birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Mary Salome

Mary Salome was solid. She was a woman of faith. She grew up in Summers County, West Virginia one of five children, two girls and three boys. She was a hard working woman who probably only went to the eighth grade. I have one of her journals and her spelling is legible and quaint. She got her thoughts across even with the misspellings.

She and my grandfather met and married in Frederick, Maryland and eventually moved to Columbus, Ohio. They purchased their home from her older brother, Walter who worked for the post office and moved on to bigger and better.

When I say she was solid, I guess I mean she was a no nonsense woman who grew her own vegetables, hung her laundry on a clothes line in the back yard where the sun bleached the sheets the whitest white I'd ever seen and that sweet morning air was better than any dryer sheet invented. From one of her journal entries, she wrote, "Got up this morning, put coal in the furnace, shoveled the snow off the front walk, made the beds, dusted upstairs and down, then made breakfast (biscuits, eggs, bacon, and coffee). Really? I drag out of bed and it takes me 20 minutes to get my bearings.

She wore dresses. I never saw her in a pair of pants. She didn't own any, now that I think of it. Whenever she left the house she would wear a cotton housedress and a hat with a hat pin neatly pinched in it even if she was just going to the corner market. On Sundays, she changed from her weekday dresses and put on dresses made of rayon. And a better hat. I don't remember seeing her wear jewelry. Not earrings or bracelets. Although in a photograph of she, my mother, and me when I was about three years old she did have on a string of pearls.

Oh, how she could cook. Never saw a cookbook in her kitchen. She'd just walk in and start cooking, baking, frying, canning fruits and vegetables. I remember the Parker House rolls she baked ir the sugar cookies. I'd burn my fingers getting them right out of the oven. My grandfather had added on a pantry to the kitchen. I don't know how they did it but in the summer that pantry was cool and in the winter it was like a freezer. I'd have to put on a coat to get canned peaches from the pantry in the dead of an Ohio winter.

She was one of the founders of a Methodist Church in Columbus who is long forgotten now. But when I was a teenager, she was a major force in the church: the Women's Auxliiary, Women's Mission, etc.

My grandmother was born in 1875, ten years after the Civil War. Working on genealogy, my husband and I went to the Hall of Records in Summers County looking for history of her. What we found was an eye opener and yet not, really. Her father was the only Mulatto listed out of pages and pages and pages of White people with the same last name as her father. My first reaction was, "Who is my great grandfather here? There was a lot of that going around in 1875 and before. My grandmother and her entire family was so fair they could have passed for white. And one of them did. He worked as a prison guard in the 1930s. But back to Mary Salome. She never understood why her mother gave her Salome as a middle name. Being religious, she remembered Salome and the Dance of the Seven Veils. Hardly an image that matched my grandmother. But there was another righteous Salome that I don't think she knew about even though she read the bible. That's the one her mother thought of when she gave her that name. I wish I could tell her that today.

Opposites Equally Unknown

Grandma Sarah