There Are Many Fond Memories Of Mamaw
Last Thursday morning Mr. Willie Pullen, who is the newly elected Yalobusha County Forestry Association President, and I made the short drive down to Jackson for the Mississippi Forestry Association Legislative Luncheon. We had a good visit on the way down and a pleasant lunch visit with our Senators Lydia Chassaniol and Russell Jolly and our Representative Tommy Reynolds.
The purpose of this meeting was to get face to face the Forestry Association presidents and legislators with the purpose of reminding them of policies that are important to the Forestry Association. I would encourage everyone to call or take every opportunity to meet with your legislators to let them know the issues that matter to you. It is like to old saying “the squeaking wheel is the first one to get the grease” if they don’t know your concerns they can’t act on them.
I know this article is supposed to be about the community and Agriculture but I am going to include a make shift to an obituary this week instead.
My 96 year old grandmother, Kathleen Sledge Newman, passed away on Saturday March 4. Kathleen Newman or as we called her (mamaw) was born in 1921 in the Toccapola area of Lafayette County and was preceded in death by her brothers, Buddy Sledge, Delbert Sledge, and one sister, Mary Sledge Hanks. She is survived by one sister ,Robbie Smith. Kathleen was proceeded in death by her husband Huelette New-man, one daughter Phyllis Newman Huckaby, and survived by daughters Cleo Hoing, Bettie Jeffreys and Zenda Bethany, and one son Eugene Newman. My mamaw was also survived by eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
I will now tell you a little bit about the mamaw that I knew. She was a lifelong homemaker, flower gardener, vegetable gardener and many more things. All of my life she lived in Sarepta, which is about a 45 minute drive from Coffeeville into Calhoun County. My grandmother lived in an old white framed wooden house with a root cellar underneath; a gas burning floor furnace; a forbidden upstairs that in 36 years, I have never been into; two couches in the living room that I have never seen the actual fabric of in 36 years; a front porch with a swing; and about a 1,000 potted plants, an attached garage and shed that I have never been all the way through; and a big hillside back yard that was the family garden spot for as long as I can remember.
Several other notable possessions in the house are a bed that had a goose down mattress that was the best napping bed when I was a kid; a kitchen that was small and cramped, but turned out some of the best food I have ever eaten and always had fried apple pies.
There are many stories of my childhood that I could tell about spending time with her and my grandfather during the summer months but will just share a few. One of my earliest memories, probably when I was about four years old, was of sitting with my grandmother on the ground and picking strawberries in a fairly large strawberry patch that they had in the garden.
The strawberry patch has long been gone now but I remember an area of around 50’ wide and 100’ long that was completely covered in newspaper mulch to help with weed control. Another memory that I have is of running and playing football in the small front yard and falling into the cactus garden on the north end of the yard. I don’t know how she got me calmed down after that but that was part of her magic I guess.
One other time when I was a good bit older and in college I was passing through and stopped by for a visit and at this time I was contemplating going to work and not finishing college, well we were the only people in the house and she caught me and told me “you better go ahead and get that education done because no one could ever take that away from you.”
Like I said there are many stories about growing up with my grandmother but I will not tell all of my stories. I will on the other hand tell a few more stories about her. She was a true Christian lady that made do with what she had to all of her life. She dipped Garrett dry snuff every day that I knew her with the exception of the last month of her life. I once asked her how long she had dipped snuff and she told me that her mother caught her with snuff in her mouth when she was 3 years old. She also never drove a car or had a driver’s license in her life. I also would like to think that she never tasted an alcoholic drink in her life but can’t know that for sure. I can only imagine what it was like for her to be born in a time without running water, electricity, or all of the amenities that we take for granted today but I can truly say there will never be another person like her in this world, thanks mamaw for all that you did for me over my life.