Keeping things in perspective

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
The four words out of my Granddaddy Cole’s mouth shocked me to the core and caused me to stop dead in my tracks. I was a young teen six and a half decades ago, and those words still ring in my mind. Having been born at my grandparent’s home and living with them until my mother remarried and took me away to the big city of Atlanta, they were the stability, safety, and substance of my young life. Both of them were good people, attended church, and worked very hard. Granddaddy gained some health issues as he gained some age, but even after forced retirement, still maintained a large vegetable garden. He and Mama Cole had many friends and were known as helpful and caring members of the community.

Mama Cole was far more social that Granddaddy and had a close circle of women friends with whom she kept in touch. She heard about the ease of having a telephone in your own home and she told her daughters she wanted one installed in the new home they had bought. Arrangements were made and Southern Bell came to the home, ran the lines, and installed the new means of communication.

Mama Cole was delighted and had the worker put the phone on the buffet in her dining room. Her reasoning was that the dining room was in the center of the house and she could get to it easily when it rang.

The phone itself was rather square, black in color, very heavy, had a rotary circle to dial, and it rang loudly. The number began with “ME” for the Melrose exchange. Mama Cole got the hang of it quickly, but Granddaddy had a serious aversion to the modern device and refused to use it at all.

Wasn’t long before Mama Cole had a routine going where five or six of her lady friends would weigh in every single day. They alternated calling each other and discussed everything that was important in the community from weddings to new births, sicknesses, food, gardens, doctors, children, grandchildren, and everything in between. Granddaddy hated the conversations, but kept his big chair near the doorway so he could monitor the news.

Mama Coke kept a wonderful home, cooked three meals a day, helped anyone that needed her, and truly was a blessing to all who knew her. I visited as often as I could, and after I got my own vehicle and license, I stopped there every day to check on them and to take whatever they might need. On Saturdays, we went to the barber shop, the bank, the grocery store, and to get a hamburger and milkshake.

One day, I walked in and found Mama Cole in deep conversation and Granddaddy fuming mad. I had not asked a question, but I got a powerful answer from Granddaddy. Pointing a shaky finger in Mama’s direction, he bellowed, “It’s that damn little black box.”

I was shocked and soon terrified. I had never once heard either of them say a bad word and here, Granddaddy had screamed “damn” loudly enough for the neighbors to hear. I remember the moment vividly, what we each wore, and the look on Mama’s face.

She kept the phone, talked on it when she liked, and enjoyed her friends. Granddaddy continued to hate it mightily.

I learned a life lesson that day.

Perspectives are often very different. The damn little black box brought Mama Cole great joy and kept her in close touch with her friends. It provided news, some informative information, helped to keep her world interesting, and she purely enjoyed it. Granddaddy loathed it till the day he died.

That is a bit like our perspectives on the world today, politics, rules, food, jobs, and everything in between. You have yours and I have mine, and we are both contributing members of society. We must do what is best for us and our family. God bless us all.

Happy Easter Weekend to all of our readers. Let’s enjoy our family, church, and community activities. I appreciate my Mama Cole and thank God for the strength I inherited from her.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781 – 8788, or
[email protected]


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