Clarence Giles Williams – Our father was a talented storyteller… unmatched, hands down!
Our Parents – Clarence and Lucy Mae Williams in the late 1980’s. Married 56 years and partners in everything, including crime!
Clarence Giles Williams’ talent for storytelling!
Listening to Daddy’s hilarious stories was almost as entertaining as watching our ONE CHANNEL TELEVISION!
As a child, our family had one television and you know it was not “in living color”, rather it was in “living black and white”! We were thrilled to have our television. It had two stations actually, OFF and ON! Seriously, we really did have ONE CHANNEL and we enjoyed it immensely. As youngsters, we had nothing with which to compare it, therefore contentment was our steady companion.
We lived in what was considered a large town and we were fortunate to have other forms of entertainment, one of them being out father’s storytelling sessions. I have no memory of living at our home at 114 May Avenue, Hattiesburg, Mississippi without Daddy’s stories and jokes. Although Daddy’s face almost always wore “the shadow of a smile”… still in appearance, Daddy exuded an aura of seriousness. Despite his serious countenance, I suppose he ordinarily presented as quietly and secretly amused about a sliver of information that he alone was privy to.
My sister, Leliar Ann (aka, Lee Ann) would frequently plead with him, “Daddy, come on and tell us the joke about the (colored) angels, or some other classic that Daddy had told “leventy-dozen” times. Rest assured, most jokes involved black people versus white people in some manner. They were never mean spirited, just plain ol’ funny!
Our mother, Lucy Mae would say, “Aw-w-w, pu-l-ee-ease Clarence, nobody wants to hear those old “worn out” jokes. I’ve been hearing those same old jokes ever since I first met you. “They’re not even funny”, she’d say…all the while gradually revealing her beautiful smile, ” two teeth at a time”. She’d chide, even sternly warn him, “Clance (not Clarence, when she wanted his attention) , don’t you tell these children those old jokes AGAIN! And, like I said… they’re not even funny!”
Of course, Mama’s chastisement did not deter Daddy in the least, as he would methodically begin his “pre-performance” warm up. My sister would always chime in , “Tell it again Daddy!” Then Daddy would get cranked up, all the while chortling over his very own soon-to-be-retold joke. He would segue into his craft and stretch a 2 minute story into a 20 or 30 minute saga. He would knead it, massage it, coax it and “bring in the punchline” when he got good and ready. Daddy could stretch out a story like it was “hot taffy”.
(Although I was the youngest in the group, I can clearly recall my sister’s banter with Daddy. It actually would last into our adulthood.)
Enjoy one of my favorite ‘true” stories. I believed it to be true then and I still do believe!
“Well, I was in Palmer’s Crossing (a small mostly black settlement in the “county”, defined as not within the city limits) one day and stopped by Hudson’s. While I was in the store, I spotted one of my old friends, a fellow named Remus. I hadn’t seen him in a long while and was happy to run in to the old gentleman. He was quite a bit older than I was, so he didn’t get around too much anymore. He said, Hey there Clarence, I was just in here getting myself a few groceries, kinda stocking up. Okay, I’d already seen him with several cases of can goods stacked up in his buggy. I said, “Yeah, I see you’ve already have a stack of cans in there.” Remus said, “Yeah Clarence I had to come back down here and get some more of this TUNA FISH. It sho’ is good. I fixed it up with eggs, onions, pickles and mayonnaise, I’ve been eating it all week! You should buy you few cases too, it’s jus’ ten cents a can.
Just to make sure, I leaned over and took a closer look, Remus had three cases of CAT FOOD in that buggy! I said, Remus, is this what you’ve been eating?” He was so proud and was just grinning, “Yessir, this is the SAME kind I bought last week jus’ to try it out out. I couldn’t believe it was just a dime. I hurried up and came back down here before it was sold out and all gone.”
Even though we knew the answer, we couldn’t restrain ourselves from asking for the hundredth time. All of us asked, “Daddy, what did you do, did you tell him what it really was? Daddy said,”No, I just couldn’t tell him it was NOT TUNA and rain on his parade. Who was I to tell him he was eating CAT FOOD?”
As could be counted on, Mama shot him a sharp glance of convincing, but fake disgust! “Clarence, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, letting that poor old fellow eat cat food!” Daddy would say, “BUT HE LIKED IT!”
We would all “roll”, except for Mama who tried her best to keep a straight face. Her lower lip would quiver and her face would transform into a perfect blend of a smirk and a snicker…a “smicker”! In retrospect, Mama was most definitely complicit in Daddy’s story telling shenanigans! As children, we could not have possibly realized that Mama was an accomplice (not unwitting, but perhaps slightly unwilling).
He was never a clown, but was sure enough funny! With Daddy as the featured attraction, The Williams Crew had plenty of laughs… GOOD CLEAN FUN!
Future posts will introduce Paternal Grandfather, Giles Williams.
© Saundra Blackman and soldfor35cents.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Saundra Blackman and soldfor35cents.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.