NCMAE #1 – Straws, Plates and Troughs
We celebrate her birthday December 8th. No one is for sure when she was really born because it was never written down. It was sometime in the early 1920’s.
She tends to repeat things. I had heard the story many times before but every time she remembers a new element of the story.
The first time I heard about the plate she was babysitting Jason and I in North Carolina. We were in the middle of our daily big brother-little sister altercation. It generally went unnoticed by my mom but she was out of town. Great-Grandma wouldn’t stand for bickering. She nipped it in the bud immediately, inquiring what we were fighting over.
The swirly straw came from a happy meal, or a kids meal at the movie theatre, I can’t really recall but at the time it was special. My brother and I both wanted to drink from it and sharing was out of the question.
She sat us down and said something I’ve never been able to let go of.
“When I was a little girl in Georgia my brother LC and I were fighting over a plate. It was a shiny silver plate and we both wanted to eat off it. My Great-Grandmother came and took the plate. She sat my brother and I down like I am doing you two now. She told us that when she was my age she didn’t know what a plate was. She told us as a child she was a slave-girl and she only ate after everyone else ate. She said older women slaves would put all the leftover food from the big house into a pot and stir it together. Once it was warm they would pour the scraps into the hog trough. My Great-Grandmother sat on her knees and ate from the trough with her hands.”
Neither of us drank from the straw.