“You may not play with those boys.  Shooting marbles is not lady-like, Carolyn,” my grandmother stated firmly as she pitched round colorful glass pieces out the back door.

“But Mama, I won those today.  I worked hard to get them all, and that big one was Jimmy Myers’ best taw.  I shoot marbles better than any boy at school.”

“I don’t care how well you shoot marbles.  It is not lady-like to be down on your knees with your bottom stuck up in the air, your hands in the dirt, shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of boys.  Why can’t you play with the girls?”

“Girls are stupid whiney girls, that’s why.”

My Grandmother shook her head, looked up at the ceiling and asked, “Why Lord, why?”

Carolyn went out into the field, picked some wildflowers and presented them to her mother as a peace offering. Grandma smiled, put the flowers in a vase, but still didn’t like marbles.

If marbles could grow into trees, an orchard would have sprouted behind the house.  Every marble my mother ever won, landed as colorful glass seeds on the hillside. She wasn’t allowed to harvest them. Marbles were not allowed in the house.   Grandma bought my mother fragile china tea sets she didn’t use, dolls, she ignored, and embroidery kits, she took apart to use the thread to tie on the legs of flying bugs so she could have insect pets. She collected frogs in her pockets, snake eggs to hatch, and rode the neighbor’s horse bare back through the fields, whooping like a “wild indian.”  Mama’s family  lived next door to the Presbyterian Church and tombstomes made perfect hurdles for leapfrog. 

My mother had two older brothers and two older sisters. She was more boy than any child her mother had ever seen.  When Mama turned  ten , my Grandma gave up trying to make her into a feminine presence. Grandma allowed her youngest daughter to wear pants because they insured modesty when straddling a horse or hurdling tombstones.  Hairstyles went short, to keep tangles to a minimum.  A fishing rod was presented for her birthday.  Mama breathed a sigh of relief.  Grandma apologized to God.

Mama swears the wildflower peace offerings where what caused Grandma’s turn-around.  I think Grandma just finally gave up.


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2 Responses to “Marbles”

  1. ceciliaandhersisters Says:

    I love your stories. This one reminds me of Abby and Phoebe and their obsession with wet molded toilet paper I keep finding in crevices all over the house. “We don’t have a wedding dress for Barbie? Hang on…(5 minutes later) tada! A wet molded sculpted toilet paper wedding gown.” I just need to relinquish control and let them peel the dried practically plastered ensemble off their barbies bodies. Thank you for your amazing and insightful stories!

    • train-whistle Says:

      thank you Angie. I’ve been doing a bit more writing lately. Had forgotten about this one, but it brought back one of my Mama’s many stories. I seem to come from a long line of story tellers. Love your stories as well and look forward to reading each one.

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