An envisioning . . . .Black Bottom Mississippi in summer as one century ends and another begins.

Oh to go back and be here.

Black Bottom Mississippi on a steamy afternoon in summer as one century ends and another begins.

A sweep of faded out rose and lilac printed chiffon to trail over the hall bench and onto the floor.

A splinter to catch with one’s toe but what can one do.  Nearly all the money gone by the time uncle died.

Hard. All the menfolk having had to leave to find work. A cotton broker in New York and another in New Orleans. Something but not enough. Brokering cotton somehow not the same as growing it when it came to money. Less work and not needing people or a slave street but enough for just one person. A tiny house down in one of the less stylish faubourgs or a boarding house room in Manhattan.

Not like before. No not enough for everyone to stay for however long they needed.

Grandmama’s before it all started. Great aunts who hid behind the velvet curtains down the long halls reaching out and punching people as they went by. Uncles who sat all day staring into the fireplace saying it talked. Fried chicken and biscuits all around until the fireplace talked back and the curtains punched people of their own accord.

Impossible. Churches to be a minister of but with only food in pay. No way to pay the taxes and fix the roof with that let alone the rest.

But time to sit and remember. Grandpapa riding across the fields before he ended up at Shiloh and lost his arm. Grandmama dancing with him at Christmas, the house filled with people from clear to Savannah.

Only up to their knees but that good enough. Lost between the ladies’ hoopskirts as they swung to and fro and not knowing where one would spin out of the dancing. The front door one time and the fireplace the next or perhaps the bottom of the staircase.

Funny. The same hallway but so different. The wallpaper new and a huge chandelier. The butler carrying a silver tray of mint juleps around the room. Gifts piled up almost to the ceiling in the front parlor with ten for each child.

So long ago and then like yesterday. The War come and gone and life never the same. The minister coming but only for tea and an old scone. No silver tea service and trays of treats.

But a mindset to wander. A good thing in a way. Old and allowed to forget. Better than having to remember on an afternoon that was never meant to end and a way of life that already has.

Front hallway. 1883 house in Madison, Georgia.
Front hallway. Madison, Georgia. Built in 1883. Image: Madison-Morgan Conservancy via

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