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One night when I was 16 a boy that I knew called me from Guthrie Park. We talked awhile, then he said he had to go, did I want to talk to this other guy? I did and the guy's name was Earl King. He called for about two weeks and finally said if I didn't let him come over, he wasn't going to call me anymore. So, I pretended that I knew him. Daddy would have had a cow if he knew I was having someone over that I had never met. The night he was coming, I wore a black satin skirt and jacket and pink blouse that I had made from Maude and Gladys' old things and I nearly ran myself to death looking for him. He lived in North Memphis and had to ride the streetcar across town. I kept going to the porch to look for him (so I could play like I knew him). Finally, I saw him and I thought he was the prettiest boy I had ever seen. He had on a brown suit and tie and had brown curly hair. Daddy let us walk a couple of blocks to the movie. He was rather fresh but he was so nice-looking and so quiet that Daddy and Mama liked him, so he became the only one for me. We went together for two years. We smooched on the porch swing and the first gift I got from him was a pecan roll. We always had big dinners on Sunday and when Earl first came, he started out taking one thing at a time. He soon learned you get it the first time or you're out of luck around there. We cooked enough on Saturday for a log rolling. On Sunday we'd clean the dishes after lunch, throw over a cloth and eat the rest for supper (ever wonder why we didn't get poisoned?).
Earl was at my house a lot and I went to his on Sunday sometimes. Earl had a brother named Elvin and four sisters named Helen, Naomi, Monnie, and Billye. He had another brother that died when he was six months old. They didn't have much. Daddy King didn't have a steady job then. He had been a lumber inspector before they left Missouri, where Earl and Helen were born, to move to Memphis. When he was paid, he gambled and nearly always lost what he made, so they had a hard time.
Earl and Dorothy
Well, Earl and I decided to get married and on May 12,1933, Maude and Gladys helped me get ready. I had a blue and white dress and a white corsage that they bought me. We got in Eulon's old car and he drove us to Hernando, Mississippi, where we were married by a justice of the peace, then we drove back - "VERY ROMANTIC.” I don't know why I was so stupid, not to tell Daddy and Mama. They had gone to bed when we got back, I went in and knelt down by the bed and my Daddy cried. He said "Wid, I wanted you to get married at home.” I wish I had, but you can't change what you had already done. Well, that was the beginning of a new kind of life. Earl had told his folks and they had prepared the "bridal suite". The house they lived in had a entrance hall and someone had hung up a curtain that separated the door from the rest of the hall, a double bed was made up behind the curtain. Everyone had gone to bed, so we went to bed in our honeymoon suite and I cried - but I wasn't sorry. I never looked back. My family had so much and Earl's was on government food. We had never heard of that. Many people were out of work. In the house were Daddy and Mama King, Elvin (Earl's brother), Billye and Monnie (his sisters), Earl and I, and Helen (Earl's sister) and her husband and child. Helen and Woody were only 18 and he was learning to be a butcher. His salary and Earl's ($7.43 a week) was all that was coming in.
Not long after that, Mama King found out she was pregnant and I thought she would kill poor old Daddy King. That baby was Gerrie. Then I found out I was pregnant too. Mama King felt too bad to do anything, so I fixed what we ate, washed clothes in a washtub, and vomited my head off over the back porch railing. I was sick enough to die, or so I thought. Helen and Woody moved so Earl and I got a room to ourselves. Helen and I would pull a wagon up Jackson to a store, where they gave the food, canned beef and gravy, northern beans and flour - the worst diet in the world. Mama King got pellagra from it. The kids didn't know how to eat vegetables but they soon learned.
Please continue on to Chapter Six
© 2000 Patty Garrison
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