August 29, 2007

Why I Don't Color My Hair

Miss Vencie visited us frequently when I was a teenager. She and Mama were cousins.

A widow, Vencie had married late in life and had no children. Her two unmarried brothers, Coot and Toad, lived in the old family home which was still as it had been at the turn of the century: unpainted, no electricity or running water. Vencie would escape their hospitality to stay with us.

She took a job as a sitter, staying with a woman whose primary ailment appeared to be boredom. One weekend Vencie came to spend her days off with us. The woman had talked Vencie into letting her cut and dye her gray hair.

Mama took one look at her and said, "Vencie, no human ever had hair that color."

Ever since that day, when thoughts of hair color enter my mind, I can hear Mama saying, "No human ever had hair that color," and I squelch the thought.

August 28, 2007

Piano Man

Granny's House 1967

When the movie 'Big' came out, the adult Gary wanted a giant keyboard like the one on which Tom Hanks danced in the movie. He could have danced 'King of the Road' -- much more fun than Chopsticks.

August 24, 2007

Sweetest One 2

Mary in a Dotted Dress that says 'Sailor Girl'
Click photo for a closer view.

August 23, 2007

Sweetest One

"If Dad is the prettiest baby in the world and Uncle Gary was the cutest, what am I?" he asked.
"The handsomest baby in the world; you told me when you were three that boys weren't pretty, they were handsome."
"What about my sister?"
"She's the Sweetest Baby in the World," I said.

Does Benevolent sound like Birmingham?

The Cowboy left at 5 am on the way through Dothan and Birmingham to North Alabama to pick up an engine that he may or may not need. Cur is distraught and will only leave the rug in front of the side door to go outside, coming right back in when I come in. It has rained 3 inches already and still thundering and lightning. As best I can tell from NOAA, he has missed most of the storms.

The phone rang at 10:20. A voice said, "This is a courtesy call from the Police...Buh..."

Blood pounded in my head and my chest tightened.

When I finally processed what she'd said, it was this: "This is a courtesy call from the Police Benevolent Society, blahdah, blahdah, blahdah." It's a good thing for the Police BS that it was a recording.

By 5 pm he's leaving Montgomery for Dothan. My pulse finally slowed to 80.


Click to make cartoon large enough to read.

August 22, 2007

Picnic Fare, Fifties Style

We take plastic, styrofoam filled ice chests that keep food chilled for days for granted now. Fifty years ago, picnic food could be dangerous, bacteria growing in tasty dishes that did not keep well in summer heat. Banana or pineapple sandwiches made and eaten on the spot were a safe choice. Mama usually added peanut butter with bananas and cheese to pineapple.

My friend Burt laughed when she told about taking her new boyfriend on a family picnic. Eddie was from the north, stationed at Fort Benning. Burt, blond and pretty, had caught his eye. She was only allowed to double date with her best friend. Somehow they'd managed to convince these fellows to go along on a family picnic to Callaway Gardens.

Burt's Mama spread the picnic fare on the table under a huge live oak. "Y'all come on now. There's bananas and pineapple for sandwiches."

Eddie looked startled. He leaned over and said in a low voice, "Burt, I don't eat... FRUIT sandwiches."

August 21, 2007

Water Color

Mama's Papa, Joe
One of Mama's earliest memories is that somebody always had to run to the depot to get Papa's paper as soon as the morning train came through from Atlanta, eighty miles away. He died suddenly when she was 7. 'Papa's paper' was the Atlanta Constitution. It was a family tradition until we moved south in 1994. My brother still starts his morning with the Constitution.

Miss Fortune

My Fortune Cookie told me:
Count your books before they hatch.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

How'd Miss Fortune know me so well? I'd feel naked without a book. When I go to Jonesboro to visit, one of the highlights is going to the Fayette County or Stockbridge Library book sale.

My Garden Books

August 18, 2007

Cary Grant on Growing Old

A yellowed clipping from Dear Abby's newspaper column, in which she published a piece called 'Meditation' as read by Cary Grant, shortened here:

"Now Lord you've known me a long time.... You know that each day I am growing older and some day may even be very old....

"Make me thoughtful, but not moody, helpful but not overbearing.

".... Keep my tongue free from the recital of endless details. Seal my lips on my aches and pains....

"I ask for grace enough to listen to the retelling of others' afflictions.... I would like to have improved memory, but I'll settle for growing humility and an ability to capitulate when my memory clashes with the memory of others.

"Teach me the glorious lesson that on some occasions I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably kind....

"Please give me the ability to see good in unlikely places and talents in unexpected people. And give me the grace to tell them so, Dear Lord."

August 17, 2007


Mama always said, "You have to COME UP with the times!" So I investigated avatars and discovered one could make a middleaged, grey haired avatar, complete with dog, tote and red shoes.
The dress I wore to church recently looked a lot like this one.

August 16, 2007

Knotty Questions

There's someone who played a little brother role in my life. I taught him to dance; he escorted me to the prom. We have a bond that is stronger than the blood that made it.

Recently he had questions. One had to do with grammar. I know where to find answers to grammar questions. Strunk and White serves me well.

Then he asked how to suture human skin. I didn't ask whom he'd cut. I found a video from a reliable source online and now he's happy in the knowledge of how to tie a suture knot. I suggested he practice on a boston butt -- pork, not one of them Southside yankees he's always incensed about.

Aunt Grey and Lane

Aunt Grey helping Baby Lane stay upright beside a huge crinum at his Granny's house nearly 70 years ago. I don't think Aunt Grey meant to be in the photo, but it's priceless. You can see the profile at far left of a proud father coaxing a smile from Baby.

August 15, 2007

Another Reunion

My High School classmates have a planned a reunion. Less structured than previous meetings, we expect to have a grand old time.

This time it's a randomly odd number rather than a decade year. It's approaching time to see old friends before it's late for some of us, not wait for a year that ends in zero. Already too late for more than I'd like to count. Time has been kinder to some of us than others. Life's been harsh to some.

Some I've seen infrequently over the years; some who never came to any reunion have promised to be there. Maybe there'll be surprises -- happy surprises, like Sandra and Billy, for whom it was 'love at second sight' decades after high school.

August 13, 2007

August 12, 2007


It's not summer unless you go to a couple of reunions. Saturday night we went to a family reunion of the best sort, where you meet cousins you never saw before and see others you've not seen in a spell. Dinner was at a restaurant, superb. Dessert was down the road, graciously provided by one of the cousins. I had caramel cake, didn't look to see what they urged on the Cowboy who doesn't need sweets. Maybe just one slice for old times sake, as close to what he remembers at his Aunt Ella's as can be provided. We looked at ancient photos, read obits and histories, and found relatives and relationships in common that surprised us all.

Vowing to do it again, we said goodbyes and drove away. We eased down the lane to the road and saw a grey fox bound away into the weeds.

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