If You Tell A Town A Story…

mouseHave you ever read the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?” It’s all about cause and effect and how one thing leads to another. If you give a mouse a cookie, then he’ll want some milk…and so on. That’s how Wednesday unfolded for me, all because I told that story about spending summers watching Grandmama Eunice write the “News In Gay.”

If you tell a town a story…you wake up to a message from DeeAnn saying that her mama found some of your grandmama’s old columns and has already passed them along to your mama (who calls later to say that she has them set aside and will visit soon–they’re too fragile to mail). Because our mamas have been friends since the late 1940s and our grandmamas were friends too. Miss Ruby and Mr. Hoke lived right down the road from Grandmama Eunice and DeeAnn said she used to HATE it when her Mimi got on the phone with Miss Eunice because it meant they were going to talk for a WHILE and DeeAnn was going to have to cool her jets.

If you tell a town a story…the boy you had a crush on since before you could remember–yes, Jeffrey from last summer’s story about peaches–who also happens to be DeeAnn’s baby  brother, has sent you an email to say that he remembers the exact sound that old metal drink box at Jack Findley’s made. He says he’ll pass the article along to the Findleys’ daughter, Alice, so she can read it too. And then your friend, Lynn, from back in elementary school writes to say that she is all teary with sweet memories because Jack was her Daddy’s brother and that was her Uncle Jack and Aunt Bessie and she loved them so. And I tell her how it was at Jack Findley’s store that I first learned how to whistle, sitting there on the upturned apple crate at the end of the counter while Miss Bessie talked to Grandmama and Grandmama enjoyed an Eskimo Pie from the freezer chest. Then Joe Nash, whose mama taught me at Vacation Bible School for many summers, says he remembers going to Jack’s to buy Chef Boyardee. Joe just opened The Fat Chihuahua restaurant in that little town and it sure ain’t Chef Boyardee!

If you tell a town a story….Lori Lee calls her mama from Florida to tell her about the story about Miss Eunice and before Miss Susie has even had time to finish her breakfast, the two of them are crying and laughing over the good times that Lori Lee had with her Nannie on those summer days long ago. How Lori Lee ate great big bowls of fresh peas right after swimming lessons and before the soaps. Before she hangs up, Lori Lee tells Miss Susie how she understands that it’s important for her own Max and Morgan to get time with their grandmama.

If you tell a town a story…Miss Susie shares that story on Facebook and one of her friends, Carol, says how she remembers my grandparents so fondly because she spent a lot of time at that very house while she and “Sammy” were dating. And I squawk, “You’re THE LEGENDARY CAROL?” The one Daddy still mentions now and then as he clutches at his heart while Big Gay rolls her eyes. And then Carol subscribes to Baddest Mother Ever and now I’m Facebook friends with my Daddy’s prom date.

letter-447577_1280If you tell a town a story….Sonya, who just last year married the boy that SHE had had a crush on since the 1970s, reports that she was going through some old papers at the bank and remembers seeing some of Grandmama Eunice’s columns. She promises to take another look and let me know what she finds. In the meantime, Stephanie, a Wesleyan sister, sends me a tip about a project via the UGA library where they’ve preserved small town newspapers on microfilm and I might want to check it out, seeing as that’s about two miles from my house.

If you tell a town a story…you find out that your VP at work knows that town because her husband was roommates with Willis, a boy from right up the road. Instead of talking about work, you end up talking about shelling purple hull peas and how to make that sweet tomato relish and how it was good to be the girl baby in the family because it meant your grandaddy let you stay in the air-conditioned office at the packing shed while your brothers had to pick peaches. Even the SharePoint developer who was there to talk about site design and governance starts hankering for a big bowl of peas and a glass of tea.

If you tell a town a story…you hear from Mrs. Love, the wife of your elementary school principal and she says she read the story to him and he says hello. My cousin, Greta, who was one of two guests at my first birthday party, says it brought back so many memories of Aunt Eunice’s house. My cousin, Annette, who’s 92 (but you didn’t hear that from me) and still the life of any party, remembers how kind Aunt Eunice was to her after her parents died when she was still a teenager.

If you tell a town a story…you get more stories in return and your heart opens up and you learn things you never knew about people you’ve known all your life.


16 thoughts on “If You Tell A Town A Story…

  1. Mike

    I cannot even tell you how much this makes me smile. And how much it’s taking me back to one of our most memorable whiting assignments at GHP: Write about a childhood memory. Just that. Nothing more complicated. Back then, “childhood” was really only reaching back a decade or so. Now, it’s like that honking horn on your mama’s Ford, calling everyone back from the creek to tell you about their day of reminiscing. The power of knowing “My Little Postage Stamp of Earth” is worth writing about, as poet Bettie Sellars told us that summer. Good for you, you ol’ storyteller.

      1. Mike

        I also note that I have an unfortunate typo up there, which of course should read: “writing.” So apparently I need more careful editing if I wanna keep my “Good Writer” status! (Sheepish grin here.)

      2. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

        We’re pretty good at whiting too…that would be a fun article: Basic Principles of Whiting.

  2. Michelle

    And your sisterfriend in Florida is swept back to the memories of spending the summers with her on Grandmother and of Young & The Restless. And of course Co-Cola mixed with Sweet Tea. And Sour Cream Pound Cake. And Tree Climbing. And Cousins. And making a bonfire with a stack of magazines my brother had hidden under his bed. So grateful we didn’t set the house on fire!

    THANK YOU! The mouse loved the cookie.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Sometimes, I could sneak in watching the first few minutes of Y&R if Grandmama wasn’t paying attention! She didn’t think too much of “the stories.”

      1. Michelle

        Julie, my youngest sister, knew all of the plot lines on Y&R (and could explain them to you in great detail) by the time she was four years old. She used to “nap” on the couch in the den while the rest of us were at school. Can you tell my mom was just TIRED by the time Kid Number Four came along? 😉

  3. Dena Hobbs

    This is wonderful. If the first post didn’t make me tear up, this one sure did. What a gift to make so many re-connections within your home community.

  4. Annette Mitchell

    I waited until tonight to read your blog. I am glad I did because it put many smiles on this wrinkled old face. It is wonderful! So glad to have such a talented and smart cousin. I read “Baddest Mother Ever” every day and I am still trying to figure how you decided on this title when we all that “just ain’t so.” Keep on entertaining us. You are really so gifted.


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