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  • Grandmother Poems
  • Sean Hill (bio)

b. Dec. 17, 1926

Grandmother Poem #1: School in the country

In the cold winter months ice’d spike up from red clay. It’d be so cold water in the ground be done froze and overnight them crystals be done growed. We lived in the country and walked to school everyday. It was a good little walk ‘cause the school was a ways away. The wind would blow straight through our winter clothes but Julius and Eunice would make a fire ‘side the road after gathering up wood ‘long the way. Behind County Line Baptist Church stood our one room school. When we’d go back home in the evening it’d still be spiked up with ice just like it was that morning. Mama Eva and Nin they’d go out and bring in the cows and mule. We used to have cold weather back then but we don’t have no cold weather now—think it’s a warning?

Grandmother Poem #2: Eunice and the plowing bull

On the farm we growed cotton for sale and corn greens potatoes peas sweet potatoes and okra to eat— three milk cows a mule and chickens for eggs and meat. I had two brothers, in 1921 ‘22 ‘26 we was born. Julius the oldest Eunice next and I was the baby. Lived with my father Charlie Johnson and my mama Inez Richardson Johnson we called her Nin and grandma Eva Curry Richardson and my grandfather Sam Richardson. We called them mama and papa and called daddy daddy. Y’all’d liked Ma Eva. She and Nin they would go out for the cows and bring ‘em up to the house so we’d have milk fresh from the teat. Eunice had a bull. He broke him to the plow. Bull named Pete. He would plow and Eunice could even ride him. They’d tromp through the yard—Eunice on top—looking to get cool; walk down to the pond and wade into that green brown pool. [End Page 15]

Grandmother Poem #3: Moving into town

Stayed in the country until I was thirteen years old ‘round about there. Mama and Papa they moved to town about a year before we did and we stayed down on old Mr. Felton Rice’s place. Daddy was stout, him and Nin worked. I didn’t do that much ‘cause I didn’t never like the field. I’d be at the house cooking and stuff like that. Yeah, he was a white man. No, I didn’t talk to him. Children back then not like children is now. Papa and daddy they built this house here then went to work at the State. Ma Eva and Nin took in wash. Yeah, they was white people. You’d go get ‘em from they house close ‘round. I don’t know, didn’t come in no kinda contact with ‘em. No, we didn’t build no fires in town.

Grandmother Poem #4: School in town

Tromp through the graveyard to get to school this winter morning and ice is spiked up from red clay. A shortcut for there is no fire, so you keep moving past the slave graves at the back in Memory Hill the white cemetery. Skirt the Jewish graves— letters on the stones strange to you—and arrive at Eddy High named for Mr. C. Eddy benefactor and petitioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Prided by Blacks. You chose to be behind a year: foolish I reckon,went back to the sixth to be with cuddin Emma. The school burned in ‘25 and will again in ‘46— today by the stove you two rid your thighs of pins.

Grandmother Poem #5: Going to the Prom

In the spring of ‘43 you went to the prom. There was a band. Johnny Jarrett, Billy Butts, and Johnny Hicks played and that Lucien Walker spun records. You’d sewn your own dress—white with bright red apples. Your father didn’t allow you to court. Said you had to invite a girl. Your date was [End Page 16] Louise Bonner. She spent the night at your house and Charlie and...

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