Two Sisters – Braxton, MS & Atlanta,GA – June, 1980

In June of 1980 my sister Pearl and her daughter visited us in our home on St. John’s Road Mississippi.  My husband, Jim, took this photo of both of us and our children. The one with her eyes closed is Pearl’s daughter.  I thought it would be interesting to take an entry from her journal, as it appears in her new book “Things I Should Have Told My Daughter – Lies, Lessons & Love Affairs” by Pearl Cleage and, since I wasn’t keeping a journal at the time, take old letters and put something of what was happening in my life at the time.

st_john_rd_krispearl&daughters1980
Pearl, Ife, Ayanna, Jilo, Deignan, me holding Tulani. June 1980, St. John’s Road, Mississippi.  We must have been saying “Cheese!”

Pearl had recently moved to her own apartment, leaving her husband and devoting her time to writing and figuring out freedom. From Pearl’s journal about her life in Atlanta …

“June 5, 1980

I have just discovered the only advantage to freelancing.  You get to be stoned while you earn a living. Unfortunately, that is also true of rock and roll stars, actors who are lucky enough to be cast in Robert Altman films, Rastafarians, and particularly foolhardy circus preformers. I think it also applies to the construction crews that do most of the renovations that I know about.  It also applies to artists of all kinds, but since I was talking about freelancing, which is a way of making money, let’s leave the art out of it, shall we?”

Meanwhile, several states over in Mississippi…June 17, 1980  from a letter to my father

Dear Daddy,

How’s it going?  It’s hot, hot, hot here.  It’s been a strange weekend.  Kibibi – the 25 year old woman who lived a weird summer with us at Luba when we first came to MS was shot 3 times in the head by her 10 month baby’s daddy during an argument. It was such a ridiculous, unexpected, stupid thing. 

I remember Kibibi sister’s husband coming up the stairs of the house on stilts and telling us about the shooting. Given that the civil rights violence had barely ended, it seemed horribly sad that she was shot to death by her daughter’s father.

You can read more about my life during this time in R is for Route 1 Box 173 & 1/2

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20 thoughts on “Two Sisters – Braxton, MS & Atlanta,GA – June, 1980”

  1. What a great picture! You and your sister look very much alike in the photo. And the girls are adorable.

    1. Too bad she wouldn’t do that when I took the girls to get a studio photo. She cried and cried and ended up not being in that photo. Years later, she wondered why I wouldn’t let her be in the photo. Glad I was around to clear that up.

  2. A sweet and sour post, Kristin, with such a happy family photo and sad memory. I think your treasure of letters must match your bottomless shoe box of photos.

    1. Not quite as many letters because of a strange glitch where I threw away years of letters between me, my sister and my mother before I realized I was supposed to be the keeper of the history. Still wish I could undo that.

  3. Wow, I wasn’t expecting the story at the end of the post.
    The cousins must have had a lot of fun together.

  4. There are way too many stupid senseless shootings. I really liked the passage from Pearl’s journal. Excellent writing.

  5. A lovely family photograph of you all. Do the girls all have their own families now?

  6. That’s so sad – but the cheerful picture at the top of your post is a better memory to have.

  7. Beautiful smiles, all around.
    I like how you grabbed a couple snippets from the same time period. What a contrast of contemplation about art and writing with a report of everyday life. Even that “report” has its own funny little contrast – “it’s hot…. A woman got shot.” A little pleasantry and then a quick jump to the big news.

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