My Grandma Toots could tell a great story and there were many. One of my favorites came out of her childhood. It was about the importance of the woman’s circle, especially at a time when women had very few rights and were often at the mercy of their husbands, fathers and brothers. She came from a line of independent ladies. There was a great grandmother, half Cherokee, who abandoned her husband for his brother and died on an Indian Reservation. Grandma’s mother, Tina Lee Jones (left in the photo above), had gotten pregnant out of wedlock (HUGE scandal in the early 1900s) and refused to marry the man because he was an alcoholic. She later married my great grandfather and had five more children with him. She had to remain scrappy as her husband, ironically, became an alcoholic (side effect of working in the coal mines); and, often left her to fend for herself when he would disappear on two week long binges.
Tina (pronounced TIE-nuh) had a good friend who was in a particularly bad marriage with an abusive alcoholic. This man, not only would go off on frequent drinking binges, but he would come home and knock her around when he had had too much. One night, he returned to the house particularly wasted and, sure enough, beat her pretty good, though not anything life threatening, thank goodness. He then passed out in their marriage bed.
At that point, after years of this crap, his wife had had enough. So, she got out her sewing kit, pulled the sheet over the bastard and quietly and quickly sewed a circle all the way around him, binding the sheet and him into the bed. Then, she got a 2×4 and she began to whack the shit out of him. I cannot imagine what it would be like, not only to be awakened by the wicked end of a heavy board, but to find yourself trapped underneath a sheet, unable to escape, inside some kind of womb from hell. After she had beaten him pretty good and he lost consciousness, she quietly removed the thread and left him lying there, a bloody mess. Thank God, he was not dead.
In the morning, he awoke with no memory whatsoever of the incident, though he looked like hell with gashes, bruises and a few broken ribs. When he questioned his wife, she innocently told him that he had come home in that condition and she had no idea what had happened. When he asked his buddies, they said he had left the bar drunk, but not bloody. He had left alone, so they could not account for what might have happened to him on the way home. He assumed he had been attacked on the walk. It shook him up pretty good. The drunken asshole behaved himself for a few months after that, and, although he returned to his old ways eventually, his drinking and violence never quite reached previous levels.
This story was pretty hot in the ladies’ circles at the time, but the men never knew the truth. The confidentiality between women was vital to their survival and these circles were tight. I love that story, but am so grateful that we’ve come a long way, baby. Today, I am able to keep up my own simple rule with the opposite sex: Leave a man BEFORE you commit a felony. Back then; however, it could be your only way to keep sane.
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