WILLIE MAE WOOD

According to the 1920 Census, Willie Mae Wood was born Dec 1884. She was called Will by everyone except my brother and I. We called her Aunt Will, although she was our great-aunt. Never having married, she lived with Ola, her sister and our grandmother, all the time we knew her.

She spoke with the same authoritative voice as Ola in keeping my brother and I in a straight and narrow path. When she wasn't working at the WPA sewing room for $8 a week, weather permitting, she sat on the porch with Ola in her granddaddy rocking chair identical to Ola's, the two of them dipping snuff, spitting in the yard, and sometimes arguing. When they argued, they did it wholeheartedly, calling each other unbelievable names. I've been hard of hearing most of my life, and I sometimes wonder if some of the names they called each other didn't scorch some of my ear nerves.

You can see in her picture that she was muscular. Many women had muscular arms back then. There weren't all kinds of appliances, such as washers and dryers, to take strenuous labor out of household chores. For instance, clothes were washed in a big, black iron pot in the backyard. The pot had to be stirred constantly. Clothes had to be wrung twice, once after washing and once after rinsing. Especially dirty clothes had to be manually scrubbed on a rub-board. Washed, rinsed, and wrung clothes had to be carried, tubful by tubful, to the clotheslines and hung up for drying. Most pieces had to be ironed. Ola and Will used a heavy, solid metal iron which they repeatedly had to heat over a stove burner.

I don't know Will's death date. It was some time around 1939. I do remember that her funeral was the first I ever attended.


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