mama was one of the sweetest human beings
God ever put on this earth. She was, as was
my daddy, a self educated person. She had to
drop out of school in the second grade to
help farm their land when her daddy died of
cancer. Mama was a strong woman, fairly tall
for that day and time, perhaps 5 ft 8
inches, and a large boned woman, not overly
large or overweight though. She was also a
One night, while Daddy was
working the second shift at Watts Mill, from
4 pm till midnight, Mama heard a noise
outside. Bill had gone into the Navy by then
and it was just Dot, Ruby, Mama and me at
home that night. We didn’t have a telephone
to call Uncle Carey for help. He didn’t have
one to answer even if we did. Mama got a
poker from beside one of the fireplaces and
a flashlight from a drawer in the kitchen.
She headed for the back door.
“Let’s don’t go out there,”
Ruby begged Mama. Ruby was probably 15 years
old at that time.
“I ain’t going out there,”
Dot whimpered. Dot was now 12 years old.
“Y’all stay in the house,”
Mama told us.
“Uh uh.” We weren’t about to
stay in the house by ourselves. I grabbed
hold of Mama’s housecoat and held on, scared
to death. I must have been only 6 years old.
With my mama armed with that
poker, me holding on to her housecoat, Dot
holding on to my shirttail and Ruby holding
on to Dot, the four of us went outside into
the dark night.
“I know you’re out here,”
Mama said in her best attempt to sound brave
and shined the flashlight around.
My sisters and I trembled
with fear, looking about, trying to see in
the pitch-black night with a dim flashlight.
Dot was holding on to me so tight I thought
she was going to pull my shirt off.
Mama said to the would be
intruder, “I’ve got a gun and I ain’t afraid
Dot whispered in a pitiful
whine, “Mama, you ain’t got a gun.”
“Be quiet,” Mama scolded her
in a low voice. “He don’t know that.”
We rounded the corner of the
house. “You better git out of here, if you
know what’s good for you!” Mama warned and
raised the poker.
“I see him,” Ruby gasped
just loud enough for us to hear her, panic
in her voice.
“Where?” Dot asked, not
really wanting to know. She sounded like she
The dim glow of the
flashlight passed over something dark just a
few feet in front of us.
“I’m gonna shoot!” Mama
warned. This time she didn’t sound as
I think I peed my pants at