Helpful Hints and a guide through life
Born September 1885….died September 1976, 91 years old. She didn’t marry until she was 45 and had her first child that year. Getting married at 45 was something that didn’t happen to often for women back then, especially a black woman. Then low and behold 5 years later: what the doctor called her second tumor, she had her second and last child at 50, a baby girl and her change of life in one shot.
But her true joy came along 17 years later at 67….only being a mother for 22 years; she was now a grandmother……that’s where I came in! My mother’s oldest child and Ms Minerva, my grandmother’s baby boy……..Mama!!
It is important to tell you that from here on, the stories will be in no certain order….they’re as I remember them. As I found understanding, THE LIGHT, as she called it.
MS. MINERVA’S HELPFUL HINTS…
[Song – Higher & Higher]
This song became her theme song for a while: Love, knowledge taking you higher!! Ms Minerva (Mama) the first career women I knew. In 1967, she heard this song and realizes that this song talked about what kept her going…LOVE! Love took her higher and higher and it was love that she shared………with me!
MM: “Boy, you might not understand what I’m telling you, but remember it remember all you hear, see, taste and feel….. because understanding come with time and when you ready for it!”
Knowledge……. Love………Understanding……Enlightenment take us higher.
How? How did a black woman in south Louisiana go out, have a career, a family with little education but wise beyond her years. Oh, when I say career woman I mean a cook, maid, nanny but mama said,
MM: “those jobs keep us going and I was one of the best, always be the best at what you do…greatness comes in all sizes!”
Another thing I should say is: some of the stories that I will share have not been documented as fact. They were hers that she shared with me…..
Like one night watching TV…….
MM: Lord, Lord, Lord…
CC: What’s the matter Mama?
MM: Did I ever tell you about when I worked at an all boys’ school in New (N’Orleans) Orleans. I was the one who stayed with the boys at
night. Well, there was one lil’ boy that was always
sneaking out of bed going outside playing his horn.
I would take it from him and beat his ****. The day
they give it back to him, that night he would sneak outside
again. Beating his **** didn’t help, he just kept sneaking out
no matter how long we kept the horn.
CC: What happen to him mama?
She pointed to the TV and said:
MM: There he is……
Louie Armstrong singing HELLO DOLLY raise in an all boys home in New (N’Orleans) Orleans….was this true……I don’t know. Did and do I believe it….YES!
This was also one of the times I receive one of ….Ms Minerva’s Helpful Hint:
MM: You can be anything you want if you believe
and have the passion for it! Believe in
your passion because you are your passion
and you must always believe in you….yourself!
No matter what others say or think….it’s you who
Believing, she was a big believer. she believed in people and the good in them.
MM: Always see the positive in people, in everything thing.
No matter how negative someone or something is
there is always an ounce of positive…..go for the positive,
it will always carry you through and shine light
Everywhere, positive light.
I often wonder how someone so positive in my life, who taught me to look up and be strong could be so down on her daughter , my mother. When I was sent to fly with the eagles she was told to stay on earth. This was one of my confusions, I knew there was a lot of love there between them but so hard for them to share……Understanding comes with time.
When I was 7 years old I was sent to the kitchen to cook for a family of 5. It wasn’t what you think. At 72 years old Ms. Minerva wasn’t seeing things to well. So, instead of saying; Old woman you need to stop, you’re losing it. She was told; “It’s time for Curtis to start learning how to cook, he needs to know how to take care of himself.” So, what I thought was a prison
sentence became some of the most wonderful and important times of my life……
I was allow to be a child and do the things children do but at 5, maybe 5:30 I went to spend my hour or two with Ms. Minerva, my best friend…..learning the secrets of the kitchen and of life.
MM: you have got to know how to take care of yourself.
I won’t be here to take care of you but I’ll always
be watching over you, I'll always be with you!
Like a lot of things, I didn’t get it then, but I do now:
One day, I was tormenting my grandfather….Oh I haven’t and won’t say much about him because that is a whole other story, but I’ll share this much with you:
His name was Tower Jackson Sr. better known as Bud (papa to me). He was born in December of 1880 and died in 1969, it’s funny but I don’t remember the month or day, it just kinda went a way. Anyway, I think he
was married once before Ms Minerva…that’s what he said. He had a daughter…Aunt Traci….who was old enough to be my mother’s mother. Remember THE COLOR PURPLE he was kinda like Mister and Old Mister but not as bad. But Ms Minerva wasn’t Ms Celia…she was more like Sophia. Papa loved me unconditionally and he was my playmate but I don’t think he realized that point but I had a great time.
Back to one of the days I was tormenting him…he was finish with me and he got up and came after me…he was between 75 or 80. I starting running and he came after me. We lived in a house that was once a duplex, I ran out of his room, which was in the middle of the house, took a left and headed for the kitchen and the back door, that was open to freedom. I got to the kitchen and I could see the back door standing open and waiting for me…. But out the corner of my eye, I see Ms. Minerva washing dishes. I turn right, then a sharp left and I’m almost to the door…..just then an arm reach out and push the door close…..I can’t stop……I hit the door and fall to the floor. Just before papa grab me to start the whipen’ and mama looks down at me and say:
MM: Boy, didn’t I tell you to stop running in my house and don’t every run away!”
Well, it was all over. I got a whipin’…one I would never forget. Papa felt so guilty he took me for Ice Cream almost everyday for a week.
But later that day…….Ms Minerva’s helpful hint:
MM: Baby the reason I don’t want you running, especially when
you’re scared, is because you’ll be running for the rest
of your life. When you run out of fear you’re only
running from yourself. No matter what people think
or what’s happening stand and face it…Don’t Run!
Believe in yourself and you can beat it.
I didn’t really understand what she was saying, but when I’m scared I hear her voice and I stand (sometime that old confusion comes in with my mother) but most time I stand, face it and deal with it. Growing, Changing and changing and growing! Stronger everyday.
I remember when I was 12, it was a Sat and a beautiful day and Ms. Minerva called me into the house. It wasn’t time for cooking and it was Sat but I went:
MM: I need to talk to you.
CC: Mama can we talk later I’m playing.
MM: No, I want and need to talk to you NOW!. let’s cook.
I knew that was it. When she says: “let’s cook” the battle was over, she felt it was important. We got to the kitchen and started pulling stuff out …
MM: You’re special
CC: No, no don’t start this again.
MM: No, no, no you’re special! You’re a *****, a punk, *****…
There were a few other choice colorful names…Then she said:
MM: Now that someone that loves you, truly loves you have
called you these names they can’t hurt you. You’re gay
and it’s not something I would chose for you but it’s
who you are. But it makes you more special and wonderful because you are different. You are my special, but it’s only apart of you and your life, not your whole life or the whole you. You can chose to practice or not. You are made up of many parts, many yous…..Be Proud of who you are! Never hang your head, You will be a great man…even greater because you know who and what you are.
That day, I knew what love was and what love is. Unconditional Love. I was Proud to be who and what I was and who and what I was to become. Proud of Who I Am and What I Am.
Music was always heard in my house, all kind, mama believed in experiencing everything in everyway.
MM: You need to know about it all, don’t let ignorance
be your down fall. That’s what’s wrong with most folk,
they just don’t know and don’t want to learn. Education
is freedom; knowledge is light….don’t ever stand
in the dark, you’ll only hurt yourself.
There were a few things I didn’t learn or just didn’t remember. Remember I said; she didn’t like running in her house. Well, when I was a kid I was a runner, a mover, didn’t want to get caught…so I just kept moving. Well, one day my mother was going to whip my ****, I don’t even know why this time but she grab my arm and I just started running around her and every time I heard the belt hit…I would yell. I think I might have gotten hit once or twice but my mother’s legs, oh boy, but she kept going and so did I.
Then I heard the voice…….
MM: Sister, what are you doing?
Sister, that’s what everyone called my mother, even me. she sat down in her chair
MM: Bring that boy over here and let me show you
how to do that.
The she put me on my knees and stuck my head between her knees and turn her feet in and locked her knees. My ears were hurting but not compared to how my **** was going to feel. Then I heard……
MM: Now, see you got wide-open ****!
Then the whipping began and it was one I’d never forget and the whole time she just kept talking to my mother…..I can hear her and feel the belt now..
MM: Girl you need to get out of the way and stop making
it so hard. Just breathe and believe, it’ll come together….
Now, go put something on your legs.
It took me awhile to start breathing but I did and I remembered what she said; “Just breathe and believe.” and when I don’t I just remember that belt on my ****.
Whenever people hear this story, they’re shocked, confuse…well, this was a different time and Ms. Minerva was a different kind of woman. A wipen' wasn’t something that happen everyday, I never ended up in the hospital and I was shower with love….. a different day – a different time.
Around that time I remember I went through my Ultra Black stage. I had some problem at school and I hated all white people and I was very
vocal about it. Mama, just listen and I went on and on and on….and somewhere in there she hit me and it shocked and stopped me in my tracks. Then she looked at me and said:
MM: Who spit on you? Who’s bus did you sit on the back of?
Who’s kitchen or yard did you work in? Nothing, nothing has happen to you that bad to hate…..Don’t hate it takes to much energy. Remember the positive. Some white people are ignorance and you have to educate them. You can’t be just one thing in America you have to know about all……people and things. There will come a time in America when people will be more than just one race, we have and are mixing it up. LEARN…we are all connected, we are all one, and we are all God!
One other thing about my grandfather (Bud)…he had a scar over his right eye and I always asked him about it and he would say, “Go ask mama.” But being a kid I would forget and then ask him again. Well one day I remembered to ask Mama how he got the scar.
MM: Who told you to ask me?
She started laughing and told me to sit down……
MM: One day papa came home and had decided he was going to beat me. Someone had told him that I would take it because I should feel lucky he married an old woman. So, he came in and hit me! I had the broom in my hand (I had just finish sweeping) and I took that broom and started beating him with it until I broke the handle on his head. But he kept coming and backed me up to the mantle where I had my teacups. (She collected cups and saucer) and I begin throwing them at him and when I realize I was breaking my cups…. I got mad and threw them harder and one hit him over the eye…. He stopped and went down…it was a bad cut.
cc: What did you do?
MM: I stepped over him and finishing cooking. I knew he would live and I saw it didn’t hit him in the eye and it gave him something to remember this moment. You have to leave a mark on people to remember you by….. hopefully it’s a positive mark but sometime it might have to be an ugly one. People will treat you the way you let them and there will be time you have to show and leave them something to remember it by. Don’t go through life getting beat up especially by yourself.
There were a few times I didn’t follow that bit of advice…...but understanding, the light came in time.
MM: You have to open up and let people in --- because a lot of times you see yourself through them and don’t you want them and yourself to see the truth? THE TRUE YOU!
Early mornings were wonderful for Ms. Minerva:
MM: Morning is my time to talk to Me and God and get us together for the day. Some folks don’t know that they are God….your positive energy creates your world and parts of the world of others. When you create you must be honest, positive, loving……God! So, my quiet times in the morning is finding honest, positive, loving, creative things and feeling…..finding God in me!!!!!!!!
(Song – Amazing Grace)
One night while watching TV; we watched a lot of TV…..watching TV and cooking…anyway, it was the Mitch Miller Singers and Leslie Uggams was singing:
MM: That’s a cute little colored girl.
CC: Mama, we’re not colored anymore, we’re Black.
There was silent and then a sigh….
CC: What’s the matter mama?
MM: I’ve been *****, colored and a few other names that I don’t want to talk about and now I’m Black……I wish they would make up their minds what I am!
Then she told me:
MM: No matter who or what people think you are…You have to know yourself, people will always try to make you into what they want you to be but the final choice is yours. You Must Know Curtis.
Her helpful hints could and would come anytime, anywhere:
MM: life is a lesson to learn…never, never stop learning!
Whenever I talk about Ms. Minerva I realize how much she means to me and how good it makes me feel because I see how good it makes others feel……people showing me…..Me and Ms. Minerva.
The day Ms. Minerva died I was in Shreveport/Bossier, LA in the Air Force, it was September 1976. I was at work in the printing plant at Barksdale AFB. My boss told me the commander wanted to see me, he was acting a little strange but at the time I didn’t think much of it. Walking out to my car my best friend ran out after me and said he was going with me….”they call for me too.” We got in the car laughing and talking about all the things they coul