My Little Mama

Rita Hayworth posed in summer dress lying in grass
Rita Haywowrth
Everyone says Mama was a Rita Hayworth look alike back in the days all the girls wanted to look like her.

Born in Missouri

My Little Mama was born in Missouri. Grandpa had bought land in Branson back in the 1940's and promptly sold it saying, "I have no use for this pile of rocks." Anyone who has been to Branson, Missouri understands the irony in that statement.

He loaded up his family and moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mama was raised in the city with her four brothers.

School picture of mama in first grade
Mama at Six
Isn't this a sweet picture of my little Mama. I see her in the faces of some of my nieces.

Mama is five years old here. She was the only girl with three older brothers and a baby brother. I think they spoiled her and I know she loved them.

Married at Sixteen

When she met my Daddy, Mama was a petite sixteen year old with pretty brown eyes, full lips, and Rita Hayworth hair.

They did not date long when, against her Mother's wishes, they traveled back to Arkansas to be married.

Although Mama missed her Oklahoma City family, Daddy's family became her family and Grandma mothered her as her own.

One year later they named me after Rita Hayworth. We made our lives in his small hometown in Arkansas.

We never lived in a fine house or had much money but I do have plenty of memories.

Memories of Mama

I remember Mama curling my hair in rags the night before pictures were to be made at the photography studio downtown. Mama promised I could wear her mustard seed necklace if I would not cry when she combed my hair out. I remember really wanting to cry.

Portrait of me and my little brother in 1954
See how Mama ironed a crease in my dress sleeve to make it pouf out. And look how cute my little brother is.

I remember Mama rocking my little brother and singing:

Mama's little baby loves shortnin', shortnin'
Mama's little baby loves shortnin' bread
Call out the doctor and the doctor said
Feed that baby some shortnin' bread

I remember my little Mama coloring with us in new books and with broken crayons.

I remember Mama not letting us have the bubble gum the newspaper man would toss to us as he scurried by with his paper laden wagon.

I remember being sick and throwing up on a Greyhound bus the whole trip to Oklahoma City.

I remember it took a dime to use the toilet at the bus station in Henryetta. Mama had me crawl under the door. I remember not making it to the bathroom before being sick again. I don't remember if I ever thanked Mama for not abandoning me in that bus station.

I remember telling my brother the switching would hurt more if he ran from Mama and I still remember the taste of the Lifebuoy soap Mama used to wash my mouth out for calling my brother a liar. (I am certain he was at least fibbing).

I remember Mama's mouth looking huge when she returned home from getting her dentures. She was wearing "Theater Red" lipstick.

I remember when my baby sister was born. I was nine and Mama was twenty five. I thought she was too old to be having babies. She was much older than I was when I had my daughter at twenty five.

I don't remember Mama ever sparing the rod, the switch, her hand, or a fly swat. I was bigger than she was the last time she tried to chase me with a fly swat. She got tickled and gave up.

I remember Sunday church services and hearing My Little Mama singing "In The Garden." It was her favorite hymn and we sang it at her funeral.

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