Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pookie's Place, Part III

Welcome to Day Three of the tour through Miss Pookie's grandfather's house on Gwynn's Island. Mathews Mark was kind enough to show me around the place last Saturday.

This is a shot of the staircase which leads up to the third floor of the century-old house. It's taken from the same spot as the one below, but I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so here they are, both of them.

Yesterday I showed you a picture of the staircase from the front door as you walk in. Mathews Mark was busy looking through boxes and telling us all sorts of things about the house, but all I could think about was going upstairs. After snapping some photos downstairs, I cautiously put my foot on the first stair and said, "Do you think this will hold me?" "I don't know," said a very wise Mathews Mark.

The very silly Chesapeake Bay Woman, figuring a fall from a couple of stairs could only hurt so much, placed the other foot on the step. She grabbed the railing and gave her a shake. Solid. Then she gave a little hop followed by a stomp. Nary a budge. With that, she scampered up the stairs, two children following her, while Mathews Mark was left wondering what clause of a home insurance policy would ever cover three people falling through the second floor of a great-grandfather's old house.

But come to find out, the second floor was solid too. Not even one place was unsafe, unless you want to count the hole in the floor where the chimney used to be, which we didn't.

Around the corner was yet another set of solidly built steps in almost immaculate condition. Up we trotted to the third floor, where this gorgeous wallpaper had been waiting for years, hoping someone would come along to take its picture. Isn't it beautiful?

The third floor was practically untouched, other than by a few raccoons. Unlike the first and second floors, the walls were still intact, and perfectly usable furniture adorned the two bedrooms. One room overlooking the rooster house back yard and the chicken coop must have been for children. The wallpaper was very playful.

There are other pictures of the interior, but it's time now to take a walk down the road to visit with Miss Pookie, who is the mother of 4 sons, including Mathews Mark and Mathews Mountain Man (MMM in the Comments). She also takes care of her 98-year-old father, the oldest living resident of Gwynn's Island. (He may be 99, this is an important fact, but there was some debate between Mathews Mark and Miss Pookie and I can't remember who said what. Pookie said he was 99, I think.)

Miss Pookie is the hardest working lady I've ever met. In addition to raising 4 boys, she worked as a postmaster (postmistress?) for many years at the tiny little Hardyville post office, where she was once approached by a man who had landed his ultralight airplane in the field out back. He wanted to know if she would close up the post office for 30 minutes so he could take her up for a ride. "I told him no siree there wasn't aaaaaannyyy way! he was getting me inside one of those things, thank you very much!"

Mathews Mark then pointed out that one of our former postmasters would shut down the post office for a week to go on vacation. Can't do that any more without getting in a little bit of trouble, so imagine what they'd say about the postmaster shutting down for an airplane ride, not that you could pay Pookie any amount of money to go.

Miss Pookie's at once funny, brilliant, brutally honest, beautiful, sarcastic, caring, opinionated, playful, old-fashioned, youthful, loving and stubborn--but in a good way.

Here she is. Can't you feel the personality coming through? She has a wonderful southern accent which sings in the background as she tells her stories.

Notice behind her on the kitchen wall, there's a rotary phone. That's her primary phone, and when it rings, she comes to the kitchen and stands there to talk (or sits at the kitchen table). Much like my parents, who don't even own an answering machine, she's not worried about whether she makes it to the phone in time or not. If it's important they'll call back.

As I was explaining to the Chesapeake Bay Children how a rotary phone differs from a push button phone, and how rarely they were used today, Miss Pookie chimed right in.

Miss Pookie: "Those people will call up and tell me to push 1 for this or 2 for that! They don't understand I don't have any buttons to push."

CBW: "No, they probably don't. Most everybody has those push buttons now."

Miss Pookie: "So sometimes when they tell me to push 2, I'll dial the 2 on the phone, but nothing happens."

CBW: Yes, you pretty much have to have a newer phone to do those sorts of things."

Miss Pookie: "You wouldn't believe it. Just here recently I got a call, and the lady on the other end told me to Press 1 without even telling me what I had to press it for."

CBW: "I hate those calls."

Miss Pookie: "She kept repeating, Press 1 now. Finally, I told her I didn't have any buttons to push since all I had was a rotary dial.

CBW: "You told this to the recorded message?"

Miss Pookie: There was a brief moment of silence as she paused to reflect upon this. It probably had not occurred to her that the voice on the other might not be a live human being. Then she said, confidently and proudly, "Why yes I did."

She also told us how Grandma kept a shotgun in the kitchen and threatened to shoot if the boys didn't shave according to her standards - no beards or five o'clock shadows allowed. It sounded an awful lot like Miss Pookie threatening to take off her shirt at the dinner table if her boys ever showed up to eat without theirs on. As Mathews Mark told us several days ago, one time they forgot her threats and showed up shirtless to eat. She proceeded to take hers right on off and ate in her bra. She's a woman of her word.

In Chesapeake Bay Daughter's notes she quotes Miss Pookie as saying, "Mathews Mountain Man would say 'Mumma, don't tell it, don't tell it!' (presumably talking about the no shirt story, although CB Daughter says it was about any story), and Miss Pookie would say, "I'm going to tell it! It's my story and I'm going to tell it."

There's only one Miss Pookie, and only she can tell her stories. I think the world of her and greatly admire her endurance and stamina. She's really remarkable.

Sorry this is so long, but there's so much to say. Stay tuned for more Tidbits Told by Pookie, coming soon to a blog near you.


Unknown said...

On top of everything eles, Miss Pookie is a beautiful woman.

Ann Marie said...

I need medication.. I am sitting here in tears.
you are a wonderful story teller and photographer my very beautiful friend!

Meg McCormick said...

You know I love a rotary phone. My in-laws have upgraded their handset to a cordless job, but did not upgrade their "service" from "rotary" to "touch tone" so when you "push the buttons" you hear the dialing sound anyway.

I love the no-shirt story and will be tucking that away for possible future use, if it's ever needed.

Mathews Mark said...

What CBW left out were the few curse word my Mom adds to each story like: MM were the HELL you been or MM were in the HELL is my car or MM get your ASS out of the bed, and last but not least Damn it MM not again! LOVE you MOM and thanks again CBW (and thanks for deleting the pictures of Me) MM

Mrs F with 4 said...

CBW, I can't BELIEVE you would tell us about the attic bedrooms and then NOT put a picture on. That's just plain cruel.

And, if Miss Pookie would let me camp in that house, I could be there by Monday, the small matter of a visa permitting.

Speaking of insurance in old houses (as you were), when I first bought my wreck of a house in the UK, my grandmother marched on in to see what I'd got myself into. Just as the words "Grandmama, don't go into the kitch......" came out of my mouth, in she went. And disappeared. The floorboards were a tiny bit decayed, and she went straight through into the cellar. That, added to the body shaped STAIN left on the bedroom floor from a previous owner, meant she was a tiny bit reluctant to visit for a while.

Can't imagine why...

Mental P Mama said...

Um...she's gonna be at Blogfest. Right?

big hair envy said...

I've added her to the Blog Fest guest list. It's mandatory;)

WV: confeed
The boys from Northumberland were a lot bigger than our boys because they were confeed. (corn fed) Bwahahahaha!!

Meg McCormick said...

I really think Mrs F with 4 should work on that visa and get her butt over here in July. She's a hoot.

Breezeway said...

CBW - no one can tell a story quite like you. I'm with the rest of your fans on the idea of you putting a book together. Today's blog was funny and moving and wonderful! Makes me miss my grandfather so much, his stories could entertain us for hours, and fortunately my father inherited that ability. My girls,even as teenagers, still beg him to tell stories. Today was such a treat!

Daryl said...

What a fabulous post. And I am betting when you asked to take her photo, she had to put on her lipstick first!

Karen Deborah said...

You know these photos and stories would make a great book. I am lovin this.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ-She is, absolutely. You and she would have a grand time talking, actually you have very similar abilities to enchant while telling a story. It's a gift you both share.

AM-Thank you. Right back atcha, gal.

Meg-That is downright hilarious! At least they attempted to go cordless/touch tone (thank you for reminding me of the correct word) - they tried. My grandmother, my parents and Miss Pookie are in no hurry. My parents did finally succumb to a cordless downstairs, but the old rotary is still the main phone for upstairs.

Mathews Mark-She's something else. Thanks for making me laugh, though, esp. on the "dammit mathews mark, not again." I can definitely see her saying that. Oh, get ready because a picture of you just might show up on Friday's post (not tomorrow though, there's only one picture tomorrow).

Mrs. F- OK, my stomach muscles hurt from that fit of laughter. Hope your grandmamma came out all right. There were so many pictures to choose from and so much to share that I had to be selective in the photos, but I can still show them later on. But this is irrelevant because you ARE coming to Blog Fest in July and you can see it then. Right?

MPM-If she doesn't come here, we're going there, if only to say hey.

BHE-Hosses eat con too. Chesapeake Bay Mother says so. I thought it was New Kent with all the con fed boys.

Meg-Could not agree more!

Breezeway - you are too kind, but honestly I am not the one who can tell the story, my renditions are like sterile cliff notes compared to the live version from Pookie and her family. You need to videotape your father telling those stories, because they are priceless.

Daryl-She didn't even know I was going to take her picture in this particular shot - she was mid-stream telling us something and I just snapped one. The ones she posed for were good but did not capture her spirit.

KD-Thank you - I will convey this to Pookie who will likely think I'm pulling her leg. She doesn't understand why *anyone* would think this is interesting. That's just part of the whole charm.

Country Girl said...

The year before my father died, I spent almost a week with him. During that time, I asked him to tell me stories of when he was young.

I compiled them into pages that I sent to my brothers and sisters after his death the following year. It was a labor of love.

Love what you're doing here. Miss Pookie is quite the striking woman!

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I cant wait to have my picture taken with Miss Pookie!