Rode Hard Put Up Wet

Travel

Okefenokee Swamps

Slave coffins

There was one sale in Waycross, Georgia but there was no place to park the trailer.  Daddy finally found a lady that would let us park the trailer on her land pretty far out of town, and it only had water and electricity.  No restrooms but lots of trees.  It was about ¼ to ½ mile from her house and was mostly swamp land.  It was actually the Okefenokee swamps.  The most northern part of the Everglades in Florida.

This place was scary and you didn’t want to wander too far away from the trailer.  At night you could hear the panthers screaming and the owls hooting and other sounds you didn’t know what it was.  And dark—you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

Daddy made an outside shower with a hose, tarp and wooden crate to stand on.  Sometimes while taking a shower some creature would crawl up on the crate. Didn’t  take me long to take a shower. 

There was one time when we had gone into town to buy groceries, it was getting pretty late when we headed home down the pasture trail road.  All of sudden, you heard daddy say, Holly Shit!  He put the brakes on and in front of us was a huge snake stretched across the road and you could not see the head or tail and it was as big around as my daddy’s fist.  He hit the foot feed and sped over it.  We all hit our heads on the roof of the car. I was sure hoping we didn’t piss off that snake too badly.

Another day I heard a gun go off at the end of the road where the landlady lived.  She had gone to get her mail and there was a big snake wrapped around the post.  I guess she always carried a gun in her apron specifically for situations like that.  She lived alone and I don’t think she was scared of anything.

Another scary part of the swamps were the wooden coffins.  There was a cemetery of sorts for slaves in the old days that was out about 100’ or so back behind our trailer.  When the swamps were down you could see the coffins and when they were up you couldn’t.  I didn’t much like that place. 

In visiting about the slaves and black people, in Georgia, at that time, blacks still had the mentality of slavery that was forced upon them.  I mean they got off the sidewalk when a white person was walking on it.  And they still, at that time, had separate drinking fountains and were not welcome in some stores.  This was way different than other places I had lived.  It was around 1951 I’m thinking.  We might have been living in Douglasville, Georgia, just not sure.  I know at this sale mom had to help dad because it was a big sale.  

Back then black people were called “Negroes” and the lady dad hired to keep us was a “Negro”.  Now, it is likely offensive to use the word Negro.  I must have been around 7 or 8 at the time, and didn’t know any better. Our caregiver (nanny) was named Nathaniel, a very loving and watchful black woman.  She, herself, told us she was our “n*****r  mammy” and if we didn’t mind her, she would tan our hides.   

This lady had 6 children of her own but spent most days and many nights with us for a few weeks.  I remember one day going to the restrooms (this was still with the little trailer with no bathroom) and two girls had me cornered.  Anyway, I don’t know why they were after me, but here comes Miss Nathaniel with a rolled up newspaper and chased those girls out. This was one of the better outhouses.  It was cinder block and had 3 or 4 holes.  Uptown, yep.  Sorry I just had to put that in because it was so different from the one holers. 

There was one place that had a one holer and I was sitting on it when a spider bit me on the inside of my thigh.  I think it was a black widow, but not sure.  I do know my leg swelled and under my skin all the way to my foot had this big red streak going down.  I was really sick and every evening daddy would chew up a little tobacco and plaster it on my leg.  I guess it worked because after about a week I was going to school again.

Back to Nathaniel, she also made us up with whatever she could find for Halloween and walked us around different houses or trailers and we got lots of candy. We never got much candy so this was a real treat and special time.

I will NEVER forget her and don’t ever remember hearing her last name, but you can bet she is in heaven.   She was an angel to us and no matter what you might call her, she was our “N****r Mammy” and I loved her and respected her. 

Funny, later in life, I found out my great, great grandfather on my grandma Batson’s side was a black man married to a Lakota/Sioux Indian.   Those Indians in and around Minnehaha in South Dakota moved south to Louisiana where my grandmother was born. My grandmother always said she was French and Indian.  So, guess I’m part black also.

I think the French was the black part.  My grandmother said she shared with my mother when she was pregnant with me that I could be born black.  My grandfather was Indian also and I believe he said he was Cherokee, but he never talked about that much, so it is confusing as to how much or what tribe he associated himself with if any.

I feel like I’m getting to know you.  Don’t know why, all I do is talk about myself, but feel like I’m really talking to you.  And, you are taking it all in.  Hope so.

Anyway, tell next time, stay sober if you need to and watch for my ebook.

2 Comment

  1. I am loving these stories from the past! I hate not really knowing you growing up, but I’m so glad to have met you and am proud to call you cousin! I cant wait for your ebook!

  2. Hello Sandi, Gosh, I didn’t know you went through all this trauma. I didn’t really know your Dad other
    than seeing him once every 5 or 6 years. He was so handsome and Fran so nice and sweet. The last time I talked with him was at Tom’s funeral. Going through the memories of the past can be very painful yet
    healing at the same time. I stayed up later last night reading your stories and I loved them.

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