I was raised in Columbus, Georgia but moved away when I was 14 years old. I now reside in Southern California. Life here is sort of surfer casual yet a far cry from the warm, family charm of southern hospitality. This entry is best read in a slow, distinctive, Georgia accent.
Visitin’ time was divided equally at my three sets of grandparents’ homes, and you better not miss one of them! I was told we would cause “such a ruckus” if we skipped visiting someone. In my childhood memory, Saturday nights were spent with Carmen Brown, and Jesse James (seriously) Perry, Granny and PawPaw, my maternal grandparents.
The Perry household, a small, two-bedroom home, had a formal living room that we were never allowed to play in. The sofa was encased in plastic (it’s that memory of something beautiful being wrapped in ugly material that has been my argument against an iPhone case.) I only remember two signature dishes being served on Saturday nights. It was either fish and grits or chipped beef on toast (I later learned there was also a vulgar name for that meal, but we were not allowed to cuss!). It was salty enough to raise even a child’s blood pressure.
On Sundays after church, we packed the wood paneled station wagon and drove, without seatbelts mind you, to my Great Grandparent’s. William D. Hamilton and Annie May Kidd Hamilton’s house, which I wrote about in another entry to this blog. The adults sat around a large beautiful table while the kids were relegated to a card table. My Great Grandmother cooked up Turnip and Collard Greens (nasty!), always something fried which I bathed in ketchup (except fried chicken, even at that young age I knew that was a sacrilege!), and something sweet and yummy. After dinner, we would usually play tag or hide and seek with my cousins, Charles, Maryanne, Ronnie, and Leslie.
From there, we loaded the car to drive to my paternal grandmother’s apartment. I can still hear her deep voice (probably from being a smoker.) She was quite ill with cancer during most of my childhood years. I’m sure that memory prevented me for from never touching a cigarette.) I have a specific memory of her introducing me to American cheese, and I absolutely hated it! I would not try a cheeseburger for many years before falling in love with them. As her treatment progressed, I remember her shocking the kids by pulling off her wig to reveal her bald head. It is a memory that forever is etched in my mind.
When we left Gram’s we headed for Evangel Temple for the 6 PM Service (because everyone knew true Christians went twice on Sundays.) It’s a good thing schools did not give homework over the weekend. There was little time for that!
I treasure growing up in a small, Georgia town with extended family close by. I played by the Chattahoochee River, ate boiled peanuts, drank Coca-Cola and sweet tea. I fished with a cane pole with a little floaty thingamabob that moved when the fish was nibbling, and went clear underwater when you had hooked one.
What memory brings you to that state of reverie? What stories bring a smile to your face? I would love to hear them. Please add them in the comments section.
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