Where’s home?

Mama cried for a week when she moved away from the Gill Street house. She’d been happy there. Her chickens and turkeys strutted about in their pens in the back yard, clucking and scratching for juicy worms in those pens that Daddy had built for them in his spare time. The huge pecan trees not only provided nuts for our pies, cakes, and cookies; they supplied us with Christmas money. Every fall found us out in the yard on our knees gathering pecans into bright-colored plastic buckets. We gathered in all weather, except heavy rain. The old trees provided great bounty. Their nuts covered the ground and we had to take care not to step on them. When we filled several croker sacks, Daddy hauled them down to market on Saturday mornings and brought the money to Mama. She hoarded every penny to buy presents with, carefully hiding her money in her jewelry box with the false bottom. She didn’t care much about the jewelry—most of it costume anyway; her priorities differed from most women’s.

Mama grew up on a farm, and Christmas presents were sparse at best when divided among 11 children. Presents usually consisted of the proverbial hard candy and maybe an orange for each child. Mama promised herself that if she ever had children, she’d provide good Christmases for them. She kept that promise, no matter what and worked all year to prepare for her favorite holiday. The holidays on Gill Street were the best of all. In addition to the pecans, she babysat, took in laundry, and made quilts to sell to earn money. The factory next door to us provided many mothers needing a babysitter; Mama was right there and available.