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Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Heritage of Macaroni and Bookmarks

Not too long ago I did a little writing exercise called "Where I'm From". It was a really great journey into what makes up the person I am. I, of course, sent copies to my parents and siblings. My kids and niece decided to write their own pieces, and my Mom and I discussed a family project that would compile "Where I'm From" pieces spanning four generations. I'd link the post that started it all here, but it's late and I don't really relish the thought of falling asleep at my keyboard. So, if you can't find it via the archives, let me know in the comments, and I'll link you.

So, every year my grandfather's siblings and all their kids, grandkids, and descendants meet for a weekend in Texas -- it's the Thurman Family Reunion. My mother is in charge of the yearly letter reminding everyone to come, and we also submit a scrapbook of the previous year's event for the arts and crafts auction that helps pay for expenses, food, etc. The scrapbook and helping make the letter look snazzy are my job.

Mom wanted to include a "Where Thurmans Are From" poem with this year's letter, so she spent several days gathering information from her siblings, my grandfather, her aunts and uncles and her own memories. This weekend I compiled them all into a poem, and I just stuffed the last envelope with this year's letter to go out in the mail tomorrow morning.

I don't know why anyone would be particularly interested in the piece, except that the random, every-day things that go into who we are and will continue to become might spark some memories for others. So, if some part of this poem jogs your memory or takes you on a journey into the past then I'll feel really good about posting it here.

If not, it would be nice if somebody would at least stroke my ego by telling me what a literary poetic genius I am. I know, don't tell my Mom I'm acting so shameless!



Where Thurmans are From



Thurmans are from the smell of freshly plowed dirt, the sight of a cotton field in bloom and half-circle puddles of sand blown in under the crack of every door and window.



We’re from the sight of lightning far across the Texas prairie, signaling the coming rain and from waiting out the storm in the cellar with Aunt Ann and a deck of cards.



Thurmans are from the smell and the sound of a John Deere tractor, the rumble of the train where Granddad worked, the project, the farm and the sounds of Stonewall Jackson and Elvis on the record player at Thurman Drug.



We’re from, Nanny’s beans and cornbread, Grandad’s vegetable garden and roast on the table for every Sunday dinner; from home-made ice cream at Aunt Claudine and Uncle Edwin’s, Aunt Ann’s enchiladas and Aunt Betty’s home-made cakes.



Thurmans are from summer afternoons shelling black-eyed peas under a tree or on the porch, dragging cotton sacks bigger than we were, and scraping black walnuts on Nanny and Grandad’s cellar door; from swimming in the orange-tinted mud of a cleachy pit.



We’re from castor oil for your stomach, Vick’s salve for your sore throat and black draught for a cold; from kerosene for cuts and scrapes and good ole’ monkey’s blood.



We’re from a package of Bull Durham tobacco with cigarette papers on the side, snuck when Granddad wasn’t looking, a handful of dried apricots swiped from the 25# box and Prince Albert in a can.



Thurmans are from gathering eggs in the chicken house, milking in the cow barn and feeding calves from a can with a nipple on the side.From the texture of sheets dried on the clothesline and flour sack dish towels.



We’re from both dinner and supper cooking on the stove in the late morning, so the house will be cool in the afternoon; from washing dishes as you go, dinner covered with dishtowels, waiting for hungry men to come eat.From plates turned upside-down on bowls to keep out the sand and aprons fanning away the flies.



Thurmans are from the black International pick-up and the old gray Plymouth, from irrigation ditches, Texas Forty-Two on a card table in the living room, and a farm tractor ride from Happy to Ropes in a Navy uniform.



We’re from the sweet smoky smell of a pipe being lit and re-lit and the tapping sound of knocking out the tobacco; from Grandad sitting at the table turned sideways, with crossed legs, huge ears and huge hands, fingers drumming on the table.



Thurmans are from poodle skirts and penny loafers, dragging Dip, RC Cola and Coca Cola, and walking to the post office for Aunt Ann’s mail; from family reunions in Mackenzie Park, eating outside with all of the cousins, sneaking off to the rodeo, and sitting on the bed listening to records.





We’re from “A man is only as good as his word”, “a little hard work ain’t gonna hurt ya” and “it don’t cost nothin’ to speak”; from the Baptist church, paying what you owe and voting democratic.



Thurmans are from coffee around the kitchen table and teaching your sons to be gentlemen; from “Yes Ma’am” and “No Sir” and treating your mama like a lady.



We’re from Texas, and from knowing what that means, from the middle of the road, knowing where you stand, doing what’s right no matter what the cost, and family.



~Tauna Scroggins

And if you made it all the way through that one, you should read the "Where I'm From" piece my seven year old neice wrote. It's amazing!



Where I’m From


I’m from Anet Tanna’s games

and Mamma’s makaroney.

And Im’ from Daddy’s rasleing.

And eating apples and peanut butter with Bradley.

And I’m from Grandma’s card game’s.

I’m from playing hide and seek,

and I’m from Anet’s Tanna’s bookmarks.



The End,



Morgan





Translated:


I’m from Aunt Tauna’s games,

And Mama’s macaroni.

And I’m from Daddy’s wrestling,

And eating apples and peanut butter with Bradley.

And I’m from Grandma’s card games.

I’m from playing hide and seek,

And I’m from Aunt Tauna’s bookmarks.


And now you know where the real poetic genius lies. (I taught her everything I know, including the importance of really nifty beaded bookmarks!)

Thanks for reading!

2 comments:

Deena said...

I loved it! Of course, I was a fan from the beginning...haven't tried mine yet. But I want to, I really do~

Deena said...

Ok, here's mine...see what you think...

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