Bibb City – mid 1960’s
Papa worked as a loom fitter at Bibb Mill. Wearing Bibb overalls and a denim shirt to work, rarely did he find the freedom or time to take a tobacco chew break. He knew the repercussions if Grammy caught him chewing tobacco; and he realized if he chewed tobacco at the mill someone would tell her. There were no secrets in Bibb City.
My grandparents lived from pay day, to pay day, thankful to have food on the table and a roof over their heads. Papa lived on a farm before meeting Grammy, planting corn, tobacco and cotton during the day. At night, he raised Hell, drinking moonshine and homemade wine. He had a reputation of trouble and fast times with the women. I’ve often wondered if his reputation was because he was considered a half-breed, because of his Indian heritage.
Perhaps that is why Papa and I never agreed on anything. He questioned every action taken by me. In retaliation, I rebelled from him and Grammy, asking questions, demanding answers. My philosophy in life was if someone asked a question, they deserved an answer. Papa said children don’t need answers; they need discipline, and a swift pat on the bottom. He had a pet name for me, calling me Little Miss Sassy Fras. I hated being called that and told him so. He simply cackled, mimicking the way I behaved.
At thirteen, I earned money by babysitting. I rushed to the drug store to buy makeup. Furious with me, Papa found the eye shadow, Maybelline mascara and eyeliner, tossing it in the trash. He said girls who wore makeup were whores. My new nickname was whore. When I told Papa a virgin could not be a whore, he slapped me hard on the face.
On weekends, Papa took Rusty fishing at the boat club. The boat club was a little fishing club, upstream from the mill, located about twenty miles from where the crow flies in Bibb City.
Although Papa could fish from the riverbanks by the mill, he chose not to. “The Chattahoochee waters are too muddy,” He said. “We think the mill dumps waste in the waters.”
The floating dead fish and garbage he saw floating along the crest of the dirty waters was a testament of the pollution.
Papa’s fishing boat was a small two-seater wooden boat structure, with a small Johnson motor. The boat was not fancy, compared to modern bass boats or ski boats. Papa’s fishing boat was painted a faded pea green color with the words ‘Gone Fishing’ painted in black.