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Eva Jasper took her granddaughters Alice and Marce to Quitman, MS every summer for about two weeks to visit Amanda Jasper (Grandma Mandy), their great-grandmother. Alice had mixed feelings about the summer visits to Quitman. I think the girls really enjoyed spending time with their grandmother and great-grandmother, but Quitman was so different from Mobile, AL. Quitman was truly the country!
Alice remembers riding the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (GM&O) Railroad to Quitman. The train was like a greyhound bus that made many stops along the way. People could bring chickens, goats or sheep on the train and Alice was afraid of anything with feathers. See the GM&O map below. When Momma Eva, Alice and Marce arrived in Quitman, Grandma Mandy came to pick them up in a horse and buggy.
This event takes place in Mobile, AL around 1948. Alice (my mother) was 13 years old, and Eva Jasper (my grandmother – Mom’s side) was 51 years old. Eva worked for a white family as a house keeper. During this time, Jim Crow laws were still in effect and the civil rights movement was not officially active (check out the history section at the end of this post). In Mobile, Negroes worked low paying jobs, and one of the primary sources of income for Negro women was cleaning the house and keeping the children of white people.
On this day, Alice went to visit her grandmother. However, this day was different because when she arrived at Eva’s house, she had a bandana tied around her head. Alice asked, “Momma Eva, what’s wrong?”
Eva responded with her head hung low, “I’ve got a real bad headache. This bandana will help it go away. Only problem is I have to go to work today.” Without hesitation, Alice said, “What if I go for you today? I don’t mind!”