I don't know if this is the sort of interaction
you would use on your channel but to be honest it is my only chance to get my story out there and not be called a liar or mentally ill, and believe me,
that did happen in the first when I tried to tell others what happened, so I learned early on to keep it to myself.
If I start from the beginning you may understand better.
First, my name is Joyce,( please don’t use my surname), and I was, and am, from the UK, and I was born in late 1941. Earlier on that year my family was living in Liverpool and during the May blitz the house was destroyed in a direct hit during a bombing raid. When they dug through the remains the only ones to escape with their lives were Mum and my brother David, who was 4 years old…. Dad, a dock worker and Gran and Granddad were not so lucky.
It was while in hospital that Mum found out she was pregnant with me. David was pretty ill for quit
e a while and was left for the rest of his life with heart and lung problems. All this I found out partially from David but mostly from social workers years later.
As mum had no other family, and David was still so poorly, we were evacuated out to Wales where I was born in December 1941.
Now how, where and when Mum met Frank I don’t know… I never thought to ask when the people who knew were still around….and to be honest I was not really interested in grown-ups. I had David, and he was all I needed. He was my teacher, carer, friend, protector. He taught me everything I needed to be happy.
Anyway, one day, when I was four or so, David told me we were going on a big adventure and soon after we were on a big ship for a very long time. I hated it! I was always sick, David was to unwell to play when I did feel ok and I was never to be left alone.
Funny the things you do remember even after all these years.
There seemed to be thousands of people and I was always scared of losing David, I just wanted to go home.
After what seemed a lifetime the ship stopped and we all got off. I was so happy I thought we were going home at last but all that happened was that we started travelling again. Trucks, trains, buses, you name it we traveled in it! And the weather!! Boy was it hot!.....Funny…I still remember the weather…and the open space!...I never knew there was so much space!...but I still don’t remember much of Frank or mum.
Soon we stopped in this funny little town and there was a big horse and cart waiting for us with a little round woman I was told was Meemaw (not sure if that’s how you spell it but it looks how it sounds) We piled in the cart and set off to a small farm I suppose you would call it, a few miles out of town. There was a funny looking house made of wood but most importantly they had chickens!! ..and 2 pigs and 3 cows, well two and a half I suppose you could say because one was a baby, and the horse. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!
David and I soon settled in here. Meemaw taught us how to check and collect the eggs, how to walk the cows down from the small field behind the house, she even taught David how to milk a little. We were never to go in with the pigs or even get too close as they were nasty Meemaw said. But boy were they tasty…ugh!! Why would you want to taste one of those loud, stinky, dirty things I thought…that was until I tasted bacon!!
Now this is where my interaction really starts. Back down the side of the large barn was a small field that Meemaw grew veggies in. Not sure what they were, all different shapes and sizes. I know there were potatoes, carrots, cabbage but most of the others I had never seen or tasted, but if Meemaw cooked them they were delicious. (Don’t let mum in the kitchen!) and of course there had to be corn………Just past the field you could walk through a small patch of trees and there was a little stream (or creek as Meemaw called it). We were allowed to play in the creek but NOT to cross it to the woods on the other side. This was our favorite place to be! So much cooler than the rest of the property with the shade from the trees, water to play in or drink, soft grass to lie in and listen to stories David told. ( Don’t remember him ever having a book to read from!) We were also told to stay away from the “dip” as Frank called it. A pool I suppose it would be, that was much deeper than the creek. We were not allowed there until he had taught us to swim. David did not have the breath to learn and I was too afraid of what might be under the water to try. I did try once and something (a fish or weed or something I think) touched my foot and NO WAY was I going back in there!!.
I don’t remember how long we had been there at Meemaw's but it was still hot and David and I had made our way down to the creek. Just taking our time, not talking (David found the heat took his breath away and he was always so tired) so we just held hands and took our time.
As we took a turn at the big tree which led into a small beach type of space in the creek we stopped dead in our tracks. There, with its back to us, was a small monkey in the water while just a few yards away was a LARGE monkey sitting on the bank watching it. I don’t remember being afraid but I looked at David and he just put his fingers to his lips and signaled keep quiet. We just stood and watched for maybe 3 or 4 seconds when the big one suddenly turned its heads and looked straight at us. We never moved a muscle and just stood there. The small one must have sensed something was up because it suddenly stopped playing and ran back to the big one and into its arms, neither of them made any noise either. We all stared at one another for maybe a minute and I do remember a little smile as the little one was so cute. The big one never took its eyes off David and after a little while it put its hand out to him and made a bird like sound from lips puckered like a kiss. David never hesitated, he smiled and walked forward towards it and because I still have hold of his hand I went as well. As he reached Momma, as we got to call her, David just turned and sat beside her, so of course so did I. We called the small one Bubba (David named them not me)
Momma soon let Bubba go and he looked slowly at us and then made his way back to the creek. David nudged me and told me to go with Bubba as all was okay. Soon we were splashing away and having loads of fun. David meanwhile just sat with Momma , he looked so funny because even sitting beside her he only came up to her boobs. Seems funny now but David had to name them because without clothes I didn’t know if they were boys or girls, girls had dresses and boys had trousers and these had neither! I have always thought of Bubba as a boy, and still think of him as ..well Him… but really I suppose He was a She as I don’t remember him having any “bits”. Not that I knew boys had bits back then! Oh you know what I mean.
All too soon it was time to leave for something to eat. I didn’t want to, I was having so much fun, but Meemaw was calling and rang the bell which got Frank in from the fields as well. On our way back home David said it was possibly best not to tell of our new friends as Frank might want to hunt them for the table. I was horrified….how can you hunt people….hairy people… but still people. I was NEVER going to tell Frank….Bubba was my friend!
This was the start of our friendship with Momma and Bubba.
Not that we saw them every day you understand, but it was once or twice a week while the weather was hot, and the odd occasion even three or four times. We started to ask Meemaw for bits of lunch to take with us and she would give us bread and cheese with an apple or some plums. We sometimes got cold meat with cold cooked potatoes wrapped in a cloth. Anything we got we shared with Momma and Bubba. We never needed drinks as we always had fresh creek water.
Bubba and I used to play for hours. We used to build dams and catch little tiny fish which we collected in large leaves that David bent into small bowls for us. These we took to Momma and she and Bubba would just pop them in their mouths and eat them raw. She did offer to share with us but they were disgusting.. and she thought it was so funny at the faces we pulled and noises we made… and yes they do smile. Momma showed us how to look for and catch crawdads as Frank called them when we took a few back to show Meemaw. We thought they were something new. He told us to take a bucket next time. This we did, and when we brought half a pail full of them home Meemaw cooked them and I have never tasted anything better. The other half of the pail Momma and Bubba ate raw still at the creek. The noise of the shell cracking and the water running down their chins was not a pretty sight but as David said cruching down on a corn cob with butter running down my chin was not a pretty sight either!.....
Thinking about it now I have no idea how we communicated with Momma and Bubba. but we did. David would sit with Momma for hours and “talk” with her. Sometimes, if David was well enough and it was not too hot, David and Momma would go for a short walk. When I asked him later what they did he would tell me of the things Momma had shown him and how the different plants and flowers were good or bad. How some plants made you well and some would kill. A couple of times when David overdid things while we were out Momma would sit with her arm around him and his head on her boobs as a pillow and he would sleep while she made these funny noises and stroked his back and chest. He always felt much better after these times and would have much more energy for days. As for Bubba and I, well I have no idea! I know we squealed, shouted, laughed and generally went crazy but somehow just “knew” what the other wanted.
You know, I have no idea of time passing, we never had clocks or anything like that, we just knew it was time to get up when it was light or mostly when Meemaw called us, and it was time for bed just after the lamps where lit or again when Meemaw said it was. Meemaw was great, as long as you did your chores and didn’t get into too much trouble we were free to do as we pleased. Why I have no memory of mum really I don’t know.
As the real heat of summer started David and I slept with the windows open, we shared a room at the top of the house, I suppose you would call it more of a loft, which had a window at each end, and the night breezes would blow through and make it a bit more bearable. Meemaw had a room at the back of the house, as she couldn’t climb the ladder to the loft anymore and Frank and mum shared a room just to the side of the kitchen. To go out the back door you had to go through their room so you needed to make sure you used the outhouse right before bed. A couple of times we were told to stay close to the house but only for a day or two. When we asked why we were told “because I told you too!” David told me it was because of the howls we sometimes heard in the night or the banging. David and I said to each other that it was only Momma and her friends so nothing to be afraid of, and this must have been true because a couple of times we found small pretty rocks left on the window edge in the mornings and there was nothing big enough to reach up there without a ladder. Once or twice a chicken went missing and when the eggs were low was another reason we had to stay home.
That was not very often though, and still the creek was our only playground.
We had a storm once and Meemaw said to be careful at the creek as the water would be wild. It was…and more than just the rushing water! We went to the creek to see what it looked like and Momma was there… but she was not alone. Momma saw David and I and stopped to stare at David. He stopped dead in his tracks and “listened” for a minute then turned to me and said it was time to leave. There were about 4 or 5 big Mommas in the dip and they were fishing some really big fish out of the water with their hands and tossing them up onto the bank. David said it was not our time to be there and yes, we left.
As the summer continued David sat with Momma and Bubba and I went hunting! Well not really, not for live stuff, but we did collect wild strawberries, blackberries and raspberries and some I think were blueberries and other I have no idea. If Bubba picked them so did I! Meemaw was really pleased when we brought these home and was very impressed with David for knowing what they were. Boy did she make some yummy pies…….one time we were walking in the woods …on the wrong side of the creek….and Bubba saw a snake. I did what I was told to do and stood as still as I could, hardly even breathing as the thing was huge (well to me it was!) Bubba stood looking at it then dove forward and grabbed it He swung his arm and snapped it just like a whip, before I had a chance to scream or breath he tore of its head and tossed it into the bush,.. the head not the snake.., that he took back to Momma and she took a large bite, offered some to David and I (we said no thanks) and then shared it with Bubba. David said later it was a cotton mouth.
You know what seems funny about all this?...while I’m writing this I can remember the sights, sounds and smells of all of it…but…I can’t remember the name of the town or even the state we were in, if I ever knew I don’t know. Even mum is only a passing shadow, Frank is a bit clearer, I remember when he finished work some days he would sit in a big tub thing in the yard and we would poor water all over him, clothes and all. He would laugh and splash us with the water and we would laugh and pinch the soap he was supposed to use, then he got out and chased us. Mostly me as David couldn’t really run but he would stand with arms outstretched and let me hide behind him while Frank “looked” for me.
As that first year was coming to an end, Momma taught us how to hit the trees with big sticks and gather the nuts that fell, how to make warm coverings and bed out of branches and grasses. We started to see them less and less and David told me it was because they were getting ready to move on and that they would be leaving soon. I was so upset, I wanted to go with them but David said it was impossible. We would never survive their way of life, did I want to eat food that was never cooked, meat, fish and even if I did how would I catch it? I know he was right but I was so upset. Anyway he said, they will be back next year.
Winter set in and I was so looking forward to spring and summer I was wishing my life away. Just before winter really set in Meemaw said we were to have a festival called thanksgiving. Frank went into the woods and got us a big turkey and it was one of the best meals I had ever eaten. At the start of the meal Meemaw said we had to say what we were thankful for David said family and a warm loving home, …I .on the other hand said good food and Momma and Bubba and Meemaw. Meemaw was pleased as I mentiond her and mum thought Momma meant her and Frank said it was poppa not Bubba. I was going to put them straight but David laughed and gripped my hand and said quickly that its not fair I didn’t mention him. I got the message.
That winter David and I spent a lot of time in our room, mostly going over all the things we had done and spoke about with Momma and Bubba. David told me that Momma had said that they travelled along certain routes all year round, that they lived in family groups and there was around 7 in their group. Not that they can count but that is what he got from her gestures. He said that the whoops, howls and tree knocks that we sometimes heard were from the hunt and also from other groups passing through. Some of the places they stopped at the people didn’t even know they were there, some knew and left them to their business, some people hunted them like game which made the males very angry and sometimes dangerous. Mainly they just wanted to be left alone.
David was also pretty sick that winter, he would get fevers as Meemaw called them, go really red and sweaty. He also coughed all the time and didn’t have much energy for anything. She used to make special soups for him as he never seemed to have the energy to eat a meal. Spring could not come fast enough as I knew Momma could help. Sadly spring did not come fast enough as David died just after my birthday and by March mum had both me and her on a boat back to England. I wanted to stay with Meemaw and also close to David but nothing made any difference. From then on my life was a mess.
We no sooner got back to England and mum started drinking pretty hard. I know now it was because of all that had gone on but then I was just lost. David was gone, I would never see Momma or Bubba again and I didn’t even have the chance to explain why. I tried to make friends but they all thought I was weird or crazy because I tried to tell them about Bubba. Mum was killed by a bus about 3 months after we got home and because there was no other family I was put into care. I tried to tell them about Meemaw but was told that she was not family. I once tried to tell one of the care staff about Momma and Bubba and then had to see one of the doctors as I was classed as mentally ill due to stress of losing my brother and mother so close together. That is when I learnt to keep my mouth shut.
Well that’s about it Nance, I kept quiet all these years never even telling my husband or children years later. I must admit I did think of Meemaw and Momma and Bubba for years and often said I would go back when I got older, but where to? I didn’t even know the name of the state never mind the town or even the surname of Meemaw or Frank. Anyway life moves on and things are buried in the past. All except David that is, he still lives in my heart and dreams every day, and although I miss him I also know he is free now. Free to roam the woods, mountains , rivers and streams that he always wanted to, and knowing him he is doing it with Momma and Bubba ….I wonder how long they live, would Bubba even remember me if he was still around.
Now I am coming to the end of my life, and don’t get me wrong it’s been a good life, but truth be told, I am ready to walk those paths with David once again.
Thank you for reading this Nance, and even if it does not make it onto your channel, Thank you for giving me the chance to reminisce and remember one of the happiest times of my life….and not be called crazy! Or a liar.
Sorry Nance….I was just reading through this before I send it off to you and have remembered so much more than I have put in here…but I thought one of the things you might like to know is that although I have heard so many others say that they got a terrible smell but I can honestly say that there was no smell at all from Momma or Bubba. As for colour, Momma was what I would call chestnut coloured hair with fairer hair on the front down her chest, while Bubba was darker all over. They both had bare faces, hands and feet…at least the palms and soles were bare. To me they looked just like people but with flatter faces. The hair when you hugged them was always soft, at least softer than the hair on Franks chest or face when you hugged him goodnight (or Meemaw's chin!).
Anyway, that really is all from me. Once again thank you so much for giving me the chance to tell my story, to remember David, Momma and Bubba, and for letting me sleep with a smile in my heart tonight.
God Bless to you and yours, stay safe and well.