August 24, 2007

Sharecropper's Shack

Remember the story about mama's mortification over the stolen chicken? Well, the little sharecropper's shack that we lived in looked just like this picture. It's not the house--this one may be a little bigger, but when I saw this, I was taken aback, because at first I thought I was looking at the very house!

When Mama remarried, she was working in another state, and I was living with my grandmother in Georgia.

I remember when Big Mama told me that Mama had gotten married, and they would be there in a few days. Mama got married! That meant I would have a daddy. At last, a daddy! I could hardly contain my was all I could think about, and I must have asked Big Mama a thousand questions about him, but she knew no more than I did.

At last the day came, and Big Mama and I were standing out in the yard, looking up the dirt driveway that led up to our house. Finally, we saw them coming, walking up the road, having walked from the bus station in town. My heart felt as if it might burst! There was Mama. My little short mama with the shining blond hair. And next to her, a tall, handsome man with curly dark hair.

They were walking with their arms around each others' waist, and I just started running toward them as fast as I could run! When I got about halfway there, he knelt down and held out his arms to me, and I ran into them, and he swung me up in the air, putting me on his shoulders, a leg hanging over each one, and he carried me, laughing that laugh that only Daddy could laugh, the rest of the way back to the house. From that second on, he became my Daddy until the very second he died--while I was holding him.

Mama had met him in the town where she worked. He was a widower with six children, whose wife had been dead for over a year. The next day after they got there, we got on a bus going to Alabama, to a place called Sand Mountain. All the way there, I kept expecting to see a big old mountain made of sand, but it was called that because of the soil in that particular part of Alabama, and of course, it was up the mountain.

When we got there, one of his nephews met us and took us home. And what we went to was a little house which looked just like the one in this picture.Daddy was a sharecropper, and this was the sharecropper's shack. It had two rooms, and a smaller little room which was the kitchen. That was it. And we , Mama and Daddy, and five of my step-siblings (the oldest son was on his own) all lived in that little house.

I had never seen anything like it in my life. Big Mama wasn't rich, but she had nice things. This house had a plank floor, with cracks wide enough to see the ground underneath, and plank walls with cracks wide enough to look out through in the winter to see the icicles hanging on the nearby trees. There was no bathroom inside. It was down a little trail a little distance from the house. There was no running water. There was a well in the back of the house, though, with the coldest water you ever tasted. That supplied our drinking, cooking, and bathing water. A big old metal washtub was where we took our baths--in water heated in a special compartment of the woodstove in the kitchen.

It sounds primitive, I know--and it was. But for me, at that time, it was home. Home with a mama and a daddy--and oh yeah, some stinking mean stepsisters and a stepbrother, too. That might be another story.


rockync said...

You really have lived through some times, but you always seem to see the silver lining. I'd say you must have good karma.

Jan said...

Well, maybe trying to always see the silver lining is one of the things that helped me through the bad times.

k said...

I've been wondering about those step-sibs.

Jan said...

k...that could probably be a book.

k said...



Course, you had a lot of material to work with, there.

Jan said...

More than I ever knew what to do with.. :)