Mama Jewell

i posted a memory, a photo of my father and my grandmother on Facebook today with several comments.

It is getting late. i may have written about this before. i don’t care. i’m blowing off going to bed even though i missed my nap this afternoon. i don’t care if somewhere in this King Minos labyrinth,  modern style, i have written of this incident before.

This is my time tonight.

It was 1950. i was six. It was autumn a month or so after i started first grade at McClain Elementary where my mother and father attended, and my father helped my grandfather, the city’s school custodian, fire the furnace in the morning, and clean up in the 1920’s and 1930’s afternoon.

My mother with my sister in the stroller, walked with me to Tarver Avenue. McClain was located in the middle of the block between South Tarver and South Hatton. Her account claimed we stopped there and i told her i could go myself the rest of the way, and she didn’t need to come get me because i could walk home those three blocks or so by myself.

Knowing my mother now, i am amazed she acquiesced. i also think it could have been the creation of my pocket of resistance. From that day on, except for rainstorms or snowstorms, i walked to and back to home every day. Our neighborhood swarmed with children. The gang would leave school and walk home in groups up the truly Main Street in town.

My group of six or so would begin. By the time we got to my house, there were only about three or four of us. Ronnie Collinsworth was in  my first grade class. He lived up Wildwood Avenue, about another block. That day, for some reason, Ronnie began picking on me, being a reasonable facsimile to Scut Farkus in the movie “Christmas Story.”

By the time we reached my home, i apparently reached my limit with Ronnie, put down by books, among which was Fun with Dick and Jane. Ronnie charged me swinging. Now, it’s a bit too long ago for me to remember exactly but i think it was a right cross i connected on Ronnie’s left jaw. He hit the ground, started crying and ran home.

Mama Jewell was then living with my Aunt Naomi Martin caddy cornered across the street. She had been sitting in the living room knitting, reading, or other things grandmother’s do in front of the picture window as the fracas was going down. She saw the drama played out.

My mother was working part time at several jobs. My other grandmother, Katherine “Granny” Jewell was the child care go-to, and taking care of my sister, my infant brother, and me when i got back from school.

Mama Jewell picked up the phone, asked the operator, who probably was my Aunt Naomi Jewell Martin, to dial 339R. The phone rang. Granny went to the narrow hall in the center of the house and picked up the phone headset off the base.

Mama Jewell told Granny Prichard their grandson didn’t do anything wrong; that the other little boy started it all, and their shared grandson shouldn’t be punished.


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