Nicotine Fits

GHS boys, 1938. Good clean fun, no drinking.

“The Depression was not over but things were beginning to get better. It had had at least one good effect in that we were all pretty much equal. Only a very few had much money to spend, and I can only remember two girls who had their own cars, which made them more popular with the boys, who didn’t have cars of their own either.

“There was very little drinking and that was done by a few of the boys. I only remember seeing one girl take a drink while I was in high school. My friends would drive out to little stores across the tracks run by Chinese and buy cigarettes for one cent each. They smoked them while riding around but never took them home. I did not try one because I knew if Mama ever smelled the odor of tobacco on me she would throw a fit. On one occasion I was glad that I had not smoked because four or five of us were riding around and since they had only one cigarette they each took draws off it. The next day Mack turned up with a terrible case of scarlet fever, which was contagious, and they had to sweat it out, afraid they would get it from that cigarette. Fortunately none of them caught it.

Lucille McAlexander, the motoring terror of Poplar Street.

“Another time Lucille and Mack and I left Lucille’s house on Bell Avenue and drove down Poplar Street, which was then just a gravel road, and just a block from her house Lucille and Mack lit up and Lucille lost control of the car and went into a deep ditch. We had to get a wrecker to pull us out, and she had a hard time explaining how she lost control of the car that close to home.”

Mack Standifer, Sara and Lucille's partner in the ditch.

I am understanding more and more as I work through this memoir why Cathy and I got away with at least our share of indiscretions during our teenage years. There were hijinks skeletons rattling around in Sara’s closet, and I think she always knew that sticking a tentative toe over the line of good judgement was not a harbinger of a life of dissipation. For those of you who did not live in Greenwood, be reassured that Sara, Lucille and Mack turned out to be fine, upstanding citizens, if not necessarily good drivers.

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About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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One Response to Nicotine Fits

  1. Leslie Faulkner Mosley says:

    I love reading these funny stories about my grandmother, Lucile McAlexander (Pillow). Thanks for sharing! ~ ML Mosley

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