Dear Ken:

I recall those days with pleasure. Sometimes we would just have missed the Complete bus to town when we finished swimming, and instead of waiting thirty minutes for another, we ambled our way toward town the back way. When we got to the old cemetery (Rose Hill?), you'd sit on a tombstone while Geraldine and I strolled around reading tombstones. When we finally got on the Tuxedo bus, you promptly went to sleep.

Your mom didn't know about the creek and can't believe she let you go off so young. The creek was a sad little trickle (the stream probably contaminated by Ms. Sadie Kendall Knight's play-school animals--but as Geraldine says, "Who cared?"). It was less than knee-deep anywhere and only wide enough at "our spot" to thrash about in. We slid down the bank and dirtied our bathing suit bottoms (wonder what Willie Mae thought the dirt came from). You loved it, but we did not go back many times. The park pool was usually more fun, especially after you learned to swim.

Those were good times. Kids were safe out roaming--at least in Meridian. We were blessed.

Geraldine remembers our climbing in the windows at the Baptist church and the Assembly of God. We didn't vandalize; we just looked, except for the crossvines we removed from the Baptist Church's fans and smoked out behind the church.

We did find money on the ground at the Assembly of God church. We had a fling at Goldman's Store, and he told. Mama made me go tell Bro. Hosey (of whom I was a afraid because of his "Pentecostal religion") that there was money being lost when the people jumped up and down. We were sure they checked the ground after that; the money disappeared. Hope the "poem" gives you a chuckle. Love, Joan

Poem: Grandma's Recipe

Grandma found us sitting
on the old linoleum floor,
Little stair-step babies,
less than two and three and four,
Drinking Jello, watered down,
our chins and fingers red;
Empty stomachs, empty shelves,
and Mama sick in bed.

Grandma bathed the babies,
put a smile on Mama's face,
Then went to buy a thing or two
to mix with love and grace.
She washed and cooked sweet, tender greens
and baked a pan of bread;
"Pot-liquor over cornbread cures most everything," she said.

Later I would learn the simple truth
she spoke that day
And how "pot-liquor" works so well
when served in Grandma's way:
It only works like Grandma's did,
I came to understand,
When it is made and served with grace
and with a loving hand.

R. Joan Geiger 1-20-92

  • Note about Pot Liquor: Janet Ames [Ken's sister] writes -- "We [herself and Joan Geiger] thought maybe pot liquor was only a southern expression, but find that it is in the dictionary, meaning "the water that is left after boiling vegetables or meat". I grew up only being familiar with pot liquor being left from cooking turnip greens. This was especially good when served in a cup mixed with corn bread! This is still probably eaten these days - but my sons would probably not have ever heard of it! "