|Anna Mae Atteberry Brown and Herbert Brown|
Papa was a man of few words, enterprising and devoted to Mamie. Papa had been a coal miner and if that wasn’t hard enough he did it in dirt poor Alabama. When that life began to effect his health, Mamie said ‘enough.’
They became migrant farm workers, and Papa worked his way up to be farm supervisor. They picked their way through Michigan and then through Yuma,AZ until they settled in Sebastopol, California. Mamie and Papa survived coal mining, migrant farm working, a death of their infant baby boy, two world wars with 2 sons serving in it, the crash and the resulting depression.
When their bank failed and they lost everything, Mamie and Papa did not let that stop them. Mamie sewed pockets into the hems of the living room drapes and from then on they put their savings into those pockets. Mamie gave strict instructions that ‘if the house ever catches a' fire – grab them curtains!’
Papa plowed up their small backyard’s plot and planted a huge garden, saying ‘you can’t eat grass.’ Papa was always looking for a way to support his family, regardless of the economy. He drove the old truck out to the farm communities and bought a load of watermelons and then drove back to town and sold them on the street corner for 10 cents a piece. I guess he knew that even when times are tough, people are still going to want to eat ice cold watermelon on a summer’s day.
Years later, due to the fallout from Hurricane Katrina and government cutbacks, my husband was laid off from work. We had just bought a new house, the holidays were approaching soon and I was extremely worried about how we would make ends meet…. and then, I remembered Mamie and Papa
I thought of all the hardships they had faced over their lifetime. Through it all, they raised a loving family, they were known for their love for each other and had survived with so much less than what I had been blessed with. Somehow I knew, that deep within me was the same strength that Mamie and Papa had. That if they could overcome their setbacks, so I.
Stories like these are why I do genealogy. My ancestor’s stories enrich my life and remind me that if they can do it – I can too!
The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.
- Stephen Ambrose, 1936-2002