My father’s side of the family was very colorful – to say the least! There was always excitement, but not the kind that my mother’s side of the family appreciated. 🙂
I remember all of my uncles very well. In fact, along with my father, they were the ones that created all the excitement! More on that later. Let me tell you about them.
My grandmother, Rosie Lee Kennedy, was born in 1912 to Winslow Kennedy (age 28) and Onnie Kennedy (age 33 – still researching maiden name) in Marengo County, AL. Rosie was a single parent with four boys – Cecil was born on 26 Jun 1931, Roland on 25 May 1932 (my father), Roosevelt on 3 Sep 1934, and Tonzie (we called him Charlie) on 18 Aug 1935. In the 1930 census, Rosie and her children lived with Winslow and Onnie; however, by the 1940 census, all four sons were living with their grandparents, but Rosie was not. I have not found Rosie in the 1940 census yet.
In the 1950s when my father was in high school, Rosie asked Roland to join the Army to help pay for bills. As you know, the money my father sent to his mother was used to get his brothers out of jail on various occasions. Rosie probably asked this of my father because her oldest son Cecil was always in trouble and not so dependable.
I was six years old when my family moved to Chicago. Every summer we visited Rosie. She was an excellent cook! I remember eating the best homemade biscuits, fried corn, fried okra with tomatoes, collard greens, cakes, etc. All the vegetables were fresh, not frozen. Unfortunately, I have no recipes, and neither does my mother. So sad.
The chicken and other meats were fresh as well. One visit, we went to my grandfather Tonzie’s house for dinner. At this time, Rosie and Tonzie were divorced (or separated). There was a big meal prepared for us to include fried chicken.
The chicken that was on the table, started out his day running on the farm. Someone grabbed it, rung his neck, plucked the feathers, and fried him up. Fresh, fried chicken looks good but tastes nothing like what we are used to today. That evening, I could not eat my chicken – it was just too fresh!
On one occasion while visiting Rosie, the brothers were out having fun. When they returned, Charlie got out of the car, and slammed the door too hard. It was Roland’s car, so he started screaming at Charlie who pulled out a knife and threatened to cut Roland. Roosevelt joined the fight by threatening to shoot one of them with his gun, and Cecil was too drunk to care. Needless to say, all four brothers were drunk! Rosie, Onnie, my sisters and I were inside the house, peeking out the front room window. The adrenalin was racing through my body because if shots were fired, I was afraid they might find us. I was scared to look, but very interested in the excitement.
A variation of this scene was repeated every summer we visited! Regardless of their actions, I loved each one of them! The excitement left me with stories to tell my friends about how I survived my summer vacation!
A picture of Rosie is located below. She is seated on the sofa (next to the lamp) near my sister Andrea. My brother Roland is also in the picture.
Picture taken September 1976. Front to back/left to right – Roland, Andrea and Rosie Kennedy.
Between The Dashes