1909 Sunday morning … somewhere in western Louisiana
Standing in front of the mirror, Lillie Barnes hastily fumbled with the pearl-tipped hairpin as she pushed it through her bun in the back. While fitting on the flower-laden straw hat hurrying not to be late for the eleven o’clock church service, she hollered into the kitchen, “Bama, y’all hurry up now or we gon be late!”
“Yes mam, we hurryin, Mama.”
“Be sho an wipe that baby’s face an tie her shoes up.”
Taking a last quick glance and smoothing down her Sunday gingham dress, she thought about how nice it would be if Son Buddy were here to go to church with them. He was seventeen, the oldest of her four children and already out on his own. Smiling to herself, But even ef he wuz heah, me an him be goin roun an roun. That boy got slow as cream risin when it come time to go to church. Rushing the children, she called into the kitchen again, “Bama, y’all bout ready?”
“Yes mam, Mama, we ready.”
“Well, come on now, les go.” Her husband, Charlie, was already seated on the wagon waiting for them. Cautioning as she turned the skeleton key in the lock, “One uv y’all betta ketch holt uv that baby’s hand so she don’t fall goin down them steps.” Sally grabbed it—she was eight. Bama was twelve and the “baby,” Emma, was four.
His patience worn thin, Charlie barked, “Lillie, y’all hurry up ef’n you wont me to drive y’all down there!” He had other plans. As soon as he dropped them off, he was heading straight for the gambling shack. Grumbling still, “Damn, Lillie, it takes y’all longer to git ready than anybody I ever seen. I been settin out heah nelly a hour.”
“Oh bosh, you ain’t been settin out heah no hour. Quit yo fussin. You’ll have plenny time to gamble,” settling herself on the oak seat beside him.
Looking over his shoulder, Charlie said, “Bama, y’all hurry up an git in.” Sally couldn’t lift Emma up onto the wagon bed alone, so Bama had to help her. “Y’all on?” he asked.
“Yessuh, we on.”
“Y’all set down back there an behave,” he ordered.
Lillie added, “Bama, you an Sally bet not let that baby fall out.”
Charlie snapped the reins and started the mules in motion. “Come up heah, Jake, Ol Blackie!” whacking them on the rump as they struck up a trot.
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