Plum Thickets and Field Daisies is Rose Leary Love's memoir of her life in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Charlotte. She left the original manuscript in the care of her friends. When the Brooklyn she described ceased to exist, the historical value of the manuscript increased. Realizing this, her friends transferred the memoir to the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room for care and preservation.
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Plum Thickets and Field Daisies
I CANNOT REMEMBER WHEN I did not know our devoted friend, Miss Lowe. Long before I was born, she lived in her little house next door to my mother’s and lived beside us until her death.
She was one of the pillars of my childhood. She was a twinkling-eyed, even-featured woman who bore her seventy-odd years and her stroke of “Paralsy” as she called it with a smile.
WE INHERITED an insatiable love of books from both of our parents. Books of all kinds, poetry, law, travel, history, religion, music and fiction, were in our home. In fact, these books lined the walls of the small room and once filled a big closet. We were always encouraged to read and inquire.
Today when so many children show disinterest in homework, I often think of my mother’s dining room table where we gathered at night to study. If one was not interested upon sitting down, he remained there until interest was born and the lesson was completed.
MOTHER NEVER HAD TOO MUCH difficulty keeping her girls in the yard. A fence surrounded our place to help ensure that we did not stray. When we were not assisting Mother with household chores, we always had our playhouse for fun.
TUCKED AWAY in a corner of many gardens in Brooklyn was a small plot saved for an herb garden. This little plot was methodically and clearly kept out of cultivation because herbs were prized plants, and owners wanted to avoid losing their root stock as a result of too much digging around them. Herbs seem to multiply and grow best when they are left alone to grow in their own way.
MY MOTHER was the most complete person that I have ever known. We thought she was beautiful. She had straight, aquiline features and kind eyes. Her eyes could quickly register displeasure, though, and they often spoke for her in place of her tongue. When our misbehavior called for a reprimand, she often had only to look sternly at us and things soon straightened out.
CHILDREN OFTEN PLAYED on the sidewalks and many ran in the streets. No one feared them getting run over, unless by an occasiona1 runaway horse. Usually, this only happened when an animal became frightened by some freak or loud noise or saw something strange. In that case, the horse's beating hoofs and spectators yelling, runaway horse! usually gave the children ample warning to move from harm's way.
THERE WAS A CERTAIN YOUNG WOMAN who loved to dance. In fact she loved it so much that she just seemed to live to dance. People tried to persuade her to stop, but no one could change her mind. She danced night after night.
MY COUSIN, SUSIE, had a pony named Billy in the big barn behind my aunt’s house. Billy looked like a circus performer’s horse. He was cream-colored, very gentle and a really beautiful creature. My cousin could ride him very well, and I remember her riding down the street with her hair flying loose as she rode fearlessly along on galloping Billy.
THE SHOESHINE BOY was another interesting and constant troubadour of the streets. Because Brooklyn's population was quite varied in color, some looked to be Anglo-Saxon, some were tan, some were dark brown and others were black. But all possessed the gay exuberance of youth and usually bounced merrily along the streets in the eternal quest for nickels and dimes calling, Shoeshine Boy! Mister, want a shine this morning?