When we arrived in the small town of Atkins, Arkansas, we rented a one bedroom trailer with rose bud curtains. We all slept together in the only bed that took up the entire bedroom. There were many days that my mom hosed my brother and me off in the yard during the hot summer months. Momma, as she began to be called, started working at Apple Dumpling Daycare and my brother and I were able to attend. I started kindergarten. My Uncle Gonzo drove the school van from Apple Dumpling Daycare to Atkins Elementary. We continued to go to a conservative Baptist church. Momma didn’t let us trick or treat and we were only allowed to be clowns or hoboes on Halloween. We went to the church for a fall harvest party and had so much fun! They even had a haystack that you could search for prizes in. On the way home, I begged my mom to let me go trick or treating at one house. Of course, I picked the scariest house on the block! A man jumped out of the ditch at me as I cuddled my mom’s waist. My mom explained to the homeowners that it was my first time trick or treating. I reluctantly took the candy and walked back with Momma to our trailer.
We were able to move into a new home quickly. We called it our old mansion because it had five bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a den, such a big difference from our little trailer! We had a pecan tree in our yard. Momma used to make homemade pecan pies with nuts that Jason and I collected from the yard. Our neighbor had a house that was filled with a doll display. I used to go over and pretend that they were my dolls. I looked at them, star-gazed, and hoped she would give me just one, but she never did. I loved Christmas time in that old house. Momma got me my own mini-Christmas tree to decorate all by myself in the den! We threaded popcorn and cranberries for our large living room tree. My favorite memory is waking up to her watching the 700 Club in the living room.
Pecan Tree from health.com
It was around this time that my mom started to date. I don’t know much about the beginning of their relationship. I recall her hugging a man at Apple Dumpling daycare after he dropped his son off. The next memory I have is us all going to his house. I didn’t understand why he was leaving his two year old alone in the car while we all went inside. He said it was because he was sleeping. I felt sad for the little boy. Another time, he left the little boy in his highchair and wouldn’t take him out. I didn’t understand why he seemed so unkind. I always left relieved that my mom loved me and would never leave me locked in a car, or alone in a high chair while we all played in another room.
I’ll never forget the day that my mom asked my brother and me if we thought she should marry this man. I said, “He’s mean,” and I felt sad thinking of having him in our lives. They were married shortly after that.