Happy Hands


This blog is for Sarah’s granddaughter, Jenny Adams, freelance writer and globe trotter extraordinaire. She posted the most wonderful piece on her own blogsite,     http://saltwatercureseverything.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/photo-post-one-hand-or-another/ , describing Sara’s hands in her later years. I have tried in vain to make this picture attach to an email for Jenny, with no luck, so here’s an entire blog entry on Sara’s hands.

Just for the record, this is a cropped photo from the late 1940s. The original showed Sara and her Chamber of Commerce boss, Botts Blackstone, in a mega-posed shot, looking over some bit of local marketing. I know it’s the late 1940s, perhaps as late as 1950, because she worked there from 1942 until 1950 and didn’t have that modest wedding ring until January of 1947.

So, Jenny, here’s what I remember of  these hands:

They were always gentle and no spanking that I can recall ever came from them. That could be selective memory.

They weren’t Palmolive Madge hands (Google it, young folks). Sara never had a dishwasher until I was in college, so she spent a lot of time soaking in the soap.

They could wind a Yashicamat to the next frame in the blink of an eye. And thread a roll of film unto the developing spool in pitch black darkness.

They were deathly afraid of frogs and would juggle one in the air if an unfortunate toad was tossed their way.

They would absentmindedly stroke my border collie Chester’s head because he would ease himself underneath them for some sugar.

They could sew anything.  Any.Thing.  By hand or by Singer, with or without a pattern. When they started making mistakes, I knew we were headed south.

They tapped along with Benny Goodman and Perry Como and Andy Williams. But never could find the beat with the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Diana Ross.

They could fly across a manual typewriter keyboard, the right one slinging that return lever like a piston.

They knew a thousand phone numbers by heart that were dialed from GL3-1681. Touch tone was the beginning of civilization’s decline.  And cell phones? Forget it.

They were often covered with cookie dough or cake batter by 4 in the morning. By 4 in the afternoon, Sara’s cooking compulsion had vanished and we were generally rooting in the pantry for cereal.

They could not throw a baseball, palm a basketball, find the laces on a football or keep score in tennis. But they clapped for all they were worth at my modest accomplishments along those lines.

They spent weeks each year carefully hanging Christmas decorations and arranging Nativity scenes and wrapping packages and rolling out acres of divinity and bourbon balls. That’s when they were happiest.

They got old, as all hands do. Wrinkled and shaky and unable to grasp a pen at times. And they had to be held for support, as I know they held mine when I was tiny and unsteady and unsure.

And that eensy diamond? It was the only one Sara ever had or ever wanted. It popped out of its setting somewhere in the attic, sometime in the ’80s or ’90s, and all our diligent searching on our knees with flashlights never brought it to light again. But that’s OK. It’s still there somewhere, hidden under the old plank floorboards,  a shiny reminder of the couple who built that house and filled it with so many years of love and happy memories.

Gotta hand it to you, Jenny. You know how to stir memories. Thanks.

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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4 Responses to Happy Hands

  1. jennyadams22 says:

    And also, i have that ring. Never heard the story about the diamond falling out though! That’s a great story. I love it and wear it often. On my middle finger, but I also sometimes just throw her wedding band on as well.

  2. ginger says:

    This is magnificent writing!!

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