Three generations reminisce

Published 7:30 am Saturday, March 26, 2022

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Years ago, my daughter chanced to meet someone who lived close to the Bibb County mining camp where I was born. She was so excited she couldn’t wait to tell me about their conversation. “What did you tell this person about me?” I asked.

She had told him an astonishing story about the community where I was born and where my parents worked. I was shocked because her version of my early childhood did not even come close to the truth. “Who told you all that?” I asked. “Well, I just remember bits and pieces of things I had heard you say.” Right away I corrected her with the truth. I wondered if she had dreamed all that because she had told it in all honesty.

My mother lived with me and my family. Our conversation that day triggered me to ask about her childhood. Like my daughter, I just had bits and pieces of her story. I realized that I didn’t actually know much about her life during her growing up years either. Just like my daughter, I could never have told an accurate version of it.

Just that evening I had been relating my visit to the Covington County Courthouse to make pictures and write an article about the Sacred Harp group who met there regularly. It was all new to me. I was fascinated over what I heard and saw. Immediately Mother chimed in. She had attended lots of Sacred Harp singings as a child in Chilton County. She said people loaded up in wagons for a ride to the event and made a day of it.”

Then, Mother recalling how much her mother loved to work in her garden and with cows, chickens, etc., she and my grandmother told the story about Grandmother’s hen raising a family of ducks. She decided she wanted some ducks running around. She gathered some duck eggs and put them in a nest of an old setting hen. In due time some of the eggs hatched into little fluffy, yellow ducklings. It took only a short time for them to find a pond. They plunged right in, flapping their wings and right away enjoying themselves. Mother hen ran back and forth beside the pond, calling to them. Her pleas went unheeded. The poor old hen had to stand by and see her adopted babies risk their lives in the water.

She also raised guineas and kept them in pens. They often flew out of the pens, soaring a long way over tram cars sitting on tracks that led to a lime plant and some woods.

All that reminiscing spurred my mother and her mother to recall other things like gathering all the children of the family to hunt guinea nests in the woods. They were told that guineas wouldn’t go back to their nests if they were touched by human hands. They had to take sticks along to push eggs out of the nests. They also kept on guard with the sticks to rustle in bushes or weeds in front of them in case of snakes.

I was aware that, unlike my grandmother, my mother did not enjoy working in a garden or tending to chickens. I knew her well enough that she would have been right in the middle of those chores if she wanted to work with them. I learned a lot from those hours of conversation involving three generations.