BY Eula Graham McCracken Campbell Vaughn
MAMA PREASHA AND PAPA JOHN
Preasha became my mother at the age of seventeen when I was only five years old. At the wedding , her brother , Ottis East, and I crawled under the house where I cried my heart out because she would be taking my place as Papa’s cook and housekeeper. Papa had only recently bought some new pots and pans and had told me I could be his cook.
I don’t remember when I first began to call Preasha “Mamma” but when Buster and Tootsy came along, I knew in my heart that she was my mamma too. Never once did I sense the idea of being just a step child.
As long as I remember, each tiny sawmill house and farm house, including the old home place in Romulus, had all the essential things in it that made a home. There was a mother’s tenderness, kindness, constancy, selfless love, and care coupled with her expertise in providing warm, pleasing, and comfortable surroundings evidenced by cool, crisp curtains at the windows; clean, smooth beds; and tasty , nutritious food on the table.
Papa added the outward affections as well as the inward love that both of them gave to the children.
Mamma was not content with a sixth grade education. She took advantage o opportunities to learn. Through reading, club work, workshops and study courses she increased her knowledge of home-making, cooking, sewing, community living, and the Bible.
Mamma saw to it that her children went to school. I had always wanted to be a teacher. When I finished seventh grade, I acquired a teacher’s certificate by taking the State Teachers Examination. I was too young to teach. I wanted to go to high school. When Tuscaloosa High School announced it could take no more out-of-town students, I was accepted by Snead Seminary in Boaz. Business was not too good then with Papa. One day I over heard him say to Mamma, “I don’t see how we can send Eula t school.” Mamma almost shouted out to him, “Yes we can! She’s going if I have to take in washing to send her.”
Papa sent me a $20.00 check each month for my board and Mamma sent me little love gifts when she cold. Once at Commencement time I wrote Mamma that I needed a party dress. I didn’t hear from her .As time drew near, I planned to borrow a dress from my best friend who lived in Boaz. On the morning of the day of the party, the beautiful white silk dress arrived. It was trimmed with Irish lace and had all the pretty under things to go with it.
Mamma and Papa where true friends to everyone. Their house was a haven to Papa’s three brothers (Tony, Charley, Jesse) whose father had died and two sisters (Mary and Grace ) whose husband had deserted them or who needed a home. Their home seemed to have room for their own children when they needed a temporary home.
Mamma Preasha was an angel of mercy to friends who were ill and needed constant care for a period of illness. I remember how she tied sacks around her feet and waded deep snow to care for Mary Lee Barton who was ill with pneumonia.
It was Papa who added the spice to our family living. He was always acting a clown, playing tricks, or contriving surprises.
During my senior year in high school in early December, papa called me to come home. He thought I might need some new clothes. With Christmas holidays less than a month away, I could not imagine why I should take such an unnecessary trip. I worried all the way home. When I arrived, I was greeted by a brand new beautiful baby sister, Sarah! I didn’t even know Mamma was expecting.
Papa was so very proud of all his children. I used to slip around, when I could, and read his letters that he often wrote to Aunt Grace in California and his cousin, George Julian, in Missouri. He never failed to mention each of the children, telling what each was doing and how he was prospering. Often he exaggerated, but it made me burst with pride to realize how much he loved us. I thank God every day for allowing me to be a part of my wonderful John Graham Family.
Eula Graham Vaughn