MS Roots

December 23, 2010

Thriller Thursday – They come to say their good-byes

Filed under: Covington County,family history,Hathorn,Prentiss — by tmailhes @ 2:15 pm
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I spent at least a month each summer with my grandmother, Thelma Hathorn, and her two sisters, Elna Hathorn and Christine Hathorn, in the tiny town of Prentiss, MS. As a teenager, it was very boring. Cable television didn’t reach that far. But when I was young, it was great. There were trees to climb, fields to wander through, watermelon to eat from the vine and tons of cousins to play with. I even had fun picking cucumbers!
The nights, however. The nights were always scary. There were no street lights. Just darkness and nothingness.
I would sleep with my great-aunt, Christine, in her big bed and would snuggle up close to her. I was sure that the fierceness that the tiny woman expressed during the day would protect me through the night.
I was about 6 years old when I began to doubt if this was true.
Flucor Hathorn, the sisters’ brother, died in 1977. I don’t remember his face or the sound of his voice. I only remember the night he passed.
I was sleeping next to Christine when my grandmother let out a painful sound. Not a scream. A loud wail. I was immediately awake and so was Christine. She hurried across the hall to my grandmother’s room. My Aunt Elna was hurrying across the hall as well. She was saying, “Who is it? Who is it?” I sat alone in the darkness, frightened. I listened to their crying and started to cry myself.
Aunt Christine came into our dark room and told me to bring my covers down to the living room. The house was awake, but quiet. I curled up on the sofa and watched as the three of them made breakfast in silence. My Aunt Elma even made teacakes. It was still dark outside.
I can’t remember how long we sat there. It seemed like hours. Finally the phone rang. It was Flucor’s son. Uncle Flucor had passed away in the night. My grandmother said that she was on her way over to sit with his wife. She said, “Flucor told me to sit with Nannie Mae.”
Though I could not express it at the time. I knew that something had happened. Something strange.
As my brothers grew and spent summers with my grandmother, they witnessed these episodes of knowing. We never talked about it.
Except once. When my grandmother passed away. My brothers and I were in her kitchen packing her things away. My brother, the practical, said that maybe we should let Nanny know that we are okay and that she didn’t need to visit us or anything like that.
We all agreed and together we said, “Nanny, we love you. You don’t need to visit us.” We laughed at our silliness. But I was glad we said it out loud.

April 7, 2010

The Mysterious Mr. Hill

I have only two memories of my grandfather, L C Hill.

I remember being a very small child with my cousins in a rose garden.  Grandfather Hill appeared and yelled, “You, chaps, get out of Miss Matt’s roses!”  I started to cry and he yelled again, “Miss Matt!  Miss Matt!”  My grandmother came over and picked me up saying, “It’s alright, Mr. Hill”  She let me drink one of her special glass bottle Cokes kept in a refrigerator in the carport .

I remember his funeral and holding tight not to my parents, even though I was really scared, but to my grandma because she was crying.

On the journey to find my grandfather,  I haven’t learned much.  I joked with my father recently that his father may have been a time traveler appearing in the census record only in 1930 and in two moments in the mid 1970s.  What I have learned has been confusing because it is contrary to our oral tradition and written notes in the family bible.

I am even more determined now to find out who was the mysterious Mr. Hill.

The Cooperative Creamery, State College, MS

I was very excited to receive my grandfather’s Application for a Social Security Number a few days ago.  It listed his mother, Rose Sampson, and his father, John Lacy Hill.  It also listed his current employer (1937) as the Cooperative Creamery Association of State College, MS.

I asked my dad if he knew anything about the Creamery.  He told me that the Creamery made milk products from the milk of local dairy farms.  He also said that his dad worked at the creamery until his retirement in the mid 70s.  My dad hadn’t realized that his father had been working there since at least 1937!

My dad remembers that his father would load and unload milk trucks and unload pallets of ingredients. His most important job was starting up a large machine that acted as the churn for cheese.

There were times when no one else could get the machine to start and there would be a knock on the door asking L.C. to come to work a little early that morning.  If that knock came on a Monday there would be a familiar yell down the hall, “Miss Mattie, bring me a onion”  L.C. was a hard drinking man on his weekends so he needed to sleep late on Mondays.  According to my dad, my grandfather would eat a whole onion while walking the five miles to the Creamery and work the rest the day.

I have been searching for information or an actual photo of the The Creamery Building, but have had no luck so far.  If anyone has an ideas, I would love to hear them.

March 21, 2010

Sentimental Sunday- She’s Up to Something

This is my mother, Abelene Graves

“She’s up to something” – this is perhaps the only thing that my father and my grandmother agreed on prior to my mother’s death in March 1990.

My mother was born Abelene Graves on 11/21/1949.  It was soon realized that she was not like everyone else.  She was smart to the point of my grandmother’s exhaustion always wanting to know why.

To my grandmother’s dismay, my mom wanted to attend Jackson State University more than 60 miles away from home and live on campus.  My grandmother agreed on one condition that she would pick up my mother every Friday after classes and she would spend every weekend in Prentiss, MS.  Imagine how hard it was for my parents to date.  My dad said that a date was sitting in my grandmother’s living room watching t.v. with the family.  My grandmother would tell him to leave about 10pm and walk him to the door.  He would wave good-bye to my mom. They eloped in 1970.

My mom caused another uproar after her elopement when she changed her name to Toni.  She had always felt that Abelene was not a good name for her. She had been named after her father, Abraham.

It wasn’t only inside the family that my mom was “up to something”.  In the mid 70s, she cut her hair into a short fro and was the talk of the office in which she worked.  Later, she grew out the fro and dyed her hair honey blonde and then changed it to a bright auburn.

I remember that she was always doing something new from welding abstract sculptures to painting watercolors of magnolias.  There was a corner in kitchen that was always filled my mom’s latest hobby.

It has been 20 years since her passing, but our family is filled with stories about a mom that was sure that she could do anything.

The Toni Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

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