This page is under construction. 12 December 2000
We are living in Jacksonville, Florida, and I am seven years old. My brothers, Arthur and Dennis, are two and one. A Pepsi Cola Bottling Company is across the street from our rented house which is painted green, and a Dinsmore Dairy Company is behind us.
For days Mother has been asking Daddy for money for Christmas. There is friction in our house as the holidays approach and he has still not given her any.
Earlier in the month a friend of his who worked with him had given me a dollar. I had spent it at a drug store across the railroad tracks for a doll in a box with a cellophane cover.
Mother broke into tears when I came home with the doll. "You spent that money on a doll, and your Father hasn't given me one red cent for Christmas!" She took the doll in the box and placed it on the mantel piece in the living room, refusing to let me play with it due to her frustration. It stood there overseeing our family as the holidays neared.
On Christmas eve they are arguing in the living room, and he finally hands her a few bills. She dresses us warmly, and we leave the house and walk up the street to a little store many blocks away. When we arrive she tells me to wait outside with my brothers while she goes inside. We stand on the sidewalk in the chilly evening to the right of the entrance.
My brothers are too young to know what is happening, but I look inside the store through a large window. I see Mother going up and down the aisles picking up various things. She looks them over and either puts them back on the shelves or holds on to them. Why is she crying?
After what seems like a long time, she comes out to where we are standing. She has a few packages in her arms, and she has dried her eyes. Mother clutches the parcels and talks to us as we hurry toward the warmth of our home on this cold, dark evening. I carry Dennis and hold Arthur's hand.
After we have gone to bed I hear Mother in the living room. She is wrapping our gifts for Santa. On Christmas morning we find them under our tree as the doll still looks at us from the mantel in her box.
Daddy leaves after his coffee and returns with two Cocker Spaniel puppies for us. One is white and black and the other is brown and white. Mother is very displeased and tells him to take them back to whoever gave them to him. I want to keep the puppies but Mother is firm, and they are taken away.
My brothers are too young to know about this special morning, but it is very exciting for me. Little do I know then that I have experienced a Christmas which I will never forget along with a lesson about the doll.
Time passes and Mother takes the doll from the mantel and hands it to me. I take it out of its box and guiltily play with it making sure to keep it out of the reach of my brothers.
My Grand Aunt Pearl was a sister to my Grandmother, Sarah Ella White Boyd, and Grand Uncle Ike was a brother to my Grandfather, William Arthur Boyd. I do not know the date for their wedding, but I know it took place in Manor in Ware County, Georgia, and since Grandmother had gotten married at her parents' home, Aunt Pearl probably did as well. Her Father, Jacob Riley White, and Mother, Cecilia Ann Corbitt White had given her a farm, and it was here they lived for many years.
(I should also mention here that Ella and Pearl's brother, Joseph David White, married Art and Ike's sister, Rosa "Rose" Boyd.)
I don't remember ever going to visit at that farm, but I recall very plainly the little home they had built in Manor right behind his sister, Roxie Ann (Rockie) Boyd Ferrell. It was very small and painted white. In the living room hung an oval picture of my Great-Grandfather, Jacob, and an old trunk sat against one of the living room walls. In it were petticoats and dresses, etc. which had belonged to my Great-Grandmother, Cecilia.
Aunt Pearl had artificial flowers in that house. She had made them out of crepe paper and had coated them in wax. As a child I thought they were very pretty, and she taught me how to make flowers out of colored tissues and wire. I never learned how to make the crepe paper and wax ones.
She was a very good cook, and I recall the lemon meringue and coconut meringue pies she baked. They were very tall, and they were very delicious. I don't know who taught her how to make pies, and I wish I had the recipes for them.
Aunt Pearl and Uncle Ike never had children, but they liked to have nephews and neices visit them. Upon first arrival there I always dreaded her first hellos for she would grab hold of one of my cheeks and pull on it as she welcomed me. It felt as though my cheek had stretched out a foot before she let loose. It would stay red for minutes as I tried to avoid her friendly greeting.
When they first married he decided he would teach her how to swim. He took two dried gourds and made two holes in the neck of each of them. Through these holes he ran a piece of cord. With lye soap or wax he closed the holes. They went to a branch, and he helped her put the gourds under each arm so that she could float. I don't know what kind of bathing suits they were wearing, but before he knew what was happening the gourds had moved from under her arms. What he was seeing in the water were her bare feet sticking out with the gourds holding them up. Poor Aunt Pearl was blubbering under water.
One memory especially stands out in my mind about Aunt Pearl. I was visiting her church which was a pentecostal church out of Manor and just down the road from the farm where she had lived with Uncle Ike. It was called "The Church of God, Holiness." Aunt Pearl was playing the piano for the church service. There were men singing to the left of the piano and women to the right, and there sat Aunt Pearl bouncing on the piano bench and playing it for all that she was worth. It looked to me that she was actually beating the keys as she played in the Spirit and swayed to the music. Her long white hair was done up in a bun at the base of her neck with large hair pins. As she moved her head with the rhythm her pins came out and went flying here and there. Her long hair was faning the air as she played those old songs.
Pearl Mae White, 30 May 1901-6 April 1978
Isaac B Boyd, 12 April 1895-9 Oct 1976
Sarah Ella White, 22 Aug 1889-5 Dec 1979
William Arthur Boyd, 9 Oct 20 May 1942
Rosa Boyd, 12 April 1895-15 Dec 1982
Joseph David White, 24 July 1884-22 Mar 1942
Cecilia Ann Corbitt, 26 Jan 1862-9 Jan 1937
Jacob Riley White, 4 April 1854-6 July 1924
We are living in the green house there in Jacksonville across from the Pepsi Cola Bottling Plant, and I have just come in from a school day in the second grade. I am sitting in the living room playing.
Wayne, why are you scratching your head like that? Mother asks.
Don't know. It itches.
Come here and let me look at your head, honey.
Cause I said so. Now you come over here.
I walk over to where she is sitting and she examines my head. Lord have mercy. Go to the bathroom right now and take off all your clothes and stand in the tub.
You do as I tell you and stop asking me questions. You march yourself to the bathroom right now.
I went into the bathroom but I didn't march; I took off all my clothes and stood in the tub with the claw feet and scratched my head.
Mother came right in with some kerosene and an odd little comb.
What's wrong? What is that kerosene and comb for?
What's wrong is you have head lice and we have to get rid of them.
What's head lice? Ouch! And she poured a little bit of the kerosene on my head until it was saturated. Then she began to comb my hair with that little comb, working my hair this way and that. My little brothers have come in to see what is taking place, and she warns them to stay away from my clothes on the floor.
I have told you ever since you started to school not to ever use anyone's comb and never to wear anyone's hat. Haven't I? Answer me.
She is scaring me because of her voice and her actions. I didn't use anybody's comb, and I didn't wear anybody's hat. Am I sick?
No, you are not sick. You have come home with head lice, and we have to kill them and their nits.
Nits? What's nits?
Nits are their eggs.
I have lice AND eggs in my hair?
Yes you do but not for long. And Mother worked at my hair with a vengeance. She was always rough with my head when she washed my hair, but this was really bad. I just knew she was rubbing and combing me bald headed. I expected to see blood running down into the tub.
Don't you dare tell your Aunt Lottie or Uncle Wesley or Lavaughn that you came home with lice. They lived just a few houses down from our house. Aunt Lottie was Daddy's sister and Lavaughn was a cousin my age.
Cause I told you not to. It is our secret. Only nasty and dirty people get head lice. You don't want people to think you are dirty and nasty do you? I bet Lavaughn didn't take any head lice home with him from school.
No, Mother. I was on the verge of tears but she began to wash my hair with shampoo and once again run the comb through it. At this moment I could care less what Lavaughn took home with him from school.
Now you wash yourself all over. Come back into the living room when you are finished, and she carefully scooped up my clothes and left me there with the lice and the nits all hopefully gone down the drain.
I dried myself and went into the living room where she examined my head all over again. Now, you remember what I said about our secret?
Yes, Mother. Can I tell Daddy?
Good. It's our secret; I will tell your Daddy myself. Now run and put on some clean clothes. I went to my bedroom with my head afire but cleansed of those lice and their eggs. At least she could have shown me what they looked like. Just wait till I see Lavaughn tomorrow.
[Lottie Mae Boyd James is a sister to my Father. Colon Wesley James is a son of Walton Clark James (13 Nov 1892-31 May 1961) and Margaret "Maggie" Elizabeth Cribb James (11 June 1892-10 April 1981)]
"Oh, why not tonight? Oh, why not tonight? Wilt thou be saved? Then why not tonight?" is being sung at the end of a revival meeting in a tent near where I am living. My Aunt Lottie has taken me with her and her son, Lavaughn, to this service. She had asked me if I would like to go with them to see a movie under a tent, and Mother had let me go.
Earlier the preacher preached about the end of the world, and then he showed a film about the world coming to an end. Now he was begging people to come down to the altar and repent of their sins.
I was as scared as a second grader could possibly be! I couldn't wait to get back home to the safety of my house and my parents and my two little brothers.
I began to have nightmares in vivid detail about the end of the world. For weeks I would wake up screaming with my Mother trying to console me.
I went outside to play in the front yard, and I heard a plane above the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company across the street. I looked up, and I saw Pepsi Cola Hits the Spot written in the sky. The world was ending. I ran into the house yelling for Mother.
The world is ending! I screeched in terror.
What is wrong with you? Now you just calm yourself down right this minute. Right now, you hear? You'll scare your brothers with that racket.
Come look, I told her. And she followed me to the front porch. Look up there. The writing by this time had floated away from above the Pepsi building, but it was still up there although larger than before.
That is sky writing from an airplane; That's all that it is. Just sky writing. It's an advertisement for Pepsi. You've heard that song on the radio a hundred times, and she began to sing the familiar tune. "Twice as much for a nickel too. Pepsi Cola is the drink for you."
Oh, I thought it was the end of the world. I was very releaved and my heart began to slow down.
Honey, the world is not going to end. At least not right now. You stay out here and play. I have to get back to the kitchen, and she went back inside to where my brothers were playing.
That night I had the doozy of nightmares. The world was ending by logs rolling and crushing everything. It was awful to see and to hear inside my eight year old head. The only way to escape the destruction was to grab hold of a rope hanging from one of the palm trees outside our house and swing up into Heaven. I stood there calling and pleading for Mother to hurry so we could swing on the rope and escape. But Mother was taking her time combing her hair and fixing her makeup and putting on her ear bobs.
I awakend from that dream with her once again beside me on the bed with the light on. Wake up! Wake up, honey. You are having another nightmare. She was in her nightgown. Where was the makeup and the ear bobs? I thought, as I was between the dream and reality. She finally got me back to sleep, and I did not return to that bad dream again.
But I have never forgotten that episode with the movie, the plane, nor that nightmare. They will always be a part of my formative years. And I have never forgotten how loving and patient and caring my Mother was to me during that nightmare time.
More to come...HAPPY CHRISTMAS to you all.