by Wanda Seals
"Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward."
It was around the year 1939, in a small town called Butter Alabama. In those days, most people rode horses, and mules, The people who owned automobiles were few and far between. The rich white people had cars, but the most used transportation was buckboards and wagons. Sometimes we rode horseback recollected Anna.
One day Anna's mama sent her to the store, up the road. It was too far to walk so she had to ride the mule. Anna really didn't like riding OLE Blue because he was as stubborn as all outdoors. "That dam mule had a mind of its own," Anna said. Although she didn't want to Anna knew she had to obey her mama. She climbed aboard and went on to the store despite the obstacles.
As Anna rode off her mama yelled after her, "Don't forgit the bread and coffee and don't take all day,"
"I won't mama, if Ole Blue acts right," yelled Anna.
She began to whistle a familiar tune as she and OLE Blue went cloppedy, clop down the rode. They made it to the store with out a hitch. Anna was dusty from the long dirty ride. She dusted herself off as she went into the store. She was feeling good about today, the sky was clear and it didn't look like she'd be rained on. Blue made it to the store without having three or four delays, she was sure it was going to be a good day. When Anna looked up from dusting herself off, she saw that her friend Christine was behind the counter.
She spoke, "Momin Christine, where's yo folks tis mornin? Theys trying you by yo sef huh?"
Christine's parents owned the local store and it was Anna's first time seeing Christine there by herself. Christine seemed to be annoyed by the questions.
"I'm minding the store this mornin" she replied. "What can I git fo ya?"
Anna quickly answered, "mama needs a loaf of bread, and pound of coffee, Maxwell House."
Christine gathered up the items and placed them in a bag. "That will be 50 cents," she said.
"I ain't got no money, Christine, so you know you got to put on papa's book," said Anna.
This made Christine furious, "Stop callin me Christine, I is a woman now and you gonna respect me, cause you is a nigga, you call me Miss Christine," she demanded.
Anna looked startled and betrayed. She and Christine had played together. They had talked about their future together as friends. Anna could not believe Christine felt this way. She knew that she was four years older than Christine. She would never ask her to call her Miss Anna. This made Anna really mad. "So you wanna be called Miss Christine, cause you all grown up, huh?" said Anna as she gathered up her groceries. "Yea I can see that you have grown, you have breast and stuff, and guess what? I ain't gonna call you no Miss Christine, and you can kiss my ass," Anna said as she ran out the door.
She was proud of herself for standing up Christine but she was scared, because she had never heard a colored person cuss at a white person before. She didn't know what Christine would do. Would she tell her mama and daddy? Would they have her arrested and she have to go to jail? Would Christine say she stole the food out of spite? She thought about all these things as she and Blue rode home very slowly. Tears began to fall from her eyes as she remembered Christine yelling "I'm gonna git you nigga, if it's the last thing I do."
Anna never thought much about color when it came to Christine. She thought that Christine felt the same She thought that they were friends first, colored and white second. Anna had an even bigger problem. How was she going to tell her mama, and papa, that she just cussed out a white person. She rehearsed telling her mama over and over in her mind. The closer she got to her house the more scared she became. The thought of running away even crossed her mind. Nevertheless, Anna had decided to face the music and just tell the truth, What ever happens, happens. She knew that her father was a Baptist Minister and the cussing was enough to set him off. He always told them to live by example. She knew she was in trouble now.
When she arrived home her father was still at work, Anna didn't even put up Ole Blue, she ran into the housing screaming for her mama, "Mama, mama, where is ya," called Anna.
"I is in here child, you act as if somethin is the matta," yelled her mama.
"Somethin is da matta, I's think I's in trouble, it happen at the sto today," said Anna as tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Calm down and tell me what happen," Anna's mama said.
Anna began explaining to her mama what went on in the store, as she neared the end of her story she slowed down, "I told her to kiss my ass," and she looked straight at the floor.
Her mother could only shake her head in disbelief, "Anna Mae how could you have cussed out a white person? These folks so vengeful round here," her mama said. Anna tried to defend herself by explaining. She thought that they were friends and a friend would not call you a nigga and demand you call them Miss. To Anna's surprise, her mama was very sympathetic. She understood her pain. Anna asked her mama was she going to get beat, and have to go to jail. He mama could see the fear in her child's eyes
She grabbed her and told her "no you are not going to get a beatin and no you are not going jail." Anna knew in her heart that her mama knew that lil Christine deserved it. Her mama told her to go about her chores and assured her she would talk to her papa.
Anna prayed all day that this would be one of her papa's late nights. Nightfall hit and papa was spotted coming down the rode. Anna tried to act natural, as if nothing had happened. All the kids as usual, ran down the rode to meet papa. Anna. decided to skip that ritual today instead she stayed in the house. She peeped out the window, he was not smiling and playing with the kids, bad sign, Anna thought.
As her papa came into the house, he slammed the door shut. Anna knew he must have already heard. As he slammed down his lunch box, and threw his coat and hat on the chair, he yelled for Anna. "Anna Mae you git yo butt in hear rat now, and don't be slow about it."
"Yea papa, I's on my way," called Anna from her room.
There stood her papa 6'2" eyes bulging with conviction, "Chile whats dis I hear you said down at Masons sto?" demanded her father.
But before she could utter a sound, her mama entered the room, "Fust thang you need to do is calm down, fo you have a stroke, the chile ain't stole nothing and she ain't killed nobody, we's need to talk."
Mama and Papa went into the bedroom, and closed the door. Anna and all the children were left speechless. They had never seen their mom take control like that before. They were shocked and amazed. Those doors were closed for quite a while, but they finally opened and they both came out laughing. No one could figure out why they were laughing. However, they all knew that when push came to shove their family would be in one accord. Their mama would see to that. Anna was relieved that she did not have to take a beating or go to jail.