“I ain’t no milyunaire yet, but I’m studyin’ hard!” – Postcard dated July 4, 1913


Please enjoy this…

Postcard to Hattie Maybell Eptin 

The card is EXACTLY one hundred and one years old today!


Post card July 4, 1913 to Hattie Eptin from M r. Burnham Craft

Post card July 4, 1913 to Hattie Eptin from M r. Burnham Craft


Miss Hattie Eptin

Rout 1 Box 8

Mendenhall Miss

Hellow Hattie How are you to day this leaves me all ok But i am at work on  the 4th of July  i dont like that so much all what kind of fouth did you all have Bee shore and look for me in August for I has (?) sent for my pass so at this i will close from Your father Bob Craft Kirbyville tex

Front of Card - Boy carrying books (cartoon)

Front of Card – Boy carrying books (cartoon)

November 1912 Postcard – “I Will Send You a Pair of Shoes”

A 102 year old message – New Shoes in the Mail this Week


Nov the 11/9-12

Hellow Hattie How are you to day this leaves me all ok But I has Ben a little sick But not so bad I will send you a pair of shoes on the 17 so at this no more By By from Yo Father

Addressed to:

Miss Hattie Eptin

Menden Hall Miss

Rout 1 Box 8


   November 11, 1912 Postcard to Hattie Eptin from her stepfather,  Mr,  Burnham Craft.  Postmarked Kirbyville, Texas

On November 11, 1912,  this  postcard was  mailed to Mendenhall, Mississippi to Hattie Eptin by her stepfather, Mr. Burnham Craft. The location of the postmark is Kirbyville, Texas.  Hattie Maybell, referred to as Cudn’ Hattie, received this card when at the age of  14.  One can only imagine how excited she was in anticipation of the new shoes coming all the way from TEXAS!

Well into her 90th year, she would not hesitate to buy something new whenever she had a “notion” to.  Her closets were a treasure trove  of vintage outfits and semi-modern ones as well.  After many decades of domestic service, specifically cooking,  Maybell retired  in Jellico, Tennessee during  the mid-1960′s and decided to purchase herself a retirement gift. While both of us were residing in Chicago, she told me the following story.

“Well-l-l-l-, I’d always wanted me a nice diamond ring, so when I retired, I decided I was going to get me one.  I was going to buy myself something special. So when I went down to the jewelry store, I couldn’t decide on the solitaire or the cluster, I  liked both of them.  So-o-o-o-o-o-o since I couldn’t decide which one I like the best, I bought both of them.”   

Both rings were exceptionally lovely and definitely expensive.  The cluster was given to me by Cudn’ Minnie (Minnie Williams Watkins) in 1993 after the death of Cudn’ Hattie. Cudn’ Minnie said she wanted to “keep the ring in the family”.  Just as Hattie Maybell did, I actually wear the ring everyday!   It will be passed down again “in the family”.

The postcard from Mr. Craft is short, but sweet.  He was only married to Cudn’ Hattie’s mother, Ada Williams Craft  for four years and five months. (She married him on July 24, 1904 died on and December 29, 1908.)  Cudn’ Hattie was ten in 1908 when her mother died.  The first postcard from her step-father was dated 1911, thus  Mr. Craft obviously moved to Texas after the death of his wife.  His seemingly unfailing devotion to his deceased wife’s daughter is admirable.  

Front of vintage postcard November 11, 1912

 Front of vintage postcard November 11, 1912

I wish I could thank  Cudn’ Hattie Maybell for being both a paper and junk collector.  Her “paper junk” is now my treasure!

“Say Doll Write To Me” – 1913 Postcard to Cudn’ Hattie  from an Admirer

“Say Doll Write To Me” – 1913 Postcard to Cudn’ Hattie from an Admirer

“Hello Hattie”

 ( postmarked  October 1, 1913)
Miss Hattie Epton
Mendenhall, Miss
Hello Hattie how are you to night i am well. look doll this card is to my old friend i would like to
see you very much. say doll write to me.  i will be home in too weeks yours old friend By H.B. Hays  431 Copp St  Biloxi Miss
 October 1913 Postcard to Hattie Maybell from Biloxi, mississippi
October 1913 Postcard to Hattie Maybell from Biloxi, Mississippi
1913 Biloxi front
 Cudn’ Hattie received this correspondence from an H. B. Hays at the age of 15.  My first reaction was  astonishment at her receiving such a “fresh” message at such a tender age.  After a moment of reflection, I then recollected  the fact that many young ladies in that era actually were already married by the age of 15.  Still the message was clear and required no decoding.  Mr. Hays was quite forward, “no beating around the bush” in his approach.    
In fact, I am convinced that she married H.B. between 1918  and 1921. Her name, as the addressee in the mail collection changed from Epton (or Eptin) to Hays sometime after the aforementioned time span .  Cudn’ Hattie carried that surname until 1940 after she married Theodore L. Wallace in Packard,  Kentucky.   In the 1980′s she  shared with me  that she got married at the age of 18 (in 1916) and divorced  two years later at the age of 20.  Maybell stated, “My first husband had a hard time making it home with his money on payday so he had to GO!  I quit him.  I was working and he should have been working too.  I was not staying with a man who would not bring home his money on payday.”
However, the mail collection does not validate the claim that she married as early as she asserted… She was still being addressed as Hattie Eptin/Epton in 1917 when she was 19.   There are no postmarks in the collection  for the period of 1918-1920.  The postmarked mail debuts again in 1921 where she is living in Laurel, Mississippi at the age of 23.  Remember that she sported several varieties of her first and middle names  and later her married names added additional variety.   
Although I have had possession of family mail including items over a century old.   This 101 year old postcard still awes me. Hattie Maybell treasured these postcards and letters and so do I.

“Women have ALWAYS worked!”… Lucy Mae’s thoughts on working ladies of color.

Black Ladies Working in LUMBERYARD in Bogalusa, Louisiana (undated)

“Negro Women Have ALWAYS Been In The Workforce!”

These are the experiences, observations and words (verbatim) of our mother, Lucy Mae Dawkins Williams, who is usually referred to simply as,  Lucy Mae.

Sh-h-h-h…hush!  LUCY MAE IS SPEAKING!

I don’t know who they (the white media) are talking to, saying “since American women began working out of the home…since women have entered the workforce and all”, they surely are not talking to US, to Negro women.  Most Negro women I know have always worked outside the home.  Who are they talking about?  Not us for sure.  There were always a few ladies with  husbands who were able to earn enough money to totally support  their families, but that was not too common.

We Negroes are not Americans I guess.  Anytime they say (in the news), “most Americans…”, they are NOT talking about black people.  Ain’t that something? We are the ones who built this country and built it for FREE!  (Mama would use “ain’t” to emphasize her point!)

I would tell any white person who was interviewing me for a job, “Look I am not one of those slavery-time Negroes, so you may not want me to work for you!”  I was not about to do all that “yes ma-am-ing and flunky-ing around” for nobody”.  I am just as grown as they are.  I would tell them upfront! I would respect them and I expect the same treatment.  They could either respect me or KEEP THEIR JOB!

Note: Per the postcard.  Google Great Southern Lumber Company (1902-1938) for information if you are curious about it. Specifically,  the book excerpts of “The Tribe of Black Ulysses, African American Lumber Workers in the Jim Crow” South by William Powell Jones also provide an interesting perspective.

Undated Vintage postcard.  from a series advertising Arbuckle Coffee Company.  Collection of Saundra Williams Blackman

1889 Postcard – Arbuckle Coffee Company Saundra Williams Blackman Collection


Note:  Lucy Mae was a highly sought after caterer and pastry chef.  She was intelligent, slim and trim and simply lovely.  Mama always considered herself to be as important as anyone else of any race.  She’d say that someone may have more things than you, but that does not make them better than you. (One of her Jim Crow-like experiences is noted below.)

“That Little Gal  Called Me A Nigger”

When I was a young woman in the 1930′s, I was preparing for a big fancy dinner party for this (white) Hattiesburg, (Mississippi) family.  Now I was just there catering that day for the party.   Well, “Miss Ann” had nothing better to do than to ask me to fix lunch for the family.  She had some nerve, trying to have lunch cooked and served. I was not her maid.  I was not there for that.  She could have prepared her own family lunch.

Well I went ahead and fixed the lunch.   As I was setting the table, the little (white) girl, who looked to be about 5 or 6 said to me, “That’s not my knife.”  You know I didn’t pay any attention to that little gal.  She said it again and I ignored her again.  A few moments later, as her mama came into the dining room, do you know what that little heifer said?  She said, “That nigger wouldn’t give me my knife!”  Her mama handed her a butter knife and said to me, “She always uses this  butter knife”.   I then said to her mama, “Did you hear what that little gal said?  She called me a nigger!”  You won’t believe this!  That white woman looked at me with a funny expression on her face that seemed to say… “Well that’s what you are.  You ARE a nigger”.  Well, I swanney!  Oh no, she had the wrong one!

I just went into the kitchen, took off my apron, rolled it up, put it in my pocketbook and honey, I HIT THAT BACK DOOR.  I went down that sidewalk through the alley to the street and caught the next bus HOME! Who in the devil did that white heifer think she was fooling with not to correcting child?  Now remember, I was barely halfway through cooking for that big fancy dinner party.  Too bad, let her figure it out.

I was quite tickled with myself since she didn’t even know I was gone.  I didn’t even care about collecting my pay.  I WAS GONE! Well, that’s not all. When I got on the bus, I sat near a (black) lady I knew.  I told her what had just happened and that “Miss Lady” was going to be “up the creek” with a big party with no caterer and no food.  Well now, I found out a few weeks later that the lady I met on the bus went to work at the house, telling that white woman that I WENT HOME SICK AND SENT HER IN MY PLACE.  I was hot enough to “ketch a fye”. (vernacular again)  I didn’t speak to her for the longest! I learned a good lesson that day…TO KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT!

(Daddy always said it was a miracle that Mama never got lynched back in the day.  He was serious.)








Postcard to Grandma Lucy (1908-1922)


Part Three

“Dear Mother it is near easter”

I find it interesting that Cudn’ Hattie had in her possession a postcard that belonged TO HER GRANDMOTHER!  How she came into possession of it bewilders me.  I declare (Lucy Mae’s favorite saying) I found everything among her effects but a “coon” and a “possum”.  She saved several hundred dollars in three large pickle jars because she considered jars to be “rat proof”.

Grandma Lucy's Postcard from EPW (between 1908-1922)

Grandma Lucy’s Postcard from EPW (between 1908-1922)

This post card from Cudn’ Hattie’s collection.  The writer, E.P.W. is her son-in-law, Elie P. Weathersby (b. 1880).  He married Grandma Lucy’s daughter, Sophronia (b. 1880 or 1881).  The postmark is illegible, therefore, a small scale investigation ensued.   What I am almost certain of is the stamp was issued between 1908-1922.

Stamp facts: Third Bureau Issue commonly known as the Washington Franklin Head Issue.  Per her postmarked letter, Cudn’ Hattie was living in Laurel at least by 1920, but I believe that she might have acquired this postcard prior to leaving home.  If I had to guess (and I must), I surmise that this postcard dates around 1917.  This supposition is not solely due to the “17″ that is legible on the image below, but partially due to the year in which I think she left home…going from Mendenhall to Laurel, a whopping 57 miles.  This was a distance during the early 1900′s.

Dear Mother from EPW

Dear Mother from EPW





Braxton, Miss

Dear Mother it is near easter I know that you have your easter eggs ready for that time I would have had mine but will haft to get them out from under that old hen so love to you all we are well hope you all are well.


“Lucy Mae” side note:   (I assure you it is relevant to the Lucy Harrison Williams post. )

Our Mother, Lucy Mae (b.1915) said she only saw her maternal grandmother four or five times  in her lifetime although she lived  in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and her grandmother lived in Jasper County, Mississippi, a mere 54 miles.  Mama said as she was growing up during the 1920′s, it was far too dangerous to travel between counties just for a visit. Somebody had to be “sick and mighty low sick” (Lucy Mae again) , dying or dead!

Travel  for any Black person was precarious at best to risk being accosted by a White man on the roads in many parts of Mississippi. A  physically attractive Black lady traveling the road to Bay Springs and encountering a While man was a potentially combustible circumstance. For Mama, it would have been explosive!  If anyone White folks got out of line with Lucy Mae, they were going to be put back in line! Daddy would always say he never knew how Mama made it through the Jim Crow era alive and well. Lucy Mae would not have “backed down” nor “cowed”…her version of “cower”.  Thus, she stayed home in Hattiesburg, in town and the family only traveled “up home” for funerals.

There are a few really interesting accounts Mama provided regarding this Jasper County grandmother.  The two of them actually encountered an apparition one night coming from revival while riding in a horse-drawn wagon.  Did you notice I did not “speak” my maternal great grandmother’s  name?  I shall, but not yet.

Future Posts:  Sometimes I feel she’s Cudn’ Hattie and sometimes she’s  Maybell.  Mae and Mable have  not shown up yet.  If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know she all of the aforementioned.  One NAME would not and could not do justice to this lady!  Another letter will be featured re how she reacquired her inheritance (her land) while still in Mississippi during the summer of 1944.  I must then return to posting  the one hundred year old postcards from her stepfather.

“Ted, We Burried Ma Yesterday” – June 16, 1944 Letter from Mendenhall, Mississippi


Part Two

“Sure had a lovely furneral and such a crowd of people… Just like an association”

“Ted we burried ma yesterday”,  wrote Cudn’ Hattie’s. I am “tickled to death” that we get to hear from Hattie Maybell directly…in her own “voice”.  In a previous post I indicated that Cudn’ Hattie kept letters that SHE wrote to her husband while she was away from their home in Jellico, Tennessee. Who does that? On June 19, 1944, she was writing from her ancestral home in Mendenhall, Mississippi while she was there to attend her Grandma Lucy Harrison Williams’ funeral.  The historical  information is this letter is invaluable in that it provides the EXACT date of my great-grandmother’s funeral, June 18, 1944.

The letter is touching, filled with news and questions and nary a question mark. (Who needs ‘em anyway?)  She, not unlike others in the collection, used little to no punctuation.  I was impressed with  her use of “an” in the correct place.  Her penmanship is excellent in my opinion though there are a few misspelled words…so inconsequential, I think.  I am unsure if she attended school past the 8th grade.  Anyhow, I think she is a great writer despite having been born in 1898 in the rural south. According to the Census of 1910, Hattie Maybell was enumerated as living with her her grandparents and working on the family farm. I don’t necessarily take this as gospel.  I am convinced that she was still attending school at and past  the age of 11.  This family believed in education.  

She mentions:

  • a few tidbits re the funeral (strange, no elaboration on such an important event…more to this, I’m sure)
  • the oppressive heat
  • her very ill Uncle Elie (Aunt Sophronia’s husband)
  • her flower garden and the hogs in Tennessee
  • the details of her trip to Mississippi

She moves from one subject to the next without missing a beat.  Still, the letter seems to flow and this one is counted among my favorites in the collection. So sit back, “unlax” (as our Daddy’s Cudn’ Carrie used to say)…and “listen” to her as she does what she did best.

June 6, 1944 Letter from Cudn' Hattie to her husband, Theodore L. Wallace

June 6, 1944 Letter from Cudn’ Hattie to her husband, Theodore L. Wallace

pg. 3 pg. 3


June 19-1944      mendenhall, miss Mr. Theodore wallace My dear husband how are you this hot morn Ing, i do hope you are just fine and all Is well and fine here at ho me but Aunt sophronia husband uncle elie he has glan trouble bad but he wont go to the hospital he wont give up just keep trying to go he sure looks bad and Ted we buried ma yesterday which was Sunday sure had a lovely funeral and such a crowd of people Just like an association and the preacher sure did preach a lovely sermon and I had a grand trip down got a seat in Knoxville nice cool car never was over crouded but the train was I hour late when we got to Hattiesburg but I still had plenty of time to get the Bus station but they was so crouded untill I could not get out on the first bus  at 905 but they run an extry at 130  and and I came out on it you never witenessed  surch a hot day Ted it was the hottiest day I believe we have and it is hot today well I guiss Ted we will start to get things  streight soon 2 But your aunts sure does look worried But uncle Charlie has ben to see Tax colector smith and he no not smith the To told you about that told them About the will that ma had made and He combed it all out and treeded smith and it was so plain uncle chartie said The man told him well I don’t see any way to get at him for he was going out And the next man was so sorry that He was put out of office that followed Smith so there is no grounds left but To sue them for trespassing in it before They came in persession of it and he Told uncle Charlie that I could do that and Wen the sute so that is what I am going to do  if they don’t let me have it and I will give the lawyer half of what I sew for to get it what do you thank about that that is what uncle Clarence and uncle Charlie say that is the best thing to do if I want anything out of it and auntee Armildia  and uncle Charlie said hellow  and be sure and hold every thang down till I gt back and Ted you send me one of Edwards envelops and Charles and Raymond address I got one of Roys letters and if I get a letter from Roy send it to me and I am gointo write to him and tell The folks hello and I am gointo write to them later in the week  love Your wife Mae 3 I started your letter yesterday it is still hot honey has my flower seed come up How is the garden and the hogs tell Helen and grandson and geneva I said Hellow and the stones Cora and Bill Miss Virginia Norman and the boys Curnal and Ella is Mrs stones still Helping Mrs Clara and Ted has the Black Berries all ripened I do hope I can get there time enough to get some so we can have some wine and Jellie they are gone here and the huckerberries are gone to if you get out of shirts you get mrs stones to wash som for you and under ware and I will be home soon as all is cleair and you send m some money and I you send it Sateurday I will get it Monday or if you send it Monday I will get it Wendnsday and when you send it send it registered so I wont have to go to town to get an order cashed all sends best wishes. to you and Ted aunt sophronia husband Is sure on a low limb but he wont give up he is suffrning with glann trouble he cant hardly make water but he go to the field every day I sure feel sorry for him well  you write soon and have I  got any mail All from your little wife Love Mae”

“Another LUCY?” – Lucy Harrison Williams (1862-1941)

Part One

Grandma Lucy

If the content of the previously posted Williams Family History re has been  committed to the readers’ memory  (very unlikely), it would then be  unnecessary to point out that there are two ladies named  Lucy Williams  this   branch of the family.  To ensure that we are “traveling in the same direction”, their relationship within the family is stated below. 

lucy (1)

Lucy Harrison Williams in 1921. She was about 60 years of age.

  •  Lucy Harrison Williams, our father’s, Clarence Giles Williams’ paternal grandmother
  •  Lucy Dawkins Williams, Clarence Williams’ wife and our mother… the ” famous” Lucy Mae
188o Census
Lucy,  age 22 is residing in Smith County, Mississippi with her husband, Randall, age 22 (b. 1958) and their two girls. On the next lines are her mother Hannah, age 38 (b.1842) and her mother-in-law Mary Williams, age 60 (b.1820). She and the girls, Armilda and Ada were “mulatto” and her husband was “black”.  She was listed as being unable to read and write whereas her husband  was listed as literate.  Living in Mississippi (at least since the age of 16) and being born in slavery, how was that possible?   I don’t know.  Lucy is documented as born in Mississippi and both parents born in North Carolina.  This area bears additional research.  Cudn’ Hattie shared with me that  she referred to her grandmother as Grandma Lucy and her grandfather as Grandpa Randall.
1880 Census shows Lucy at age 19, with her Randall and the girls, Armilda and Ada.

1880 Census shows Lucy,age 19 with Randall, age 22 and the girls, Armilda, age 1  and Ada, age 2.

1910 Census  
In 1910 Grandma Lucy  at age 48 was still “mulatto” .  She and Grandfather Randall were rearing  Cudn’ Hattie since both of Hattie’s  parents were deceased.  Armilda and her family were listed  in the next line. Cudn’ Hattie self reported that she always referred to her aunt Armilda as “Sister Millie”.
census 1910 Rand Luc goos

1910 Census, Lucy: age 48, Randall: age 52, Cudn Hattie: age 11 Mendenhall, Simpson County, Mississippi

Grandma Lucy was born in 1862 in Smith County Mississippi to Hannah Harrison, a slave, who was “owned” by John G. Harrison. Lucy married her neighbor, Randall Williams in 1876 or 1877  and later appeared in neighboring  Simpson County in the 1910 census at the age of 48.   

Per the 1910  census, Grandma Lucy had been married for 34 years which suggests she was either 14 or 15 years old when she married.  Her husband was listed as literate while she was not.  I presumed that she was not literate due to a “dictated” letter that is in the collection.  Although I don’t recall Cudn’ Hattie  mentioning actually knowing her Black maternal great-grandmother Hannah, Cudn’ Hattie shared with me that she knew “Grandpa John”, her White great-grandfather, and that he acknowledged Grandma Lucy and her siblings as his children.  In fact, Grandma Lucy named one of  her daughters, Sophronia after her “white” half- sister, Sophronia Harrison.  I was also “told” in a note attached in the (soon to be posted) Family Bible  that Grandma Lucy was raised by one of her white aunts who was an “old maid”.

FAMILY STORY: Cudn’ Hattie said that John Harrison owned a store (I think in Magee, Mississippi (Simpson County). When she was a child, she was told that one of her maternal great aunts went there to “trade” (make a purchase).  The aunt supposedly selected a baby carriage (difficult to fathom a baby carriage on a country road) and wanted to pay for it “on time” ( in installments, for you city-slickers).  Well the white woman clerk told her she had to “put some money down on it”.   During this discussion, the proprietor, her father, John G. came up said to her, “She don’t have to put nothing down on it, that’s your sister”.   In short, Cudn’ Hattie’s great aunt and John G. Harrison were sisters with different mothers, one Black and one White. 

  • 1870 (Not yet found, but she would have been abt. 8 y/o)
  • 1880 (Smith County, Mississippi at age 19 with husband and two girls,  Armilda and Ada.
  • 1890 (No Mississippi census)
  • 1910 (Simpson County at age 48 with husband and grand-daughter, Cudn’ Hattie at age 11
  • 1920 (Search continues)
  • 1930 (Simpson County at age 68 with daughter, Sophronia and her family)
  • 1940 (Simpson County as head of household)

Admittedly, I was told quite a lot of information about “Grandma Lucy and Grandpa Randall” by Cudn’ Hattie.  She was a reliable historian as she recounted their lives, went to live with them as a child after the death of her mother and had excellent recall vividly detailed. BUT…did I write these stories down or commit them to memory?  Regrettably, I did not!

1930 Census
Lucy is living with her daughter, Sophronia Williams Weathersby and her family.  Lady Lucy is listed as age 64, but was actually 68.  Aggregate research suggests she was born in 1862. “Fronie” was 40years old and had been married 22 years to Ealy Weathersby.  M.L. was 22 and living at home as well.  M.L. was a girl first cousin and there are letters in the collection from her as well, signed simply M.L…so cool and modern I think.  There was also an L.A., another girl first cousin who will be gotten around to “down the line”.  In the collection, there is a great photo of L.A. in the 1930′s wearing a BONNET.

1930 Census - Lucy Harrison Williams Paternal GGrandmother

The next post in this lesson… did I say lesson?   I intended to say series (not lesson)  on Lucy Harrison Williams will feature:

  • A letter detailing Grandma Lucy’s funeral service in 1941 written by Cudn’ Hattie to her husband Ted

Though tempting  it may be, all posts cannot be “all about Lucy Mae” although available material abounds.  Incidentally, our father was just a real honey, oh so wise, very amusing, sweetly devilish and without peer or equal.   Daddy will be arrive in June with stories in tow.   His  introduction is reserved for Father’s Day.

Mother and Daughter’s Vintage Photo for Mother’s Day


“Miss Savannah and Little Amy” 1880's-1890's Vintage Photo of Mother and Child (Unidentified)

1880′s-1890′s Vintage Photo of Mother and Child



She’s wearing a half-smile and a countenance of contentment in this formal portrait from the collection of Hattie Maybell Wallace.  As mentioned in a previous post, I have inherited numerous (over fifty) photos of unidentified persons.  It is possible that the photos are those of  our relatives or Cudn’ Hattie’s husband’s relatives. The original picture is a 3×5 cabinet card.

The durability of the cabinet cards amaze me, in that Cudn’ Hattie did not invest any effort in securing them in any way. The majority of the pictures  were scattered about in an old trunk on her enclosed back porch.  Her dresser “draws” also contained a few pictures among other personal papers as well.

Although the lady and her child may remain unidentified, I would like to call her Miss Savannah. Her daughter, about 8 years old, I shall call  her Little Amy.  The hairdo is so seemingly “modern”.  Amy’s  bare feet? By necessity or by design?

Next Post:  Back to school…Census Images and Vintage Letters will return.  As always, stay tuned!

Lucy Mae – No Mother’s Day “Knick-knacks, Whatnots and Bric-a-Brac”


She personified the word MOTHER, our protector, supporter, teacher, mentor, advisor, role model and our friend.

Our Mother ready for church at 66 years old in 1981.  Lucy Mae Dawkins Williams, slim and trim ... and always stylish!

Our Mother ready for church at 66 years old in 1981. Lucy Mae Dawkins Williams, slim and trim … and always stylish!

As major (gift related) holidays approached, our mother Lucy Mae would ALWAYS express her affinity for “lovely cards with nice messages…you know with nice wording in them”.  She loved sentimentally worded greeting cards  and kept them all.  Cards were the only items that she  routinely retained since she was not one to accumulate junk of any sort.  She was practical and erred on the side of minimalism.

Mama loved freshly  picked flowers along with the cards for Mother’s Day and  her birthday. In fact, we had a bouquet of fresh picked flowers in the house everyday (even camellias on Christmas Day) .  She was content with a nice card, flowers and a check of any denomination (if one was so inclined to provide it).  Anyhow,  after all of her five children became adults, Mama made it clear that miscellaneous gifts and doo-dads would  not do!

I still chuckle when I reminisce about her “taking her text” on miscellaneous bric-a-brac.  She’d say, “I don’t need all those what-nots and knick-knacks”, that’s just more junk to collect dust.  What can I do with that? Household appliances are not gifts either.  Don’t you buy me a toaster oven, a crock pot,  a food processor, etc.  That’s not a gift!   If you want to buy me something, I’ll tell you exactly what I want!  I need a nice new trench coat.  I  already selected and priced it at Fine Brothers, so get with some of the others (siblings) and you all can go in together and get it.  We would “crack up” at  her directness.  She would always get the coat, suit or whatever else she desired.  The check accompanied  the gift as well.   
On Mother’s Day, Mama would receive her gifts and phone calls, then off to church we’d go.  As adults, the tradition continued and she’d beam with pride to have some or all of us sharing the pew with her.  Although, she would be very much “in the moment”, she still took an opportunity to glare at my brother Robert Giles in an attempt  to  deter   him from joining church AGAIN!  She’d say, “Boy, don’t you get up there and join again, knowing St. Paul United Methodist won’t see you for two or three years!  Getting up there embarrassing me and your daddy!  Sit down!”  
Mama was one of a kind and I know that God “broke the mold” when he made her. I continue to appreciate her directness and her honesty. I just have to laugh at one of her antics at least daily, as reminders abound.  She had a zany sense of humor to compliment her sharp tongue.  I thank her for making us laugh everyday!   
Our parents were hardworking people who never made a lot of money, thus our monetary inheritance from them was small.  However, they left us treasures that can never be quantified.  Mama gave us something that money could never buy. She left us valuable tools for living!   I can say with all honesty that if I could have chosen my own mother, I would have chosen Lucy Mae!   Heaven smiled on me for sure.  She was the BEST mother in the world. 


Mama personified the word MOTHER, our protector, supporter, teacher, mentor, adviser, role model and our friend.





“Lipstick and Pants Won’t Keep You Out of Heaven”

Lucy Mae

Part Two


Our mother often remarked that if people would stop being “good Christians” and become servants of God by serving his/her fellow man that a lot of good could be accomplished!  Featured below is a group photo taken in Hattiesburg at St. Paul in 1938.  The Queen, “Miss St. Paul” is in the middle sporting the white pointy “crown”. Our grandmother is the lady  seated to her immediate right.
Julia Dawkins, maternal g-mother (bottom rwo, 2nd from right) in 1938

Julia Dawkins, maternal grandmother (bottom row, 2nd lady from right) in 1938. She was about 50 years of age.

Lucy Mae Dawkins Williams (1915-1997) was born in Bay Springs, Jasper County, Mississippi.   During Mama’s infancy, her parents, Henry and Julia moved the family to Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  They joined St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church where Mama remained all of her life.  She’d say, “There’s nothing between my soul and my Savior”. (That was after she’d deliberately let go of her dislike for white people.) She was serious about her religion and sure of her faith.   Not “serious” in the traditional manner. That is, pertaining to the typical southern black church women’s type of seriousness, but she ascribed to her very own brand of seriousness.    Confusing statement, isn’t it?  Allow me to clarify…
Mama was as “good as gold”, but could shoot you a “look” that could halt a stampede dead in its tracks when it came to entertaining  “foolishness”, as she described it.  She would donate the shirt off her back and (my hand to GOD) even her last dollar, if she believed one really needed it.    BUT, “foolishness”, SHE WOULD NOT TOLERATE!
Lucy Mae was not judgmental, just matter-of-fact and blunt.  Today, her delivery would be defined as “keeping it real”… She was really real.  After you’d get your “blessing out”, she’d feed you all types of delicacies and make you laugh.  However, you were going to get the truth, especially if you asked.  We’d say, “If you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask Mama”.  “I just don’t know how to sugar-coat things”, she’d say.  Daddy would retort laughingly,”Ya’ll’s Mama just don’t have NO tact.”

 Mama was possessed or was possessed by,  the gift of HOSPITALITY and was an accomplished cook, high end caterer and pastry chef.  She always said, “Anytime you host people at your home, you must feed them good and treat them well. In fact, so well that they never want to leave and are always eager to come back again”!  If you failed to meet that criterion, you’ve done something wrong, she surmised!

Mama’s personal mission was to care for and feed anyone sick or bereaved.  (We were dispatched by Mama to go and houseclean for any neighbor who had death in the family. I detested  this task since I was unaccustomed to dirty houses. I would be really angry with Mama, but I knew better than to show it.)
Seven days a week, the sick could expect their “12 o’clock dinner” at NOON without fail.  Baked or fried chicken, a pan of cornbread (rolls on Sunday), bowlfuls of: steamed cabbage, field peas, fried corn, salad or coleslaw, and “the icing on the cake” was a made from scratch dessert, EVERYDAY!  May I just say that she made chocolate, pecan or lemon meringue pie with a thin flaky crust, peach, apple, and pear cobbler, gingerbread with lemon sauce, fresh coconut cake, pound cake with lemon butter cream frosting, teacakes and the list goes on forever? I presumed that every household had fresh baked desserts every day.  Sometimes the sick would even get a big quart-sized Mason jar of freshly “steeped” ice tea garnished with fresh mint sprigs (that always grew around the “hydrant” in the backyard). This was Mama’s main ministry.

Here are a few of her regular servings of advice, seasoned with miscellaneous zingers.  CAUTION! MORE THAN A FEW OF THEM ARE VERY POLITICALLY INCORRECT! Please try not to take offense.

Mama believed that God commands us to love one another.  She’d say…

  • “People, who claim to love, but never do anything for anybody, do not love.  “Ain’t nothing but a lot of talk…there’s nothing to them. Church folks need to stop playing around! They can have a member to die and they show up at the house with a can of corn, I’m not lying! A “dern” can o’ corn.  If that ain’t bad enough, it’s an off brand? I feel like taking it and knocking ‘em in the head with it. Where do they buy that junk from?  I declare, I just don’t know.” (I warned you she was spicy!)
  • “Folks who have the most seem to give the least?  Whether it’s time, talent or resources.”
  • “Fake Christians…They make me sick, just want to praise God in church and don’t serve anybody when they are in need.  All kinds of excuses!  “I can’t do such and such I’ll be out of town, I have ‘arthur-ritis’, my son is in town, etc. They are NEVER available unless it’s a Tea or a Christmas Party going on, where they can sit down, look cute and hold their hands!”
  • “You have to be willing to do the inconvenient, not just the convenient. God might find it inconvenient to bless you with food on the table every day, but he still does. CHRISTIANS!   That’s why the world is in the shape it’s in now.  If Christians behave this way, what in the world do we expect from folks who don’t attend  church?”
  • “You are not going to be blessed for being good. God blesses everybody, the just and the unjust.  The SUN just “don’t” shine on the some people! It shines on everybody.” (Mama used impeccable grammar, but would revert to the vernacular for deeper emphasis.)  
  • “Stop doing each good deed you do “looking for a blessing’!  Don’t perform good deeds just because you want something in return from God! Looking for a blessin’! You’re already blessed. You woke you up this morning didn’t you?  That’s not a blessing?  Yes, it is!”
  • “Church members will say ‘I’m not going to do so and so in the church anymore, because they didn’t recognize me’, church members would say.  What is that?  PEOPLE DON’T NEED ANY RECOGNITION! I don’t need my name in writing or called out from the pulpit by the minister.  It’s my church; I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.  Folks need to go SIT DOWN!  They donate $10 dollars or a vase of flowers and want to be RECOGNIZED.  Sit down!”
  • “Sick folks need a hot home-cooked meal every day.  The sick can’t get well on food from Kentucky Fried Chicken and Meals on Wheels. It’s not good and is  not tasty anyway.  No flavor a-tall, just bland!  Who wants to eat that mess? I don’t!  I wouldn’t give that to anybody?”
  • “Folks, including church folks, get tired of you REAL soon when you get down sick.  YOU’D BETTER GET WELL FAST OR DIE QUICK BECAUSE AFTER ABOUT TWO WEEKS THEY ARE SICK and tired of YOU!  You know that’s not right. Sick folks need to be seen to.”
“Wearing Lipstick and Pants Won’t Keep You Out of Heaven!” 
  • Sanctified  (Pentecostal, COGIC, etc.) folks, some of them have to go to church every night.  I’m not going anywhere every night!  If that’s what your religion requires, then it’s something wrong with YOU and your religion! You know have to get up and go to work the next morning.  The pastor don’t! (vernacular again) I wish somebody would ask me to go to church service every night.  Don’t be foolish!  Use your head! Ladies wearing dresses only and no pants allowed?  I don’t care how many dresses you ladies wear.  If you don’t love people, you are going to hell!  There are folks who think that wearing makeup is a sin. A SIN? Do you think “God A’ mighty” is sitting high and looking low to see if you are wearing lipsticks and pants?  That makes no sense!  That’s making God very small.  God is bigger than that.  He is examining your HEART. God does not care what you are wearing!  Be respectable with the way you dress and have some sense, but no pants, no makeup? That’s man’s law, not God’s law.  Folks  can be so busy following the law that they forget how to live and how to love people.”
  • “Why in the world do Catholics have Jesus still hung on the cross?  Jesus hung on the cross only three days! He is NOT on the cross!  He ascended into heaven and is still there. The crucified Jesus is  NOT on the cross!”
  • Baptist folks just stay in church too long.  I am not staying in church all day.  If the pastor has something to say, he can say it in 15 to 30 minutes.  If it takes him longer than that, he has nothing to say as far as I’m concerned.  He either did not get a message from the Lord or he did not prepare himself beforehand. Either way, I won’t be sitting there while he fumbles around for something to say. Nobody can keep me in service all day. I am grown! I know how to get up and leave.  It just doesn’t take all that  to deliver a sermon.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t even hardly speak to you  unless they are selling those little books.  Clarence can talk to them about religion, but I do not.  I have a church.  They say that the end of the world is near.  How do they know that?  If the angels in heaven don’t know when Judgment Day is, how in the devil do they know? (Referring to: MATTHEW 24:36  “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.) Witnesses don’t concern themselves with politics and they don’t vote.  How can Black people not vote? But then they benefit from all the advancements that others risked their lives for.  They use all the accommodations that other Blacks fought for.  They (black Witnesses) will knock you down getting into Shoney’s (restaurant). They know there was a time when Black folks were not welcome in there. They have not marched, boycotted, or voted, but they benefit. I pray for them, but I don’t want to discuss their religion with them.
  • Accept Christ as your Savior, ask God to forgive your sins, love your neighbor and try not to keep doing the same wrong things over and over…that’s all it takes to go to Heaven. We are saved by GRACE, by grace alone…not from being good…we cannot earn our way into heaven! GRACE!