Saturday, March 5, 2011

Some Happenings in 1940

    In 1939, while we were staying with Grandmother and Granddaddy Jones at the old Lockley place, Mama had married Calvin Holly Matthews. So we moved, Mama, my sister Betty and I, to Holly's home on the north side of Chipley.
    That was a sturdy little frame house which Holly rented. It was situated on the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Old Bonifay Road, behind the home of the Misses Lou and Lizzie Richardson (or maybe Richards), two elderly sisters who operated a ladies hat and accessories shop, and was shaded by several large old pecan trees. The house fronted on Fifth Street, which ran north and south and was at that time unpaved.
    Holly had a brother named Pleman. The first time that I recall seeing Pleman was in February or March of 1940 when he and his wife and daughter came to visit. His daughter was named Helen. As soon as Helen and I met we went outside to play. During that adventure we decided to get married. I was already nearly six years old.
    Pleman and I became friends immediately, and ever afterwards he was Uncle Pleman to me.
    When it came time for them to leave, Uncle Pleman said that they were going to take the "high road". That was his expression for "highway", and I never heard him refer to a highway except as the "high road".
    I don't know why he said that they were taking the "high road", unless they intended to hitch-hike, for my recollection is that they did not have an automobile.

* * *

    One night in the first part of the summer of 1940 Uncle Pleman was visiting us again, and he, Mama and Holly took me with them, and we went by and got a neighbor and her husband, and went on over about a half a mile or so to visit another family. After the usual social chatter they all decided to sing some songs.
    Uncle Pleman was a good bass singer. Holly could sing well, also, and was an accomplished violinist as well, having a repertoire that included the classics. Mama had a good voice at that time, and always sang alto.
    In those days when country people sang together they usually gravitated toward gospel songs, because everyone knew those songs and they offered the best opportunity for harmony as well as for individual expression. When a group of singers "clicked" together, and really got into the spirit of it, the result was music that warmed the soul.
    On this occasion Uncle Pleman wanted to sing ON THE JERICHO ROAD, so they all took it up, each experimenting at first with different voices or "parts" to see who could carry which part the best. After a change or two between person and voice, the right match was signaled by the nodding of heads and they began to get serious with it.
    The folks there had a guitar, and were well acomplished in rythym. Holly would bring in the violin just loud enough to balance out the ensemble. And so they went through all the verses, repeating the chorus after each verse.
    After they finished with that, Uncle Pleman wanted to sing LIFE'S EVENING SUN, so they gave it the same treatment.
    They sang many other songs that night, but those were two that I liked. I can still hear in my mind the rich sustained chords of the music just as it sounded on that summer night seventy years ago.
At about that time the air battle known as the "Battle of Britain" was being fought
over London.

* * *

    During that summer of 1940 there came to our kitchen door one morning a "hobo", the genuine article. He asked Mama "did she have anything he could do for something to eat?"
    Mama told him that she did not have anything he could do, but to sit down outside. Within a few minutes she took out to him a hot breakfast which he ate while sitting on the steps, the porch serving as a table. When he had finished he knocked on the door, expressed his thanks, and went on his way.
    During this time no thought was ever given to locking the kitchen door, though it had been pushed to as a matter of affording the hobo a measure of privacy.

1 comment:

  1. Another wonderful story! I can hear the harmony, too! How old was Helen? Did she come the second visit?