Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Ghost Only Came Out At Night

                               My Bigmama's baby brother was a faceless, nameless entity. I never knew his given name until I gained access to the U.S. Census Collection, back in 1998. When he died in 1977, my sisters and I knew him only as "Uncle Gray Ghost"..... the man who knocked on our grandmother's front door in the dead of night. It was the ONLY time he visited.

                                I once asked my grandmother why she called her brother "Gray Ghost". She said it was because he only came out at night. I remember the way he knocked verrrrry softly, so as not to wake up the house. He'd loudly whisper "Ernest...Ernest, it's ME!", between his knocks. Bigmama would call back to him, "Aw, Brotha! You only come around when you WANT something! Now, go on before you wake these kids."  I was awake by then, listening to her open her door to him, and listening to their "grown folks" conversation. Bigmama would ask him, "How much you need? You need to stop drinking." I heard him profess his love for his big sister, promising to pay her back, and the sound of him kissing her on her cheek.....which she acted as if she DIDN'T like, saying "Gone, now...go on, Brother."

                                The image posted was from a TV show by the same name. It was supposedly based on Major John Singleton Mosby, an Officer in the Confederate Army. According to Wikepedia's description, accounts of his "cunning" and "stealth" earned him the nickname "The Gray Ghost". Well, in hindsight, I can easily see how those characteristics could also be attributed to my grand uncle!
                               Ernestine Daniels, my Bigmama, was four years older than her brother born in 1917. Their mother Mozell McArthur was married to Will Daniels when their daughter Ernestine was born in Manor, Travis Co.Texas,1913. Mozell divorced Will Daniels, met Willie Robinson Sr., and gave birth to his namesake son. Mozell was not married to Willie Robinson, Sr.

                               I just recently found this Birth Certificate, which noted my great grandmother Mozell's  birthplace as Manor, Texas.....the same as both of her children's. Neither a physician nor midwife were present for my uncle's birth. The Birth Certificate basically reflects that Granny Mozell toughed it out. I've been wondering if my uncle left any children on this earth. With all my DNA Cousins falling in 4th, and 3rd-5th range, I'm seriously wondering if one, if not some, are my Uncle Gray Ghost's descendants

                                I have no photos of him. All I know is that he was a soft spoken, dark skinned, thin rail of a man, with a dark rumpled suit hanging on him...under a brimmed hat. I couldn't point him out at a liquor store, criminal line up, or a soup line. It's really sad for me to admit. It's even sadder to admit that I couldn't point out my Bigmama's OTHER sibling in a Library. She was a teacher who I only met once in 1975, and she was from the Austin, Texas Metro area. They shared a father, William(Will) Daniels b. 1890 Round Rock, Travis, Texas. He died in 1947, and is buried in Round Rock, Texas a few feet from his parents Monroe and Amanda (Washington) Daniels.

                                       Me and Bigmama in 1975, and the only photo I have of us together. She looked like her father's people, she said. If we weren't chatting while sitting on this piece of furniture, we'd be lying across her bed, talking about everything. She wasn't easily intimidated, or frightened. Speaking of ghosts, she shared a couple of experiences with me. I witnessed her acknowledging a swinging screen door with a "Hello", or "Come on in." My sisters and I looked at each other with questioning expressions when she'd do that, but I can still hear her saying,"Just because you can't see 'em don't mean they aren't there."

                                       I'm having a warm revelation about a big sister, her acknowledgement of entities unseen.....and why it would be only natural for her to call her brother "Gray Ghost"

Sunday, October 6, 2013

COOK-ing with Cousins

                                                 I met up with COOK family who were descendants of Louis Cook, born abt. 1830 in Missouri, (we think), and Mary Bryant, born abt. 1835 in Mississippi. Louis and Mary had a few children. Their son Henry Cook and wife Martha Abercrombie Johnson spawned a few children, and it was from those children that my cousin Karen's backyard filled.
                                                 Walking into her back yard, I shook hands with the first men who greeted me. I went back to my car and grabbed my contribution to the festivities. When I ambled back into the yard, I had a folding chair in my left hand, my purse AND computer bag hanging from my right shoulder, and a 24 Pack box of Big Red Cola balanced atop my right shoulder. A couple of men scrambled towards me to help, but I was already in full stride..HANDLING it. I yelled out, "I got it! Thanks! I'm a COOK!!"...and they yelled back, "Aha ha! Yeah, you ARE, alright, and got a good grip, too!"
                                                  After I sat down to get my breath and bearings, I pinned on a makeshift name tag over my heart. I then rose from my chair to begin mingling. The first group I joined were the men whose hands I first shook. I pointed to my father's picture on my makeshift name tag, and said "This is my father Willie B. Cook, and he's the source of the strength you felt in my handshake." One of them said, "He taught you how to shake, that's good." I popped back, "No, that would be my mother's mother, Ernestine!" We laughed after that, and I explained the photo of my father pinned over my heart.

                                                Willie Bernard Cook, 1932-1973 Houston, Texas

                                               When my cousins saw this photo hanging from my chest, they had much to say about my sister and I looking like him. My father was called "Billy", and my sisters and I sang the song "Wooly Bully" back in 1965, alternating "Willie Billy" (pretending the song was about our dad),as we sang. One of my sisters was named after him. Daddy also named his son after him when he remarried. I have the distinction of having siblings who share our father's
name. I DIG that!
                                                 I had a great time talking with my 4th cousins, and THEIR grandchildren
were running around, playing card and checkers. I guess that means I was with my 6th cousins also. Whew! Well, I didn't cook anything to bring. A couple Frenchy's Chicken Family Boxes was my ace in the hole. Not ALL COOK folk cook, but I was COOK-ing with cousins yesterday....and I DUG that.