A memory of my grandfather
|Whip and all! So many years ago, and so many memories later, I would recognize his face anywhere, and I most remember him sitting on the pitch in that rocking chair and me giving him a shave while he smoked that Prince Albert tobacco in his pipe. I also remember how tall he was and how thin. Anderson, as he was often called, was a man of status in Screven, GA. No matter where he went, he made an entrance and when he spoke, people listened. Mr. Anderson was the man, everyone knew it.
He owned his land. He raised his crops. He eventually had three houses on his property, a barn, tool shed, smokehouse, and a wash shed. He grew sugar cane in addition to all of his other crops. We grew our own peaches, pears, grapes, plums, and persimmons.
The most fascinating thing living with granddaddy was watching him making syrup from sugar cane. Just when the syrup was ready, granddaddy would let us get sticks or cane peels and scrap the "dog candy" from around the big boiler before he filled all of the jugs and bottles with syrup. It was the best candy in the world! Just don't let any of that hot smoldering candy get on you, it never stopped burning, but oh when it cooled off -- month-watering.
The second most fascinating thing was what we kept in the tool-house -- homemade wooden coffins of all sizes. We never had to buy those things, just like we have never had to buy a plot in a cemetery in the "colored" cemetery in Screven.
The final thing that always amazed me with granddaddy was his blue chest in which he kept everything that he valued. That blue chest was his bank, treasure holder, keepsakes, and much much more. Sometimes he would show off some of the things he had in that chest, and it was amazing.
It was the raiding of that chest by family members upon his death that made me clearly understand that what we value in life has almost no meeting to those we leave behind. Destroying granddaddy blue chest and all of its contents by family members was a moment in time that I will always remember as the epitome of disrespect and a remaining contempt for those who engaged in that act that day in my long-ago history.
So much lost and so many feelings buried over time so that I could survive. Long live the impact of James Anderson Brown, my grandfather on me and so many others. Don't get me wrong, not all of it was bad, there was a lot of good, but like with anything else life was not perfect, and people are not saints. They are just people.