Image Credit: Bing Images
Additional attribution Marcus Ward & Co. greeting cards

Forgive them for any mixed messages moments that you considered unjust at the time.

THE RULE ~  Do not accept candy from strangers, do not accept rides either, in fact do not get into a car with any person you do not know.

While living with Auntie E2 and Uncle Earl 2 was less strict, this was also one of their stated rules of conduct when I came to live there. As a young child, I was known to drive people crazy with my questions. Previously, I had questioned Mama as to why. Mama's long index finger pointed at my face and the 'absolute' tone of her voice as in, "You will do as you're told." more than implied and inspired complete loyalty and acceptance to this rule. 

My Sunday Schedule ~  I went to Sunday School, I loved it.  Now, I had the freedom not to be parked on a church bench for the morning service that followed Sunday School. Auntie E2 provided me with a Timex watch so I could keep track of the time. Uncle Earl 2 worked very hard to get an adequate band fit for my little girl wrist. 

Spring, Summer, Fall ~ I would 'mad dash' out of Sunday School, get home, get changed into my play clothes and shoes, head out to the woods hiking, playing in the dirt, enjoying the fragrance of the Manzanita bushes, eyeballing chipmunks, birds and any other wildlife that I might trip across. When I remembered to bring a paper bag, I could gather pine cones and any odd rocks I might find. I needed to be home for Sunday dinner no later than 1:30 PM.  My forages to the woods were pure, unadulterated FREEDOM! 

I would have to 'wash up' for dinner and change back to good clothes. We would leave to prepare the movie theatre after Sunday dinner dishes were done and put away. I can't recall the exact time of Sunday matinee, but it was later in the afternoon followed by a short break before the Sunday evening show started. The Sunday matinee was later to make sure everybody who wanted to go to church could and have time for their own Sunday dinners. The Sunday evening show began earlier (than Friday and Saturday nights started) so people could be home at a decent hour after the show let out to prepare for Mondays. (small village)

There They All Were ~  I came home one Sunday afternoon.  My 1st cousin, (their son) and his wife were there. They weren't around each and every week at all. (The wife preferred to have dinner with her parents next door and then just come by afterwards to visit his parents a little bit if it worked out.)  It was a surprise to me to see them  for Sunday dinner. Something wasn't right, the cousins were staring bore holes right into me. Auntie E2 said for me to "run on and wash up, come sit for dinner, we need to talk to you."  

I did as I was told, came in and sat down....we passed around the food, I was particularly interested in the mashed potatoes and gravy. Auntie E2 questions, "What happened with you and Mr. Such and Such  last Sunday?"  I reply, "Who is Mr. Such and Such and what do you mean, what happened?" (I use Mr. Such and Such because I truly can't remember his name to even put his initials down.)

Auntie E2 continues "The man who wanted to give you a ride." 

I respond, "Oh, him. I was down on the street below and he pulled up and talked to me. He offered me some candy and I told him 'No, thank you. I am not supposed to take candy from strangers'.

He told me he wasn't a stranger, he'd known me my whole life. I told him I was sorry, but I don't know who he is. He told me to 'get in and I'll give you a ride up to your Auntie's house'. 

I told him that was very kind, but no, thank you, I am only five houses away and up the alley hill to get here. I'm very happy to walk it and be outdoors."

I then tell the dinner table that I walked it and I continue somewhat irritated with "Who is Mr. Such and Such?"

My first cousin joins in the conversation, "Mr. Such and Such is my boss at the mill. He thinks you might have gotten the wrong idea about him and you are going to apologize to him."

I say, "Apologize, what do you mean apologize and what do you mean wrong idea?  I don't understand, I don't know who Mr. Such and Such is and I didn't accept his candy and I wasn't getting into his car for a ride this close to home either."

My first cousin says his mother (my Auntie E2) is going to call Mr. Such and Such up and have him come over to the house right away (now) and I'm going to tell Mr. Such and Such that I am sorry.

I was so flustered (angry) I yelled, "I don't know how to tell Mr. Such and Such I am sorry. I don't think I should have to be sorry." 

Auntie E2 said  "I'll help you with that." 

Mr. Such and Such comes by after Auntie E2 called him, I said something like "Mr. Such and Such, I am very sorry I did not know who you are. I am very grateful for your kindness offered to me. I sure didn't mean to hurt your feelings if I did that. Please forgive me."

Mr. Such and Such left, I was feeling miserable I had to apologize and it might have all been OK, if my first cousin and his wife hadn't gotten 'mean mouthy' toward me at that point. They were not understanding that I was just a kid, a little girl.  It was more than I could bear, I took a run for it, out the back door and down the alley as fast as I could go. (I probably did yell at my cousin, "Why are y'all being so hateful?" before I took off running.) 

My first cousin took a run after me and caught me, lifted me up on one shoulder, my backside facing out and paddled my butt with his other hand (hard, it stung) all the way back to the house including him continuing to be 'mean mouthy'. Y'all should know I disputed then and will continue to dispute being "such a devil child, the angels cried the day you was born." 

I ran to my room crying and bawling in a complete and horrible state of well over wrought misery. Has anyone else noticed when you are young, the amount of snot the brain releases through your nose cavities when you cry hard and long?

Tap, tap, tap sometime a little later on my door.... Uncle Earl 2 was outside it, "Sissy, I really don't want to bother you, do you think you could wash up some and come to the theatre with us. You know your Auntie and me can't manage without you there. We need your help."

I washed up and got off to the theatre with them.

I had noticed the entire time throughout my ordeal that Uncle Earl 2's face looked like a dark summer storm had come upon it and a vein in his forehead had popped out (or up?) and was throbbing.  I know Uncle Earl 2 despised gossip of any sort.  Sometimes during the week days, our schedules meshed where he would be up stirring around, getting ready to go to work and he'd invite me for a little talk, make me a sandwich and pour me a glass of milk. (I think Uncle Earl 2 had to time clock in at the mill for around 4:00 PM.)

On one of those days a short time after this incident Uncle Earl 2 told me something like, "We're not gonna talk about the Mr. Such and Such thing...Sissy, I'm telling you right now, you don't ever have to accept candy, accept a ride, get into any car that you are not sure about whether you know the people or not and I mean it." 

More about Auntie E2 and Uncle Earl 2:   Remembering Them and Then

I can be found @grammakaye on Twitter. Comments are always welcome.


  1. Your uncle was right Kaye and I suspect he got upset you were punished for nothing at all. I guess your cousin was trying to protect his job as there might have not to many other options where you were living, he wouldn't want his hours cut or something like that. Some people feel children should be seen and not heard and it was a different age we were living in then. I loved the story,bill

    1. 98% chance that Mr. Such and Such (I really did 'blank' on his name) was a good man and a 2% chance he was 'shady like that'. (In years to come, never heard any hint of bad things about him.)

      The true and nefarious sub plot to this story is my first cousin married a woman who on the surface seemed shy and demure in public. She was in public. Oh so not in private.
      I only knew her mother next door seemed to be the meanest and most hateful woman (directly toward me) I ever met in my life.
      I did not know until quite later that mother and this daughter were some of the most 'notorius, destroying, bully gossips' and the cousin's wife also became known as a huge troublemaker that way in our village, adjacent small town. To be fair, the general population did gossip, it pervaded and fueled the place.

      I think Mr. Such and Such knew that and was worried I might say something (I didn't say a word)and then they would 'say something.'

      The girls in my grade had indeed begun to gossip like their mothers. I was a full year younger than them and didn't have the mind for it at the time. I had started grade school when I was 5 years old. I was smart at book learning and not very smart at all about life and living. There were many times people often spoke to me like I was older and wiser than what I was. Some of those times, I could grasp what they were conveying, other times not.

      So whatever the dynamics of the relationship between the cousin and his wife, it was decided that I needed to 'kowtow' (apologize) to save some kind of face. Auntie E2 was a 'peacemaker'. She went along with it. Uncle Earl 2 despised 'gossip' of any sort, but remained his quiet self. He did step up one-to-one to let me know that indeed I was on the right track following "The Rule". Nice of him not wanting me to be 'mixed-up'.

      I do 'give credit' to my cousin and his wife for shutting their mouths and especially her not 'packing off gossip' to others about this family quarrel and why. However we know it was very much in her husband's best interest to shut her 'mean mouthy' down. Thanks for visiting Bill! Small villages and towns, eh? :) ~ Kaye


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