The Muddy, with nine brothers and sisters, and The Forbidding Giant, with six, were both just individual pieces of large families. Since farm labor was always needed, farm families were always large – a foolish plan in the opinion of The
Orphan since more mouths to feed meant more labor was needed.
Therefore, in the Counties of Tippah and Benton in the State of Mississippi, there lived a plethora of Aunts, Uncles, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Cousins and Others. This chapter chronicles this large extended family with close attention paid to the ones who were most a part of the young life of The
First The Orphan will tell of the progeny of Charlie and Sally Brown, also called Pappy and Gramma Brown, who were the father and mother of The Muddy, born Mavis Valeria Brown.
There was Mary Frances, the only daughter of Uncle Rayburn and Aunt Erna Brown Brown (who started as a Brown and married a Brown -- a different clan of Browns than The Clan of Charlie and Sally Brown). The Orphan had little contact with Mary Frances since she was somewhat prim and prissy and, from early
childhood, only wanted to sit with the “grownups” (which definition was a matter of opinion to The Orphan when mere age was used to describe some of these people as being “grown up”).
There were James Edward and Sonny, sons of Uncle Edward and Aunt Lukey McKee.
James Edward was the cousin closest in age to The Orphan and, as was shown in Chapter Nine, the co-conspirator with The Orphan in The Great Watermelon Raid.
There were many many adventures with James Edward – mostly nefarious. The Orphan tells more of these adventures in the next chapter.
There were Kenneth and Grace, son and daughter of Uncle Nolan and Aunt Lila Smith McKee. When small, Kenneth had a monster named rheumatic fever attack him and, since his heart was weak, had to stay abed for much of his life – but he was smart because he read and listened to the radio all the time when he
was not being “home-schooled” by Aunt Lila – who was very pretty.
There was Aunt Ernestine and a mysterious Uncle named Jim Castle (who was never there) who had three children – Eddie, Betty and Nancy. Aunt Ernestine was very pretty. Nancy was a clone of Aunt Ernestine. Betty was a clone of Uncle Mysterious Jim. Eddie was a mix that had some of both Aunt Ernestine and Uncle
When Eddie was small, The Orphan would hold him, take him places and give him hugs. The Orphan and Eddie loved each other.
There is a special story about Aunt Ernestine. When Uncle Mysterious Jim – who apparently disdained work – left for parts unknown, Aunt Ernestine had to make a plan to raise her children, who were very small at that time. Aunt Ernestine couldn’t both take care of her children and work – plus there were no
jobs where enough money could be earned to feed, clothe and house them. Aunt Ernestine put her three children in an orphanage for a time until she was able to have a plan. Gramma Brown and Pappy said,
“…Ernestine, you better come home to the farm with your chaps (all small children were chaps to Pappy) and we will raise them here…”
This became Aunt Ernestine’s final plan. Aunt Ernestine recaptured the three temporary orphans from the orphanage and, with them, returned to the farm of Gramma Brown and Pappy to live there and to help with the farming. This plan was a good one.
Aunt Ernestine worked diligently all the hours of the night and day. The three children also worked all the hours of the night and the day, at work and at school. All three children graduated from college with honors. The cousin named Betty even went on to continue her education by working and earning
scholarships until she obtained a PhD. They were fine children who honored their Mother and would have died for her, as would The Orphan.
Aunt Ernestine has the total respect of both The Little Orphan Granny and The Real Granville. Aunt Ernestine is no longer just pretty – she is beautiful in all ways. Aunt Ernestine was one of the many role models for The Orphan to strive to equal.
There was an Uncle named Raymond who died young. The Orphan never knew him.
There were Gary and Sue, son and daughter of Uncle J B and Aunt Earlene Janes. Sue went on to have many children and grandchildren (thirteen grandchildren by 2003). Gary went on to become a missionary and did missionary things. Sue and Gary were too young to be Playmates of The Orphan.
There were Uncle Leyland Brown and an Aunt with lots of cousins who were never the playmates of The Orphan. Uncle Leyland’s ears were so low on his head that they rested on his shoulders. You always knew when Uncle Leyland was driving the car in front of you.
There were Uncle Merle and Aunt Emma Brown, and Uncle Earl and Aunt Annie Lou Brown, plus lots of cousins that were also never playmates of The Orphan. Uncle Earl and Merle were twins so identical that they could not even tell themselves apart – except one of them got a gold front tooth – but they never
knew which one had the gold tooth.
Uncle Earl and Merle were sailors on a World War Two PT boat that transported, from time to time and from place to place, another Great American President named Harry S. Truman.
Uncle Merle’s wife Aunt Emma was a Foreigner from a place called Portland, Maine, who spoke a language with a foreign accent and was never integrated into the family. The Aunts and Uncles had children but were remote from The Orphan.
There was also the family of Big Momma and Grandfather Tom Frazier, the parents of The Daddy, born Elisha Rutherford Frazier. There were many Uncles and Aunts on “The Daddy’s side of the family.” Some had the last name of Luna and some were named Frazier, since Big Momma was married twice – being widowed both times.
Grandfather Tom Frazier was killed by scalding, as was his son Uncle Granville Thomas Frazier, in an explosion of a steam boiler. Big Momma went to her final rest while The Orphan was a small child – so these memories are dimmer than with The other Grandmother and Pappy.
There were Uncle Carl and Aunt Annie Luna. They moved to Memphis early and Uncle Carl became a streetcar conductor. Streetcars ran on two steel rails in the middle of streets and obtained power from above the streetcar on a grooved slider that ran along electrical wires held up by power poles. The meaning
of “…clang, clang went the trolley…” had real meaning for The Orphan when he lived on Trimble Place. Uncle Carl and Aunt Annie had children who were the cousins of The Orphan and who were much older than The Orphan so The Orphan did not know them well.
There were Uncle Karl and Aunt Roma Kennedy who lived in a different world named Chicago, Illinois, and worked at Sears & Roebuck and a tanning factory. One of their children was a cousin named Roy Kennedy who suffered from Downs Syndrome. The Orphan was an occasional playmate to Roy but they lived in two
different worlds. The other cousin was very old so The Orphan did not know him. The Daddy loved to visit the Kennedy family in Chicago and occasionally “…rode the rails…” to make the trip.
There were Uncle Lafayette and Aunt Louise Luna who also had older children who were cousins – but The Orphan did not know them well. Uncle Lafayette was also named “…Doc…” and was Uncle Doc to The Orphan. The Orphan liked Uncle Doc because he had a crinkly smile.
There were Uncle Clifford and Aunt Ruby Belcher who had children named Travis and Cloyce who were cousins of The Orphan. Uncle Clifford was reputed to have a poker up his ass because he was so arrogant and overbearing. Uncle Clifford was also the Chief of Guards at a place called The Army Depot where he
carried a pistol – and The Orphan was certain he would shoot anyone who did not mind. Uncle Clifford was also reputed to have retained all of the money he had ever earned and it was rumored that he fertilized his gardens with the manure he had squeezed from the buffaloes on the nickels he saved.
Both Travis and Cloyce were older but The Orphan looked up to Cousin Travis since Cousin Travis had graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and was a role model. Travis also had been “…in the army…” and was employed by The General Electric Company
in their Management Training Program. GE’s Management Training Program duties appeared to resemble those of a galley slave on a Roman ship.
The Orphan thought Cousin Cloyce was pretty!
Then there were Uncle Dillard and Aunt Clytie Reed Wright who had Cousin Thomas Franklin, Neil Maurice and the twins, Hugh Stephens and Alva. These were the playmates of The Orphan quite often because Uncle Dillard had moved to Memphis to work at a Company named Firestone to make tires – but Uncle Dillard
also farmed – first at the Mt. Moriah farm then at the Germantown farm.
Most of the adventures with the Wright cousins initially were with Neil (mentioned earlier as Cousin “Bitty”) and later with Cousin Hugh. Both Bitty and Hugh attended The University of Tennessee when The Orphan was there.
Thus were The Orphan’s many relatives in Mississippi and Tennessee.