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!"

"But,"

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"