Sunday, June 6, 2010

Juneteeth


Here's me and my mom, with Vampie on Bolivar Peninsula sometime in 1960. Granny the Ho had a beach house on Bolivar. It blew away during Hurricane Carla in 1961. The pink bathtub didn't blow away, though, which is how they found her lot once the storm had passed and folks were allowed to check out the damage. She got another house after that, where she lived for a while with her fourth husband whose name could have been Bill. They weren't married very long, and I was little anyway. When I was six, she married another man named Bill who lived in a big, pink house in Galveston. He grew peyote cactus in his garden. They used to set up colored lights on the beach in the hopes of attracting flying saucers. He hated the Catholic church and kept a map of Galveston on the wall of his office where he had marked all the property owned by the Catholics.

Granny was only married to him for six weeks. From what I gathered, he could get violent when his temper flared, so she left him in a hurry. He was her fifth husband, so she knew better than to stick around for that bullshit. At the time, we lived in Galveston too, so she moved in with us for a little while. Then she went out to visit my uncle and his family in Laguna Beach, California. She called my mom after a couple of weeks and said to put all her stuff on the bus because she wasn't coming back to Texas. That was in 1966. I still have the love beads one of her hippie friends made for her.

She died two years ago on my birthday. It's one of my favorite stories because the last thing she ever ate was a piece of my chocolate birthday cake. She was in Houston with my folks, and I was up here in New York - but distance never prevented anyone in my family from birthday cake. This year I had strawberry-rhubarb crisp at Cafe Luxembourg with Gigi.

This photo was taken about the time I must have been bounced on Lyndon's knee when he was sucking up to my great uncle in Beaumont to get votes for some election or another.

I've been wondering what would happen if somebody told all those teabaggers that only people whose families owned slaves would be able to vote in America. It seems to me that if you're going to get all bent out of shape about immigrants and preserving the American way of life as God intended it to be in the Constitution, then we should go back to those rules wherein nobody except white male property owners got a vote. That would shut up Sarah Palin right away since, as a woman, she wouldn't have a vote. Neither would I, of course, but at least there's a black side to my family which means I have more inherent status under Tea Party Rules since my family has been in this country longer.

Years and years ago, at my great-grandparents 50th wedding anniversary party up in NoFuckingWhere, East Texas, I met my great-half aunt, Pep. She and my great-grandfather were siblings via my great-great grandfather. Frankly, I'm not sure that Pep's mother would have been a slave because the timing isn't exactly right - but everyone knows how the state of Texas waited some time to tell the slaves they had been freed. Juneteenth marks the day that the slaves finally learned about the Emancipation Proclamation - June 19th, 1865. Since my great-grandfather was about 70 on his 50th anniversary in 1966 or so, he would have been born in 1894 or there abouts - a full thirty years after slavery was ended, and Pep was about the same age. Maybe she was his Aunt, but I could have sworn she was his sister. Either way, she was Colored, as was everyone on her side of the family.

The Colored side of the family had plenty of land because Big Daddy split the land equally between his white kids and his black kids. These days most of the land in NoFuckingWhere, East Texas belongs to the black side of the family, although the white side retained the mineral rights. It's kind of embarrassing that my great-great grandfather really was called Big Daddy, but it's a fact of life. Somebody probably wrote it in a dang Bible somewhere, and it just goes to prove what my former psychiatrist always said - I don't have to watch Tennessee Williams because I lived Tennessee Williams.

If folks are going to get fired up about immigration, then they better have a black side to their family. Otherwise, they can't be real Americans either. Well, maybe they can be Americans, but they can't be teabaggers.

14 comments:

Liberality said...

You have roots is what you are saying ;~)

Punch said...

Nice read. Like the new town NoFuckingWhere, East Texas. A dove's Gotta be lonesome there.

PENolan said...

Actually, Punch, a dove could get shot there. It's not far from where they hold the annual One-Armed Dove Hunt for folks who, through one reason or another, only have one arm. But it's far from that ranch where Dick Cheney shot his buddy instead of a dove.

I ought to read that book, though, especially since I've been compared to Jacy in Last Picture Show.

Libs, the roots are long if not deep. We all have them, and I want to know about Rush's and Glenn's and Sarah's before they say another damn word. Sadly, nobody listens to me except you guys.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

I think it's cool he split his land equally between his white kids and black kids. How unusual was that for that time period? I know about Juneteenth from living in Texas and I never forget it because it also happens to be my mom's birthday. She'll be 75 this year. M and I are heading to Ohio in just over a week to spend her birthday with her.

Gail said...

Hey Texas-

Great story - fascinating family history. I enjoyed it totally. AND this should definitely be a publication for 'Black-History-Month'. :-)

Love you girl
Gail
peace and hope.....

p.s. my verification word is "water"

PENolan said...

Black history month?
Yikes.

Have fun in Ohio V.V.

Beach Bum said...

As far as roots are concerned I find it funny when white people down in Hilton Head, South Carolina claim to be "locals" when their house is cleaned by an African-American lady or their groceries are bagged by an African-American man who can trace their roots back to Revolutionary War days.

Great story Pen

PENolan said...

More existential absurdity there in Hilton Head, Beach.

Every system in this country is as fucked up as the BP oil spill. Health Care, Civil Rights, Education, etc etc etc, and in my view it all goes back to those same slave owners in the Constitutional Congress who wouldn't sign off on the first Constitution unless the institution of slavery was protected.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

You were an adorable baby who grew up to be a hottie. A smart witty hottie.

Mr. Charleston said...

Pat, some of my forebears came from the Beaumont area. Got rich on oil, owned banks etc. Can't remember if it was on my grandfather's or grandmother's side. Do the names Alexander or Steinhagen ring a bell? We could be cousins!!

PENolan said...

Most likely we are cousins somehow because from 1958 to 1961 or so, Granny the Ho was married to a Jewish CPA in Beaumont. Half the town did business with him, so I'm thinking they all knew each other from the BPM club. My dad's side of the family hung out there, and the crooked great-uncle was one of the founders of the Texas Good Roads Association. My aunt was Miss Beaumont in 1957 (I think) and she was BARKING, which proves just how crooked the whole family was.

Of course, being from the South, we can be cousins just because you said so.

jadedj said...

PE, I have been highly remiss in keeping up with you and almost all of my other favorites, the last couple of weeks. I've just been too damned depressed to comment on, or talk about much of any thing. My first wife, with whom I spent 15 years, and with whom I had kept in contact all these years, died back in February and no one thought to tell me till the second week in May. With that and recent current events, I just don't give a shit about much, or at least feel things are so far out of hand that what's the use.

I did want to tell you thanks for joining me in the BP boycott. However, just today I passed by one of their stations, and the goddamn thing was full of SUVs and a couple of peckerheads flying confederate flags in their pickups...IN FUCKING NEBRASKA! I haven't gotten my Boycott BP sticker as yet, or I would have made a point to drive slowly through the evil ass place.

I am sure the confederate flag flying pissants would deny anything you've pointed out in this post.

And, most of all, I am truly sorry that I didn't pick up on the fact that you recently had a birthday.

PENolan said...

Jaded, Jaded, Jaded
That's some serious shit about your first wife.
Flying confederate flags in Nebraska? Yikes.

We're going to have to get off the grid for sure.

As for my birthday, most folks can't believe that someone of my advanced age still celebrates.

PENolan said...

On 6/12 this comment from JadedJ got lost in the ether. He said:

"If folks are going to get fired up about immigration, then they better have a black side to their family. Otherwise, they can't be real Americans either. Well, maybe they can be Americans, but they can't be teabaggers."

Afuckingmen Trish (see, I pay attention).


I think he was paying attention to my name, but I can't be sure.

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