grandma’s big boy”. Leroy always rode “shotgun”, while Bernard scooted from one side of the back of the wagon, to the other, depending upon which side’s sights were more stimulating.

For Leroy, what was in front of him, was much more mesmerizing than what was to the left, right or the rear of him. He sat quietly, keeping his eyes forward. Mary admired him for this trait and would often encourage him by leaning over to him and whispering, “That’s right Grandma’s big boy, keep them eyeballs peeled”.

This day however, as they rolled down the rambling road, neither Mary’s fierce focus nor Leroy’s eagle eyes could have saved them from what happened next, for just ahead of them, from out of the roadside briars and bramble shot a streak of white. It slithered swiftly and silently across the road in front of the two black mules hitched to Mary’s buckboard.

The two black mules reared simultaneously, at the sight of the albino coachwhip. The sudden jerk of the reins, held tightly in Mary’s tenacious grip, snatched her formidable form forward, in front of the wagon and behind the mules. The mules stepped back; one of them, adventitiously, stomping Mary’s thigh, fracturing her femur. Leroy heard the sickening crack as the bone in his grandmother’s thigh gave way to the weight of the thousand-pound animal’s hoof. The usually silent Leroy, screamed; the usually vocal Mary, was silent.

Leroy leaped down from his perch on the wagon’s seat, then calmed the frightened mules, whose pallid pariah, had now disappeared into the underbrush on the opposite side of the dirt road. Once the mules had regained their composure, Leroy rushed over to Mary and kneeled down beside her. She looked at him affectionately, then gently stroked the side of his face with a trembling hand and wheezed, go get help Grandma’s big boy.

Mary was careful not to instill any additional fear or panic into her grandson. Leroy worked his jaw muscles viciously, as he struggled to maintain his customary calmness. Leroy, looked sternly upon his baby brother Bernard and chided him, “Stay with Grandma boy, I’m going to get help!” and away he went, as fast as his long, lanky legs would carry him. The nearest house was just over a mile down the torturously twisting, dust-topped road.

And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knoweth. Again, he said unto me, ‘Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”.

Mary lay quietly in the dust and sang to herself softly:

“Ezekiel connected dem—dry bones,

Ezekiel connected dem—dry bones,

Ezekiel in the Valley of—Dry Bones,

Now hear the word of the Lord.”

To be continued…