Re: [gardeners] DeDe gives Belle Ringer a job

Margaret Lauterbach (
Tue, 07 Jul 1998 09:49:35 -0600

At 11:32 AM 7/7/98 +0000, you wrote:
>Dear Cousin Belle,
>Preacher's praying for you in your time of trouble and the rest of us is
>wringing our hands and exercising our mouths fretting about how you is
>bearing up while you is waiting for Justice to come and make things right
>and proper and end your time of confinement. (Belle, we ain't gonna tell
>anybody outside the family that you is incarcerated; we just saying that
>you enrolled yourself in the Beauty College and had  a bit of trouble with 
>the paraffin but you'll be on home just as soon as your mustache grows 
>back in so as the scars don't show too bad.)
>Anyhow, seeing as how you has got time on your hand and no chores to tend
>in the garden at present, I thought I'd set you to a bit of work to help 
>you pass the time. Belle, we may just have found us a couple of 
>new members of the family.  One of 'em lives in Texas a ways down the road 
>from Preacher. Christian name of Allen; says his wife goes by the 
>name of Judy. I'm enclosing a letter from Allen  so you got all the 
>particulars. Thing that makes me think Allen may be kin is his Granny's 
>pickle recipe. Sounds just like the one Cousin Sadie's mama used that 
>summer when she was trying to grow raspberries in Houston and waiting for 
>Sadie to come into this world. 
>Then there's this woman calls herself Penny. I got me some doubts. First 
>off, the woman's living up there in the North (close to New York City, so 
>you know she's most likely fallen on real hard times) and don't eat no 
>fatback nor collards, but she claims her mama's people came from 
>Charleston and Columbia. So, it's possible I suppose, though I shudder to 
>think what terrible depredations forced her people to go up North. We all 
>know that folks from Charleston would rather pawn their mama's silver than 
>leave. Secondly, she's doesn't say anything about how she cleans up the 
>house *'afore* her cleaning lady comes. Only a Yankee would  let the help 
>see her mess right off. 
>On the other hand, Penny's got herself a notion about how to fix the water 
>shortages them folks out West is suffering that sounds like something 
>Cousin Martin down in Houston would be proud to call his own. You 
>remember Cousin Martin. Well, he's never been the same since that trashy 
>New York writer feller done found that letter Cousin Martin left laying 
>around never dreaming it would end up in the newspaper. Ever since that 
>letter got itself printed, all Martin does is sit around the bus station 
>spitting watermelon seeds and waiting for a chance to get a ticket 
>Well, I think I've told you enough news for now. You keep your
>spirits up and don't forget to powder your nose in the morning. You may be
>incarcerated, but you is still a lady and a lady is always ready to receive
>Cousin DeDe
Well, cousin DeDe, it's so nice to be remembered when I'm in the cooler, so
to speak.  Cousin Paul Bob come by the other day, laughed and said, "Well,
Belle, I wondered how long it would be afore they stuck you in the pokey."
Well, now I'm worried.  Bein' in jail is bad enough, but ever' time I see
one o' them comin', I worry about bein' stuck in the pokey.  To tell the
truth, DeDe, when they burnt out that popcorn out'n that field an' I saw
them big pretty houseplants in the middle o' the popcorn, I was minded o'
Granny an her dryin' things in the attic, don't cha know.  One time I seen
her smoke that stuff, said she was hongry, and went outside and dug up a
whole field, lookin' for peanuts.  Law, I never saw such a flurry.  Tell
you the truth, while she was a smokin' that stuff, I felt pretty good
myself smellin' that perfumed herb.  

One o'them Sheriff's men come by just after they locked the door on me, and
he come into my "room."  Was a woman with him, and 'tween the two o'them,
they poked they fingers in ever' hole in my body.  I thought for a while
that was what they meant when they said "stick you in the pokey," but some
o'these women here tell me it ain't.  Anyway, when that man stuck his
finger in my mouth, I'd a bit 'im iff'n I'd a had any teef.  He pulled out
my wad, and said "Eeeeeewwww!"  I said "Nope, 'tain't eeeeww, hit's chaw."
He got real pale, and left in a hurry.  Woman with him looked at my chaw on
the floor, and she left in a hurry too.  

Women in the same room with me like to died laughin'.  None o' them looked
like the laughin' type, but they shore guffawed then.  Well, laughter is
the best med'cine, DeDe.  Even cured Uncle Rafe's broke leg that time ol'
rooster jumped on that hawk, an' the hawk turned around and pecked the
juice out of him.  Leg just snapped into place, and Rafe said he could walk
on it now.  

I don't know about havin' no kin in Texas name of Allen and Judy.  Can't
tell what's what without middle names.  Allen what?  Judy what?  An' the
one near New York City.  That's too far Yankee to even think on.  You take
care, DeDe, these nice women in here with me is going to give me a tattoo
this afternoon.  I kin wear my teeshirt off one shoulder an' show off my
new tattoo.  Please rite agin.  Gits lonesome here.  Belle Ringer