Archive for June 16, 2012

Mama   1 comment

Above:  The John Dodson Taylor, Sr., Home Circa 1908, When It Was New

Photograph Courtesy of Sharon Foster Jones, on June 14, 2012


“Mama” was Harriett “Hattie” Stoddard Taylor (died 1932), my great-grandmother and wife of John Dodson Taylor, Sr.

The following text comes from Leaves in the Wind, page 21.



Papa wore the britches in the family, and that exactly suited Mama.  Opposites attract, I have always heard; and that is probably the reason they got along so well.  His swashbuckling and, at times, domineering personality was a balance for her easy-going, quiet, and retiring nature.

She was the most beautiful mother any little boy ever had, and she was a model homemaker.  By her very nature she was not the business type.  Being very religious, she kept the Bible with her constantly.  In her hey-day she was an accomplished pianist.  Calm, even-tempered, and happy, she seldom lost her temper.  When she did, it was generally only a mild flare; but I remember the time she really

blew a gasket.

One year at the fair, there had been a declamation contest for children in the lower grades, and I had won.  She was proud!  Buttons and hooks were pulled from their moorings on her clothes.  (Zippers would have suited her better anyhow.)  Mama rushed home to tell Mary, the cook, all about it.  Mary listened dutifully and gleefully to Mama’s praise of my

exceptional talents.

Then, while Mama was taking on a fresh supply of air, Mary said,

Yes, Mis’ Hat.  I know zactly how you feels.  This time last year we was happy too.  Our little bull had just won the red ribbon.

With all her good intentions, Mary never made a greater mistake.  Instantly, the whole area around Mama became radioactive.  It was the only time I have seen her when she could not talk.  She trotted out to the yard, threw a rock at our astonished dog, threw another at some of the chickens, and then trotted back onto the porch.  Mary, paralyzed at this transformation in her usually quiet Mis’ Hat, was unable to talk.  Mama looked at her very hard for a moment, then smiled and said,

Hi, Mary.

No further mention was ever made of my ability to declaim, or of the little bull that had won the red ribbon.

Mama saw to it that her children had opportunities to have friends in our home, and privileges to go as guest to other homes; but chiefly she made us love our home and family because of her own loving, unselfish nature.



John Dodson Taylor, Jr., on the lap of his mother, Harriet “Hattie” Stoddard, Circa 1908, with his sisters, Sarah Faye and Helen, on the left, and his grandmother, Arcissa Dodson Taylor, wearing black on the right; I do not know who is standing to Arcissa’s right