Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 28 - Cecee's Adventures

We went to bed, so very tired, yet the excitement seemed to bubble up within me! We were finally here in Texas.

There were not a lot of beds, so we slept several to a bed. Mama and Papa were the only ones who had their own bedroom. The rest of us were in one room, and it seemed crowded.

My sisters, Mary and Daisy slept in the same bed with me. The other bed had Eugene, Arthur, and King. Baby Edith was in a crib in our room. It seemed like we were wall to wall kids. I suppose that you could say we were.

Morning seemed to be upon us all too soon.

Mary was shaking me by the shoulders, telling me to get up, I looked at her, the sleep still in my eyes.

"Come on, sleepyhead ! Everyone else is already in the kitchen, ready for breakfast! Papa's already out working, and we have to go as soon as we have dressed and eaten!"

I couldn't believe it! Our first morning here, and I had overslept.

"What are we supposed to do when we work? Daisy and I are too little!"

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Day 27 - Cecee's Adventures

My Mama herded us all into the house.

"All right, children! The first thing we're going to do is bathe! After days of traveling and no place to wash, that is first on the list of things to take care of!"

She began to bark out orders...

"Arthur, you. Mary and Eugene begin carrying water into the kitchen while I light build a fire in the cookstove. Cecee, you and Daisy begin carrying in some firewood! King, you and Edith stay out of the way."

She arranged some chairs together and made a play pen with them, to keep King and Edith enclosed safely.

Everyone had a task to do.

Papa was outside, talking his brother and to the owner of the ranch, getting information about the running of the ranch. I found out later that Papa was just one of many workers on the big ranch.

Before long, Mama had a fire going in the stove, and she had found some provisions on shelves in the kitchen. She not only was heating water, but cooking some food for us.

It was all very exciting.

When supper was ready, she put it on the table and we knew the baths would be coming after supper.

When we were all gathered at the table, Papa bowed his head.

"Father, thank you for the safe journey. Thank you for this food and a place to work and live. Help us be true to you in the days ahead. Amen."

It was simple food, but tasted oh, so good!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Day 26 - Cecee's Adventures

We pulled up to a few frame houses that were in need of paint. It looked very old, and I wondered if we were going to be living there.

"Let's get these bags and things unloaded. Eugene! You children grab whatever you can carry and help get this done," shouted Papa.

A man wearing a hat and rough looking clothes came around the corner of the house. He reached out his hand to Papa.

"You must be Mr. Browning! I'm John Westerfield! Glad to have you and your family. If you are the kind of worker your brothers are, we'll get along just fine! After you get your family settled, I'll expect to see you at the men's bunkhouse for instructions. Your wife will need to speak with my wife about her duties."

"Her duties? What do you mean? She is supposed to care for our children!"

"Didn't you understand that your family came with you to be of help on the ranch? They can be a great help in doing little jobs like helping to pick cotton. We need all hands when that ripens. Your wife will be helping to do the cooking for the ranch help. My wife is not well."

"Hmmm, I see," replied Papa. "Well, that's fair enough. You did provide our passage out here, as well as a place for us to live. It certainly won't hurt the children to do honest work and my wife is an excellent cook! It's good that we can all be together. Thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Westerfield! We won't let you down!"

I had been standing nearby, catching all I could of the conversation. I could hardly wait to tell the others.

Day 25 - Cecee's Adventures

While we were on our way in the wagon, I noticed the open country around us. There was so much of it!

It wasn't like the place we had come from. We had lived in a town in East Tennesssee where there were mountains and hills.

Turning to my brothers and sisters, I noticed they were looking around too. Mama was watching und smiling.

The wagon bumped along the dirt road, as we watched the open fields go past. There were trees, too, but they didn't seem as tall as the ones back home.

Pretty soon, we saw a river, a really big one. Maybe it was that one Miss Ally was telling us about.  I decided to ask her if I got to see her again.

We reached the ranch and drove the wagon underneath  a big sign that had a big W inside a circle. I wondered what that W meant. I found out later that it was the letter they put on all the cattle and horses on the ranch.

The wagon continued on for a while longer. I saw big fields of plants covered with white fluffy stuff, That was something else for me to wonder about. I didn't realize that I would soon be finding out.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Day 24 - Cecee's Adventures

My Uncle Cash hurried toward us, while his son, Robert, held the reins of the team of horses hitched up to the buckboard wagon.

"Where is our brother, Lorenzo,?" Papa asked.

"We decided he should work, besides, we needed all the room in the wagon for your family. And, here you are, at last! What took you so long? Been writin' to you forever, trying to get you outta them hills. This here is God's country!  Welcome! Maggie, how are you? All of these kids! They yours, or did you bring some extras along for the ride?"

Our Uncle Cassia apparently considered himself to be funny.

Papa gave him a wry grin, and replied.

"Good to see you again, too, Cash! You haven't changed any for the better, I see. How about if we get loaded up into that wagon of yours and get my family to where we're headed?"

"No sooner said than done, Willie! I see your humor hasn't improved any either, little brother!"

I found this to be funny, since they were both much taller than me. I'd never heard Papa talk that way to anybody.

Pretty soon, we were on our way.

Cousin Robert was driving the team and my brothers were talking with him, asking questions.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Day 23 - Cecee's Adventures

The next day, around mid-afternoon, Mama and Papa began collecting our things, getting us together, and I knew it was time for us to be leaving the train.

I was surprised to see Miss Ally leaving the train as we did.

She smiled at me as we lined up to leave.

"Well, Miss Cecee! Looks as if we're going to continue being friends, maybe!"

"Oh, Miss Abby! I hope so! Maybe if you get a job teaching, I can come to your school!"

After we left the train, I watched as she headed for the young man who seemed to be waiting for her.

He was kicking at the dirt, smoking a cigarette, peering at her through the smoke rising from it.

She stopped, just a few feet shy of him.

"Robbie, is that you?" I heard her ask.

I strained my ears to hear his soft, husky reply.

"The name is Rob, Abigail."

Two more steps and she was hugging him. He put one hand on her shoulder, seemingly hesitant to return her hug.

All this happened within a minute or so. Mama had her hand on my shoulder steering me towards the wagon waiting to take us to the ranch.

We had some hugs of our own to give. My uncles were taking us to our new home.

I was so tired of riding on the train and eager to see what was ahead of us.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Day 22 -Cecee's Adventures

As we walked through the next car, Mama held tightly to my hand, saying nothing.

That made me wonder if she had a "Talking to Cecee" in her mind.

Sure enough, after we had used the toilet and left that car, we stopped in the in-between car to sit in an empty seat.

"Do you have any idea how much it worries Papa and me when we see that you have no fear of strangers?"

"But, Mama! No one has hurt me! They have all been very nice to me! That man that took my arm the other day had a piece of candy in his other hand. He was holding it out to me!"

Mama's face turned a chalky white when she heard those words.

"Cecee! He most likely was getting ready to take you away from us! Do you realize your Papa probably saved your life? Please promise me that you will be more careful? Always stay in our presence!"

"Yes, Mama. But it is okay for me to just visit with Miss Ally in our train car. As long as I don't go anywhere with her? Please?"

"We will allow that, but don't be a bother to her! That's final!"

"Thank you, Mama!"

When we got back to the car, Miss Ally's eyes were closed, so I sat back down near Daisy where I could watch the scenery flying past us. I began to see some different kind of landscape. I wondered how long to our destination.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Day 21 - Cecee's Adventures

Miss Ally lifted her eyebrows in reply, then asked, "Do you often 'bop people on the head?'"

I looked at her with some fear that she was going to tell on me.

"Only when they make fun of me, or something like that. It is the only way I can defend myself."

"Well, I agree that it was not nice of them to tease you, but sometimes it is better to just ignore remarks that people may make. After all, why do you suppose they even bother teasing you?"

"Gee, I don't know. They like to make me mad?"

"See if next time you can just ignore them. They will soon tire of it and find someone else to pester. It will make you stronger inside."

I looked at her kind face. She really did seem to care. Once again, I wished she were my teacher.

"Where are you going? Do you know where you are headed, Cecee?"

"All I know is that it is a big ranch, and we are going to live there forever! My Papa is going to see his brothers; my Uncle Cash and another uncle. I have never met them, though. Where does your brother live?"

"It is a little town not too far from Waco, Texas. I may get a job teaching there."

About that time, Mama woke up and looked across from where she was sitting, then  looked alarmed.
She looked around frantically and then saw me sitting next to Miss Ally, then let out her breath, and pointed her finger at me, frowning.

Miss Ally smiled across at her and said, "Please don't be angry with Cecee! She has been keeping me from being bored with this long journey!"

Mama sat back then, and smiled at Miss Ally.

Rising, Mama came over and took me by the hand.

"I think, perhaps, we need a ladies' room break, Cecee. Excuse us, Miss Ally."

I looked back at Miss Ally as Mama and I left the car.

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!"


"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 banged them on the head with one of my books."

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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Day 13 -Cecee's Adventures

Several hours later, I awakened to the whistle of the train, as we pulled into a station.

All at once I became aware of hunger pangs in my stomach.

"Mama! I'm hungry," I whined.

My brothers and sisters looked hungry, too.

"Sorry, children, we need to wait a little while until some people get off and there will most likely be others getting on board here.  We are in a town called Nashville, and I need to keep you all together. "

Papa spoke with authority, always, quite often speaking for Mama.

Thirty minutes or so later, everyone who needed to had either left, or boarded, and the train was moving once again, slowly picking up speed.

I noticed cinders were flying in through a window that someone had opened. I leaned over to pick one up and inspect it.

Ouch! It burned my small fingers, and I dropped it more quickly than I had picked it up.

"Dumb Dora! Silly girl! Don't you know those are hot?" My brother, Eugene, laughed at my innocence.

Arthur, ever the peacemaker, piped up with a suggestion that he was starving.

"A great idea!" Replied Mary, casting a look of disapproval towards my brother, Eugene.

He simply shrugged and snickered.

Within minutes, our family was eating cold biscuits and cured ham. Mama had also packed a jug of water for drinking.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Day 12 - Cecee's Adventures

I looked was still dark outside and most everybody was asleep except for me and Daisy. Mary! I would ask my sweet sister, Mary, to take us to the toilet.

Quietly standing up, I went around the seat to where Mary was still sleeping.

Shaking her none too gently, I whispered, "Mary! Mary! I gotta go and they ain't no toilet! What do I do? I gotta go BAD!"

By now I was jumping from one foot to the other.

"Okay, okay, just a minute!"

Then I felt a tug on my dress sleeve.


"I gotta go, too, Mary! Can you take us to a toilet?"

Mary had been helping Mama take care of us so long, it was almost like she was our second Mama.

She took each of us by a hand and we moved quietly down to the end of the railroad car. She opened the door connecting the cars and led us to the adjoining car, then through that one to a third car.

Upon reaching the inner portion of the third car, there was an inner door to a small room with writing on the door. It said, "Ladies".

Fortunately, the room was large enough for the three of us. Otherwise, I would not have known what to do. All the toilets I had ever used were the outdoor kind.

Each of us took a turn on the commode. Mary showed us how to pull on a cord. I watched as the waste disappeared and felt the cool air come up through the hole.

There was nothing to use for wiping and no  place to wash our hands. Mama was not going to like this arrangement, but it didn't bother me too much. I was just happy to be comfortable again.

We went back to our car, and it was not long before I was once again sound asleep.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Day 11- Cecee's Adventures

That night, I watched out the window to try to see the countryside we were passing by.  Sometimes, there was enough light from house windows to know we were passing through neighborhoods, but mostly, it was just dark.

I soon gave up on that and settled back into my seat, which was a long seat for several people to sit together. Our seat, mine, Daisy's and Arthur's, faced another seat, which was backed by the car wall. On that seat was Mama, Daddy, King and little Edith, who was being held by Mama. She looked at me and smiled.

On the seat behind us, sat Mary and Eugene. They were each trying to read a book, but the light was too dim. The lights had been dimmed soon after we got on the train.

There was a constant sound of the wheels of the train underneath us, and it wasn't long  before Daisy and I were asleep, leaning against each other.

In what seemed only minutes, we were being awakened by the stopping of the train's motion.

The fellow who had helped me up the train steps was walking through shouting the name of a place. It was a name I had never heard before. I sat up and looked at Mama, who was still sound asleep. She must have been really tired.

Papa looked at me and shook his head, placing his finger on his lips.

But, I needed to use a toilet! Where was it? How did I find it? Who could I ask?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Day 10 - Cecee's Adventures

The time had come, at last! The nine of us were standing near the huge train on the tracks. We were hugging and kissing all our family members good-bye. 

It was so scary and exciting all at the same time. Papa was holding three year old King in his arms, and Mama held year old Edith. They had given me and Daisy strict orders to stay on either side of Mary and to stay close to our brothers, Arthur and Eugene. 

Papa looked handsome in his one suit, and I thought Mama was the prettiest woman standing there waiting to board the huge train. 

Then, a man wearing a uniform and a cap, shouted, "All aboard! All aboard! Watch your step, please!" 

Oh, my, it was exciting! The steps up onto the train were so high that the man doing all the shouting lifted Daisy and me, helping us board the train. I Iooked up into his face and he winked at me!

Once we were on the train, we walked through the center aisle, looking for a section of seats together.  

Once we were all seated, I happened to remember our stuff we were taking with us, our clothes! What about them? Where were they? 

Then, I remembered they had been put into the baggage car on the train. 

Oh! Our food! What about it? 

"Mary! Did we bring our food?"

"Yes, little worrywart! Papa had Eugene and Arthur carrying it! It's on the train with us and safe! "

Whew! Then I could relax and enjoy the ride! Little did I realize how tired my backsides were going to get from sitting so long. 

Day 9 - Cecee's Adventures

Of course, I would have no vote in having my picture made again, because I'd had no vote in this one.  Everybody knows that kids have no say so in what happens to them.

Anyway, it had been an exciting experience, to say the least.

After we had finished and the photographer had gone, Mama told us to get changed into our everyday clothes.   Our train would be leaving around seven that evening and there was a lot to do.

Our relatives were going to the station to see us all off. We still had supper to eat, all of us together. Mama had been cooking meat and bread to take with us on the train. We still had some apples to take, too.

One of my aunts  and uncle were all set to close up the house for us. It was a rented house, because my Papa was not working and we had never owned a house. We just kind of moved around from place to place. We had been here the longest, for at least five years. Papa was mostly a day laborer, working for whoever needed him.

We would have had an older brother, named Franklin, if he had only lived. Franklin was less than a year old when he died. Mama had a story she told about when Franklin was sick.

My Papa was not a Christian when they got married. Then they had Franklin, and Franklin got sick with something like Scarlet Fever. One evening, Papa was sitting by the baby's crib, and Franklin looked at Papa, then pointed up toward the ceiling and spoke just as plain as day.

"Right there!"

Then Franklin smiled, closed his eyes, and during the night, went to Heaven.

That so affected our Papa, that a few nights later, after they had buried that sweet baby, Papa confessed his need for Jesus, and was saved.

She said that Papa's sister, Aunt Emmaline, shouted for joy, when he asked Jesus for forgiveness.

When Mama told that story to us, I wanted to know about shouting.

"You mean she just up and hollered? Why?"

My brother, Eugene, said, "Don't you pay no attention in church? People are always shoutin'."

"She goes to sleep!" Laughed Daisy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Day 8 - Cecee's Adventures

It wasn't long before a man showed up with a big box on three legs. He introduced himself as James Smith, the photographer.

"Ya all have a big room with lots of windows on the north side of the house?" I heard him say to Papa.

"Yes, yes, come this way. We've cleared all the furniture out of our parlor!"

His eyes took in the bunch of us gathered in the room and, after asking questions about who was related to whom, began arranging us into a large group,  made up of small groupings. He put my Uncle John Wise into a chair about mid-group, and Mama into a chair on one end, holding my little sister, Edith. I sat on an ottoman. My hair was braided so tight, I just knew I'd have a headache later on. My sister, Daisy was standing right next to me, threatening to pinch me when the photographer was ready.

Mama had told us ahead of time to look serious and not ruin the picture by smiling. It was scary, anyway, to have our picture made.She told us that we would have to stay in one position and not move.

She didn't smile a lot anyway, because her teeth were brown from spitting snuff.

Papa smoked, too. I knew I wasn't ever going to use that stinky stuff! Ugh!

Tobacco juice was good to use on bee stings, though, but I'll tell that one to you another time!

So, getting back to the photographer - he got us all lined up and we sat there, or stood there, as still as we could.

My nose began to itch, and I thought I was going to sneeze, but I held it. Ten minutes later, we saw this huge flash of powder in a thing the photographer was holding in his right hand. He had just shouted "HOLD IT" and we stayed still for another five minutes.

Then he said, "Okay, folks! You can move now. I reckon we've got it!"

Oh, my goodness! I decided then and there, that I wasn't going to go through that again for anybody, if I had to say anything about it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Day 7 - Cecee's Adventures

When I dragged Daisy back into the playroom, I realized that the boys had gone outside to play and that looked like more fun than sitting in there playing with dolls, but I didn't want to get into trouble.

"Okay, now tell me what they were saying in there, Cecee!" demanded Daisy.

"Oh, they were just talking about riding on the train and how it was going to be paid for. I think maybe the people we are going to work for are helping with the cost."

"What do you mean that 'we are going to work for'? You mean, Papa, don't you?"

"Nope. We're gonna be working, too!"

"What can we do? We're too young and little. I don't wanta work! I ain't gonna!" Daisy stamped her foot and began hollering.

"Shhh! Hush, Daisy! Hush! You'll get me into trouble for listening to them!"

By this time she was working herself up into one of her tantrums.

Sure enough! Here came Mama running to see what was going on.

I stood helplessly by as Daisy once again threw the fat into the fire.

"Cecee said she heard you all saying we was going to have to work out in Texas! Are we, Mama? Are we?"

"Well, you all work here at home, don't you? You help sweep and pick up things and dust. We're never too young to begin learning to earn our way in life!"

All the time that Mama was talking to Daisy, she was glaring at me for eavesdropping.

Soon Daisy was mollified, and Mama was talking to me about all that she had on her to get done before our picture was going to be taken by a real photographer.

"Right after lunch the men are going to clear out the furniture in the living room so that we can all get together to have our family picture made. There's about twenty-one of us, and it's going to take some doing, to get everybody in their best clothes and everything set up for him," said Mama.

I began to get really excited. What an adventure! I'd never had my picture made before that I could remember, anyway.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Day 6 - Cecee's Adventures

Then Mama began to cry, tears running down her face.

"Those dishes are the ones your Papa bought for me many years ago. Now, there they lie, broken and shattered into pieces. Daisy, how could you?"

Daisy ran over and wrapped her arms around Mama.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I only wanted a bit of candy, and I thought I could get it for myself and not bother anyone else."

"I told her, Mama! Not to do that, but you know Daisy! Daisy does what she wants to!"

"Girls, girls! When will you ever learn? We have rules for a reason! With no rules, everybody would just do what they want to and there would be people running all over each other, just doing whatever they wanted to. Now, Daisy, you get busy and pick up these pieces of china. Eugene,  you and Arthur see if you can set this cabinet up right on the other half, where it goes. Cecee, you get the broom and begin sweeping up the smaller pieces. Mary, you watch and see that it's all done right. I've got to get out of here before I do something I regret later."

You  better believe we all moved around like we were walking on eggshells for the next few hours. That evening, Mama's eyes were all red and swelled up and she didn't come out of her bedroom till about time for us to go to bed.

The next day it was all like it was forgotten and things went on as normal..

Well, as I was saying, that was last week.

Right now, I was trying to hush Daisy to keep myself out of Dutch. I put my hand over her mouth and dragged her into the room where we were supposed to be playing with our dolls and entertaining our cousin, Samantha, who was there.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cecee's Adventures - Day 5

My Mama's mother was a white woman, married to a Cherokee man. She had inherited his temperament, which was that of a volatile nature.

I knew if she found out that I was listening to their conversation, I could be in big trouble. Her temper was legendary in our family.

Just the week before, she and Mary had been working outside, doing the laundry, while Daisy and I were supposed to be dusting the furniture. Daisy took it into her head that she was going to climb up on the china cabinet. She was after the candy dish that Mama kept on the top shelf out of our reach. .

The cabinet was in two sections, one on top of the other. Daisy made it almost to the tip top shelf, when suddenly, the top section began shifting.

"Daisy! Get down! Quick! It's going to fall! Hurry!"

"No! I want a piece of can........ahhhhh!"

All at once, the top section completed its shifting and down it came, with Daisy hanging on for dear life! It missed landing on top of her by a hair. But she hit the floor with the cabinet making a loud crashing sound.

The crash could be heard outside and throughout the house! It brought everyone to the scene of the crime.

When Mama saw what had taken place, we knew what was going to happen. Daisy would be sure to be deeper in trouble than she was in broken dishes!

Sure enough!

"Shall I kill you or shall I not? Daisy Irene! What have you done now! Are you ready to meet your Maker? My good dishes!"

Mama stood there surveying child and cabinet, with broken china all around. We could all see the anger burning in her face and held our collective breaths, waiting silently for the outcome.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Adventures of Cecee. Day 4

Pretty soon, I was in the midst of aunts and uncles, and a few cousins. I didn't know all of them, but it didn't matter. Pretty soon, we kids were sent to another room to play, while the older folks talked. Being of a curious nature, I sneaked out into the hallway so I could eavesdrop on their conversation.

"Now, William, are you sure this is a wise move to make, taking your family out to that God-forsaken  Texas? Just what do you know about those people you're supposed to be workin' for?"

I recognized the speaker as my Uncle John.

"Well, I know they've got work for me to provide for Maggie and our seven children. It's a big ranch with year around work! They're paying our way out there, so I know they want me. The children can work, too."

Well! That was news to me! We would have to work, too? I leaned closer to the door; I didn't want to miss a word of what was being discussed.

I heard my Aunt Emmaline say, "Now, William, what if one of you gets sick? I've heard that Texas don't have a lot of good doctors way out yonder!"

I smiled to myself.  Auntie claimed to have doctoring skills. She carried around a black doctor's bag, and  nursed and doctored people that were sick, needing someone to stay with and nurse them back to health. When she didn't have anyone to Doctor, she stayed in the homes of family. She was what my Mama called a grass widow, whatever that is.

Just then, Daisy came out into the hallway.

"Cecee, what you doing out here?"

Then, it dawned on her that I was eavesdropping.

"A-a-h! I'm gonna tell!"

"No! Listen! Wait til I tell you what I heard!"

"Well, it better be good, or I'm telling them on you!"

By this time, she was almost shouting at me."

Adventures of Cecee - Day 3

Looking up at my sister, who was fifteen at the time, she was all I ever wanted to be like. She was smart, and kind, and never got into any trouble like I did. Somehow, even though I tried hard not to be, I was always at the wrong end of a hickory switch.

I guess my imagination was at the roots of my troubles. It seems I was always thinking of fun things to do, that somehow led to my whippings. More about that later.

As we worked, Mary told me once again about how we were going to be going by train, out to Texas. It would most likely take several days, because it was a long ways.

"You mean, we'll be sleeping on the train? Will we have beds?"

"No, silly girl! We don't have the money to sleep in a bed. Papa said we would be all together in the passenger car and sleep sitting up."

I tried to imagine that, but just couldn't see it.

"But, Mary, I can't sleep sitting up!"

She stopped working and looked at me, lifting her eyebrows.

"Have you forgotten going to sleep in church last Sunday? Don't tell me you can't sleep sitting up!"

"Oh! Yeah, I guess I can, at that..."

Anyway, we got our work done in record time, singing church songs, while we washed and dried the dishes, then put them back on the table to be used at the next meal.

It was only a matter of minutes before I heard voices in the living room. My aunts, uncles, and cousins were arriving! Oh, boy! Now for some fun!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Day 2. Adventures of Cecee - Day 2

When I came into the kitchen a couple of minutes later, the rest of the family was already sitting and Daisy was smirking at me, and mouthed, "Late again", sticking out her tongue at me.

When I took my seat, Papa bowed his head and asked a blessing on our food and the day ahead of us.

The bacon, eggs, gravy and biscuits soon disappeared. As we ate, we began to chatter about the upcoming day and events.

"Mary, I'm going to depend on you and Cecee to clean the kitchen. Eugene, you and Arthur need to sweep'"

"Aw, Mama! That's girl's work!" Eugene protested.

"Hmmm. Okay, then carry out the chamber pots and empty them!"


My  Papa gave Eugene a look that brooked no argument and made moves as if to unbuckle his belt.

Eugene grabbed Arthur's hand and left the room quickly.

"No job for me to do, Ms.Maggie?" Papa reached out and snagged Ma around the waist, pulling at the strings on her apron.

"Will! Finish your coffee!" She tried to look stern, but I could tell she wasn't mad.

Mama took baby Edith and little King to another room, and Pa winked at me, sipping his coffee.

I was happy to be working alongside my big sister, Mary.

"Tell me again about Texas, Mary! Is it very far away? Will it take us a long time to get there? What do they do on a ranch?"

"Well, ain't you a little question box today?" She teased me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Adventures of Cecee!

My sister, Daisy, was tugging on my arm.

"Hey, Lazybones! Mama said for you to get up and help her pack. Don't you remember we've got to go to catch a train tomorrow? We've got company coming today, too! She said you gotta help get King and Edith dressed, too!"

"You're just trying to be bossy, Daisy!  Always trying to push everybody around. I'm older'n you anyways. I don't sleep good, cause you're always sticking your knees in my back all night! Get outta here while I get dressed."

My sister folded her arms, and sat down, trying to outstare me. It wasn't working, so she finally got up and left the room, hollering for our Mama. 

"She ain't getting dressed, Mama! She ran me out!"

Standing my seven year old body in front of the dresser, I began putting on my clothes, so that my the time my Mama came into our bedroom, I was trying to smooth  my curly hair into submission. I still had to lace my shoes, which was a chore.

The year was 1908, and our family was going to Texas to live on a big ranch! I had no idea where Texas even was, but my Papa had told us it was a long ways away. It was exciting, and I just knew it was going to be great fun, unless Daisy spoiled it for me.

I loved her, but she could raise my anger faster than anybody else ever could. In fact, she took great delight in it. My brother, Arthur, was always telling me it was my fault.

"Cecee, she couldn't do it if you just didn't pay her no mind!"

"Cecee, girl, you better be in the kitchen for breakfast in five minutes! " Mama was headed for the warpath, if I didn't get there in a hurry!

"Yes, Mama! I'm coming"