Thursday, August 28, 2008

On The Road To The Starting Gate: To Mama Leona's We Go

One bright summer day we leave our tiny three room house in the Saw Mill Quarters walking the short distance from our backyard up the narrow dirt road toward the school. We round the slight curve past the church. Stop. Look both ways then, carefully cross the paved highway.

Happy for the play break, we hop skip and jump our way down the hill past Mr. Sam Gilmore’s big white house with the hurricane fence. Before long we reach the top of the hill singing and skipping past Mr. Hank & Mrs. Hannah Davis’ little green house. Or was it blue? Green, blue it doesn’t matter, we are glad as can be on our way to Mama Leona’s.

With tons of energy left to burn we pass the yellow and white "section-houses" where families that work for the railroad live. I wonder why they are called "section-houses". Is it because there are only three or four of them and they are located along a section of the railroad tracks for their employees to live in? Ummm...

We run lickety-split across the railroad-tracks and don’t stop until we reach the bottom of the steep little hill that runs along side the track, all the way across the huge open field toward Miss Lorene’s.

We’re now in Palmetto– Palmetto Quarters.

A short distance down the path Grandpa & Grandma Bluitt sit on the porch, rocking rhythmically in squeaky rocking chairs. Mr. Earl sits perched on the edge of the porch digging in the dirt with a stick. We are not really related to Grandpa and Grandma, that’s just what everybody calls them.

“Good evening, Grandpa,” we call out in unison. Grandpa nods with a grunt swaying steadily back and forth.

“Good evening, Grandma,” we shout. Grandma speaks back, interrupting her rocking long enough to spit a mouthful of snuff over the end of the porch.

A mere hop, skip and jump away, close enough to throw a rock, lives Mr. Henry (Grandpa and Grandma’s son) and his wife, Mrs. Bertha. No sign of them today, so we don’t have to dilly-dally around speaking politely and making nice. There’s one last hill to climb to Mama Leona’s.

We scurry quickly up the final winding hill, through the tree-lined rut-filled trail to Aunt Mary Jane & Mr. Clyde Addison’s. With Aunt Mary Jane being a whopper of a mouthful to say, we chop it down to a manageable bite-sized “Ant-Mae-Jane.”

Around the bend and finally, we arrive at Mama Leona’s.

“Hey, Mama Leona, we’re here,” we shout, loud enough for her to hear from her seat in the living room. Before we reach the first step, she’s out the door, standing on the porch with her hands planted firmly on her hips.

“You mean y’all passed by Grandpa and Grandma’s and didn’t speak to Mr. Earl? Just get your little behinds right on back down that hill and speak to Mr. Earl like you’re supposed to. And, don’t ever do that again or you’re all going to get it! Now go!” She demanded in her no-non-sense, not-to-be-questioned voice.

© 2008 by Leona G. Shankle - All Rights Reserved ▪ Dell Girl Publishing

1 comment:

Lin said...

fun memories, my grandparents lived in the section houses too in utah as my grandpa worked his whole life a foreman of the section gang-out on the tracks everyday repairing and inspecting them for the passenger trains that ran pass their home. interesting how children were expected to have better manners in those days in how they addressed adults-never by their first names...hmm.