Williams – Dawkins
Family Stories
Lou Alma Jones Atkins

Mama’s cousin/sister/best friend/partner in crime


Mama had no sisters and B. had no siblings, so consequently they were as thick as thieves.
They were just three years apart in age and they had no memory of being without one another.
There was always some one-sided “cat fight” going on or just recently over. . Mama was always
the one hissing, scratching and biting, fangs showing and Alma would linger around slightly
amused during the tantrum until Mama ran slap out of steam. She understood Mama and would
let her have her fits. They were always concerning a secret Alma had revealed that Mama had
told her “in strict confidence” or a deed Alma had done (always to herself). She had to love
Mama to tolerate her.
Lou Alma was called “B.” by the family. “We were cousins on “our-er’ mama’s sides.” said
Mama. B. lived just about all her life in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and was the only child
.According to Mama, B. “grew up with everythang” (in regard to material possessions). “They
owned a large house and had a car, a telephone and a piano!” None of which Mama’s family
had. And, also none of which any “ordinary negroes” also owned to Mama’s knowledge. “Cudn’
Lige”, was also a local merchant who operated a “dry goods” store and a livery business. He
used his T-Model to go to the train station to pick up passengers and that’s what his telephone
for, for folks to call him when they needed to be picked up. Mama said, “They didn’t have
nobody to call because nobody else we knew had a phone.”
As the only child of a store owner, B. always had access to a bounty of goodies. Being the
rogue she was, she’d swipe sweets to secretly enjoy with Lucy Mae, her partner-in crime. For
entertainment, B. would stage concerts in the living room where B. would play and Mama would
sing. B.’d swing and sway her plump rounded body while seated atop the round wooden piano
stool while banging out tunes on the piano and “make” Mama sing. The only reason Mama
went along with the performances was to get ahold of the coveted lemon that Alma would have
already swiped from Cudn Lige’s store. The lemon bribe was offered for Mama to “clear her
throat” and get her ready for her “solo”. Mama said, “I wudn’t thinking about no sangin’, I just
wanted that lemon. At our house, we didn’t have no lemons, never! A lemon was a luxury that
was never to be seen at the Dawkins’ home. Never! She’d say, “Amma, made the biggest dern
fool outta me. She even tricked me into washing my face with pee, saying it would keep my soft
and skin pretty, my Lord above, that Amma.”


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