Thursday, February 11, 2016

Day 20 -Cecee's Adventures

A little later that day, after we had eaten our lunch, an apple, I noticed Mama was sleeping, so I gave a finger wave at the school teacher.

Smiling at me, in return, she motioned that I could come over and sit next to her.

When I complied, she began the conversation by asking where we were all going.

"We're going to Texas to live on a big ranch. I'm going to learn how to do lots of stuff, like riding a horse, and roping a cow!"

"Really!?"

"Yes! Ain't that what they do on ranches in the west?"

"Isn't that what they do..."

"Yeah, that's what I said... Ain't it?"

She chuckled and said, "That's what I've heard. So, you've already decided to do that. Very commendable of you, my dear!"

"My name is Cecee. What's yours?"

"I'm Miss Allyson McGhee, but you may call me Miss Ally."

"Would you tell me what grades you teach, Miss Ally? And about where you live?"

"Well, if you really want to know, I teach all the way from First through Eighth Grades. I live in a little town on the outside of Memphis. Now, please tell me some more about you and your family. Do you like school? Do you make good grades?"

"Hmmm. Well, I passed to the third grade. When I first began school, I was so short, I had to sit on some school books to reach the desk top for writing on my slate. My brothers teased me and asked if I had found a new way to learn."

She smiled.

"What was your answer? "

I bopped them on the head.





Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Day 19 - Cecee's Adventures

Within the hour, as I looked out the window, I saw we were crossing a very wide river.

"Look! Look! What is that?" I shouted.

The very large woman sitting on the seat across from me spoke.

"That is what they call 'The Mighty Mississippi'!"

She smiled at me and began telling me about a book written about a couple of boys who lived near the Mississippi River.

"Have you read it, then? Can you tell it to us? Mama tells us stories sometimes, but we haven't heard that one."

"I can tell you some of it, but it is a very long story."

For the next hour, she related a story about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and some of their adventures.

"Are you children in school?"

"Yes! I'm in the third grade," I said proudly. That is, when school begins again. I will be!"

"You are a school teacher, aren't you?" Eugene asked her. "You sure talk like one."

"Yes, I'm traveling out west to see a brother I haven't seen since he ran away from home twelve years ago."

"Why are you going now, after all this time?" I was curious.

"I've been saving money to come. It's taken me several years to find him."

Mama, spoke from where she was sitting and holding Edith.

"Cecee, you've been bothering the nice lady long enough."

"But, Mama! She's telling us a story!" I begged.

"How about if I tell you more of it later?" The lady inquired.

"Okay,thank you!"

We were content to wait and settled back to watch the scenery, and imagine what it had been like for the boys in that adventure story.

She smiled at me, and I wished for a teacher like her.






Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Day 18 - Cecee's Adventures

By the beginning of the third day, the travel was becoming wearisome. We were beginning to be cranky and really out of sorts with one another. An hour after waking, we were getting ready to change trains and go in a more southwesterly direction, according to Papa. In another day and night, we would be heading into Texas.

Wearily, we left the train and stood on the platform, looking around. We saw a small building, and the nine of us went inside to get away from the swarms of mosquitos outside.

There was a small ticket counter, behind which stood a gentleman who kind of looked like my Uncle John. He gazed at us with some curiosity.

"You all traveling far, sonny?" He asked my brother, Eugene.

"Yessir!" replied Eugene, "we're headin' out for Texas!"

"Hmmm! That yer Pa over yonder, carrying the little bitty boy?"

Eugene nodded his assent, and the man chuckled.

"Brave man, taking all of you so far! I admire his courage! Couldn't be easy, keeping track of all of ya!"

A few minutes later, he called Papa over and asked if he was interested in purchasing some food for our family.

Papa turned him down, because there was very little money to buy food.

"How about a glass of lemonade for your children? Only a penny a glass. They look mighty thirsty!"

We turned imploring eyes to Papa, and he said, "Okay, children, one glass each. I guess you deserve a treat, since you've done so well behaving."

Within the hour, our train was pulling into the train depot, and we were hearing the conductor shouting, "All aboard! All aboard!"

It was still exciting. There was a brand new bunch of people to be meeting!


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Day 17 - Cecee's Adventures

After Papa left the train car, I thought about him. He was tall and strong. I thought he was very handsome, with his mustache he kept trimmed so neatly.

I knew that when I grew up and married, I planned to name my oldest son after him.

In a few minutes, Papa came back and reported that the fellow would not be bothering us again. I never saw the man again, and to this day, I don't know what happened to him.

The day passed into evening, and once again, we had our meal of ham and biscuits. I don't know about the others, but even though I was hungry,  I was getting mighty tired of the same food over and over.

Upon hearing my complaint, Mary gently  reminded me of how hard our Mama had worked so we could travel to Texas. That made me feel ashamed of my attitude.

"I'm sorry, Mama! Thank you for seeing we have food."

I hugged Mama.

She tipped my chin, lifting my face with an index finger and smiled.

"You're welcome, but no more complaints! Be grateful we have what we do!"

"Yes, Ma'am"

"Mary, what will it be like when we get there? Will it be hot? Will we have snow in the winter time, like we had back home?"

"I don't know the answer to those questions, Cecee! I've never been there! Tell you what! We'll find out together!"

Daisy piped up with, "She's just a question box! Question box! Question box! Cecee is a question box!" She sang, sing- song fashion."

I simply turned away from her and went back to sit down.

The rumble of the train, lulling me into sleep later that night, reminded me of past times, sitting on Papa's lap..With my head laying against his chest, I could feel the rumbling vibrations of his voice as he talked with family...

Friday, February 5, 2016

Day 16 - Cecee's Adventures

We spent the next few hours looking out of the windows, watching the landscape go rushing past.

Sometimes, the train would stop and we watched the people gathering up possessions to leave, and others coming on, carrying stuff on with them. Babies were crying; little kids were  holding onto their older sister or brother's hand. It was exciting!

We had another ham and biscuit, along with an apple for lunch.

The man who had grasped my arm earlier walked by my seat that afternoon. I looked up and he winked at me. I just looked down and ignored the wink. It made me feel nervous.

I didn't  think Papa would like knowing about him winking at me, but I decided to tell him anyway.

Walking over to where he and Mama sat with Edith and little King, I placed my hand on Papa's knee.

He looked down at me, expectantly.

"Yes, Cecee, did that man who just walked past us say anything to you?"

"Not exactly, Papa! He did wink at me. Why did he do that, Papa? I don't even know him. Did that mean he likes me? I don't understand."

"If you see him again, just act like he is not there. He is not a friend. Do you understand me? Ignore him."

"Yes, Papa!"

I went back to my seat, and saw Papa speak to Mama, then get up.



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Day 15 - Cecee's Adventures

Papa spoke to the stranger.

"Mister, I'd like to know what business you thought you had, putting your hands on my little girl!"

It was more a statement than a question.

"Well, sir, I thought perhaps she was lost and looking for someone to help her."

Papa turned to us and gave us instructions to get back to Mama.

I was curious to hear the rest of the conversation, but dared not cross Papa's orders. I was already in enough Dutch.

When we got back to the car we were traveling in, Daisy was quick to tattletale on me.

"Cecee! How many times must you be warned about staying together while we travelled. You know we discussed the rules before leaving home!"

"A man was with her, Mama! I don't know why, but Papa was talking to him. It looked like Papa was getting ready to hit the man!"

Daisy looked at me and smirked.

"Daisy! Quit tattling! Papa will fill me in with all I need to know! It's not your business to take care of everyone else's!"

Mama surprised me, taking up for me. Perhaps she felt sorry for my predicament. She told me in later years that she did not wish to damp my enthusiasm for learning. She knew how important it was to learn. She had very little formal education due to the circumstances of her early childhood.

It was not long before Papa returned to our car. He called me and Daisy over to him, along with Mary.

"Girls, it is important that the three of you always go places together, wherever we go. This is not our hometown, where you were always safe and knew everyone.  There are bad people that travel on trains. There may be bad ones where we are going. I am not wanting you to be afraid, but to be aware and careful. Stay together!"

He didn't punish me! I was surprised, but glad. I also took seriously what he had told us, at least for the time being.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Day 14 - Cecee's Adventures

We finished our meal and, of course, had to make a trip to the toilets again.

This time, when I pushed on the lever of the toilet, I was amazed to look down through it, and see the railroad tracks as we sped along!

Wow! Wait til I told Mama!

I began running back through the cars, sensing no danger in doing so, and ran smack dab into a stranger in the adjoining car!

"Whoa! Little missy! Where you headin' in sich a all-fired hurry?"

I stared up at the man, not knowing what to say.

"I, uh, uh, back to my seat."

"Well, now, if you ain't jist the cutest little gal I ever seen! What's yore name?"

By this time, he had his huge hand on my arm, and was pulling me toward him.

Just then, my Papa came through, and saw me in the stranger's grasp.

"Daughter! I've been looking for you! There you are! Sir, if you'll be so kind to turn her loose..."

"Oh, Papa! I'm so glad to see you!"

Pulling myself from the man's loosened grasp, I ran to my Papa, and grasped his hand.

As I did so, Mary came hurrying through the car on her way back from the toilet, with Daisy in tow.

"Cecee! Why didn't you wait for us?"

I knew I was going to be in trouble once again.

The stranger stood to one side, taking it all in.