AS I REMEMBER DANCYVILLE
By Peggy J. Dancy Paschall
May 11, 2001
This is just a reminder, you would remember the house in Dancyville, if you had gone as many times as I.
Seems like I remember somebody driving me a time or two to get there and then after Malone and Daisy married we'd go on the train to Brownsville, and Daisy would meet us and she and Huck would drive us down, in that 2 seated car of his, after he got off work. Sometimes we would stay at Daisy's house until the weekend.
We would always count the bridges as we drove through Hatchie Bottom, both going and coming, and we never got the same number twice. Seems like it was 21 - 24 - 22- 26.
When we went with Huck and Daisy, sometimes on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, they would stay over. She would cook and clean and work herself to death, all the time we were there.
I don't remember who cooked the meals, I do not remember it being Mama Lena but I remember breakfast was always a huge production with a massive amount of food. County Ham, dark red, salty and sliced paper thin and piled high on a platter; what looked like a couple dozen eggs, fried sunny side up on another platter; a bowl of scrambled eggs; a long black pan of fresh cooked biscuits; and a long pan of white bread, buttered and toasted in the wood burning cook stove oven.
Daddy would come in and put some of everything on a plate, topped with sunny side eggs, pour molasses over everything and say, " It's all going to the same place" and eat it. I liked the very thin sliced, salty ham and the oven made toast the very best.
The house seemed big and threatening to me at the time. I think it was probably the biggest and certainly the oldest I had ever stayed in, although I did not really know the age. I used to play in a sand (probably dirt) pile just to the right of the front porch. Huck taught me how to make 'frog houses' by covering my foot with sand, then slowly and carefully, pulling my foot back, leaving a hole for the 'frog house' door.
There were always several dogs around with two speeds - slow and stop. I don't think I ever saw them hurry or run. They would mostly stay under the porch or house. I would try to play with them and bury their foot for a frog house. Some would let me and some wouldn't. The most interesting thing to me about the dogs was Papa would call them by one set of names and Huck would call them by another. They would respond by coming to Huck or Papa. They usually just ignored me like Mama Lena did.
Sometimes Papa and Mama Lena would sit on the porch and talk while I was playing. Mama Lena would wave and motion to people going by with that stick of hers. I always kept good track of that stick. I suspected it was meant for just me, although she never hit me with it.
The front porch was not very big and did not nearly go all the way across the front of the house. You walked across the porch into a large room with the narrow stairs leading to the second story, on your left. On the right was a door leading to another large room, where I remember sometimes sleeping on a pallet. In this room there was a piano, a large bed and I think a fireplace. I had seen Tee Tee's doll house in this room and later on, upstairs. I remember the doll house to be as tall as I was. It was the first and biggest I had seen except in the Sears, Roebuck catalog. Since my paper doll family came from the pages of an old Sears catalog, I was very familiar with many of the items listed and sold there.
When Aunt Mil would come she would play the piano for hours. She would play hymns and we would sing along. She had long slender hands and fingers. She wore several gold rings with stones and as she played they would turn on her fingers and click on the keys. One song she played was "South of the Border", I thought it was so pretty and begged her to teach me to play it. She taught me how to play the first four lines with one finger, by counting the keys. After they would go home I would play those four lines over and over, until Mama Lena would yell, "Stop that infernal racket and put that piano cover down." I did not wait for a second request. It was back to the sand pile or the goldfish tub, in a flash for me. The front doors were double doors, and they didn't hit my behind as I flew through them.
Today I can still play those four lines, and that is all, on my piano, but when I do I go back about a million years.
There was a 'place mat' like carpet on the floor of the entry room. On the left side of the wall behind the stair well was the room where Mama Lena lived and slept. Her bed was over by the inside wall. I believe she had an iron headboard. There was a large fireplace in this room with a mantel piece. Sometimes we would sit in this room a little while before going to bed. All the lamps were on the mantle. There were two kinds, a regular kerosene with a cotton wick and a kind with a "new" wick, which gave more light. The lamps were not used much, it seemed to me, when it got dark you went to bed. Once in a while we did pop popcorn, or Papa did, in the fireplace. It was a weird popcorn popper.
There was a door leading out of this room , had a little step down, to a screened in area porch, with things like the water bucket and hand and face washing basins on a cabinet sitting against the wall. A screened door led outside to the well and the "lot" or barnyard.
That drinking water well was one of the seven wonders of the world to me. It had a little well shed built over it and Papa taught me somewhere along the line to "draw" water. I must have drank fifty gallons of water a day, just to get to draw a bucket. I would very slowly and very carefully let the long narrow tube bucket down and listen. You could hear the water rush into the tube bucket. Then wait a few minutes and slowly, carefully, pull the bucket up. Nothing like that in Sears, Roebuck. It was as much fun as panning for gold.
I only have two memories of seeing Mary (Tee Tee). One, she and Aunt Mil were out on the porch and she took a long, deep drink of water from a dipper. Her hand sparkled with many diamond rings as she lifted the dipper to her mouth. As the sun caught on her other hand I saw she had diamonds on that hand also. She was a fairly tall, stoutly lady, with dark hair as I remember her. The first time I remember her was when she made me a white fur coat and was trying it on me. She had large, dark eyes and I remember she was smiling and spoke to me about how pretty I looked in the coat.
Beyond the porch was the dining room and beyond that the kitchen. These two rooms went all the way across the house. On the right side of the dining room was another porch.
Seems like the furniture was sparse, except for a table and chairs in the dining room, and a large black wood burning stove in the kitchen. I remember there were deep pans for washing dishes, and a water bucket on a table in the kitchen. In the kitchen, on the left wall, was a door leading outside. It was a long way to the ground with no visible means of getting there. Papa use to tell me to stand in the door. He would go outside, by a different door, saddle a gray horse and ride up and scoop me out in front of him in the saddle. He would take me for a ride all over the yard and then deposit me back up in the same spot. I always wondered why there were no steps, or rails, or way to the ground out that door. I also remember Daisy used to throw the dishwater out this door on the ground.
Upstairs was another story. To me upstairs was like a house of horrors. The small
staircase was narrow and when you got to the top it was into an area of clutter and
confusion. I slept up there in what I think was Daddy's bed. At night it was not just dark
up there, it was pitch black dark. You could see or hear anything you could imagine and I
had a large imagination. I kept my head under the covers and prayed for sleep. I was not
interested in staying around, to see what was up there, for fear of arousing those things
I heard moving around at night. I do, however, remember seeing some paddles, for doing
something to sheep's wool, a full sized harp, that I was told belonged to Tee Tee, and
that she played. I also remember seeing Tee Tee's doll house up there but do not know how
they got it up those stairs!
There was also a clothes line, up stairs, with coats, clothes, etc. hanging on it. I think people hid and slept in them during the day and came out and moved around during the night. I had no love for that upstairs.
When I woke up in the a.m. I'd hurriedly dress and run outside to try and beat that mean old rooster, with his long spurs, to the out house. He'd always be right there waiting and would fly right at my eyes. Papa would say kick him but he was faster and meaner than I was.
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