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!"

"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 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 around....it 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.

Daisy!

"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.