By Cindy Wiggins Tapia
Our itty bitty angel and her fifty-pound pockerbook flew off Gaines Ferry Rd. and gathered us beneath the shadow of her wings…
Our life on the lake started out miserably enough back when McEver Rd. was barely wide enough for two cars to pass in opposite directions, and Lake Lanier had muddy shores and stagnant coves. At first, we’d just stand on a bank, watching the water in case it decided to run off somewhere. Then we progressed to walking around the shores. One afternoon, Daddy threw me in, and here I am. He tried to teach Mama how to drive on campsite access roads. That lasted about as long as it took for her to realize she actually had to turn that Bug’s wheel or roll off a curve.
One night, we attended a dance at some marina hall. Vickie and I were as shy as two wallflowers at a moonshine hoedown.
“If ya’ll don’t get out there and dance. I won’t let ya’ll go back to church.”
So we danced.
Friday evenings, while Mama worked at the Lumite Plant, Daddy would pack a picnic supper, grab his fishing gear, and off we’d go to the west bank. While he dangled his hook, I sat at the table, watching my little sisters, wishing I was sitting cross-legged in my backyard, eating grass.
By the by daddy would dump charcoal into the conveniently provided grill on a stick. While the flames settled, he sat across from me, chopping onions and patting out hamburger patties. When the coals were but glowing orange embers and white ash, he laid the meat on so I could soon eat and ditch that big mud puddle.
When they bought the V-hull boat, we’d anchor in a some little cove and fish and eat potted meat and potato chip sandwiches or poot across the dam with their friends and family. Those were glad days because my parents behaved in public. But all bets were off behind doors, under the boat hood. and inside the car where snarling thunderheads blackened the sun shining outside the windows.
I did everything I could to get out of going. I attended Sunday morning services at the Buford Church of God or spent weekends at Teresa Hill’s family homestead in the mountains or nights at Papa and Mama Dorsey’s house. A few times they took me on outings to Mossy Creek, Cleveland, or Blairsville to see my hillbilly kinfolk.
One Sunday afternoon, after they bought the W-hull, we were docked at Van Pugh. Mama and Daddy were as drunk as a sailor and his fishwife. He had gone to tow the camper home while Mama and we three girls cooled our heels in the boat. She might have seen him coming and spewed some select words at him that I didn’t catch–all I know is he popped aboard out of nowhere and started strangling her.
And Voilá! our itty bitty angel with her 50-pound pockerbook flew off Gaines Ferry Road, crawled Mama and Daddy’s butt and snatched us home with her.
I once asked my Aunt Mildred how Mama Dorsey knew we were in trouble. Her answer? She just knew.