My mother’s parents were poor dirt farmers way back in the hills in the 1920s and 1930s. Despite that, they put all seven of their children through college.
Grandma Spears rarely read or wrote. I think most of us assumed she was barely literate. After she died, we found a trunk of stories that she had written for each of her children. This is the story she wrote for my mother, Una.
Pa got out old red and his plow and started skipping his plow up and down over the old road to the field. When he reached the field, Mr. Boll Weevil stood high upon a stump and said, “Old man, if you plan to make cotton here you might as well go back for this is my field this year, for I have millions of children coming soon.”
Pa argued awhile but decided to go back and change plows and plant something else. But on reaching the house Una asked, “What are you coming back for, Pa?”
When he explained, she said, “Let me have that plow.” Off she went.
“Oh yes, you lazy old flop ears,” [she said to the mule] “You don’t get out as light as you thought. Shall not work, shall not eat.”
By now, she was reaching the top of the hill. Mr. Boll Weevil, hiding a little behind the stump, didn’t feel so high-spirited at the sight of that bold girl but peeped out and said, “Miss, you had better work where you can make a profit for I will get your crop this fall on this field and besides you will ruin your pretty skin.”
“Shucks,” said Una. “You crawl under that bark or better still go tell your millions they had better not come to this field if they don’t want their eyes put out with the worst dust storm they have ever seen.
“So, Mr. Boll Weevil, you are more than up a stump in this good rich field and when you see that big winged weevil with his dust storm you are going to play your prettiest tune but it won’t be the tune of bluffing girl’s with pretty skins. You are behind the times, they know how to work and have pretty skin, too.”
I’ve written four books, published one, and have a shelf of books on writing that I’ve almost worn out studying writing.
I don’t think I have thing one to teach that sweet old lady about writing. Maybe I’ll read her story again, and learn a lesson for myself.