My early memories of my grandmother were when I came to live with my father and her. I recall calling her “mama.” She was “mama to” me. Possibly, because I heard my father calling her mama, so I did the same. I also remember our renter named John, and our housekeeper, Adelia who lived with us. I remember Adelia used to comb my hair. I really liked her. She was very nice to me. I imagine my grandmother needed help taking care of me, since my father worked everyday as a Porter at the railroad station.Credit: Betty Asphy
My grandmother was a small petite woman. My grandmother was part Indian. She had a few moles on her face. As you can see from the picture, her hands on her hip is something that I have done in several of my pictures. I call the hand on the hip an attitude about us.
Credit: Bety Asphy
Me and Adelia our housekeeper
Credit: Bety Asphy
Although my father always sat me down and explained things to me, my grandmother seemed impatient and would not explain, but tell me in so many words this is the way it is and do not question me. Believe me; I did not question her either.
Credit: Betty Asphy
There was the time that my friend Bobby came and told me and several other friends that his parents were not home. He insisted that we could come and raid the tree for the green apples. I recall that those were the best tasting apples. The only problem with that is my friend Valda’s parent has told her not to eat those green apples, because they were not ripe yet. My grandmother has told me the same. Well we thought no one would know, but apparently, Valda’s mother could see us from her window. Valda, Bobby,myself, and several other neighborhood children were now in trouble. When my grandmother asked if I had eaten the green apples, I lied and said, "No." You cannot fool grandma. You could hear our parents disciplining all of us. You could hear us hollering one by one throughout the neighborhood. We thought no one knew but us. We were sadly mistaken.
Then there was the time several neighborhood kids and I were next door behind the garage. We met a new friend named “Sissy.” Sissy told us we needed to learn how to french kiss. So I was 5-years-old and learned how to French kiss. That was an early age. We all thought no one was watching, but Valda’s mother apparently was. I sometimes wondered if she had “x-ray eyes.” Apparently, we were making bad choices. Again, my grandmother questioned me and I told her, "No, we were not doing anything." In addition, Valda's mother questions me, "My answers was, "No." As I said, you cannot fool grandma. Naturally, our parents disciplined us all. Again, you could hear hollering throughout the neighborhood.
I did not understand at that time about different nationalities. I was a 5-years-old with questions. Although my neighbor was black, she appeared white to me. I asked my grandmother why her hair was so straight. I told my grandmother, “She is white.” My grandmother tried to explain that she was black and that God made her the light color that she was and God gave her the straight hair. My neighbor also told me the same, when I attempted to tell her what color she was. That color difference was a mystery to me.
I recall at age 5 resenting that my father would go some nights to Chicago for a night out. I would attempt to throw a guilt trip on him. I was definitely drama at age 4 and 5. I would tell him, “You never spend time with me.” “You always leave me.” I would think I got him now. He would look to my grandmother and say, “Maybe I should stay.” Then my grandmother would say, “No, you go on Steve.” “She will be alright.” I would be so mad at my grandmother.
I recall we lived in a small house with no basement and a small fenced yard. There was a stove in the middle of the front room. I remember passing our neighbors house on my way to school. This house was white with a white picket fence around it. It had a flowing fountain in the middle. This house reminded me of a fairy tale house. It was just beautiful.
When I started school, my grandmother would walk me to school, which was a couple of blocks away. After the first day, I told my grandmother, “I know my way, you do not have to walk with me.” I felt she was treating me like a baby. She told me you are in Kindergarten and I am going to walk you to school anyway. I guess I was smart for my age starting school when I was only 4-years-old. I loved school. I recall my next-door friend still drank from a bottle. Her parents put a nipple on a coca-cola bottle. I did not understand that. I asked my grandmother why she still took a bottle. Was it difficult for her to drink from a glass like the one I did? My grandmother had no explanation for me. That was a mystery for me.
I knew my mother was outspoken and she came to visit me. My father also took me to visit her. My grandmother even though petite and tiny was equally outspoken. You did not want to go against my grandmother. She was small, but mighty. She did not bite her tongue about anything. I knew that my father loved his mother, my grandmother, and I loved her too. I recall my grandmother and mother did not seem to get along very well. They usually argued when they were together. My father was 20 years older than my mother was, but he did not look it.
My Aunt Mary
My grandmother and father did not attend church. I attended church with my neighbors and loved it. I attended a Methodist Church. I did not know it then. I just knew I was gong to somebody’s church. I loved hearing about God. I also loved taking communion. I thought this was just awesome. I would ask my grandmother and father why they did not attend church. I never would receive an answer. When I was about 8 or 9 my grandmother and I moved to live with my Aunt Mary. What memories do you have of your grandmother?
Credit: Betty Asphy