Welcome to my table

I am new at this-if you come to visit please kick back, take your shoes off, grab yourself a cookie and something to drink, and enjoy. Please scroll down to start at the beginning. Let me know that you were here by leaving a comment.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

I don't do a lot of decorating for Christmas because of this...
This was him at 6 weeks...that is a small bottle of coke for proportion.This is him now....his name is Bandit by the way-but he only knows himself as "Puppy", and he is now 8 months old.... and old enough to pull all the ornaments and anything else he can get hold of off the tree, including pulling the tree over onto himself. Luckily we were there-and caught it!


I can finally say it, I have all my Christmas shopping done! I did a few last minute dashes to get those things that were left dangling yesterday. It is a real good feeling to be able to say that I am finally finished.
I must tell all you this incredible story of Luck and Inspiration!


Can you believe it? This guy wins 181 Million in the lottery last Wednesday, and finds the love of his life just 2 days later!

Talk about LUCK!

I will leave you with this last piece of advice-Don't forget to water your Christmas tree!!

Friday, December 18, 2009


To my beautiful daughter, Georgina, on her birthday.

You will never know how much you changed my life the day that you were born, just how much you were wanted and loved.

You will never know the excitement that your birth created-some people came from miles away to see this beautiful little bald headed baby girl!

Mother and daughter relationships are famous for being passionate, difficult and even defining-as ours sure has been.

As Mothers we want to pass on our hard won wisdom, as daughters we want to be free to make our own mistakes.

One thing that I can be sure of though, that I have taught you to be proud of the fact that you are a woman equal to everyone, and that I have loved you every second of your life.

I have supported you at all times as a mother, as a woman, as a person and as a friend. I will always continue to love and cherish everything about you my beautiful daughter.

Happy Birthday . You know how much that I love you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Woo Hoo!! Hooray for my Secret Santa!!!!

Well lets just get this straight right here and now-I HAVE THE BEST SECRET SANTA!! Rose you are the best! I got home from work this evening and there on the porch was this ginormous box-with MY name on it! Talk about heart racing, this doesn't happen to me -ever! I get out the box knive-being very careful...not to damage anything....

Here is my gift-in all its' lovliness-before I opened it.

I very carefully open the box-to find another box.....this is really getting me excited...the heart is racing now...

I open this box-no box knife needed this time, and what to my wondering eyes did appear???

ALL of these wonderful and festive gifts!! I will take them out and show you one by one....

These oh so cute Snowmen Cheese Spreaders-perfect for my cheeseball that I have made for our Christmas gathering! Aren't they just perfect? Wait that is not all-there is more! Look at these !
This is an adorable salt and pepper shaker set of Santa and his Elf-now I ask you-is that not the cutest?!!??!!I love them...But wait- that is not all-there is yet more!
Cup Towels! Now just tell me-what woman EVER has enough of these??? I love them and they are perfect to have out this holiday season! But wait-that is not all-there is more!!!

This wonderful Bread Basket-I will use this until it is used up-I never have a bread basket big enough for all the rolls! I just love, love, love this! How did she know I needed this?

I will say this is one of the sweetest surprise gifts that I have ever received, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart Rose. You have made my day!

This has been a very fun experience for me-I hope to be able to do it again next year. Thanks to Amy and Georgie for all their hard work.

p.s. My Secret Santa really is the Best!

Friday, December 11, 2009


This is my first time to play along with the very popular Friday Fragments hosted by Mrs 4444 For more Friday Fragments visit Mrs 4444 @ Half-Past Kissin Time

TGIF! I am so glad that it is Friday! It really has been a l-o-n-g week for me. I have been spending about 13 hours a day on my work, I get up at 5 a.m. every day, so that means I am getting about 5-6 hours of sleep each night. By the time Friday rolls around, I am just plain old pooped.

The lady that I take care of is fading away, fast. It is so sad- her and I have had a lot of fun, in the almost 6 years that I have known her. She taught me how to play Bridge, a game that I never thought I would ever be interested in, but now am totally addicted to. Her and her family have been very generous, and good to me-in appreciation for my taking good care of her. You cannot be with another person for that long a time and not become attached. I am sad to see her going away.

Only 13 shopping days left before Christmas! That means that tomorrow morning Georgie (from Decisionally Challenged) and myself will meet at 8:00a.m. to begin a day of "power shopping"! We always have a lot of fun. We will start at "Tar-jay" (Target), then go to the mall, and have lunch somewhere later. I will tell you this-you do not shop "with" Georgie-she is so fast, I usually just hand her the $$ and find me a place to sit while she whizzes through all the shops. She knows better anyway what to buy for teenagers and preteens.

My clothes dryer went out!! Thank goodness the hubby did not listen to me when I told him he should donate that old one to the Salvation Army! After we got the old one put back in the laundry area-I thanked him for not listening to me.

My cat Buster has dissappeared! We have not seen him in over a month now-I hope nothing bad happened to him, and he just ran away. His son "Rowdy" did the same thing, so I am thinkin he just went seeking greener pastures....... I do miss him a lot, tho.

I have been having so much fun following the Secret Santa trail. I love going to all the different blogs to see what everyone is receiving. It looks like everyone is receiving some really thoughtful and nice gifts. What a fun little pre-Christmas surprise to receive.

Next Friday Georgie will turn 39! I just don't seem to be able to wrap my brain around that, it seems like only yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital, and argueing(sp?) over who was going to get to carry her from the car to the house! It was a cold day here in Oklahoma that day, I had her wrapped in about 13 blankets, you had to dig, just to find her in there. She was such a special gift, and she still is today.

Have a wonderful weekend all-I need to go get out my comfy, mall walkin', Christmas shoppin' shoes, and be ready for tomorrow!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Goodbye Turkey-Hello Santa

Thanksgiving was a success, we all ate all that we could and then sat around all fat, dumb, and happy. We all kept saying how full we were, then someone would want a piece of pie, or one more helping of that fruit salad, or another dinner roll. You know how it goes. My grandaughter got my tree put up and decorated, and it does look pretty, everyone complimented her on a job well done. Of course I have tons of leftovers....(if everything was so good-why didn't someone take some of those leftovers home with them?)

Now it is time for me to send out my Christmas letter to my kids and grands. It is basically an agenda of what, and when everything, will take place at my house this year. We always have a lot of fun. The grands draw names, the adults play the Dirty Santa game, we have a game called the Brown Bag Special, and we have a game for the kids-an Auction. This was a lot of fun last year-I buy several gifts, and we hand out this money that we printed off on the copier. They get to bid on these gifts, that they dont know what is in the package. We laughed so hard last year watching the kids with this game-we had as much fun as they did!

The lady that I "sit" with is getting a little better-Praise God! She seems to be clearing up in her mind. At least she doesn't think everyone is trying to murder her any more. Poor little thing, she wouldn't hardly close her eyes, out of her fear of someone trying to "do away with her" (as she put it).

I am putting up some pics of some of the people that I love so much-my girls, and a few of the grands. Just to let you see what keeps my heart beating.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Secret Santa Gift is Shipped

My Secret Santa gift is being shipped out today!! I cannot wait to see when he/she gets it! It was a lot of fun-trying to shop for things for a person that you don't even know. It made you really think about that persons' likes and dislikes. It has been a great experience for me. While I was wrapping those gifts, it really made me start to get into the Christmas Spirit. I do not mean to offend anyone by my use of the word "Christmas" - that is just what it will always be to me. If you chose another word, that is okay by me, I won't be offended, either. Lets all just let the holiday be what it is to you. I have a "Christmas" tree, too. I also put out a small Nativity scene most of the time. That is just what it is to me.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving! I give thanks for my family first, our freedom and our country, our brave soldiers fighting to keep us free and safe. I am also thankful that I have a job- there are so many who don't. I am thankful that I have a roof over my head and plenty of food. I am thankful for all my friends, and all the love that is shown to me by my family and friends.

I wish everyone a safe holiday weekend.

My Menu for Thanksgiving



Turkey Giblet Gravy

Hash Brown Casserole

Garlic and Onion Green Beans

Deviled Eggs

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Fruit Salad

Yeast Rolls

Cranberry Sauce

Pumpkin Pie

Lemon Pie

Thats all folks............

Friday, November 20, 2009

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

One week until Thanksgiving, I have pretty much purchased all my ingredients needed for my Turkey Dinner. I will only have about 5 people at my house. My middle daughter is cooking and invited everyone, but since I am only off that one day, I decided not to make the drive to Arkansas. I also have a tradition with my youngest grand daughter-every Thanksgiving she puts up my Christmas tree and decorates it for me. She always does a w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l job of it. I am so happy that she wants to do it, now I need to devise a way of bribing her to take it down for me...... Any way, due to time restraints, I will be cooking, and Georgie, lilest Bean, my ex-mother-in-law, and my hubby will get to pig out to our hearts content. We will also indulge in some really good wine.

Normally I am soooooo happy when the holiday season starts, and I was for a short time this year. I have taken care of this lady, who is 94 years old, for almost 6 years, and she is really going downhill fast. She was officially diagnosed with Alzheimers about a year ago, and was doing fine up until her son decided to get some eye surgery done to lower the pressure in her eye. That surgery put her into a downward tailspin. Now she is combative, doesn't know any of us, won't take her meds, forgot how to walk, and refuses to eat much of anything. WARNING!!! Never let anyone do surgery on an Alzheimer patient, or a person with advanced Dementia. The anesthetic does weird and crazy things to their already mixed up brain. The surgeons will not always tell you about these risks. Her Eye Surgeon never brought it up. The doctor(her Internist) says he doubts she will bounce back from this considering her age. I stay with her 5 days a week, so the last two weeks have been really hard for me, both mentally and physically. You would not believe how strong a 94 year old woman can be when she wants something or does not want something. I have pulled a muscle in my bicep and yesterday I sprained my wrist. None of this happened because I was forcing anything-I don't believe in forcing someone to do something, it is all a result of trying to help her in and out of bed, chairs, and her wheel chair.

So-needless to say, I have been very pre-occupied with her, and have forgotten all about my holiday spirit. I am so afraid something is going to happen to her, I don't even relax when I go home at night. That and the fact that my brother is just hanging on by a thread, makes it hard to be real happy.

I really do need to get with the program-I know that,so-Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope your table is full of good things to eat, and all the chairs are full around the table, too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today in Tulsa

Today it is a warm blustery day here in Tulsa. As of today we have had 28 people in the state of Oklahoma die of the Swine Flu! That is pretty scarey to me! Are you going to get, or have you gotten the H1N1 flu shot yet? I will get it when I can get to the clinic. I am pretty sure that I would qualify-as I am a diabetic. What do you think? Do you think that it is safe?

We are supposed to have some cooler weather next week, I have to admit it-I am ready for some seasonal weather.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pictures and stuff

Halloween has come and gone...I drove over to see my kids in Arkansas, they needed some blue grease makeup and some liquid latex for the boys costumes. They were having a hard time locating some liquid latex, I found some here, so I decided to just drive it over, and I could take my halloween goodie bags over to the boys- instead of mailing them. The boys dressed up as the "Blue Men", you have probably seen these characters in a commercial on t.v. Here is a picture of them in their costumes. They turned out pretty good, don't you think? I did not get any pictures of my other grands in their costumes.

I love this time of the year-leaves falling, trees changing color, a cool crispness to the air. The smell of wood fires, the sounds of the winds blowing at night, and all the festivities that come with fall and winter.
I am starting to buy gifts for Christmas, and for my SS partner. I do love this part of Christmas-the giving part.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"You Have Been BOO'd"

Halloween is upon us! I have been busy getting goodie bags put together for my grandchildren this past week. For the first time in my life I made caramel apples! I think I did a so-so job....I will post pics so you can see them later in the week. It was a fun job to do-especially the decorating. I love the holidays-Halloween really gets it going for me. The next one will be Thanksgiving , to get me really pumped about Christmas. Well, really I am already pumped about it. I will soon be able to start buying for my SS partner.....ooooh what fun!

I "BOO'd" a good friend and neighbor last nite-about 7 p.m. me and the hubbs get in the car with our bucket of goodies, drive by their house once, then twice, stop, and he jumps out running up to their house,planning to ring their doorbell and run out and hide behind a big tree they have in their front yard. About that time their next door neighbor pulls into his driveway, and jumps out of his truck yelling "HEY!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT DO YOU WANT AROUND HERE?!!!

The hubbs says "JUST DROPPIN' OFF SOME HALLOWEEN SHIT, MAN." (You got to understand the hubbs didn't want to be doing this in the first place...lol) I had driven around the block after dropping him off and was not aware of this confrontation and conversation...when I picked him up he was walking very fast down the street. He said it was probably ruined, because the guy had gone over to the "BOO'd" partys' house as the hubbs was walking away. He said he heard the excited neighbor describing him, to my friends, as he walked away. Oh well, it is the thought that counts, right?

Happy Halloween all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Last Day to Sign Up For SSS

Yup - you heard me right. This is the last day to sign up and participate in the SSS! If you want in, you had better hurry up and get your name in the pot. There are already over 80 people who are signed up. Last year it was so fun to watch as each person got their gift from their Secret Santa and posted pictures and blogged about it. This year I will be able to watch as my recipient opens the gift that I chose for him/her then post pictures and blogs about it. Let the fun begin! Hurry over to Decisionally Challenged blog and sign up before it is too late!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Surprise Birthday Party

I am going to a surprise birthday party this Saturday. I am happy/sad and mad. I am happy because it is my older brother Willie's birthday (and his twin sister Wilma's). It is the first birthday party he has ever had in his life and a surprise party no less! I am sad because he is so very sick. He was diagnosed with COPD about 5 years ago and it has really gotten bad. He can hardly take a step without being completely out of breath. I am mad because he is such a sweet big brother, this is not fair to be happening to him. I want to just scream! He was always the one we looked to for help and guidance when we were young. He stepped right up when Mother died and took us by the hand and led us through it. I am mad and sad because I cannot stop the world for a little while, so that I can spend a little more time with him, and tell him how much he means to me, how much I love him, and appreciate him for who he is. You know how you get that dreaded feeling that something bad is coming or something horrible is about to happen? Well, I have that feeling, and it is just making me sick to my stomach, and I cannot do anything to stop what is about to happen to my sweet brother.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Interrupt this blog for SSS

I have joined the Secret Santa Soiree! I am sooooooo excited to be part of it this year. I watched as each person received their Secret Santa gift last year, with envy. I wanted so much to be in on it but did not have a blog. Well this year it is going to be different, and I am in! I love Christmas, and all that goes with it. The sights, smells, the giving, the food, the family together, everything! I am ready to start buying for my blogger-only trouble is-I dont know who she/he is yet. I will be reading a lot of blogs this week so that I can get prepared, by trying to get to know who all the people in the SSS are and find out a little more about them. The deadline for signing up is Oct. 15, so if you want in-you better hurry. The last time I looked at the "linky" at Decisionally Challenged, there were close to 80 participants already!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Chapter 7 Headed West

Haywoods' brother Jim wrote them a letter-from Oklahoma. He told them about a work program that he was in. Jim was working on a job in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, helping to build and repair railroad bridges. Sand Springs was a small town just outside of Tulsa, and was a large railroad hub. Trains from all corners of the United States came through Sand Springs, and was an important stop for most of them.

The WPA-the Works Progress Administration, known by the letters WPA, was one of the many programs started by the federal government under President Franklin D. Roosevelt to combat the devestating effects of the Great Depression. During its 8-year history, the WPA built 651,087 miles of highways, roads, and streets; and constructed, repaired, or improved 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853 airport landing fields. Nearly every city or town in the U.S. today has something that was built by the WPA.

Haywood and Everline loaded up all their belongings, the two children, and headed for Oklahoma. After traveling about seven miles out of Mobile -the crankshaft broke on the old Model A . The road was not paved-and had large pot holes and rutts all along the way. There was a farm house that Haywood could see that sat back off the old country road. He walked up to it, an old farmer met him out in his yard. Haywood asked him if he could take him back to Mobile, and try to find another crankshaft. As luck would have it- the farmer told Haywood that there were two or three broken down Model A's sitting around back of his barn, and Haywood was welcome to any parts that he could use off of them. When asked how he came to have all these cars- the farmer said that people would just walk off and leave them after breaking down on the road. They told the farmer he could have the car if he would pull it out ot the road. Haywood found a crankshaft that would fit perfect- he set about changing the two out. There were plenty of large shade trees along side of the road, Everline spread out a blanket and let the kids play while she scouted for wild poke along the creek nearby. She gathered up wood and started a fire, got the poke and some bacon grease in a pot and started to cook them all something to eat. She stirred up a batch of cornbread and put some cracklin's in it. Before she did anything else tho, she started a pot of coffee. Haywood drank coffee all day long. That night was just the first of many they would be sleeping alongside the road . The children thought it was a great adventure! It took two days to get the Model A up and running again. Haywood put two dollars in the farmers mailbox before leaving. Back on the road they headed west- stopping alongside of the road, near creeks, to cook their meals and to bathe and sleep. They would spread out a pallet on the ground, with spoons and plate to eat their beans and cornbread. They met many other families doing the same thing along the way.

Everline had been sick with an endless cough, so they were hoping that the move to a cleaner climate would help her get rid of it. She liked her pepsi cola, and her tobacco, and preferred to smoke her tobacco-in a corn cob pipe. She could often be found sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair, with her pipe,her bottle of pepsi cola, and her little dog "Sara" in her lap.

They arrived in Sand Springs, found a little shack that had been abandoned, down by the Arkansas river, and moved into it. They never asked who owned it, and nobody ever came around and asked them to pay rent. They were "squatters". Times were hard-it was the time of the Great Depression, and thousands of people had moved out to California after the war to get away from the dust bowl. As the bottom dropped out of farm prices, sharecroppers and tenant farmers by the thousands abandoned their farms and took to the road, looking for economic opportunity.

In the 1920s several things happened to show the darker side of Oklahoma. African Americans sent to fight overseas returned unwilling to accept discrimination and lynch law. In 1921 in Tulsa a race riot, fueled by newspaper editorials, destroyed the city's black Greenwood District and ended with many deaths. The exact number will never be known, the episode left a scar that remained raw . The superpatriotism of World War I rejuvenated the Ku Klux Klan. No longer aimed at just keeping African Americans in their place,the organization took on the job of enforcing morality. With middle-class support the Klan ignored the law and civil rights and instituted a reign of terror against those who failed to meet its definition of "100 percent Americanism."

Haywood took to carrying a gun-he didn't have any gripe with the "darkies", he just didn't want to be caught in the middle of anything. The Klan had come around his place asking questions of the kids and Everline. They asked things like- did Haywood beat them, was he a heavy drinker, did he gamble their money away. They told Haywood that he ought to be horse-whipped for taking up with an indian woman. That was as bad as marrying a "darkie".

Haywood got a job at the railroad station-helping to switch cars in the switching yard. He worked from sun up to sun down, and had several close calls while working. He almost got his arm caught between the couplers, when his sleeve got stuck on a pin that stuck out and wouldn't come off immediately. Just before the railroad car lurched back to hook onto the other car-he managed to jerk his sleeve free-if not he surely would have lost that arm from being crushed in the hook mechanism.

It was hard to go to work everyday because Everline had been unable to get out of bed anymore. She was very thin and coughed constantly, the doctor had speculated that she might have tuburculosis. There was no medicine available to heal her. Flossie being only ten years old was now cooking and cleaning and taking care of her little brother Artie.

Every morning Flossie would get up when Poppie did, while he milked their cow- she would start breakfast for everyone. Then she would help Artie get ready for school and then help Mommie with whatever she could. Lately Artie had not been wanting to go to school, him and one of the boys down the road would head to the bridge instead. They would stay there all day, swinging on grape vines and bailing off into the Arkansas River. They would sneak some of Mommie and Poppie's snuff and chewing tobacco. When they used that all up, they would start smoking some of the grape vines. They would play so hard and long that when they got home they were starved. Flossie tried walking Artie to the school house, but as soon as she was headed down the road back home, him and his friend would take a short cut to the river. Finally Poppie and Flossie quit trying to make Artie go to school-but he had to chop wood, feed the chickens, and slop the hog before he could go play.

When everyone else was settled into their routine for the day, Flossie would help her Mommie to get up and sit in a chair while Flossie straightened up her room and bed. Then Flossie would get some warm water and bathe her mother and help her into a clean gown. She thought her Mommie had the most beautiful long, thick, shiney black hair, and would brush and brush it for her every day. Mommie loved it and always told Flossie how much she liked it. This was usually the time that they had to talk. On this day Everline told Flossie that she wanted her to always watch over Artie, oh- she knew that Poppie would, too-but he would always have to be the one to work. Flossie assured her Mommie that she would always take care of her little brother.

Everline wanted Flossie to get her pipe for her, and to help her to go out on the porch to the rocking chair. When she got settled, with a quilt over her lap, and her dog up on top of her lap, she told Flossie to go ahead with her chores. Before long Everline wanted to go back and lay down on the bed. The next time that Flossie checked on her Mommie-she could not wake her up. After checking on her several more times,getting no response,and seeing the gray pallor that had spread to her whole body-Flossie knew that her Mommie was not ever going to wake up again.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chapter 6 The First Wife

Chapter 6

The First Wife

"I promised your father that I would carry his load," Haywood said; "I'll stay with you-to the end, Everline." He did not know what he said. There was a wedding that very day at the city hall. They walked home hand in hand down the dusty road.

She went out, but came back shortly, freshly bathed, in her plain gown of off white gauze. The color made her appear angelic. As she stood by the window, the beautiful face and waiting figure came into full view. Nature had made the girl a rare sight. There were reflected lights around her; a gloss on her skin, a glitter in her eyes, no blemish on her soul. Simple and dark and pure, there she was, for God, and for her husband to conquer and understand. Her face was warm and full of color,-it warmed sometimes slowly from far within; her voice, quiet,--out of her heart; her hair, the true beauty of the girl, was glistening black, lay in dark, gentle curls on her shoulders.

Haywood himself was a small, clean, fair haired, blue-eyed man, much liked by everybody; although he didn't know much about reading or arithmetic, he understood and had a joke and kind word for every man or dog in Birmingham. As for women, the word meant nothing but Everline to him.

At once they went to work digging a cave in a hillside for a home. Everline helped him dig it- she was as strong as he was.The cave was big enough to hold a bed and a table. There were logs for a floor. When Haywood went out to work in the fields, Everline worked day after day, trying to make the place like a home. But on rainy days the mud would ooze up from the ground, and worms and even snakes crawled out of the walls.

She knitted his stockings and made his shirts for him, and he bought her a new dress every year in town . From dawn until night he was in all of her thoughts, and she was to him the only woman in the world. He never thought of any other. He had not told her that he loved her, it never had occurred to him to say that.

In the spring, Everline worked in the field for a month or two to help get food for them. Then their baby came, a plump, brown-eyed baby girl. Haywood wanted to name her Fanny Flossie Collins and they did.

How many men in every generation have taken to plowing with some dull blade, slaves for the rest of their lives to the needs of their children! Haywood worked for them night and day; he was always kind to Everline, but his heart was in his work and providing for his family.It was getting harder and harder-their saved money was almost gone. Haywood feared he would have to go back to the mines for work.

Haywood worked hard in the mines- and soon was offered a foremans job. He left home in the dark and returned home in the dark. They were soon able to move into one of the tents in "tent city". Everline wanted a house-little Flossie played in the coal dust all day long and had developed a cough. The black coal dust was everywhere-inside the tent, on all the trees, it settled on anything and everything.

Naturally, most women wanted their own house. Many men were big on motivation to build, but short on money to buy materials. So they looked for cheap building materials. Free was even better. By cutting willows along the river, and filling in the cracks with mud and manure, a shack could be built with no money at all. Haywood built them a shack out of scrap wood. Luckily, there were stacks and stacks of rough lumber around the mine.

This lumber was in the form of "boxcar doors." All the coal produced was hauled to market in boxcars. Boxcars, of course, have sliding doors on each side, and coal was loaded through these doors. The trick was, as the boxcar filled up, coal would spill out the doors. The solution was to put in temporary "boxcar doors". These 2 x 7 foot doors were made of rough lumber nailed together.

These wooden doors were stacked near the railroad tracks anywhere that boxcars were loaded or unloaded. They came and went, and didn’t seem to belong to anyone. And there were piles of them everywhere.

Best of all, this lumber was just the right length for a shack. So after dark, when not many people were around, Haywood would find his way to the mine and help himself to some materials for his building project. Once the main shell of the structure was up, he quickly tar-papered it to disguise it. Then he plastered and white washed the walls of their home.

A typical shack was 10 x 14 feet at the time, and just the height of boxcar doors. Two-thirds of the houses were made like this. The make do or do without generation saw everything as potentialy something else.

Once a week, Everline would heat up water on the coal stove for the bath. She had a big metal tub that she would put in the middle of the kitchen floor and then she would heat pot after pot of water to fill it. Everyone used the same water. The cleanest one went into the water first and ending with the dirtiest. The mines always had showers because the men would come out black from head to toe. All you could see when you looked at them were the whites of their eyes and their teeth when they smiled.

Haywood had developed a cough from being in the mines, he was tired of all the drunken brawls around town every Saturday night. People were getting shot every weekend and anytime someone got liquored up, there was trouble. It was a dangerous place to be with your family. Everline was with child again, he wanted to get away from all of this, to keep his family safe. The Great War was starting up, they were calling for all men to sign up for the draft. Haywood, and his brother Houston, went to Huntsville to register at the same time.

Haywood moved his small family to Mobile where he found a flat bottomed boat to rent. There were plenty more families just like them, they lived in a small cluster of families in an area called Bricktown along the river.They lived on that boat and used it to fish with and earn a meager living. A few months later, Everline gave birth to a tiny baby boy-they named him Artie Lee Collins.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chapter 5

A Dark Haired Beauty

Haywood went to work in the coal mines when he was 17 years old. He was
called a Mule Skinner. His job was to walk the mules down into the mine, stay
with the mules while the other miners filled the cart up with coal, then
walk the mules back up out of the mines. It was dangerous,hard and dirty work. He
spent long hours down in the mines. He got paid 2 dollars a week. One day
he would find a way to get out of the mining business, he told himself.

He had heard that Mr. Strickland was talking about heading out west-to Texas or Oklahoma to find work-his farm had all but dried up, he could not even get a good cotton crop anymore.
On this day -on his way home from the mine, he decided to stop by out at Mr. Strickland and aunt Lucindas' house. The wind was blustery and cold. As he neared the little white picket fence, a strong gust of wind whipped his hat up in the air, twirled it around several times, hit the ground, started rolling, and stopped right in front of two dainty black slippers. Haywood ran to pick it up, at the same time- a hand, with skin the color of dark honey, handed it to him. He took the hat, and intending to thank the person, he looked up into the brown eyes of the most beautiful girl that he had ever laid eyes on.

Who in tarnation? Who was this dark haired beauty? Had it really been that long since he had visited? Why, it had to be Adeline or Everline, one or the other of Mr. Stricklands' daughters. He tried to introduce himself, but Everline knew who he was, she had seen him several times at the Church meetings, and told him so. Why, this was his cousin! When asked, she told Haywood that she would soon be 13 years old. She was much younger than he was-and definitely showed all the signs of her indian heritage. Too bad. Most people did not cotton to white folk mixing with the indian people.

Mr. Strickland indeed was still thinking about heading out west-but he did not want to move his whole family out there. Not until he knew if he could find work and a place for them all to live. When he talked to Haywood, a light seemed to go off in his head. He asked Haywood if he would consider staying there at the farm with his family, while he went to investigate Oklahoma. He told him he would pay him 16 dollars a month, if he would take care of things around the farm until he returned. Adeline was spoken for and she would soon be getting married, that would leave aunt Loucinda and Everline there by themselves. Haywood told him that he would consider it and asked if he could give him an answer in a week.

All the way home Haywood kept thinking about Mr. Stricklands' offer. By the time he got home he knew he would take Mr. Strickland up on his deal. Heck, starting off he would make more money than he did at the mine. Mr. Strickland didn't have much in the way of crops to manage, just a small garden of cabbage,corn and potatoes, that he kept for the household use, and a thin patch of hay and corn for the animals. What Mr. Strickland really wanted was for there to be a man in the house so that the women would feel safe while he was gone.

The circuit preacher was in town so Haywood wanted to make sure and make it to the preachin' and singin'. Not to mention a certain Miss Fannie Flossie Veen that he had been keeping an eye on. This would be a chance to ask her if he could escort her home after Sunday services. She was not a real "looker"-but her family was one of the wealthiest in the county. It could serve Haywood well to pursue a future with her. She had flashed her eyes at him more than a few times.

Miss Fanny Flossie was not a striking lady-rather the opposite. Short and fat in stature,a little person, with an insignificant nose, and a skin, hair, and eyes all of one yellowish tint. Just a small amout of rouge on her cheeks and a few fluffy frills on her dress would have made her positively pretty. But she went around in a plain dress, with her hair pulled up in a small, tight knob on top.

After church services on Saturday, Miss Fanny Flossie asked Haywood if he would escort her home and enjoy a bite to eat with the family. The Veens owned a large plantation-The Southern Paradise-teeming with workers. Overseen by shrewd , skilled, wide awake german workers. The
corn fields were laid out with the neatness of a Dutch garden. There were many guests at Madame and Sir Veen's table that night.

The guests had left the supper-table, and were seated on the low porch which ran around the house, or lounged in the hammocks that swung under the huge magnolias on the lawn. There were one or two women of undoubted beauty among them. Jose the house servant had serenaded them all with a song and his guitar.

The air had grown chilly. Inside, Jose, had kindled a huge fire on the hearth. He was kneeling, fanning it with the bellows, while Miss Fanny leaned casually against the mantel, watching the flames, and now and then motioning to Jose to throw on another log. The wasteful action startled Haywood. How they wasted that wood ! All through his boy hood he used to gather every twig and chip. How often he had longed to make one big, wasteful fire, as they were doing now.

It occurred to Haywood that Miss Fanny was the very enbodiment of the lavish life of this place. He suddenly felt a strange desire to become better acquainted with her, and he did just that. He started courting her seriously.

Mr. Strickland left for Oklahoma, and Haywood moved in with Mr. Stricklands family. He was settling in-at night he would sing songs to all of them by the fireside. Sometimes he would sing or play his guitar softly way into the night after all the women had gone up to the loft to bed.

Haywood noticed that Everline seemed to be everywhere-if he was feeding the animals, he would turn around, and she would be standing there looking at him. She would dish up his plate at the supper table, before anyone else had a chance to help themselves. She would always be the one to bring him dinner while he was out in the field. She would be there to help him unhitch the mules from the plow. Everline didn't say much, like most indian women, she did have a georgeous smile, tho. Haywood found himself actually enjoying her help and her company.

Six months after Mr. Strickland went to explore Oklahoma-he was brought home in the back of a wagonbed-seriously ill. Doc came out right away, he said that Mr. Strickland had Lock Jaw, an infection affecting the neck and jaw. Eight days later Mr. Strickland was on his death bed. He requested that Haywood come and sit by him a while to talk.

Mr. Strickland told Haywood that he knew that he was dying, and that he had a favor to ask of Haywood. He wanted Haywood to give him his word that he would marry Everline and take care of her. "Haywood' he said, ' when you stand in the face of difficult decisions – and you will – do not ask yourself, ‘What will the people think … how will they judge me?’ Instead, ask what your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will think of you. Will they understand your decisions? Will they be able to see in what you do and say the virtues of courage and goodness, of justice and wisdom? Will they clearly see in your decisions and actions-the hand of God?”

Mr. Strickland died after Haywood promised to marry Everline and take care of her the rest of his life. Haywood was a good man.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chapter 4

The Circuit Preacher

There was word passing around at the livery stable that the circuit preacher would be coming to Birmingham the next week. He would take care of any necessary funerals that needed to be done since the last time he was in town. You see-people waited for the circuit preacher to come so that their loved one could have a proper burial. He would hold baptisms, and perform marriages.There would be preaching and singing every night for a week, and all day on Saturday and Sunday in the yard at the school house . This was always a lot of fun to Haywood. All the women would bring food and pies and cakes. There would be a break in the preaching and singing around noon and everyone would eat and sit on quilts laid out on the ground. The children were free to run and play. Now that Haywood was 10 years old, he liked to see all the pretty young girls that came in their prettiest dresses.

Huldy had gotten a letter from Papa, and said that papa would be here for sure to listen to the preaching. Papa said he had a big surprise for Haywood and the rest of the family. Haywood was glad - for he had not seen papa in a long time. Not since he had gone to Georgia to get in on the land lottery. Maybe he was going to buy Haywood a sack of penny candy...........

One of Haywood and Chester's favorite things to do was to see who would arrive on the stage coach and check into the Marrs Hotel. First, all you could see was a cloud of dust in the distance, then you could hear the horses' hooves pounding on the ground, then the drivers could be heard trying to slow the coach down. Coming to a halt right in front of the hotel. The curtains over the windows would be raised, people would get out while trying to beat all the dust and dirt off themselves. The drivers would head to the saloon for a little refreshment.

On this day it was Papa, and a couple by the name of Strickland,with their two very young daughters Adeline and Everline, and a lovely young lady with porcelain skin, red hair and a parasol with ruffles around the edge of it. Haywood found out, too soon for his liking, that her name was Miss Mayme Beatrice Wardlaw. She definitely had her sights set on Papa. For, Papa had brought this woman, who was soon to be his wife, and new mama for Haywood, home to meet the rest of the family as his surprise...

Mr. Strickland had a pretty wife too. She seemed very fragile-like she was not strong enough for this land. She was definitely a city girl. The Stricklands were moving here from the Carolinas. Their household goods and livestock would soon be arriving on the Southern Rail Road. They had bought a tract of land out by Papa's homestead. Miss Wardlaw checked into the Marrs Hotel, as did the Strickland family. Papa stayed with us at Huldy and Uncle Sol's house.

Papa brought Miss Wardlaw to dinner at Huldy's house the next day. We went to the preaching that night. Papa asked Haywood if he wanted to come home to Georgia with him. Haywood told him that he would just as soon stay there with his sister. On Saturday Papa and Miss Wardlaw got married by the traveling preacher, and stayed at his sister, Loucinda's house. Monday they boarded the stage coach to go back to Walker County, Georgia. Houston had joined the Army and Will Henry was doing farm work for a family in Georgia. This family just happened to have a pretty daughter with dark curly hair, who had caught Will Henry's eye. Papa said that Jim was traveling around to different places and doing odd jobs here and there.

Soon after the Stricklands moved to town, Mrs. Strickland died. That left him with two small girls to raise by himself. Aunt Loucindas' boys-Will and Antney Harris had been helping the Stricklands out on their farm. They helped Mr. Strickland lay his cotton crop in and then helped him get it to the Gin. After Mrs. Strickland died, aunt Loucinda would take food out to the Strickland place. After all, she said, they all still needed to eat. A year later Mr. Strickland and aunt Loucinda got married, when the preacher came to town for a burying. Aunt Loucinda was the only mother that Everline and Adeline could ever remember.

When Haywood was seventeen, aunt Huldys' husband-uncle Sol died of milk sickness, a disease from drinking milk from cattle which had eaten poisonous weeds. She had to take in some washing and ironing for other folks, and Haywood and Chester had to go to work at the mine.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chapter 3

The Move

Haywood hugged and kissed his daddy goodbye, and rushed out the door to get in the back of the wagon beside Chester. He was excited to be going to live with Huldy Jane and Uncle Sol. They lived in town, close to the general store. Papa said that when he came to town he would take him to the general store and buy him some penny candy. He would have to share a bed with his nephew Chester, Huldy Jane's son by her first husband Mr. Coleman. Chester was just 2 years older than him. They had always had a good time playing together. They seemed almost like brothers, so that would not be so bad. Aunt Loucinda and her two boys Will and Antney Harris, lived down the street from Huldy There were a lot of children in town that him and Chester could find to play with. He could hardly wait.

Papa and Jim came by as often as they could, but it did not seem like it was very often. Papa did as he had promised - when he came, he would take Haywood and Chester to the General store and buy them both a sack of penny candy. Sometimes he would take them to the Schloss Furnace where he now worked, to pick up his check. He made 3 dollars a week. They would always pass the blacksmith shop, and would stop to watch as the smitty made horseshoes and fitted them to the horses feet. Haywood was fascinated by how the smitty worked, he would take a piece of iron, get it red hot in his fire that he always had going. Then he would use these big pliers to hold it with and start bending it around an anvil. All the while beating it with a large hammer to help shape it into a horseshoe. The smitty made all sizes of horseshoes.

The next year Schloss Furnace went bankrupt.

Papa and Jim, Will Henry and Houston all headed to Mobile to work in the fishing business. Papa would come home every so often, and tell Haywood stories of the fishing business. One favorite of Haywoods' was the time that Papa was fishing -checking his lines-and when he went to pull the line up-well, that line pulled back! Papa thought maybe it was a good size fish of some kind, or it even could be a gator......Papa started pulling, whatever it was on the line pulled back harder. Papa pulled back even harder-and the fight was on. Papa said he played tug-o-war with that critter for over an hour! Finally it just seemed to give up. With the help of Jim-they started wrestling it to their boat. They were prepared to see a gator when they got it close to the boat, and had their knives ready to cut the line. What they did see when they got it close, was that it was an enormous fish! A giant of a catfish! It was as big as their boat,(at least that is what Papa said)! They knew they could never get that big fish in their boat, so they cut it loose. Papa said that old fish looked him straight in the eye for a second, as if to say thank you. It made a belly roll, and dissappeared back into the depths of the water. Papa told people about that fish for years-most people did not believe him.

Soon Papa moved back to Birmingham-he said the weather in Mobile made his bones hurt. It was very humid, and there were hurricanes that could wipe out your business.

Papa liked to hang out down at the livery stable and talk to the other men who had come to town for supplies, and would talk about things like the weather, who had died, who had a new baby, and crops. Haywood heard them talking about all the people who were moving to Georgia, Lousiana and even way off to Texas. They were moving to find a better place to farm and those places were having land lotteries. If you had served in the military-you were qualified for the land lottery. They put your name in a box and every month would pull out ten names. You would get 50 acres of land if your name was drawn out. Papa talked about going to Georgia to the men. One day he told one of the men there, that moving to Georgia sounded like a good idea to him. Soon after that-Papa, Jim, Will Henry, and Houston moved to Walker County, Georgia. Haywood started hanging out at the livery stable whenever he could. He listened to all the usual gossip-but what he really liked-was how exciting the men made all these foreign places sound.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chapter 2

The Death

The leaves were swirling gently down around their feet, as they stood solemly by the rough hewn box on the edge of the deep hole that had been dug to hold it. There was a gentle cool breeze, with the sharpness of autumn in it. The colors of the leaves and trees were so pretty, Haywood thought, as he stood holding his Papa's trembling hand. He had never seen his daddy cry before, he wished he could do something to make him stop crying.

There was a large crowd of people gathered around them, all in their cleanest, best clothes. Many of the women in the crowd were weeping and holding their small children close. As he looked around at the people, he saw many of his papa's family there. There was papa's three sisters Huldy ( who Huldy Jane had been named for), Louisa Harris, and Loucinda Harris, and their familys. There was Uncle Richard, and Uncle Calvin was there, too.

Mama was asleep in the box, he knew that because he had seen Daddy, Jim, Uncle Sol, and the preacher put her in it while she was sleeping. They told him that she was going to sleep for a while and when she woke up she would be in heaven. Haywood knew that mama would like it in heaven, because she use to read to him from her book called the Bible, and would describe a beautiful and wonderful place to him. A place where there was no sickness or sorrow or pain. A place where her Mama and Daddy were waiting for her.

Haywood wished this service would end soon- he was hungry and these shoes were hurting his feet. He hated shoes, he wanted to get those shoes off and go barefoot, and feel the soft dirt between his toes.

There was all kinds of good food at home waiting,covered up, on the table and in the pie cabinet. Huldy had stayed up late last night cooking,to get it all ready, and many women from the church had brought food to the house. He could not wait to get a big slice of that pineapple pie that was sitting on the window sill ,cooling. Huldy Jane knew just how to make him happy.

With a full stomach and old Blue lying beside him, he drifted off to sleep.He dreamed of Mama, and angels, and large crowds of people with no faces. He heard voices, as he began to wake up. Were all the people from the funeral still here? He listened closely,only hearing the familiar voices of Papa and his sister, Huldy Jane. They were talking about him-as he listened there was a tug at his heart. They were planning his move to live with his sister.

Papa said he did not know how he could raise a young son by himself, what with all the work to be done there around the house His job in the coal mines often kept him out until well after dark. That was just no way for a four year old boy to live and it was not safe.

Haywood was sure going to miss old Blue, sleeping with him or else lying on the floor beside his and Papa's bed. He had gotten to sleep with Papa ever since Mama had went to sleep and was put in the box. Maybe Papa would bring Blue with him to visit some time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chapter 1 Miners Camp

I have talked to many people in my lifetime about my large family, and many of them have told me- "You ought to write a book"....so this is my attempt to do just that. Lets see what happens-


Chapter 1

February 23, 1892
Miners Camp in Birmingham, Alabama

The Birth

It was a cold day in February, 1892. Martha Jane Collins had started her labor early in the morning hours, but she still had plenty to do.She had to get in the wood and kindling to get a fire started, get the children up and dresssed for school, feed them, fix their lunches and get them off to school. With some luck-she might be able to get all this done before the baby came.

Jasper and Jim were already up and out doing chores, milking the cow, feeding the hogs, chickens, and gathering the eggs. Jim had moved back home after his wife and baby had died in childbirth. After feeding ole' Maude, the mule, Jim hitched her up to the buggy, they would drop the buggy and mule off at his sister Huldy's house on their way in to work. Mama would need her help with the delivery of the baby. Then they would eat some breakfast and head on off to the Birminham coal mine #2, where him and his Papa, Jasper, both worked.

As she was stoking the fire in the old black pot-bellied stove, another excruciating pain hit her in her lower back. This time Martha had to sit down until it passed. Going back to the stove, she filled a large hot cast iron skillet with side pork and listened to it sizzle and spit as it hit the hot skillet. The aroma immediately started to fill the air. She poured herself a cup of hot coffee from the old blue speckled pot that always sat at the back of the stove, with hot coffee in it.The wind was howling outside, it had snowed another 8 to 10 inches during the night. The children would need extra clothes on and an extra pair of wool socks, too. Their long walk to the school house would be a cold one this morning. Neither of them would want to go, trying to find excuses not to this morning. Martha would not be swayed-she wanted them out of the house while the baby was being born. Hopefully by the time they came in from school, the baby would be born.

As she expected-Will Henry and Houston tried everything they could to get out of going to school that day. Both of the boys tried to convince her to let them stay home, just in case something were to happen, and their older sister Huldy couldn't get there in time. Martha assured them that it would be hours before the baby came, and that would be plenty of time for their sister to get there, even in this deep snow. After much pleading and begging from both of them, Martha finally managed to get them bundled up tight and sent them on their way to school .

Then she started to prepare for the birth of the baby.Martha was weary, and not as excited as a new mother should be. She had lost 3 babies,already. Out of her 7 children, only 4 had managed to survive. The influenza and smallpox had ravaged her family. Martha had a strange feeling about this pregnancy, she had not been well much of the time she was carrying this child. As another strong labor pain hit her-she thought that maybe she better start boiling some water, and tearing up some of those flour sacks that she had saved just for this purpose. She hoped Huldy would get there soon.

She could tell that this labor was moving along a lot faster than the last. Not only was she having labor pains, she was aching all over, and she knew that she was running a fever.Just then, the strongest pain yet hit, she struggled to get to the bed, and squatted down, hanging on to the rails of the footboard .The pain consumed her body. She needed to push, the pain was unbearable now. Martha knew that she was not going to be able to wait for her daughter, Huldy, to arrive. She was laboring too fast, it could not be stopped now. She grabbed a quilt off the bed and spread it on the floor between her squatting legs, to catch the baby when it was born. She could feel herself tearing and began to feel nauseated, as she continued to bear down. Just a few more good pushes-then she guided her baby out into the world, she soon saw that she had a beautiful, downy haired, baby boy.

Martha had already decided that if she gave birth to a son, she would name him Haywood-to honor her close cousin, Haywood Noah, who had died at the young age of 36. Haywood Noah and his twin brother Martin Noah, who were builders and woodworkers, had built a church. Martin was also a violin maker and player. Church and music were very important to her family.

Martha lay in bed with her newborn son and thought about the painful past, and the uncertain future for her baby. She was very weak, and soon drifted off to sleep. Her dreams were filled with familiar faces, and strange faces who seemed to be familiar in a distant way. They were all surrounded by very vivid colors. Somewhere in the distance, she could hear old Blue barking. Someone was coming.

Huldy could barely rouse her mama. Mama seemed not to hear or understand when Huldy tried to talk to her. Huldy could not understand what her mama was saying when she tried to talk.

Martha was burning up with the fever. She needed old Doc to come by to look in on her. As soon as Papa and Jim came in from the mine, she would send for old Doc.

Martha never got better. She was weak, had a cough, and was so tired that she spent much of the time in the bed. She would read her bible for hours at a time. She would try to hold her newborn baby, but he seemed so heavy to her, she would have to lay him back on the bed. She wondered why she was not getting any stronger, like she had after the birth of her other children. Doc had warned her before this one-not to have any more children, it was too hard on her body. Doc would drop by every so often to see how she was doing. When he left, he would always put his arm around Jasper's shoulders, and talk to him in a quiet voice, shaking his head from side to side.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It is all about the family..........

It is all about family to me- I was born into a very large family, and I am not joking about the large.......I was the last of 19 children born to my father and mother. My father being a poor dirt farmer from Alabama, losing 2 wives, having 10 children to raise on his own in Checotah, Oklahoma.My mother, who had never worked a day in her life, being widowed with 8 children to care for-on a farm in Checotah, Oklahoma. They were neighbors, and when each of their spouses died, they secretly at first, started courting,they fell in love and got married-much to family and friends shock and chagrin-except for Mother and Daddy and all the kids. The kids had played at each others houses, spent the night at each others houses, and attended school together-so they all knew each other well . My mother was a tall, 5'8, high spirited filly, at times hot-headed, red head. My daddy was at the most 5'foot tall, a very soft spoken, laid back, mellow, kind hearted man. To Daddy they were all his kids, to Mother his were his kids and hers were her kids....which would cause problems and hurt feelings many times over in the years to come. Daddy was 58 years old and Mother was 37 years old. To hear the older kids talk-Daddy was totally smitten and in love with this long-legged red head. About a year later-I was born.