My NoTe.... of ThaNksKnowledgeMeNt

As the Holidays approach I’m mostly thinking about some of my Thanksgiving's from the past. Missing my own Parents who have been gone for 4 years, not that long ago to me in my heart. I wanted to share How they carried our Ancestors Traditions and we as Descendant's are carrying them from one generation to the next.
My Son took the Torch of Military Tradition and will Pass it On.
 Amongst the dark, and mountainous terrain of Afghanistan I’m thinking also of my Son who is 26 and has been deployed 3 times. Normally when he's home, This is when I show out with Mom’s recipes. I do plan to “Video Oral History” him up when he gets back in April.
 I’m gonna get him while he’s young! One day he will give me a grandchild and I will wait with patience and anticipate till that day with love for them before they even come into this World. I'll be waiting to share and sit with those babies and be able to show them what their Father has done in his Life keeping in step with his Ancestors and how to carry on Traditions.

My Greatest Readers Are Not Yet Born. 

Thanksgiving is when I got to spend time with my first friends, whom were my first cousins. Aunts and Uncles, My parents siblings. Friends of the family.This is the time when the GRoWn FoLks were having a good time with the record player belting out tunes with all their “Old Jam’s” of the Temptations, The Supremes,  Sam and Dave. I have all the records now, Which is a Hoot! Now I play all them “Old Jam’s”, Like they use to do. Don’t you?

 GRoWn FoLks laughing robustly out loud whole heartily, doing the Dozens on each other. My Uncle Bobbie who is Sam Miles Jr, now gone on to Heaven. The Daniel brothers, Fred and Floyd, my cousins still living. They are the cream of the crop doing it like nobody can especially with a card game of Bid Whist, they showed out. Talk of past times and just enjoying each other's company.  We listened intently on steps, behind couches always mindful to stay out of sight. Children are to be seen, not heard. Mom would Holler “Ya’ll stop all that skinning and grinning, and go somewhere! we laughed and hollered anyway!
 I do that now with my kids every chance I get. I love using all Mom’s sayings! Who slammed the screened door? Who up there doing all that bumbling and fumbling!? Sound like a gang of elephants walking. She saw, smelled and heard everything at all times. She's always listened out for us kids while doing 3 other tasks.
My Parents in 1956. Carrying traditions on.

Another party was going on with us in the Camper, or down in the basement on Nebraska Ave in Toledo, or out in our barn standing by the cars in Pennsylvania depending on who’s house we were at that year, with our beat boxes, jamming to RunDMC, or the Sugar Hill Gang we were making our own little lifetime memories! Having somebody go sneak on a dare for a Malt Duck or a Miller Pony or just some Liquor for our little cups. Just to sneak a taste. You better not get caught.  Laughing, and as Mom would holler just to keep us in check as usual, "Are Ya’ll out there acting like you Ain’t got no Sense”? and What ya’ll doing?. Wave us off! and go on. Oh! what a time! 
Best part during holidays was of getting away with things, you didn’t get no whoopings, and Daddie usually handed out extra change and 25cent just in case you had to call home! He'd pile us up in his 76 Park Avenue Special Edition Wine colored Buick and tell us to be out standing in front of the "John Wannakers” store, so as not to make him get out that car!, that was the meeting spot. As he hollered out his Buick. He let you have your way going to the mall, going to the picture show and staying up late cackling like a bunch of hens, but he never would tell us to "Hush up" and go to bed.We had sense enough to know when enough was enough. 

Mom's Egg Pie Recipe
The smells of all that good soul food cooking the night before Thanksgiving, Which I’m ashamed to say would teasingly call “Slave Food” as a child. 
As time would go by and I would come to understand, know, love and appreciate a few of those recipes for example, like “Mom’s Egg Pie”. Mainly there was an abundance of fresh eggs around all the time. She didn't write her recipes down. A lot of times, I would call Mom and tell her to go step by step on what she did to get her recipes. She did things by heart. I wrote'em down.
It's the Importance on Why we pass them along.The reason they cooked the main dishes they did out of slavery from what was given to them or when Massa would let them grow their own garden on their own time and as long as it didn't interfere with their duties.
I will keep the recipes going so as not to break that cycle of tradition. These life history moments would go on from Wednesday till everybody got sent off to their different states on Sunday morning with their traveling mercies. With thoughts of the next time we'll all be together again. We didn't do just funerals we came together for all things.  Oh! what a time!
Now that I’m grown and watching my own family. I reminisce on all my childhood memories as my family has been making their own. Hope I’m Blessed to get OLD so I can sit, listen and laugh like Mom and Daddie did with us. 
On one Thanksgiving, Mom got to find out all the things we were doing behind them while not watching. Mom said if I had known ya’ll was carrying on like that I would of got ya! while laughing. No doubt in the same way her and Daddy did back Down Home in Alabama during the 30’s when they was “Yung”. Thoughts of the Depression and what their life was like during those times. They made a way out of no way.
When she got old and couldn't do all that standing , she’d still be sitting there in her spot at the kitchen table, directing us to put a dash and a splash of this and that making sure we were learning "How We Do" foods with her guidance. Mom coached us on while all the time she was passing tradition without us even paying attention."Bring it here and let me taste it". Okay! You cooking now. Keep going! 
I’d always sneak and check on them during the festivities as I got older. I loved the look of Love and Pride on their faces as they would sit somewhere quietly and reflect whispering to one another on they have carried this family, enjoyed and bore witness that our family TRADITIONS have been carried on that they have been taught by their Parents who where children of Slaves. Now we got it!
 Just as I, you be mindful, take a step back, “Take NoTe”….. and have a humble look at your family, stay in the moment as much as you can. The Family is still going on step by step carrying tradition along while making new ones. I even have a few. That will be my NoTe of Blessing for a Happy Thanksgiving!

National Day of Listening

                            National Day of Listening

                                 When The Elders Go, The Stories Go..

That is all to be said. We can't get it back. We have to do what we can now to Preserve our History.

 Every time I try to explain to a family member or conversate with a near stranger. I try to  convince them the importance of Oral History. I can't leave the importance of that out.
It was the first thing I did as a unknown  Family Historian without even knowing at the age of 9 what it was called. I was doing a “Oral History Interview” with my Father. 
Simply by just having a conversation with him over a family album. Seen in the photo below. 
Me and Daddy's 1st Oral Interview 1977

Daddy was talking about who his Parents where, I was so amazed at how him and Mom would laugh and smile while shaking their heads over their own lifetime stories of their Grandparents, things their Parents use to do and why they have lived their lives like they did. 

Mom and Daddy's Parents Vital Statistics he kept preserved.
 After going over all the pictures is when Daddy pulled this piece of a paper he had tucked inside our kitchen table bible,  History was all over in some kind of way in our home. He kept his Parents birth, his siblings and Moms parents recorded information always nearby.  I keep that piece of paper now. Its my "Historical Document". 

 Later, on that hot summer night I laid up in my bed looking up to the ceiling,  I realized my Parents and Grandparents had real lives. When they Passed I realized they had a full life. 
I was glad they were so open and wanted to share stories, they wanted their stories to be told. No one ever really quite asked them in such a matter. 
That led me to always gently sneak and ask questions from them at family gatherings, funerals, even when birth occurred in the family. It was always an opportunity to gather ORAL History from the Elders about OUR HISTORY, it brought the past back to the future in a colorful light.

Without me conducting Oral History Interviews throughout the years over the phone, in the car driving them to market, standing in the grocery line.They probably just thought I was really nosey.
 But in the end, they recognized what the  importance it was to tell the stories of old time. 
Without My Parents, our family would of LOST all the love, death ,birth, sadness and sorrow along with all the JOY in the World.Two generations of History LOST forever to Us. 
I sometimes wish I could of asked them more details about slavery. All they knew and said Proudly was Granddaddy was a SLAVE, but no more talk of that time was never fully explained by that generation. I feel like the National Day of Listening is a Great way to get the World to understand the Importance of Saving History and realize everyone has a story to tell. 

I feel so behind even tho I have took great strides in gathering my family's Oral History. So much has been lost over the past. I'm always feeling like I'm trying to play catch up. 

As I look back, many things could of cost your life back then in Slavery. Reading and Writing. The only thing they couldn't take from us back then was the “field hollers”, the Music. I feel like that is our introduction in a form of Oral History where they told  and shared our stories thru song. The Family Griot was an all important person in the family starting in Africa for many of our families, and we should be honored to keep that tradition going in our own families.

A lot of cultures their history hasn't been taken from them. It is my responsibility now to record our stories and pass them on to my children and granddaughter. Author Pearl Cleage said: “We Speak your Names”, I just want to keep "Speaking their Names" so they won't be forgotten in this family. My labor of love from this day forth. Hopefully my Spirit will see the Spirit in the next generation if I'm blessed to see old age to pass it on. 
That is my wish..... to keep it going. 
On my National Day of Listening, November 23, 2012 I’ll be taping and interviewing my 95 year old Aunt in Atlanta Mrs. Sarah Cate Lewis Miles, I’ll be Listening…….


LAST Saturday night, my church was having an Appreciation Banquet for Pastor's Anniversary. He's been in the Pulpit for 46 years and our church First Baptist has been around for 146! As we were reflecting, they got to show a slideshow presentation of Pastor with his family, church members, and his Beloved wife.

 They got to the part of the slideshow with him being in uniform serving in the Army during the War. Well, we were all oohhingg and aawwwhing and cooing over Pastor being a Soldier in Uniform and looking good! Yes he was!

Mom and Daddy 1944

All I could think of was my own Parents. How Daddy served in WW2 and Mom was his War Bride. They were so strong, young and ready to take the world on. Both men were going to War to prove his worth, so that when they came back after protecting this Country and fighting for her, the USA. He should be able to be a full-fledged citizen without reservation.

That one photo of my Pastor Rev. Dr. B.T. Bishop brought all those memories of what 1944 was about for them, how the past could bring joy to us in the future.

OFTEN  I go back and think of Mommie and Daddie and how they courted?  How a friend of Daddy's in the Mt. Coney area was dating my Aunt Lily Bee and he would send her letters. They didn't have phones, so Daddy told me they would write to each other in the mail early in the week to flirt and let them know if they could on Saturday or Sunday go walking or such. That's how they communicated. So one day Daddy happened to say to him while he was writing , Daddy said: "She got some sisters"? Young Man said: "Yeah!, she got a bunch of them". Surely she did and only 3 brothers to contend with and a grouchy hardworking Daddy.
Daddy said without meeting or knowing her. I'm gonna marry me one of them Miles girls one day. Later Daddy would say it was "ordained" for them to be together. He had never laid eyes on her, but the Spirit whispered it to his heart. He believed.

So weeks went by and they were at revival at Daddy's church Mt. Coney Missionary Baptist and Daddy saw Mom and Aunt Bunny!  He asked his friend, Who them girls over there? His friend said some of those Miles girls. My Grandma Queen and Rev. Robbins mom was standing in the back of the church overlooking out the back window and saw and heard all that was going on before services started, overheard Daddie, and said: If you talking about them girls over there, "Them my Girls". So that was the 1st time Daddy probably thought that's my Ms. January of 1944!

Daddy finally gets permission to court Mom. After much research I found out why Cousin Bill Cooper was being dragged by Daddy to go see Mom, plus the fact he just plain out loved his UncK and loved to tag wherever Daddy went, barefoot and carrying their shoes, they had to go cutting through fields and woods, creeks, probably taking breaks at the saw mill on the way and many dirt roads, maybe once in a while jumping on the back of someone's wagon. Hoping to come home with that goodnight kiss.
Just all in a morning's walk with all of God's glory.

Mom was over in the next County! You know that was some LOVE to be walking way over yonder for some pretty young thang. Once again she was Ms. January of 1944!

Grandma Queen and Poppa Sam Miles approved of Daddy, plus they liked Ms. Eddie Lee "Hon" Ivery Lewis , Daddy's mother. She was respectable, upstanding. Her father Ike Ivery was my Slave Granddaddy, he had raised her right after her own Mother, Mary Haynes Ivery passed when she was young. Grandma Eddie had raised her own children well in the Christian way. They all agreed it would be wonderful and a blessed event for J.E. to take my Mother Tinnie's hand in holy matrimony.

So up to the Courthouse in Union Springs, Alabama, Bullock County with that being on Tuesday, January 11, 1944  a rainy solemn day for such a fresh start with the one you love. They ran with license in hand, said their vows, of "I do". Officiated and Remarked by Rev. J.D. Grooms who would later marry Mom's brother Sam "Uncle Bobbie" Miles, Jr. to his Daughter Clara Grooms. Now both deceased also.

So it was official Mom was Mrs. Tinnie Lee Miles Lewis, but in Daddy's eyes:  She was his Ms. January 11, 1944! his Wife!

Daddy and Mom's Marriage License 1944

I'd like to tell you soon after, Daddy had to sit down and break Mom's heart for the 1st time. He had to explain to her he had his papers to go and fight with the rest of the boys in the Big War. She was his wife now and she would have to stay with his Mother. Which in the end was a blessing. Daddy told her: "We's married now, you got's to stay with my People till I get back".And that she did!

Occasionally Poppa Sam and Grandma Queen would come by and bring her to her childhood home over in the Antioch area under the watchful eye of my Grandma Eddie's approval. All this had been a Blessing. It taught her how to be strong, think for herself. Be self-reliant. Her mother in law taught her cooking skills, how to wash and clean and make a home and most importantly how to take care of her Son, J.E. She was very close to him. Her two older boys were out and living making their own mark in the world.
Now that he was off to WW2, she had to keep a closer eye on all of her daughters and Mom too. Daddy had taken over the role of caring and watching out for his mother and his 7 sisters after his Daddy left. All the lessons Mom learned where taught under her Mother in Law with the assurance from her own Mother. I'm sure over time it pleased my Father.

"Mom" at (right end), Grandma Eddie L. Ivery Lewis (sitting) L to R: Sarah, Essie and Aunt Sallie Bea. 

So imagine shortly getting married in 1944, Daddy is off to Normandy by way of New York and New Jersey, he lands on the day after Normandy on his DUCK with the 470th Amp Truck Unit, an all Colored unit. He tells me all the sites and sounds of that day, even down to I can smell Normandy. I feel like I'm watching with him. He had other great stories also which will be for another time.
Daddy didn't gamble,drink, smoke, or womanize. He had his stipend of 10 bucks to make it last for a month, and the rest went home to Mother and Mom.

He is gone for 18 months, Imagine not being able to start a family for 18 months? Seeing no family. All you can do is send and receive letters. The first namesake child was born in 1947 of May. 3 years after they got married to start their family! And Oh what a Legacy they have left behind!

Daddy had furlough, so he comes back into town, Mom and them are out and about in town. Daddy calls himself throwing his dufflebag over in the corner and putting himself over a sofa in the front room. So it's time for Mom and her sister in laws and all to come back to the house. Daddy still hidden behind the sofa. Grinning and Skinning, Funny part is?! his Duffle bag is all out in the open! Red Flag!  Mom saw it and was confused! Daddy jumps out from behind the couch. "SURPRISE"......she played it off, later on in the evening she confessed, she had a feeling something was going on and she saw the duffle bag on the other side of the room. She said she went crazy and wild inside. What a joy and hoot. Her Man was home and he made it!
Daddy was so excited. What made him think they was not gonna notice that dusty ol duffle bag! We all still laugh at how him and Mom would tell that story. I can see his big eyes now and Mom's too, looking like "Where you come from?" and are you Really here? 

Mom says she fell in love with him for that "Mustache" you know? All those years of marriage from 1944 to 2008 Mom saw him as that Soldier Boy with the clean mustache. Daddie saw her as his own Ms. January 1944 she was always the finest , was fashion forward and had all the fine attributes of a Southern Lady he dreamed of marrying.
So for many years I think that's how they saw each other, Her Soldier Boy and her as his own Ms. January of 1944!
 He really only had two names for Mom and that was "Hiney" which we rarely heard or THE MRS!. Go tell THE MRS, phone. I'll have to ask THE MRS!......

When Daddy passed we had him decked out from head to toe! Bobbie and Bug my brothers had matching suits and ties like Daddy and we all represented his Buick Red in our layouts. Me and Bettye had special made corsages, and the rest of the family had pinned red carnations. The last thing Bobbie made sure of is no one cut Daddie's mustache. He had to have it trimmed just like Mom liked it! One of our last tributes.

 We all know when he got to Heaven that's the first thing that she wanted to see on him was his Soldier Boy mustache. That's how she saw Daddy all her Life.
I'm sure when he saw her there across the Jordan River waiting.... it was time to see his only, THE MRS! the young lady bride he married back then in Bullock County, Alabama in 1944.
I like to think over the years as they were getting older that's how they saw each other everyday.

FOREVER, Don't we all want to be Soldier Boy and Ms. January 1944 or however you saw the one you love in that first moment?

Dedicated to all those World War 2 Lovebird's.
and my very own:
PFC James E. Lewis and Sis.Tinnie L. Miles Lewis


Today is November 11th, Veteran's Day. In 2008 on this date, my Dear Mother passed. I was home doing laundry and hanging with my own Soldier for the day, when I got the call. "Mom's not gonna make it".......

I wanted to rededicate:  MS. JANUARY 1944,  a older  NOTE'S TO MYSELF in the next blog above.... that I have shared before.

But first let me give you some memorable NOTES about MOM.

Mom was of Good Courage. She was a Praying Woman. She Loved and Worked hard. Born August 29th, 1923 in Midway, Alabama, Bullock County. The Lord had granted her what she prayed so many a night about, was to go first before Daddy, she always told us she wouldn't be able to Think or know what to do if something happened to him and to go quickly. And she did. The last words she softly whispered was "Lord, Help Me". 

She left behind a Great Legacy that her Descendants. For all of her Grace and Love we'll be glad to carry her Torch on. We always gave her flowers while she was here on Earth,we didn't wait till she passed away. 

Mom wanted them now while she was Living and she got them! In the form of fancy dresses, church hats, family gatherings, her children and friends around,a phone call. 

A hug or a kiss. Even a glance across the room to acknowledge her. Those were her flowers.

 I think on her everyday. I have constant reminders around my house of hers like pots and pans, dishes, knick-knacks, hankies and notes. 
All the crying up in her bosom after falls with scraps and bumblebee stings and laying up in her lap just to get that Motherly love and she always smelled like a "Momma" should, fresh cotton linen and vanilla. Mom's signature scent was White Shoulders. 
The whoppings she gave with a good switch we had to go pick. Trips Down Home. All her Southern cooking,when I got Baptized. OH, how she Hollered! 
My 1st Dance in the 7th grade going shopping for a dress. Waiting up for me to come home from a date, Gotta be home by Midnight! 
Getting married made me so nervous to leave my house I was raised in. Having my 1st baby and naming him after my Grandma Eddie and my Father continuing tradition, she mostly raised that boy. Hearing her be called Nannie.  
She is worth more than Gold. This is just my way to "Speak Her Name" and keep her STORY going through this blog.  

This NOTE is just a small glimpse into more notes turned to stories you will read about my Mother.


                                    In Honor of my Mom. 

Mrs. Tinnie Lee Miles Lewis.

Mom and Daddy, 1944.


Threshold of Blogging, My 1st Post.

I've been thrown into the threshold of BLOGGING!
Much to my Chagrin and Encouragement from my Circle of Genning Friends.

My True Roots
Daddy & Me, 1977.

Today is the 3rd year my Daddy Mr. James E. Lewis, Sr. has been gone from this World. 

Born July 10, 1918. I find this befitting and a Honor to start my STORY on this date November 7, 2012. The Day he passed from this Life and went onto Glory. 

He started me with all this NOTE TAKING to Myself, for that I'll be grateful. I don't know who took this picture of me and Daddy but it sums up in so many words and feelings of what I ended up doing with a passion.  It turned out to be called Genealogy!

 It was the Summer of 1977. I was 9 years old. My Grandma Queen Miles from the Deep South of Alabama had passed away and Roots was on television, so all this had a profound effect on me. There was a whisper in my Soul that spoke to my heart that long ago time, that said to never forget! 

Since then it's been my mission to not.
To make some of the Elders in past oral history interviews comfortable around me, with my scribbled papers and pen I would call it "NOTE-TAKING"........ saying to them, Just making "NOTES TO MYSELF".

 "My Blog" is just a reflection of thoughts to MYSELF. They come to me in the twinkle of a eye, a stirred memory, in a startled moment, lots of things can touch my heart or jog my memory and I'll want to write the thought and "Make a Note to Myself" just for simple reflection later. If you see me with paper and pen don't be alarmed! So today is a SPECIAL Note to Myself for you All.

Thanks for Coming over to my Place and Hanging out a bit and taking this Sankofa Journey with Me as you get a Inside view of my thoughts turned to NOTES. I appreciate all your support and please leave a COMMENT or NOTE for me.