Welcome Bees

Project #1655

Mrs. Genevieve W. Chandler

Murrells Inlet, S. C.

Georgetown County



The road is perfectly camouflaged from the King's Highway by wild plums

that lap overhead. Only those who have traveled this way before could

locate the 'turn in' to Uncle Welcome's house. When you have turned in

and come suddenly out from the plum thicket you find your road winding

along with cultivated patches on the left--corn and peas--a fenced-in

garden, the palings riven out by hand, and thick dark woods on the left.

A lonesome, untenanted cabin is seemingly in the way but your car swings

to the left instead of climbing the door-step and suddenly you find you

are facing a bog. The car may get through; it may not. So you switch off

and just sit a minute, seeing how the land lies. A great singing and

chopping of wood off to the left have kept the inmates from hearing the

approach of a car. When you rap therefore you hear, 'Come in'.

A narrow hall runs through to the back porch and off this hall on your

right opens a door from beyond which comes a very musical squeaking--you

know a rocking chair is going hard--even before you see it in motion

with a fuzzy little head that rests on someone's shoulder sticking over

the top. And the fuzzy head which in size is like a small five-cent

cocoanut, belongs to Uncle Welcome's great-grand. On seeing a visitor

the grand, the mother of the infant, rises and smiles greeting, and,

learning your errand, points back to the kitchen to show where Uncle

Welcome sits. You step down one step and ask him if you may come in and

he pats a chair by his side. The old man isn't so spry as he was when

you saw him in the fall; the winter has been hard. But here it is warm

again and at most four in the April afternoon, he sits over his plate of

hopping John--he and innumerable flies. At his feet, fairly under the

front of a small iron stove, sits another great-grand with a plate of

peas between her legs. Peas and rice, 'hopping John'. (Someone says peas

and hominy cooked together makes "limping Lizzie in the Low-Country."

But that is another story.)

* * * * *

"Uncle Welcome, isn't Uncle Jeemes Stuart the oldest liver on Sandy

Island?" Welcome: "Jeemes Stuart? I was married man when he born. Jeemes

rice-field. (Worker in rice-field) posed himself. In all kinds of

weather. Cut you down, down, down. Jeemes second wife gal been married

before but her husband dead.

"I couldn't tell the date or time I born. Your Maussa (Master) take it

down. When I been marry, Dr. Ward Fadder (Father) aint been marry yet.

My mother had twelve head born Oatland. He bought my mother from

Virginia. Dolly. Sam her husband name. Sam come from same course. When

my mother been bought, her been young woman. Work in rice. Plow right

now (Meaning April is time to plow rice fields). I do carpenter work and

mind horse for plantation. Come from Georgetown in boat. Have you own

carriage. Go anywhere you want to go. Oatland church build for colored

people and po-buckra. I helped build that church. The boss man, Mr.

Bettman. My son Isaac sixty-nine. If him sixty-nine, I one hundred four.

That's my record. Maussa didn't low you to marry till you twenty-two.

Ben Allston own Turkey Hill. When him dead, I was twelve years old. Me!

(Knocking his chest)"

Welcome Bees--

Parkersville, S. C.

(Near Waverly Mills, S. C.)

Age 104.

Wd Miller Wes Brady facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail