Saturday, August 23, 2014


Mother once told me at age eight her older brothers had thrown a snake at her feet after they killed the creature. That, despite it being dead, coiled around her ankles. From then on she never wanted to see a photograph or drawing of reptiles. Later we daughters had inspect all newspapers and magazines coming to the house and hide the reptile  photos with a sheet of paper or remove  the page. Sometimes we put a note on the cover of the magazine that said, “Don’t look on page 12”.

My first fright with a snake was in Zoology class at Hinds Jr. College. The prof held a snake of some sort –obviously not dangerous. Each student was asked to feel the snake’s back to get a sense of it not being “slimy.” I broke into a sweat and hid in a far corner. Then it was my turn. I got light-headed and with the support of my lab partner, helped me move two feet nearer. By then the prof realized I couldn't get any closer.

As a kid I enjoyed reading comic books, I refused to read the back cover of characters like The Green Lantern and Superman.  There, advertisements splashed across the full page, “Buy your own snake for $5 and we’ll send you your choice from the list below.” Even reading the list of available snakes wasn’t a girly thing. Today reptile farms still exist. Online you can purchase boa constrictors, tree pythons, milk snakes, corn snakes, racers, rat snakes, hog nose snakes. Costs run from $22.95 to hundreds of dollars.  Choose your color and type; match to your decor.  

In the tenth grade one of the early high school programs featured a worker from a Florida reptile farm.  He placed on stage five sacks, the kind used for potatoes. The audience recognized the heaviness of the wiggles at the bottoms of the bags. We jerked upright in our seats and screamed, stretching our necks to see as much as possible as he opened a sack and dropped a specimen  to the floor. It waved its tiny head around, then curled and lashed out at the stick the man was holding. “Now, look how the snake behaves as I walk near, how he senses where I am by raising its head?” He walks backward, away from the snake. “Notice the change when I back away, how he relaxes.” We thought the snakes were trained.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


  The west part of Jackson has changed in the seventy years I’ve been gone.  I have trouble finding Minerva Street.  It runs north and south off Capitol Street. I look for that hulky building that once housed the Coca-Cola plant in the mid 1940s. The building is there, on the corner, the adjoining railroad tracks making a slight protrusion here and there. I  turn left off Capitol Street and maneuver the torn street once full of stand-alone homes and small apartment homes. 

I recall the quiet evenings. This was an ideal street for us to live on. Sidewalks on both sides of the street allowing evening strolls after a hard day’s work.  With a short walk Daddy could be at work at the Postal Telegraph office on the other side of the viaduct separating North Jackson from West Jackson.

 I drive down  the street once, turn the car around and retrace the route. I stop at the spot where I lived for three happy years. There’s no house.  Only a parking lot full of vivid memories. Gone is the low wall that ran alongside between our house and the Sanantones.  I had looked for that wall to determine the location of my house. Most of the lots on the west side had been obliterated for additional parking.

My gaze falls across the street. I remember that house was different and didn’t belong on the street. Once I was invited inside to meet the elderly couple and their son. I can’t recall the reason I was there. They were sitting in the” parlor”, a space heater  inside a fireplace keeping them warm.  I gazed around to see the walls of a soft brown wood.  The house was a palace more than a home. With my “now” eyesight this same house sits with its roof caved inward from neglect. I cross the street and I see the brick sidewalk , still there, twenty giant steps long. The most elevated spot on the street.

 The beginning point of my bike lessons. The new shiny red bike was my August birthday gift.

Dad and I started at the bottom of the hill at the south end of the street . The push up the hill north to the house with its wide front porch and that brickwork on the sidewalk was difficult for skinny me, even with Daddy’s help. At the bricks I followed Daddy’s instruction. I scrambled onto the sea with Daddy holding onto the bike.  He pushed. Away I flew to the bottom of the incline, peddling fast and screaming with innocent joy. The bike remained upright with Daddy’s steady hand.  At the bottom of the hill I jumped off, turned the bike around and we repeated the push up the hill. 

 Despite the neighborhood disintegrating, the memory of bike lessons endures.  Those were special afternoons with my daddy. 

Monday, August 18, 2014


My parents were disciplinarians. Not tough, but firm. Their instrument of torture was the switch. A nice green limb from a young tree, heavy at one end and very slender and bendable at the other end which made a clean swipe.  If the switch broke after a few uses, a new one had to be picked. Daddy would order my sister or me to “go out and find a good switch.”  Sis and I learned soon how to find the best ones. We’d take time to find the “daddy” size. When we discovered a green limb, we’d call him to cut it for us with his trusty knife. We then cleaned it of leaves and tiny branches. Finding the best limb was sometimes worse than the “bite”.

Our back legs got the switches. Not the lower legs or the arms.  The very threat of its sting was enough of a reminder when we passed the refrigerator where the switch sat lounging across the top, a silent reminder of its power. Like obedient children, if there were no switch, we'd announce to Mother its absence. 

The earliest I remember having a switching was when I was five years old. A seven-year-old girl was playing with me one late afternoon.  In the course of play she announced she knew some nasty words. She told me about three and said, "I double-dog dare you to say them to the next person who walks by." Now if you are double-dog dared something, you have to carry out the dare. (I’ve forgotten those “nasty” words in the intervening years.) They seemed like foreign words at the time and I had to practice  the correct pronunciation. We watched until a lady walked towards her home that same evening.  I went up to her and said “$*&%r.” She stopped, asked me “Where do you live, you nasty little girl?” I pointed to the house behind me. She walked straight up to the door and knocked until my daddy came to the door. He was on his way to work for the evening. She explained the situation and demanded, “I think you should punish your daughter for such ill behavior.”

The next morning Daddy and Mother sat with me on our front porch. I had dreaded this talk.  “Where did you learn the words?” they demanded.  I replied, “Betty said she knew some and would teach me.”  I worked hard to hold back the tears trying to roll down my cheeks. “She dared me say them to the next person walking by.” With a stern look Daddy said, “You should have known those were not good words. You still will get a switching, but remember, you can’t talk like that anymore.” 

"But. Dad. I was double-dog dared . . ."  My parents just didn't understand; I still got the switching.
To this day I don’t swear, unless I'm mad as h---.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


The purpose of "Seems Like Yesterday" is to write stories of my two families, parents and sister one, and my husband and children, two, as I experienced them. I began writing as soon as I retired from teaching in 1992.  As in most families, the kids, whether small or grown, don't want to hear "Momma's stories again." I wasn't much of a storyteller. I loved to read anything from the public library. I loved to read to Jim Scott and Janie as they lay in bed nights. It was then we were introduced to the stories by Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak,  A.A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll,and other great children's authors.

I live in Mississippi, land of storytellers.  I can't make up stories as well as many do, but I've tried to record experiences in the way I remember their happening, adding a bit of fluff here and here. I've been fortunate to have some of these published. The Big Novel sits in a white box in the study. It's the story of life in Jackson, Mississippi when I was in high school. There are no plans for publication, but the manuscript rests until one of you decide to plow through the 50,000 words.

Jim, Scott, and Janie, these stories are for you, my precious adult children. You first heard them in my loud, gravely voice. I hope this collection will encourage you to write your own stories for yourselves and for Henry.

Henry, you will have a treasure trove of stories to read when you are old enough to be curious about your paternal grandparents. These stories are for you with love from your Vivi.