So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label Lois Council. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lois Council. Show all posts

Monday, May 11, 2020

Old Diaries and Journals

Mother's Day

Recently I was reading a small red diary written by my twelve-year old self. Only a few sentences scrawled across the pages, however, they brought back memories.
My mother, Lois Robison Council, the sweetest mother ever

My mother gave me freedom to do many things I wanted because she trusted me to be responsible.

But in this diary, I had written about deceiving my mother. I did not tell her things that might end my freedom to ride Daisy. I didn't tell her, and my friend Joyce didn't tell her mother, of the incidents with horses that would have put a stop to our meeting on Saturday afternoons and riding for hours through woods and down trails on open land miles from home. Both Joyce and I had falls from horses, but we weren't hurt and we knew not to tell our mothers if we wanted to continue to ride.

In this diary I tell of the time I was on my way home after riding for hours with Joyce. We had not paid attention to how late it was. It would be dark soon, and I was not going to make it in time. I decided to take a shortcut through an area I had never ridden before. The fat farm horse, Daisy, plodded along until she saw a pile of trash beside the trail. Startled, she shied to the left. I didn't make it with her. I ended up on the ground while Daisy took off through the dark woods. 

When I realized I was able to walk, I headed across an open field hoping to reach the road to my house and hoping Daisy would be somewhere easy to find.
In the diary I didn't say how frightened I was, but I remember being terrified because the sage brush was taller than I was and I couldn't see where I was going. When I finally broke out of the tall grass, I arrived on the side of Fleming Road and within a few seconds a big black car turned down the road as well. What relief! My brothers had come to find me.

How did you know where I was, I asked them once I was snuggled in the front seat between two of them. 

When Daisy came home without you, Mother said for us to go and find you. She was scared to death.

I was ashamed and sad that I had upset my mother. Being the empathetic person I have always been, I felt her fear and worry. I was sure my riding days with my friend were over.

But Mother was so happy to see me and find I was not hurt, she didn't scold me and she didn't take away my privileges, my riding with Joyce. She was a mother who listened, and when she heard why I had taken the shortcut, she understood. She just said to me, Pay more attention to the sun next time.

I was told later by one of my brothers that an open well existed in that big field with the tall grass. If I had fallen in it, they might not have found me because no one would have thought I would be in that field. 

After that day, I told Mother where I would be riding, and I stayed where I could be found if I had an accident. Today, on Mother's Day, I remember and miss my wonderful mother. She was my anchor, my lighthouse, my security blanket. She was the glue that held our family of nine together. Always in the background, but always a prominent figure, we knew she would listen and understand.

Friday, July 19, 2019

In my family stories, I write about my parents, Coy and Lois Council.

Excerpt from my memoir:
My older sister, June, was born 1924. She entered this world at the home of our grandparents, Willie and Lula Robison where Mother waited for Daddy to send for her. Times were hard in the early 1920s for my family and many more. The economy of the United States was doing great, but only for certain people. As is often the case, the stock market was booming, but middle and low income families struggled.

Daddy, Coy Council, had planned to wait until he had enough money saved before asking Lois to marry him, but he married at the age of 23 because he could not bear to be away from his beloved Lois any longer. In letters he wrote to my mother, it is obvious he was afraid she would find someone else. He was jealous of anyone she saw when he was not present.

Daddy had never worked anywhere but Pelham Manufacturing Company, (textile mill). He started there when he was ten years old, soon after his father died. At times the Pelham mill would close. Then Daddy, a young single man, took the train up to Thomaston, Georgia where he worked as a weaver at the mill there and rented a room at a boarding house. He barely made enough to pay his board, buy cigarettes and send money home to his widowed mother. He hated the work, but it was all he knew. 

On the positive side, he could always find work because between 1800 and 1910, cotton mills sprang up all over the south and middle Georgia had two or three in the same county. I find it interesting to see what fabrics were made in each mill. After the Civil War, the production of cotton duck, a canvas-like cloth, dominated production for use in ship sails, tents, and covered wagons. Duck gained new value as an industrial fabric in the booming new rubber tire business for automobiles in the early twentieth century. Osnaburg is a name I remember hearing Mother say when she looked at fabric in a store. It was one of those produced in the early 20th century.

My oldest brother, Ray, was the only child not born in Georgia. He was born in a tiny town, Rubonia, Florida where Mother and Daddy lived while my father worked with Uncle Charlie on his farm in Palmetto. Daddy also worked nights at an ice plant to earn enough to pay rent and feed his small family. In the days before refrigerators and ice machines, ice plants delivered ice to homes and businesses. It was hard work. Even in 1942, homes without electricity had an Ice Box on the back porch where a big block of ice would be placed to keep food cold for a couple of days until the ice man brought another block.

Little Ray became my father’s pride and joy. He had hoped for a son, and when that boy was born, in 1926, Coy Council burst his buttons with pride. The first-born son has long been a source of pride and joy to fathers. That son was expected to carry on the lineage of the father. Ray was, of course, named for his father. Coy Ray Council went by the name of Ray.

Little did anyone know what this precious child would mean to his parents, his siblings and to countless others whose lives he touched.

A block of ice carried with tongs delivered to someone's Ice Box

The Icehouse Job, 1926

After working 9 hours in the hot Florida sun,
he came home to eat a meal with her and his kids.
She told him how she wished he could stay with her
and rest, let her rub his back. I get scared here without you.
But he said he had to pay the rent, put food on the table.
As the kids were tucked into bed, he climbed
into his old truck, headed to work.

It should have been a relief after the sun burned
his skin to dark brown leather, but he wore his ragged
jacket and a cap with flaps over his ears
as if he had walked into dead of winter in Wisconsin.

Alone in the quiet he wondered how long could he go on
working two jobs, getting little sleep.
His back, tired from plowing mules all day,
his hands cold and chapped, he chopped
the fifty pound blocks. With both hands he clamped
the tongs that griped the slippery squares, swung his shoulders
tossing his burden up on the platform, over and over
until the clock said midnight, quitting time.

He climbed into bed too tired to bathe.
Her hand reached through the night,
touched his face. He slept but she lay awake
thinking of going home to Georgia, seeing her folks,
hearing him laugh again, and tell his stories to the kids.

                                                   Dedicated to my parents, Coy and Lois Council

Glenda Beall
August 6, 2015