Nannette recently celebrated her 80th birthday. In this episode, she shares the story of growing up in the 30s and 40s in Camden and Jefferson, Arkansas. There are highlights: living in the family grocery store, learning to jitterbug, persuading Daddy to open a cafe, and the great big responsibility of delivering payroll checks to the bank when no one else could go. She reflects on those things she thought were normal like having money to spend, candy bars to share, and a black nanny whom she spent more time with than Momma and Daddy sometimes.
In her story, you’ll taste lard, rationed beer, and beans in the barrel. You’ll hear the jukebox with Country and Western music. You can feel the Greyhound bus woosh past on the way to the next town and watch Blacks and Whites come and go through separate doors. The smell of potato chips might just bring back memories of her first lesson on race relations.
“I expected it, but I grew up in a family where it was a normal thing for the men to get drunk on the holidays. I didn’t know anything different. Every Fourth of July or Labor Day, we would have a big cookout. Uncle Allen would barbecue on an open pit–barbecue a hog and a goat. And the women would cook everything else.”
Whatever your father did for a living when you were growing up, I bet you can relate to Nannette’s sense that whatever her family did must be normal. When did you realize that normal is a complicated word?
**There is a word used in this story that can be considered very offensive to people. But, to keep the integrity of the story, we left it in unedited. Please be advised.