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Manor Memories

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I am beginning this new page on 4 December 2000. On this page I want to add various memories I have about growing up in the Manor, Ware County, Georgia area which is located in Southeast Georgia. Some of these memories also will have Jacksonville and West Palm Beach, Florida memories among them.

Christopher Henderson Griffin Boyd


What is your very first memory? Mine is riding on my Father's shoulders. I am holding onto his thick, black, wavy hair. Mother is on the left and we are walking home from my Boyd grandparents' country store in Manor, Georgia. We are renting rooms from "Uncle" Joe Henderson in his home beside the railroad track across from the Jessie Murray Place.

We are on a white, sandy road and I remember looking over a board fence into a backyard. When I am older I will realise this yard belongs to "Miss" Jessie Murray and the property is called the "Jessie Murray Place."

A Visit With Grandmother Boyd

I am visiting my Grandmother Boyd who lives with her youngest daughter and son-in-law, Clara Ruth and Jessie Mack Smith and their two sons, Michael and Travis. She has a room in the back of the house, and I sleep with her in her feather bed when I stay overnight. She has a deerskin rug on the floor by her side of the bed. She always tells me to "dust your feet" before I climb into bed beside her.

Her room is very familiar to me, and smells like dusting powder. Under the bed is an enamel "slop jar." There is a large oval picture of my Grandfather Boyd, William Arthur, on the wall by the back door. He died when I was almost two and a half years old in this house. Some of his clothes and hats are still in the chiffarobe in this room.

This morning we are going to Manor to shop. Grandmother emerges from the house to the front porch where I am waiting excitedly in the porch swing. She is wearing a hat, high heels, and gloves with a dressy dress. I think she looks really pretty. Her white hair is done up in a bun, and I can smell her dusting powder as we walk down the steps.

We cross the highway so that we are facing the traffic. From here we can see Manor down the road.On each side of the highway there is a path and bitterweed is growing along side of them. The bitterweed have tiny yellow flowers on them, and cows should be kept away for it makes their milk bitter.

We pass an unpainted house sitting on the edge of a wood on our left. Uncle George and Uncle Perry live here, and they are seated on the front porch. They both tip their hats and greet us as we pass. "Goodmorning Miss Ella, goodmorning Mistah Wayne. The adults exchange small talk about the weather and about their health, and we continue on our trip.

Uncle George and Uncle Perry are up in years and have always lived in this house it seems. Uncle Perry is the oldest, and he tells stories of when he was a boy and hid in a culvert in a ditch during the War when he heard the Yankees were coming. The Yankees were cannibals and ate negro children.

Across the road is Mr. Fred Lee Henderson's home. He lives here with his wife and three children, Bo, David, and Joan who is my age. His father and my great-grandfather were brothers and he is my cousin. His wife, Miss Clara teaches fifth grade.

We pass the remains of an old turpentine still in a large field on the right. It belongs to Miss Georgia Lee who owns lots of land and also houses in Manor. I have been told never to play there for it is dangerous.

As we near downtown we pass Mrs. Hodges farm on our left. I can smell the barnyard and the animals, and it is a pleasant aroma. The old house is surrounded by huge oak trees, and the shade from these trees in front of the house feels good in the hot, Georgia sunshine. Mrs. Hodges runs a store in Manor and it is the only one made out of bricks. Her son, Billy Joe, lives with her.

Just beyond the Hodges' farm but on the right is the home of Mr. Clinton Booth and his wife, Marie and their son, Shelley, and daughter, Ramona. Miss Marie is Mr. Fred's sister. Mr. Clinton is the town barber, and it was he who gave me my first haircut and a silver dollar because I was so good. My Mother told me that she cried during my haircut, but I don't remember that. My Boyd grandparents used to live in a house that was here before this house was built.

As we approach the Hodges store we cross the road in front of Mr. Lance and Miss Edna Strickland's store and gas station. Their son, Joel Lance, is my age, and he is always playing around the store. I think he is very lucky for he has all that candy and ice cream and cold drinks free. Their home is right behind the store.

We arrive at my Uncle Alvin and Aunt Aline Boyd's store. He is my Grandmother's oldest child, and he bought the store from my Grandparents. It has a barber shop and there are gasoline pumps out front. The house is attached to the back of the store. They live here with their six sons. Two of them are near my age, and I look forward to coming here to see them.

Grandmother buys me a cup of ice cream, and I eat it with a little wooden spoon as she and Aunt Aline talk. Later I have an R C Cola, and I drink part of it and pour salted peanuts into the bottle which makes the soda foam.

There is a door in the back of the store near the meat counter which leads into the living room of the house. Over the door is a deer head with antlers and glass eyes. It looks to me as though the rest of the deer must be stuck behind that wall over the door. Granddaddy Boyd killed that deer many years ago.

Across from the store is the Manor High School. It is made out of bricks and is the pride of everyone. It replaced in 1938 an old wooden school building which burned under unusual circumstances. Near the school is the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. It is a white wooden building which was used for classes when the brick school was being built. It is one of several churches but the only one located in Manor. It sits on the corner of the highway and the Swamp Road.

To the left of the church and across the Swamp Road is another store. It is owned by Mr. Carey and Miss Mattie Steedley. I call them Aunt and Uncle even though Miss Mattie is another of Mr. Fred's sisters. They live in a big white Victorian house behind the store which is surrounded with a white picket fence with their daughter, Yvonne. I was told that Uncle Carey died from skin cancer on his face, just as my Grandfather Boyd did.

Across the road from the church is a garage owned by Miss Georgia Lee and later run by Mr. Fred Ammons. Directly behind it is the show ground. This is where the tent shows are set up and where the gypsies camp when they arrive in Manor. This belongs to Miss Georgia, too.

Between this property and the railroad is Mr. Dan and Miss Ethel Henderson's general store. This is where my Griffin Grandparents buy their supplies. They come from their farm with their horse and wagon, and Granddaddy ties Tony in front of the store in the shade of the large oak trees. Mr. Dan is Mr. Fred's brother and Miss Ethel is Mother's cousin. She was a Griffin before she got married.

Aunt Aline invites us to have dinner with them, and we sit in the kitchen. I am not very hungry due to the ice cream and soda and peanuts, but I eat all my food for she has promised me a slice of her homemade seven layer chocolate cake if I "clean my plate."

After the dinner I wash my hands and then sit on the couch with a large box filled with family pictures. I carefully look at each one and then place it in the top of the box beside me. Some of these pictures are very old, and I have looked at them so often that I can tell you who each person is.

Aunt Aline and Grandmother clean-up the kitchen, and after Grandmother selects the items she wants we say goodbye and begin our walk back to her house. I am tired and am looking forward to my nap on the pallet when we get back home.

We talk as we carry our packages, and cars pass us on this highway which leads from Waycross to Homerville on the edge of the Swamp. I take it for granted that I know everyone here and everyone knows me.

Sarah Ella White Boyd 22 Aug 1889-5 Dec 1979

William Arthur Boyd 9 Oct 1884-20 May 1942

Jessie Mack Smith 14 Dec 1921-12 Sept 1985

Fred Lee Henderson 2 Feb 1902-9 May 1993

Clara Elizabeth Thomas Henderson 17 April 1908-10 Sept 1986

William Clinton Booth 13 Oct 1906-19 July 1995

Ida Marie Henderson Booth 20 July 1910-7 Sept 1996

Daniel Webster Henderson 18 Oct 1895-1 June 1972

Ethel Rosetta Griffin Henderson 3 Nov 1902-20 Jan 1984

William Carey Steedley 16 Feb 1899-29 Oct 1949

Mattie Jane Henderson Steedley 21 Aug 1897-20 Dec 1978

Lance Lewis Strickland 17 Oct 1901-12 Dec 1992

Edna McQuaig Strickland 13 Jan 1906-22 Aug 1980

Alvin Otto Boyd 9 Sept 1909-14 Aug 1984

Ruby Aline James Boyd 3 May 1907-3 May 1971

Minnie Jane Henderson Griffin 18 Aug 1884-18 July 1981

Joseph Daniel Griffin 25 Sept 1882-2 April 1964

After I finished writing this memoir I realised how cousin Fred Lee Henderson's sisters and brothers all lived near one another there in Manor. Just down from Mattie lived Paul Martin Henderson, their brother, 25 Dec 1903-10 Oct 1971 and wife, Irene Minchew Henderson abt.1905-5 April 2000. And another sister, Elizabeth (Liza) Henderson Steedley 9 Sept 1908-2 Oct 1995 lived nearby with her husband, Moses (Mose) Steedley 9 Sept 1908-2 Oct 1995, a brother to William Carey Steedley.

Revised 10 November 2004

Memories of Watermelons in Ware County at the Tobacco Barn

I loved sitting with my Granddaddy Griffin as he "watched" his tobacco barn. He sat in an old chair with a homemade leather seat wearing a felt hat, brogans, faded overalls, and a long sleeved shirt. He chewed tobacco and I never saw any on his chin, but I was impressed with how he could take aim and spit. He would whittle various things as he sat there in between stoking the wood fire. He made whirley gigs and all shapes of flowers and objects which would whistle. Nearby was our mutt of a dog, Jeff, who loved to stretch out in the cool earth under the tin roof which protected us from the hot southeast Georgia sunshine.

There was a water handpump between the barn and the white sugar sand road and two whiskey barrels were always kept filled with water. As soon as they got low it was my chore to see they were filled. I loved to submerge my skinny young body in a barrel after it had warmed in the sun, but I loved more than this, when the water was cold and we had put watermelons from the field into them to cool. This meant that Grandmother had come from the farmhouse with knives and forks and a salt shaker. The two story farmhouse was visible from the tobacco barn for it was just at the end of the field.

My grandparents would slice open a red and a yellow meated melon and we would all help ourselves after they had their slices. Some of us would sprinkle salt on the cold melon, "it brings out the sweetness", and others ate it without. My cousins and I could pinch wet watermelon seeds at each other at quite a volume when the adults weren't looking. "Now, don't do that! You are gonna put out somebody's eye someday." (Back then it seemed to me then that everything that was fun in play could "put out somebody's eye".)

If watermelon rind pickle was going to be made, the rinds were saved. If not, then they were taken to the hog pen as a treat for the hogs and pigs. With a few buckets of water I would wash off the tobacco benches and they would soon dry in that hot sunshine. The sweetness always attracted bees and other insects, but I don't ever recall being stung during one of those watermelon feasts.

I can recall the smells of that period in Manor, Georgia on the Griffin Farm. There was the aroma of the tobacco curing, of my Grandfather in his work clothes, of the ripe and juicy watermelons, of my Grandmother in her apron and wearing body powder and smelling of the kitchen. All of these aromas, combined with other smells of the farm, are forever with me.

Today, when I bring home a whole melon or even a sliced one, I always hope that it will not only taste the way those melons tasted, but that it also will suddenly fill my nose with a fragrance from those long ago boyhood days. Sometimes they do and sometimes, even with a dash or so of salt, the difference is disappointing. How fortunate that memory forever has those melons tasting and smelling just the way they did then. Wonderful watermelon memories!

The Lost Boy

This is a tale I heard as a young boy growing up in the village of Manor in Ware County, Georgia. There was a young man and woman who lived with their small son in a cabin on the edge of the swamp. One evening after supper the boy began to cry. Nothing the mother or father tried would cause the boy to stop. He cried incessantly in the cabin as the darkness and the quiet fell upon the family there alone in the woods. Finally, out of desperation, the mother threatened to take him outside and leave him on the front porch if he didn't stop his caterwauling. This only made him cry even more convulsively.

Keeping her threat to their son, she opened the door and took the crying child by the hand and led him out to the porch. She told him to sit there in a chair until he stopped the racket. She went back inside the cabin, closing the door on the crying boy. She and her husband listened as he continued the noise out in the dark on the porch. Finally, his constant crying began to taper off and then there was complete silence. The mother went to the door and opened it; the chair where she had left her son was empty. He was not on the porch. She called to her husband, and they searched the front yard and the side yards and the back yard, all the time calling for their son. The next morning they looked everywhere around their cabin and their property, but their son was nowhere to be found. Did the boy's crying attract a wild animal in the swamp which took him away, or did some human being happen to pass by the lonely cabin that evening and come upon a crying boy sitting in a chair on the front porch, in the dark? What ever happened to him his parents never discovered.

I was told this was a true story and that it happened on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp. What is missing is of course the name of the family and the exact location of their cabin. Have any of you ever heard this story or a variation of it?

On Corbitt Road

Growing up in the Village of Manor in Ware County I was told this tale as a young boy. A man who lived on a farm out in the country on what is known as the Corbitt Road had done business in Waycross and had hitched a ride from there back to this road. It was nighttime and dark and he began walking on this white sand road through the woods to his home. He had not gone far when he heard something scream, and it sounded like a woman. Suddenly, he was aware that some kind of large animal was behind him. He began to run and the animal followed. He knew he could not out run it and he decided that he would take of articles of clothing and throw them down on the road as he ran. He hoped the animal would stop to sniff them giving him a short distance between him and whatever it was. One by one he removed his clothes and each time he would run further toward his home. This idea worked for he reached his front porch and beat on the locked front door, yelling for his wife to let him in. She was horrified to see him standing there completely nude. The next morning he retraced his steps and discovered each item of clothing along the road had been ripped to shreds. And around each of the torn clothes were huge catlike paw prints.

This road is between Manor and Glenmore off of Route 84. I always think of this story when I pass Corbitt Road. I don't remember who told me, possibly my Grandmother Sarah Ella White Boyd, but I do recall how scary I felt as a young lad when I first heard it.

Peter Matthew Griffin

"There's a land that is fairer than day, and by faith we can see it afar..." is being sung in the Providence Primitive Baptist cemetery out of Manor, Georgia.

I am in fourth grade and my infant brother, Peter Matthew, is being buried next to our sister, Melanie Susanne, and great-grandparents, Cecilia Ann Corbitt White and Jacob Riley White.

A grave side ceremony is being performed in that little country cemetery, and I have wandered away from the group. I am standing in the middle of the white, sandy graveyard as the words to that old hymn rise to the tall pine trees across from me.

My two younger brothers are staying with my Mother's parents during this burial. My grandparents are members of a different Primitive Baptist denomination and do not attend any other churches?functions outside of their own.

Earlier in the day I went with my Father as he carried our baby in his white coffin to see Mother in the Clinch County Hospital. My brother had been placed in this little coffin, and it was set up in my Uncle Alvin and Aunt Aline Boyd's living room attached to their general store in Manor. The lid was open so that everyone who came could see the baby. He was dressed in one of the dresses Mother had bought.

I remember walking into the hospital with Daddy carrying the coffin. Mother was in a bed next to the door, and as we came in she motioned me to her. Hugging me she said with sobs, "Honey, we lost our little baby; we don' have a baby now."

Daddy placed the coffin next to her on the bed and opened it. She touched the baby's face and arms and hands. He looked as though he might wake up and open his eyes.

We have to leave because people are coming to his funeral, and Daddy closes the coffin and we say goodbye to Mother who is now softly crying. She smoothes down my double cowlicks, and I walk away with Daddy and my brother in his coffin.

I don't know who spoke at the funeral. I don't know how many people were there. I am sure it was a small group of our family and friends who were Baptist, Church of God, Congregational Methodist, and Methodist. All these people would know this old hymn by heart and sing it from memory. Even the scriptures read would be familiar to each one.

The service ends and all the people are leaving. Two of my Mother's sisters find me, and I follow them to the front of the church where the cars and trucks are parked this way and that on the mixture of grass, white sand, and exposed pine tree roots.

I climb up into my Aunt Marguerite's pick-up Ford and sit between her at the steering wheel and her sister, Thyra. We drive away from that churchyard filled with cedar trees where so very many of my relatives are buried.

As we head out on the white, sandy, country road back towards Manor, it never occurs to me that I will carry these memories extra close to me for the rest of my life.


Mother comes home from the hospital, and my brothers return from my Griffin grandparentsfarm. Mother allows me to take to school Peter's baby pillow given to Mother at a baby shower. It is blue and says, "Baby Boy."I place the pillow in my desk seat and my teacher, "Miss" Mamie McQuaig decides to place my desk right in front of hers. At the time she does this I don? have any idea why she has moved me.

I sit there on that pillow until the end of the school year when I take it back home. Our little family has resumed its pace over the months since the funeral. We move on with our lives, taking along with each of us our memories.

A Trip to Mt. Olive

It is a summer Sunday in 1945. I am six years old, and I am going with my Grandparents, Minnie Jane Henderson Griffin and Joseph Daniel Griffin, and my Great Grandmother, Nancy Ann Bennett Henderson, to church. My Grandfather hitches Tony, his horse, to the wagon and places a small chair in it for my Granny Nan. I help Grandmother with the lunch, which is placed in a basket, and the thermos and other utensils into the wagon. Also a bottle of homemade wine that my Grandparents have made which will be used for the communion. Plus each member has his own song book. Granddaddy helps Granny Nan into the wagon, and she sits behind the wagon seat where my Grandparents are perched.

Jeff, their mutt of a dog who is the color of gallberry honey and my best friend, trots along in the hot Georgia early morning sunshine. We go down the lane away from the farm. There are fenced-in fields on either side of the lane. I hop down and open the large gate which leads into the woods. Jeff doesn't follow us but stays on the property. The wagon goes through and I close the gate and jump onto the wagon as it moves through woods filled with pine trees, cypress trees, gallberry bushes, and palmettos.The ruts on the road are sand, which is as white as sugar, and a grassy area runs down the center. Various birds call as we go on our three to four mile trip through the woods. I am seated in the back of the wagon with my bare feet dangling. A bobwhite calls in the quiet morning air. Granddaddy really doesn't have to guide Tony for he knows the way.

We emerge from the woods and cross a dirt road called the Swamp Road. The little church sits beside it emerging out of giant, old pine trees. Beside the church is a sandy white grave yard with twelve old palm trees representing the twelve apostles. Many of my ancestors are buried here. The church, Mount Olive Primitive Baptist, in Manor, Georgia, is not painted, but weathered the color of moleskin. There are no glass windows, just heavy wooden shutters which are flung open.

Tony is tied up in the shade of an oak tree and here and there are automobiles. Grandmother brings her basket inside as Granddaddy helps Little Granny from the wagon bed. The church can be entered from three doors. One is on the Swamp Road and leads directly through an area of unpainted wooden benches which is for the visitors. One door is on the cemetery side and it leads to the same type benches where the female members sit. The remaining door is on the opposite side and this opens on the identical area where the male members sit. In front of each of these benches is a diamond shaped hole cut into the floor so that the men can spit their tobacco juice during the meeting. Each of these areas looks in the direction of the pulpit which is elevated and closed in with a bench for the preacher.

In front of this structure is a small deacons bench which probably would only seat two grown men. And in front of this bench is a small, unpainted, and bleached white, homemade communion table made of pine. Next to this, a few feet away is a little homemade chair made especially for Granny Nan. She is a tiny woman, only about four feet and nine inches tall and weighs about eighty-eight pounds. Her ankle length dress and petticoats touch the pine floor boards.

My Grandmother has a loud, clear, lovely voice as she leads the singing. I sit next to Granddaddy who attempts to sing, but he can't "carry a note". There is no musical instrument except the human voice permitted. Neither is there electricity nor any kind of decoration. I notice all the men's hats are hanging from a special made board next to the men's door, and directly overhead. Looking up I see that there is no ceiling. I am looking directly at the inside of the roof. I can see several dirt dauber nests up there and actually hear them drone at times during the meeting's silences. I don't sit during the long service but wander outside. I have been warned to "watch out" for snakes. I go to the men's "out door toilet" and notice that there are several toilet seats so more than one man can "go to the bath room". And there are the Sears and Roebuck catalogs.

I go to the grave yard and read my Granny Nan's husband's grave stone. Not too many feet away from Granddaddy Jim's grave is his mother's, Martha Ann Miller, but instead of just having Henderson on the head stone, it has her last husband's name, Thornton, as well. I have been told who all these people are and how most of them are kin to me. The graves that fascinate me the most are the ones near the woods which have very old wooden head markers and no identity. Some have very old sea shells on them. But it is the little unmarked graves which cause me to stop and stare.

I hear the preacher stop preaching and begin praying. Then the church members all come outside. Many go to the pump which has a shed built over it. (Granddaddy primes the pump with water he has brought in a can.) They have their own cups for catching the cold, clear water.(Grandmother's is made of metal and folds up which makes me think that she is special.) The men have all put back on their hats and the women are fanning themselves with cardboard fans that are stapled to little unpainted wooden handles. Not just because it is hot, but to keep away the flies as well. The food is eaten and the thermosses are emptied. The adults return to the church for the afternoon meeting. I play around the wagon and read from a book I have brought along.

The meeting ends with a hymn and we say our goodbyes. Climbing into the wagon we head back to their thirteen acre farm, "The Joe Griffin Place". I am asleep as Tony takes us home, switching his tail to keep away the horse flies. Old Granny nods off and Grandmother fans and sings hymns which she knows my Grandfather best loves. It will be many years into the future when these three relatives will have their final resting places next to Granddaddy Jim in that quiet and peaceful and little cemetery. That thought never enters my young brain as I head back through the woods towards my security and my future.

Always Look Under Your Bed at Night

This is a story passed down by Granny Nan. Her father, John Bennett, always told his family to look under their beds at night before going to bed. (He must have had a reason and I wish we knew what it was. But it is lost to us and that is one reason I wanted to share Little Granny's memory.) One night she and two of her sisters went into their room and went immediately to the bed they shared. Granny's two older sisters were soon asleep and she lay there thinking about various things. She turned over as she felt she was about to fall asleep and looking at the floor beside the bed in the moon light coming in through the window, which had its shutters pushed open, she saw a brogan sticking out from under the bed. She realized that someone was under it but also she couldn't just scream out before awakening her sisters. It took sometime before she could get them awake and to understand the situation. She said they all decided at once to jump out of the bed and scream and run toward where their mother and father were sleeping. They did and their father came running with his shot gun as a man crawled out from under their bed, jumped through the open window, and ran across the field. They never found out who the man was but they made sure they followed their father's advice from then on. (I don't know if this took place on their farm in Clay County Fla or in the cabin on Harper's Hammock. Since she mentioned fields I think it must have been the farm. Whether this took place before John went to the War or after, I don't know. But the story has always scared me since I was a little boy. Perhaps Old Granny loved to tell scary stories to little listening great grandsons on those dark nights there at the Joe Griffin Farm?)

Little Robin Redbreast

I had spent the morning with my Granddaddy Griffin as he was weeding the chicken yard which was beyond the backyard of the house. It was fenced-in and below it was the barnyard with the corn crib, the chicken house, a large barn which contained the cow sheds, Tony's horse stall, the hay loft, and the wagon shed, and behind that Granddaddy's own private out house.

I walked past the umbrella bushes where the chickens were stretched out in the shade, to the back yard gate. Mother was on the screened-in back porch and I announced to her that Granddaddy had taught me a poem. "Well, say it for me", she said. "O. K." and I said this poem standing there by the water shelf which was about my height. "Little Robin Redbreast sat upon a pole. Wibble wobble went his tail, and poop went his hole." She tried to keep from laughing and said, "Yes, that's one of your Granddaddy's poems all right, but you mustn't be saying that to everybody." "Why?" "Just cause, that's why." Then she walked into the kitchen where Grandmother was working and I heard her tell Grandmother about the poem. They were laughing together and Mother asked, "Why does Daddy have to teach that poem to all the grand children?" Grandmother said, "Your Daddy taught that same poem to all of you when you were younguns, too." I went back to where Granddaddy was hoeing and he asked me, "How did your mammy like your poem?" I said that she laughed. And then he laughed as well. I laughed along with him, but I didn't know what was so funny.

Three years ago I was working a duty assignment in the high school library. A book of poems from the 18th and 19th century had just arrived. It was a collection of poems from England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany, etc.. I thumbed through it and guess what I found? Yes! Correct! The "Little Robin Redbreast" poem exactly as Granddaddy had taught me all those long years ago. It originally appeared in "Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, Vol. II" 1744. But the original was published as handbills, generally on coarse single sheets of paper as early as 1600. What I wonder is where Granddaddy learned that poem. From his Mother or Father or Grandparents? With a smile on my face, I xeroxed a copy and sent it immediately to my Mother.

One Night Long Ago On A Southern Farm Setting: Minnie and Joe Griffin's farm; cold weather, night. Characters: Minnie Jane Henderson Griffin, Joseph Daniel Griffin, Nancy Ann Bennett Henderson, Nora Bessie Henderson Aldridge, Annie Eliza Henderson Hickox, and a young boy named Terry Wayne Boyd.

Plot: It is cold out and I don't remember if it is fall, winter, or early spring. All of us are gathered in the living room and a large fire is going in the fireplace. The old oak clock on the mantel shelf is ticking and the adults are seated in front of the fire quietly talking. (The mantel clock came from Sears and Roebuck and cost eight dollars. Grandmother had no wrinkles when she first bought that clock.) I am seated on one of two sofas in the room with a book and my Teddy. I am behind the adults and when I look up from reading I see their backs. The front door is to my left and it opens onto a porch which is the width of the house. Just beyond this door is the dining room. It has a large square arch which has no door. In warm weather it is left open, but in cold weather it has drapes which are closed. (What a perfect place to "put on plays" for us children.) Behind the dining room is Granny Nan's room; it always smells like powder. Straight ahead and to the right of the fireplace is my Grandparents' bedroom. To the left of the fireplace is a door, identical to the front door, which leads to a screened-in porch with the water shelf, pie safe, and pantry. Next to the door is the stair which goes to the second storey. Since my Grandparents are Primitive Baptists there is no radio in the house. So, the adults are entertaining themselves with talk. Suddenly there is a loud explosion and I look up to see them all standing up. The women have unpinned their long hair and I am watching as each of them is shaking their head from side to side. Even Little Granny is on her feet with her long white hair loose. The room is filled with moving hair it seems from my young perspective. And now they are running their fingers through their hair like combs. Then I notice them brushing off their dresses from their chests down to their knees, then the long sleeves on their dresses. It is a strange sight to my young eyes. It is almost a dance, a ritual, some familial secret ceremony for a cold night in the country. My imagination has all sorts of things happening. The truth is, some careless soul put a used-up flashlight battery in the fireplace. After it heated it exploded sending hot sparks and debris all over the adults. (We never find out who did that.) The women search the floor and the furniture to make sure there is nothing left to cause a fire. Grandmother takes her broom and sweeps ashes and dead embers into the fireplace. Everyone sits back down in their chair and I hear them laugh nervously together. The women put their hair up as they resume their talking. Granddaddy excuses himself and goes outside and Jeff the dog, who is never allowed inside the house, joins him. And later that night when I go up to my bed with my Teddy, the soft voices of my kinfolks and the ticking of the clock comes upstairs to where I am safely under my quilt. f?