Welcome to the Street Prophets Coffee Hour, the place where politics meets up with religion, art, nature, food, and life. Come in, have a cuppa and a cookie (or three!), and join us.
I opened my front door and got a blast of arctic air. We’ve been below freezing since Thursday night, and it was still in the mid teens. I’d intended to take trash to the road for tomorrow’s pick-up, but that will have to wait until either it warms a bit or I have no choice but to brave the cold.
I’m the oldest living member of my family still in this area. I have a sister a year younger in Atlanta but she has almost no family contact. I have a cousin a couple of years older in Florida but he’s not related to anyone here other than myself and that absent sister. So I’ve told the half-siblings and cousins that if they want family stories, they’d better ask now.
My maternal grandmother was divorced in 1930, and was the sole support of two young daughters. She remarried late in 1933, but it was the depression and he had trouble finding and keeping a job (especially keeping a job; he was a man of strong, unpopular opinions). She worked in garment factories, and during the worst times she worked two jobs. Often it wasn’t enough, and the two girls had to be sent to other family members until the situation stabilized, either in northwestern Arkansas or southern Missouri. The girls would be awakened in the night and told, “We’re leaving now. You’re going to be staying with Ben and Fanny” or “Ollie and Charlie will be taking care of you for a while” or “You’ll be living with Lurene and Amos.”
I’m also the only person who recognizes the old people in the photos. Even with names on the back, no one else knows how they fit into the family. The photo above is my aunt Venia when she was staying with her mother’s uncle Ben (Benjamin Harrison Mayes) and his wife Fanny. I found it at my aunt’s house, and even her husband, who was still living, didn’t know anything about it. On the back someone had written “Venia Lou and Ben” but that last name didn’t mean anything to them.
As always, I cleaned it up a bit. First, I got rid of the extras, so the focus was on the people. That also made fewer cracks to mend—yea!
I know a lot of people like the old tint, but really it was added to slow the fading of the image, not as an artistic decision. I brought the color into the modern era.
That also spreads out the dynamic range and gives it a sharper appearance.
Ben and Fanny bought this farm from Ben’s father, James Perry Mayes, who in turn bought it in 1880 and raised his family there. Ben’s great-grandson Larry Mayes is still on that farm near Goshen.
I spent two summers with Ben’s youngest sister, Bessie, in the 1950s, and I met the family there. The one thing I remember almost 70 years later is how kind everyone was, elders, adults, and kids.
While you’re here, check out this week’s community needs list. There’s great news. AZnaturegrrrl has reached her goal (WOOT), although it’s my experience that things always come up and a little cushion would be a good idea. And see if anyone else on the list is someone you feel you can help.