Freeman Works "Not all who wander are lost; Not all that glitters is Gold"

June 20, 2013

My Mothers Story, part 1 by Elizabeth Josephine Waddell, Freeman, Washburn Hearn

Filed under: Family — Gary Freeman @ 2:30 pm

This is another journal that I have started. It is October 26, 2002. My daughter, Jeannie, has asked me to write something of my childhood and the “Old Days.” Pam, my daughter by marriage to my son, Dennis, gave me a book many years ago, to write something for her children or her children’s children. Anyway, I thought I would this for Hayley and Olivia Ross, Clancy and Ben Freeman and Tyler and Paige Freeman.

I was born on August 5, 1928 at home. My mother Annie Josephine Chapman and father daddy, Howard Hagerman Waddell were both 24. Both of my mother’s grandfathers were Baptist Ministers. Her maternal Grandfather Chapman drowned when he tried to cross a swollen river to get the doctor when his wife went into labor with childbirth. Her paternal Grandfather pastored several churches in Rankin and surrounding counties. My deceased husband, Mr. Bill Washburn found his name on the CATO Baptist Church when he went to speak there. Papa as I called my grandfather had 2 brothers who were doctors, One a medical doctor and another one who was a dentist. He also had two preacher brothers. One a Baptist and One who was a Methodist. The other brother was a superintendent of education in Louisiana. One of his sisters married a man in Forrest, Mississippi whose grandsons live there today. Papa went two years to medical school in Memphis but quit because he thought it was too hard on Mama taking care of a bunch of small children. I believe there were seven girls and one boy.

Mama tried to persuade him to keep on but he was stubborn in his ways. He became a farmer. He loved Mississippi but could make more money in Louisiana. He moved back and forth several times. My mother said she remembered them traveling through the countryside at least one time with goods for them to kind of camp in a covered wagon.

They had shipped furniture and things ahead but they traveled to the Mississippi line with the animals or at least a cow following. I think it was Aunt Jessie and her job to keep the cow going. Mama and the other girls would cook at night and in the morning before they started out. My mother said she remembered her brother, Bobby Ray holding the umbrella over Aunt Lorna Mae (a baby) while she cooked over the open fire. Mama would put a pot of beans under the wagon in water to eat for lunch or whatever. At night, Mama and Papa and maybe the little girls would sleep in the wagon. The others had to make a place outside. There were six girls and one boy and when they got to the Mississippi River, they would go across by ferry. One time, she remembered that the wagon almost slid off the ferry. Anyway, Annie finished high school and she and Aunt Ruth went to Vicksburg, Mississippi to become nurses.

Aunt Ruth got real sick and they had to go home. Papa told Annie that she could go back but the time to go never came. He was so afraid something would happen to his girls.  It is very sad because she would have been an excellent nurse. My daddy had worked at many jobs but I don’t think that he was much of a farmer but he tried very hard. When I was born, we lived at the Enochs Place out between Crystal Springs, MS and Hazlehurst, MS. We were sharecroppers which meant that Mr. Enochs provided everything but the labor and they (the Enochs and the sharecroppers) divided the profit. It was a tough life but I don’t remember it as such. Annie was a loving parent but lonely even then. She helped him in the fields a lot, dropping tomatoes or cabbage plant. I remember as a child feeling sorry for my daddy, who had cut a truck load of cabbage and carried them to Crystal Springs but they weren’t buying cabbage so he carried them home  and dumped them a long way from the house.

This reminds me of an experience I had. One of the first I remembered. I must have been five or six at the time and I went with my aunt Lorna Mae to Crystal Springs. Of course, we went on the back of a flat bed truck. Quilts had been laid in the back to make it softer and the grown folks hung their feet off the back of the bed. The kids would sit in the middle. Anyway while we were in town my Aunt went into a store. I can still see the big woman who got between us. Anyway, she lost me. I don’t remember after that but she put out a big alarm and someone suggested finally that she look in the truck. Sure enough there I was asleep under the quilts. My mother said never again do you go anywhere without me. Annie was keeping my aunts little boy and looked up to find him in the pond. So Annie said you take care of your kids and I will take care of my mine. My earliest recollection was when my brother David, we born. Of course, we were all born at home. But when David was born (He is 3 years younger than me, Papa came to get me in his car to go to their house. I only remember out to the car because I felt so big. Annie would not let us go many places without her. Later on she let me go with Ms. Enochs who became afraid of their own horses and ran the car into the ditch. I got a little head injury but felt so proud because I was a head handicap. I remembered that Mrs. Enochs gave me some candy and told me not to give it to David but my mother later told me that of course, I could share.

My daddy’s parents were different from Mama and Papas. She was a tall patrician type of woman. She did not like my daddy (my daddy told me this).a short while before he did. She was OK to us but she did not herself out. My grandfather was a slow speaking man from another state. He was a sweet person and I loved to talk to him and be around him. They always lived until I was grown in a great big house in the country between Centreville and Gloster. It was white with a big front porch and an upstairs when I was small and until later life they were only big trunks, etc. upstairs and we kids loved to go up there and I remembered reading love letters to my uncle . I remember especially a circle of crepe myrtle trees in a side yard. Where we would play and the smell of their house tickled our noses when we entered. She could cook good grits and we loved to visit them. One time when I was small (I don’t remember when.) I did something to the peas they were shelling and my grandmother told my daddy that he should spank me. My mother yanked me up and took me to the other room and told my daddy that they would do no such thing. He never touched us that I remember except once David and I were fighting and he got a little switch and switched our legs.We went running to Annie and she laughted at us. She had a quick temper and I didn’t disobey but David would try her to the Nth degree. She believed that those little switches that would sting.

Another little  girl was born to my mother on April 12, 1934. She lived one month to the day. She was born without a roof to her mouth. Back in that day and in the country, Infant death was extremely high. She was probably not able to take nourishment. I remember crying because my mother was so sad. This was Barbara Alice Waddell. I remember the little boy, William Kenneth (Billy) who came into our family on July 13, 1935.  He was so cute and sweet. He died at eight months. I can just see him a night or two before he died as someone was playing music and Billy was jumping up and down in the lap of the person holding him. He developed viral pneumonia and died.

Times got a little better for us. We moved into a new house out from Terry. Another little girl came into our family on October 16, 1938. She was a sweet baby and we loved her dearly. Annie worked in the back yard and she used lye to whiten the clothes. When she had Peggy Lois down for a nap, she put the lye on the back porch. The baby got up and put the lye in her mouth.  I remember coming home from school and a neighbor telling me that the baby had been taken to the Baptist Hospital in Jackson. She lived for several weeks more but the lye had done its damage. She died on November 15, 1939. She was 13 months old when she died. When she died I was at the house and someone told to go and get my daddy who had stepped up to a neighbor’s house. I went and told him “Daddy Howard”, you had better come home quick.” He said “Ok, I will be there in a minute.” I told him, “I think she is dying.” I can still see him running and jumping fences between our places. She died shortly thereafter and he flung himself on the ground and cursed. My mother greened but she was a strong woman.

The war was coming and they were building an army camp in Centreville and my daddy’s brother asked him to come to work for him. He had a service station, grocery store, liquor store combination we could love in a 3 bedroom house close by so we moved. Sure enough war was declared and they used part of the camp for a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers. It was not far from the back of our house, maybe a mile or so. We liked living there because sometimes Annie would let us go the store and hit Daddy Howard up for cookies or candy. We were living there when Jonathan Howard was born on August 30, 1941.  We all petted him especially me because I was only 13. I started in 8th grade at Centreville and liked the school very more. My granddaughter Waddell drove one of the school buses and so of the teachers remembered my uncle Edgar who had gone into the service.

I attended the Baptist Church there. Over the years, Annie had told us Bible stories and read to us from the Bible. Her parents were lovely Christians who went to Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church out from Crystal Springs. We love to get on Mama’s lap when we were small. She was small and rotund and tell her to tell us a bible story. When we got too big for that we would pull up a stool close by. She made us feel so warm and safe. Papa on the other hand was a great storyteller, we would get out on the front porch and say Papa tell us what happened when ___________ and he would be off. They were real happenings but he had a way of making them lively and funny. But he had a way of making them lovely and funny. He would tease us by looking his walking cane in our belt or around our legs.

Probably this might be the place to tell of a sad happening in our lives, Jessie, Annie‘s baby sister , married a man named J.B. Sheppard who had been in the war.  She didn’t know until she married him that he was a drinker, also Papa warned her but she was also kind of “flighty” but she married and moved 30 miles away Papa found out that T.B. was beating Aunt Jessie. By the time their son, Bobby about a year and a half. Papa came and got Jessie and Bobby and brought her back to his house. Aunt Gertrude, another widower daughter lived there also with her sons, Robert and Charles.

On a Wednesday Night, Aunt Gertrude and Charles went to prayer meeting leaving the others at home. TB went somewhere and got liquored up and became drunk. He came in the back door and threatened Aunt Jessie who was trying to get Bobby to go to sleep. Papa talked to T.B. to try and get him to put the gun down. By this time, they were in Mama and Papas bedroom. Finally mama distracted TB and papa grabbed him from behind and told him to drop the gun. TB did so but he shook his pants leg and another gun fell out. He shot mama in the chest and papa in the stomach. Aunt Pauline was there and he shot her in the head. He shot Aunt Jessie in a vital spot. As he started out the front door, Mama got up and begged him not to leave them like this. He cocked the gun to shoot her again but it was empty so he beat her with it and ran out.

Their nearest neighbors lived up the road a good piece but Robert who was 9 or 10 years old ran up the road looking ro help. The nearest one had gone to prayer meeting and had a dog that got after Robert. He was able to run further alone and finally got help. They took all four to the Baptist Hospital in an ambulance. The driver said he didn’t expect anyone to live a single minute more. Because of prayer, they all lived. We lived several miles away and I remember them waking up in the middle of the night Annie us in a middle of a bed at Mamas. I was 6 and we huddled under the covers waiting to be shot. Anyway, they found TBs body in the woods. He had shot himself. My uncle, Edgar wrote the story for True Detective Magazine. The publishers rejected it but but printed it in a later issue under someone elses name.  It is sad to say but TBs son, Bobby served time in the state penitentiary Parchman for a variety of offenses. Bobby had gotten into the wrong crowd and then escalated into bigger crimes. Bobby was knifed to death in Birmingham by a jealous husband. I felt sorry for him, he had a tough life.

Papa walked with a cane as a result of the bullets which had gone through him.

Back to Centreville, after a year or so, my daddy bought us a place a little further out. We liked it because we could have a cow and horses. David and I love to ride and play cowboys and Indians. We lived up the road from our good friends, Fannie and Barbara Mackey. Their mother was a kind person who made a a good bit of money by renting houses to service people. Mr. Mackey was an alcoholic so we didn’t me too much of him. I don’t know where he went. Fannie was my age, a year younger and Barbara was David’s age. My daddy bought me a piano. He also went to work at the PX on the base. As a manager he was making more money I might say he did say a short stint of the Seabees. It was while he was working there that he met Exie Campbell, a young unmarried woman.  Her family who would good people from Liberty told her to stay away from Daddy Howard but she didn’t listen. He pulled a dirty deal on my mother by telling her he would take her to see her folks. She wondered why he insisted on taking heavy coats. So while we were gone, he burned down the house. When he came back, he wanted a divorce. We went to live in a unit of my uncles motel in Woodville. We then moved to a little house that had been for the servants of the Robins family. (No, that was later) anyway Annie was not going to give him a divorce but he told her, and he had a well-known crooked lawyer from Woodville, that would say that she had been running around on him and rather than put us children through all that she gave him a divocre. He and Exie married and she was pregnant with my stepsister Sandra.

No one ever accused him of burning down the house. But Annie knew that he had and confronted him with it and he didn’t deny it. Later, two other houses of his burned down to the ground but nothing was ever done.

Annie moved us to a house in Jackson to live with Aunt Jessie. I went to Central High School. It was terrible, so big and cold. I was used to a small school. We went back to Crystal Springs for something and she asked our preacher and his wife, Sam and Helen Wagoner if I could stay and finish my junior year in high school with them. They agreed but Helen was very strict. By this time, Fannie lived across the street from the Waggoner’s so I stayed over at her house as much as I could. Finally Mrs. Mackey told me to ask my mother if I could stay with Fannie that we could share a room and I would be no trouble. I did so and we got along fine. Fannie had a steady boyfriend, Edwin Hodge, who she later married and we double dated a lot.

In later years, I saw the preacher’s wife and told her how much she had helped me (I thought to myself, even if you were a little strict.) This is when Annie moved back to the little house and tried to work. I told her to stay at home and take care of Jonathan and I would work. I did after school and on Saturdays.

So I finished my senior year in high school. I was popular in our small school and was voted the wittiest one year, the cutest girl and Senior Class president. I worked in the drugstore for a while, the movie theatre and finally went to work at Artz Grocery Store. This was Fanny’s cousin.

One reason I worked there because Iverson looked after me and on Saturday , the store stayed open until 10:00 but a lot of time Iverson would send me home earlier.

Annie was a loyal person. She took a lot off of people but you didn’t mess with her parents or her kids. I remember coming into the house and saying “Annie, make me some Teacakes”. I called her Annie because I didn’t know any better and she thought it was cute. David of course copied me(I think) but anyway, she made Jonathan call her “mother”. Anyway when I was a child I would call for Teacakes and she might say go see if there is any eggs under the I would have to go and reach up under the hen and hope to find an egg hoping she didn’t mind too much. As long as we lived on a farm, the water had to be drawn up in a bucket and carried up to the house. If we had an all over tub bath (wash tub) once a week, we were doing good. Sometimes she would bathe us in the rinse water after she had finished the clothes. The fire wood and the stove wood for the kitchen had to be brought in and I remember one year when she, my daddy and David all had the flue. We had to get water from a long way off and Daddy Howard went to get it. He was coming up the hill and I ran and he put his arm on my shoulder for me to help him. I felt really big our outhouses was a short path from our house but ok. So cold on those wintry days. And yes, we did have a catalog for toilet tissue. Rough.

My mother and daddy put a lot of confidence in me because of my being the oldest. I remember one time they had to work in the field and it was away from our house but all old and unoccupied houses close by. They made a fire in the fireplace and I tended to the baby. I guess it was Billy. I don’t remember which. David never could please my daddy. He (David) was sick a lot and I think Annie thought she would lose him too. She would sometimes bring him special foods to tempt his appetite. I remember soda crackers on one occasion. I understood why she did that, I remember one time Daddy H. Told David to close the gate. He was so skinny, he couldn’t do it. So he told me to do it. Daddy H. told David that he never could do anything right.

We had very few toys growing up. I remember on Christmas when David got a red wagon and I got a big doll usually we got some fruit and a little candy but I actually don’t remember being sad or upset about it. I do remember that I had some paper dolls like my cousins, Jo Love. They always seem to have good foods to eat, and of course Mama had good food. Aunt Gertrude did most of the cooking at Mama’s house and they had a long table with benches on each side and it would be full of food and relatives both. I was skinny also as a child and a teen. I didn’t eat much. I remember Annie telling me what they had to eat for supper and she would want to warm it up for me when I got in from work. And I would just have hot tea and toast.

I always had boyfriends. My first was the son of a doctor who with his brother owned the hospital in Centreville. His name was Rusty Fields and he had a little car that he rode out to my house. It was a fancy little car. He and I were voted the cutest in my senior year. Though not as a couple because by the time I had another boy friend or several. Rusty went on to become a doctor in Baton Rouge and became D. Howards Doctor.

I was in fairly good health and I was growing up. I remember one time when I had intestinal flu and Annie said that she thought I would die. Then one time, David climbed up on a neighbor’s disker (a farm machine for cutting up the soil.) I followed and my foot slipped and I took a big gash out of my leg. My daddy grabbed me up and ran to the house yelling for my mother to get some clothes. They took me to the doctor and he sewed it up. I really should have had plastic surgery but it was unknown in those days. You can still see the scar some 70 years later.

I was always conscious of that scar on my leg. When I was a senior in high school, I had an attack that the doctor thought was appendicitis. It reoccurred when I was four months pregnant with Jeannie and Dr. Clarke Callender removed my appendix.

One of my best friends in Centreville was “Sister” Eloise Knighton whose daddy was the town marshall. We went to church and school together and she was several years younger.

I always felt more comfortable with boys and girls my age or younger. Anyway sister and I with her cousins always sang duets or trios in church. The preacher, Brother Waggoner would take us with him to the courtry churches on Sunday afternoon. It was especially nice when he would take some of the soldiers from the camp who were attending our church. One of these soldiers was George Rungeon from New York. He was a fine Christian yourg man who encouraged us to be better Christians. Of course we were immature and it didn’t mean as much to us. He went home and brought a pretty new testament which I still have and wrote Romans 12:1-4 in the front of it. Of course after he left we never heard from him again. Later on when Ben and I were married, Sister came to see me at Mississippi College. I called and talked to her when her mother died. She is married to a doctor in Huntsville, Alabama.

Speaking of soldiers of course, my daddy said I was to have nothing to do with them. Of course we could be friends with adult supervision. Anyway, one of the soldiers wanted to come out and see me. Annie said he he could . So he brought flowers and came out in a cab. (We lived in the Country). It was fairly early when Daddy H. Came home and made him leave. He had to sit on a a bank and wait for the cab to come back and get him.

I really didn’t want to have anything to do with him so Fannie and I were at church between services. I saw him coming in the front door so I made her jump out of a back window with me. I avoided him and he got the idea. I was young and immature, probably 15 or 16 years old. He and three or four from the church were the only ones around. I spent the night with sister a lot because they lived in town. She and her mother would take me home sometime. As for dates, we double dated a lot, went to movies, football games, parties, hayrides, etc. Sometimes we just went out as a group. I honestly never saw anyone getting out of line, no drinking or smoking. Life was simple without all the bad influences that are here today. This was after Annie moved back from Jackson and I left the Mackey place.


Next Time: The LOVE of My Life

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