Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baby Earline

She is the darling baby of James Monroe Markham and Ida May Thomas. Earline Markham was born in 1920. She is the last living member of her family of four. Felix, her only sibling died in 1930.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Ida Markham

Ida Markham
Born Oct 18 1895
Died Oct 10 1922
Zion Chapel AME Church Cemetery
Caseyville, Lincoln County, MS

Ida May Thomas, daughter of Alexander Thomas and Roxanne Smith, married James Monroe Markham. James was my mother's 1st cousin.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chicken in the Skillet

The posts from Georgia Black Crackers and Finding Eliza reminded me of the memories I have surrounding a chicken meal. Whether it was company coming or going to visit, fried chicken was usually the center of attention. In my childhood home, chicken was a barometer on how well financially the family was doing. When there was no chicken in the cast iron skillet, we knew money was scarce and for a good portion of my childhood that was the way it was. When my father returned home, the chicken came home with him.

My mother was a good cook and like Jesus she had the gift of multiplying. She could take one chicken and make two meals for seven people. One day fried chicken and the following meal, chicken "n" dumplings, chicken pot pie or rice in chicken broth with okra and tomatoes. We children would tease each other when we manage to find chicken in a spoonful of my mother's tasty dishes.

I was a senior in high school when my father discovered I didn't know how to cut up a chicken. Mama purchased whole chickens. My hungry dad displayed a rare moment of domesticity trying to see to it that the chicken was cut up, so, by the time my mother was home she could get busy seasoning and frying but I put a wrinkle in his plans. My mother must have gotten an earful from my dad on the ride home because when she came in she taught me how to cut up the barnyard princess.

She showed me joints, how to separate the leg from the thigh. She made sure I took a piece of the breast when cutting the wing. Two legs, two thighs, two wings, resting in the bowl. Once the breast and back were separated, she showed me how to remove the breast bone and cut the breast into four portions. Backs, necks, livers, and gizzards were sometimes fried and sometimes used to make a broth. Nothing was wasted, we cooked it all.

My twenty something old children love my fried chicken from the cast iron skillet. The above picture shows how they use chicken to entertain friends. It has been a long time since I cut up a whole chicken and I have no plans to teach my daughters or my son the skill. I suppose I am the last of my line to learn.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sickly Felix

Felix James Markham died one day after his 11th birthday per his death certificate. Cousins declare he was 14. He was born with heart disease. The family thought his mother Ida was overly protective, she wouldn't allow the boy to run and play with the other children. He needed fresh air and plenty of sunshine, treat him like any other child was the advice given. After all, the family had seen children born sickly, survive and thrive.

Ida Thomas married my mother's 1st cousin, James Monroe Markham. Ida had one documented stillborn birth before Felix was born. The gossip between the gate posts is that she had several miscarriages, which made her mentally unstable.

Felix was born Feb 14 1919 in rural Lincoln County, MS. His sister Earline followed in 1920. There would be no more children born to this family. Ida died in 1922 due to anemia from pregnancy.

The children's father, James Monroe, moved to Chicago and eventually became a Pullman porter. Earline and Felix remained with their paternal grandparents, James and Anna Markham in Caseyville, MS. Felix developed pneumonia in the winter of 1930, his diseased heart failed. He died February 15, 1930, in his grandparent's home.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Handwritten Headstone

Betsy Earls
Born May 12, 1864
Died May 13 1913
"Gone to a Better Place"
Hickory Block Cemetery
Jefferson County, Mississippi

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sentimental Sunday
Aunt Rosie's High School Graduation Picture

Rosie Lee Durr's High School Graduation
Hazlehurst Colored High School
Picture was taken sometime in the 1940s.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Learning to Read for Sunday

Mike Durr, Jr.
1921 - 2004

My Uncle Mike Durr, Jr., never learned to read. He had a great memory for dates and family history. He could add, subtract, divide, and multiply in his head but he just couldn't get that reading thing together even with extra help from dedicated teachers. He didn't hide his illiteracy but used it as a crutch. According to his wisdom, he never married because he could not read.

I lived in the same house with Uncle Junior as a young child and he recognized my love for reading, so, he decided I would "teach" him to read his Sunday School lessons. Before the third grade, I was his teacher and would continue to work with him until I was in high school. Those Hittites, Mobites, Zacchaeus, Zephaniah, etc., would tie a knot in a young reader's tongue. I would read the lesson with my mother before I "taught" Uncle Junior.

He wanted to participate in his Sunday School Class by reading one of the verses from the lesson. We would go through the lesson and he would decide which verse he would read in class. We worked on that verse at least once during the week and again on Saturday night.

On Sunday mornings with bibles and Sunday School books in hand, off to church we went. It was a small church where all classes were in one room. Occasionally, I could hear Uncle Junior telling the teacher which verse he wanted to read and hear him when he read his verse. He would stumble at the same words he stumble with at home, forget the words I felt he knew. His teachers ignored his stumbles and would continue to call on him to read Sunday after Sunday. On many Sundays my student was a star, he would recite his verse near perfect.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hazlehurst Colored School 11th Grade Class

This is the 11th class picture of my Aunt Rosie Durr Scott, my Dad’s sister. Aunt Rosie is the 5th person from the left on the back row. She was born in 1928, the year before the Great Depression in rural Copiah County, MS.

I believe Aunt Rosie was the only one of the five siblings to graduate high school the traditional way. The oldest Uncle Junior didn’t learn to read and he was too embarrassed to remain behind with children who were younger and smaller, so, he quit. Today, he would probably be diagnosed with a form of learning disability. Aunt Alice finished the 8th grade, eager to say good bye to rural life, leaving for the big city of Jackson to complete her education but found marriage instead. My dad Albert went to the Korean War before finishing high school, came home and received his GED paid by the GI Bill. I don’t think the baby, Uncle Ike, finished high school or received a GED.

It was the 1940s and the county had school buses for white children from the rural communities. The children of color from rural communities had to provide their own transportation or live with someone near a high school.

Grandpa Mike’s sharecropping days were over, so, to make a little money he used a horse drawn wagon to take neighbors to town on Saturday mornings. When it was time for Aunt Rosie to go to high school, he asked the folks who had the power to sell him a discarded school bus. Grandpa repaired the bus from monies he received from his other thriving business, bootleg whiskey. This bus was used to take Aunt Rosie, and for a small fee the other neighborhood children to school. He would also use it for his Saturday morning business, which was the real reason his children thought he purchased the bus.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lumber Yard Laborers

Lumber Yard Laborers somewhere in Lincoln County, MS
Photo from the Collection of Cousin James Scott