The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Mustard Greens, Pipes and German Zeppelins...
Aunt Frances Wright was a great big, tall colored woman who wore a bandanna on her head and wore gold rings in her ears. One of her legs was stiff and she seemed to drag it when she walked. She worked for my Grandma Steele when I was about five years old.
Aunt Frances lived down on the bluff and one day after begging and begging, my mother and Grandma Steele finally let me go home with her. Somebody had given Aunt Frances some mustard greens. As soon as we got to her house she built a fire in her wood stove.
She got a big iron pot out and put water and a piece of salt meat in it then she stuffed all those mustard greens in the pot. The scent of those mustard greens drifted all through her house and even out in the yard. What a wonderful smell that was!
Just before the mustard greens got ready, Aunt Frances mixed up some cornmeal in a cast iron skillet and put it inside the wood stove. Aunt Cassie Sessions lived about 200 yards out from Aunt Frances. I don’t know if Aunt Frances had invited her to eat or she just smelled the mustard greens cooking but she joined us when the food got ready.
Those two old colored ladies and me ate a ton of mustard greens and cornbread that day!
I remember after we got through eating, Aunt Frances, who had been sitting in a straight chair, kind of leaned back up against the wall and got out her pipe and had a smoke. Aunt Cassie pulled out her pipe and had a smoke, too. I had done everything they had done up until that point. Man, I wanted one of those pipes, too!
They would talk for a few minutes then draw on their pipes. After a while, they both dropped off to sleep. I shut my eyes but I couldn’t go to sleep. About fifteen minutes later they both roused up and Aunt Cassie went on home.
I looked up and saw Grandpa Steele walking up from the bluff. I started to say something to him and Aunt Frances said, “No, don’t say nothing to him. That might not be your grandpa. It might be one of them Germans done come up here in one of those zeppelins.” At the time I didn’t have any idea what she was talking about.
|German Zepplin used in World War I|
Turned out it was Grandpa Steele. He had been down at the head of the lake checking on his boat.
Note: Parts 1-53 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.