A strong southern woman

by | August 14, 2019 5:04 pm


There is a long line of strong southern women in my family’s history. Emanuel County also has its share of them. When I speak of my family’s lineage, I also speak of yours.

My mother was a go-getter! She could prepare a feast with very simple ingredients, or solve a major problem through ordinary love and compassion. She was the closet person to an angel that I knew when I was a child.

Where her wisdom came from, baffles me. She could hold her own with people that were far more educated than she was and stick to her convictions if she thought she was right.

She grew up in the depression era and, like most women her age, survived the school of “hard knocks.”

Back then, society believed that a woman’s place was in the home, barefoot with lots of children pulling at her apron strings. She never had a moment’s rest. Her allotted time belonged to her children and her husband’s needs. But, she gave freely of herself and never questioned why some of her dreams never had a chance to materialize.

Women didn’t have the advantage of time-saving appliances like we have today. I remember when Mama first got a wringer-type washing machine. She had a new baby, and it allowed her to quit washing diapers by hand. To her, it was a lifesaver.

My mother and her family were farmers. They moved around quite often after a yearly farm harvest. They were a hard-working, Christian family, and her Grandpa Mills was a widely acclaimed Methodist minister, who had also laid out the blueprint for the iconic Statesboro courthouse. Like mother, he had more common sense than formal education.

It was only after mother’s parents, Ezra and Pauline Brannen, had retired that they were fortunate enough to purchase their own home and also a rental home. Mama was so happy for them, but her greatest desire was to be a homeowner herself.

We moved from Garfield in 1961 to Swainsboro because both of my parents worked there at Miami Carey. The payments on our new home—if you can believe it—was only $45 per month. But, in 1961, $45 probably would have been several times more today. My parents were paying only a meager few dollars toward the principal loan, the rest went to interest rates.

It took 30 years before Mama could see the light at the end of the tunnel. And on a brisk, cool day in November, Mama told our neighbor, Theron Moore, that she had fulfilled a life-long dream that day: She had paid off her house!

Pearl Johnson was the mother of Ronnie Johnson. She passed away at the age of 85-years-old. Ronnie’s father, Reynolds, lived to be 96-years-old.

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