Friday, December 22, 2006

Margaret's Wrinkles

Margaret will always hold a special place in my heart as the woman who helped to raise my husband because her sister, who worked out-of-town, had no access to child care. Margaret is almost childlike in her joy for life and recited highlights in diary-like stanza.

Like her sister Velma, one of her earliest memories was the crushing loss of her Daddy, who was the family’s primary caregiver. He worried during his illness loudly enough for his daughter to hear, “What’s going to happen to my children if something happens to me?” After he died, the children learned his worries were justified; they were sent to different homes.

Margaret recalls her Mother living with and working for Primley Farmer, and they handed out commodities to buy food. Later, she was sent to live with her Uncle Abraham Lincoln Cotton (Uncle Link) for a couple of years, but also spent time with her Uncle Jim the preacher and Aunt Berthie Cotton. She soon began earning her own money by caring for Dr. Simpson’s mother and father before school. Margaret worked for the Skaggs family, earning five dollars a week doing laundry. She washed the laundry on a wash board and wrung the clothes through a hand wringer and into the rinse water. She also learned to milk cows while working for the Skaggs. Margaret worked for the Murphey family (where she was saved at Green Chapel Church), with E.B. and Floella Dukes (in Louisville). At one point, she remembered earning more money than her Daddy; he made 75 cents per day and she was earning a dollar.

Eventually, Margaret moved back home with her mother who lived over the Casey Food Market at the corner of Depot Street in Greenville. One day she and her best friend Dorothy Baker were walking along the sidewalks of Greenville and noticed a soldier boy and his cousin next to Williams and Wells Drug Store. The soldier said, “I’ll take the little fat one.”

On that first double-date, the foursome followed their mothers to the Bisby Traveling Show. They rode the Farris wheel and all the other rides while their mothers stood around and watched them. When Pack was shipped off in World War II, Margaret repeated and again passed 8th grade, then she passed 9th grade as well. She still pined for her soldier and wrote to him often when he was stationed in the Philippines and in Japan. Meanwhile, his cousin married her friend Dorothy, but died later in a car wreck (Dorothy eventually remarried to Buzz Rose). The 23-year old Pack finally returned home and on June 20, 1946 he married the 16-year old Margaret. Today, they have two children, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Margaret did continue to work in sewing factories in Muhlenberg County. She sewed labels, made blue jeans for Levi, and worked for Cowden and Dame. But there aren’t any sewing factories left in that area as they’ve all closed and the jobs have been sent to Mexico.

Margaret spends a lot of her time nowadays at her church, which is right across the street from her home. She remembers when Pastor Fox took her to the cow pond behind the church to baptize her. The bovines were standing around watching her as she was dunked, and Margaret was careful to keep her lips tightly sealed because she didn’t want to get cow water in her mouth. After she was baptized, she ran home to take a shower to get rid of the smell.

Pack is the oldest deacon and recently gave up his position as church treasurer. They have gone to Texas to spend the winter with their daughter. Margaret’s daughter has been a foster mother for many years and is currently caring for a girl that was placed with them at 10-days old and another little girl who is 7-months old. Margaret is a little worried about outstaying her welcome with her daughter, but is looking forward to the Texas sun during the long, cold winter.

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Blogger newscoma said...

I miss the matriarchs in my life this time of year.
I loved the cow water comment.

6:55 AM  

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