The pearl handle pocket knife

The pearl handle pocket knife. Once Christmas long ago Granny gave Baw a pearl handle pocket knife. A gentleman’s knife, it was a fine little thing, a knife you could take to church. No, it’s wasn’t any ordinary everyday knife to scrape the dirt from under one’s nails or sharpen a pencil. It was fancy,…

Murdering killers who might also be witches

When you live out in the country, isolated from neighbors, you take extra measures to keep your family and property safe.  My grandfather (“Baw” to me) was very vigilant. There was a gun behind every door, he had a pistol, and we had dogs that alerted us to any newcomer.  As an added layer of…

I love to tell the story

Storytelling runs in my family. We sit around and tell the same tales over and over and over. Somehow they never get old. Extra emphasis, a rolled eye, a dramatic pause entertains. A little extra detail here and there educates. In the retelling, heritage and history are passed down. My grandfather, “Baw,” and his brothers…

Come play in the deep end

“Do you remember being the only little White girl who would swim in the public pool?” Three times in as many months I have been asked this question by as many hometown African American lady friends. The answer? Honestly? No. “Do you remember teaching the Black kids how to swim?” Sort of. I remember that…

Happy Easter…now go stand by that bush

As I look back through the photographic record of my childhood, I see a distinct pattern. To commemorate most every special occasion, I was hauled out in the yard, strategically placed in front of something blooming with seasonal flowers, and commanded to stare into the sun until my retinas burned away, all while trying to…

A Brownie no more

It’s that time of year again. The time when smart little girls dressed in sashes heavy with the badges of their accomplishment implore you to fund their pursuit of “courage, confidence and character” through the purchase of sweet treats – Girl Scout cookies. And it is at this time every year I am reminded of…

Talking to the dead

I recently found myself alone in a car traveling a bleak and rainy back road with the ashes of a man whom I have never met. Alone for two hours. “What did you do?” said my friend, as I relayed to her my somewhat odd circumstance. “I talked to him,” I answered, honestly. I mean,…

Happy New Year and pass the innards, please.

Y’all know I’m about as Southern as they come. And those of us reared below (way below) the Mason-Dixon Line are defined by many aspects of our culture, chief amongst them being our traditional foods. But one thing that I have never been able to stomach, literally or figuratively, is the idea of eating innards….

Uncommonly good

I heard on the news this morning that new legislation has been introduced by several New England senators making it a felony to sell fraudulent maple syrup made from, as the reporter put it, “common cane syrup.” Here’s what I have to say about that – Fine by me! I think should be a crime…

Love, Me

We were cleaning out her house. Packing up the dishes, the linens, the cutlery. The books, nick nacks, and bridge sets. Her mother’s wedding dress and her daughter’s baby dress. A forgotten shoebox filled with Borax and zinnias. Nearly a hundred years of living to be parceled out, stored away or sold. Her closet was…