Remembrances of Home in Cliffside
(from a tape made at the home place in 1987)
Freddie: I remember when Til (Mary Elizabeth) was courting Don Splawn. They were sitting in the living room. Mama asked me to sit in the swing on the porch and keep an eye on them. Mama was making fun of them and asked me to serve them a salad. Mama made it real nice. There was a lettuce leaf on a saucer with a pear half and a big blob of chicken fat to top it off.
Til: Marilyn was born in this room, the front bedroom. It was January and cold. Daddy was home. I remember someone telling me that Daddy walked through the room, took one look at me and promptly fainted. He fell across the other bed in the same room. After Marilyn was born. Mama wrapped her up in a blanket. She took her into the kitchen. She opened the oven door and laid the baby on the open door to keep her warm. The first night after Marilyn was born she slept with Freddie. I was unconscious and didn’t even know she was here. (Where was the doctor?)
Charles: I was standing out in the front yard with someone, I don’t remember who. Someone came out of the house and told us, “I don’t think Til is going to make it.” Thank God she did.
Donald: One Christmas when I was a little boy, I asked for an electric train. Early Christmas morning I heard Santa putting that train together. I was very excited to get it. Another thing I remember is playing with toy soldiers under the house. Actually it was under the kitchen. If someone went out there today and crawled under the kitchen I’m sure they would find lots of little toy soldiers.
Charles: That is where Jimmy used to throw dirt at me. He sure did like throwing dirt clods.
Til: Mama had trouble getting Jimmy to take a bath. One afternoon she told him that the Principal, Mr. Caldwell was coming for supper. Jimmy hurriedly cleaned up and put on his good clothes. Mama stationed Jimmy by the kitchen door to wait for him. Jimmy practiced saying, “Welcome Mr. Caldwell. Pleased to have you,” until he was sick of it. Finally Mama admitted that she had made the whole thing up.
Jimmy: After WWII was over, I came home from the service. Hazel and I got married but didn’t have any place to live. We stayed here for awhile and slept on a bed in this room. The bed had wooden rails on it. It didn’t have those steel rails on the sides. Hazel and I had just gone to bed one night and one of the rails split from one end to the other. With a loud crash we landed in the floor. Mama hollered from her room, “What in thunderation is going on in there?”
Max: For some reason I just couldn’t seem to bathe right until I was about 19 years old. Right before church, which seemed like it was every other day, Mama would see something wrong with me. She could spot dirt from 30 to 40 feet away. She would pull out a handkerchief, spit on it and proceed to clean me up. She called it a cat bath.
Freddie: I remember being on a train with Mama. Til and Jimmy were there also. We were traveling from Florida to Greensboro. Mama got a finger bowl and her handkerchief and shined us all up before the train pulled into Greensboro.
Max: I remember Mama as always smiling, whistling and playing the piano. Mama formed two holes with her mouth when she whistled. She loved to laugh and loved good humor. She took me to church every time the doors were open. I loved Vacation Bible School. I remember Mama’s radio programs from Shelby. I remember her as a good cook. Nothing fancy, but just plain good food. I remember Mama loving me and that she always waited up for me.
Charles: I can remember laying on the bed in this room (the front bedroom), right next to the window. One of my fondest memories is smelling bacon cooking on the stove and Mama humming as she worked. Mama called out, “Here comes Daddy!” The car turned into our driveway and I jumped up to run out and meet him. It is for some reason one of the sweetest memories of my life.
Donald: As a young boy, I had a homemade wagon. Near our home there was a deep gully. Sometimes, for excitement, I would push my wagon along the edge of the gully just as close as I could without falling in. Sometimes I did! This was called “snubbing the gully.”
Freddie: We had an animal graveyard across the road from Aunt Lizzie’s house. Dead mules, cows, dogs, cats, etc. were buried there. We always had funerals for our little chicks (dibs). We put them in little match boxes with a slide-on lid. We would line the box with a little piece of lace or satin. Til insisted on being the preacher. The scripture she always used was Revelation 10:9-10, We were not allowed to use the word belly. The text read: “And I went unto the angel and said unto him, give me the little book. And he said unto me, ‘Take it and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.’” A good excuse to use the word belly! I was always the song leader. We would always cry and bury the chick next to the other chickens. Several days later we would go back and dig up the chick to see how it was doing.
Freddie: Mama was very troubled when Charles came down with diphtheria. All of us children were quarantined. It was winter time. A friend, Mal Procter, came in a wagon and brought an iron bed and set it up in the kitchen for Charles. It must have been near Christmas time. Charles’ one request was for a tricycle. He said, “If I can’t get a tricycle for Christmas, could I just have a picture of one on the wall by my bed?”
Max: I don’t remember Mama and Daddy hugging or kissing. I remember Mama and me riding down to Cliffside with Daddy. From the back seat I remember he had wrinkles on the back of his neck. We had to stay in the car. It seemed like Daddy was gone a long time. I remember going to the barber shop with Daddy. He and Mr. Randall would discuss the Bible. Daddy had a horse named Blackie and a mule [named] Blue.
Marilyn: Being the oldest grandchild I have the privilege of having many happy memories of this house. One of my favorite is sitting on the side porch on Friday evenings. We played counting cars while we waited for Grandpa to come home. We would also sing and tell stories. I remember summers spent in this house. Max and I were the best of friends, more like brother and sister. We would play for hours in the woods behind the house, play in the creek or swim in the gourd hole. Once we found a puppy that had died. We wanted to bury it but needed a box and cloth to wrap it in. Max waited in the shade while I walked about a half mile back to the house to ask Grandma for the box and cloth. Another time we were playing Superman in the Crepe Myrtle tree in the front yard. Somehow I fell out of the tree and landed on my head. Max helped me up and begged me not to tell Grandma for fear she would not let us play in the tree any more. That was much more important than my brain concussion!