Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jesse & The Cookie Jar

Some of you, that read this blog, may remember this cookie jar. It belonged to my grandmother. When I got married in 1969 she asked me what I wanted as a wedding gift? I told her that I wanted nothing , ... but someday I would like to have her cookie jar.
I first remember this jar when I was turning five years old, and I couldn't quite reach it without climbing onto a chair. My grandparents lived in a large one story white framed house on south Travis street in Sherman, Texas.
Also in that kitchen, I remember, for the first time, seeing Jesse, my grandmother's black maid. Jesse was a full bodied, big bosomed lady (who actually to my young eyes... sort of resembled the cookie jar) and I can tell you that I came to love them both.
Jesse must have worked for my grandparents for over forty years. She actually got too old to clean. But, not being one to accept charity (and needing the money) she continued to come one day a week. I have a vision of my grandmother (elderly herself by now) slowly helping Jesse out of the car and into the house. Jesse would try to mop the floor, but in actuality the mop seemed to be supporting her weight...keeping her from falling.

My grandmother always dropped Jesse downtown, when she finished. Jesse would run her errands, pay her bills, and be sitting on a bench, on the courthouse square, waiting for my grandmother to return and take her home. Well, in the last few years it was my grandmother who ran Jesse's errands and paid her bills. I loved Jesse and my grandmother... and I miss them both. Looking at the cookie jar brings back all kinds of sweet sweet memories.
Jesse Phea 
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  1. This is a wonderful story, and I am glad that you have this cookie jar now with so many memories. Memory is an interesting thing, and I am always interested in how it works...what we remember and the selection process. I love the thought of your grandmother turning the tables and giving help and assistance to Jesse. What a life they had together and just think of all that they shared!

  2. It is a lovely jar and a very nice story about Jesse and your grandparents. Keep the jar don't give it away.

  3. Jesse was a jewel. She also worked for my mother,sister to Janey's gandmaother and sister Aunt Callie. She once told Callkie's daughter that her family were former slaves of the McAfee family, and came from Mississippi to Texas with them .

    1. Milton...I take it you wrote this. I would love to find records of this.

      My grandmother who Jesse worked for maiden name was McAfee. The McAfee's came to Texas in the 1880's from Mississippi.

      Records show that Jesse was born in Texas. So it would have been her Mother or Father that came from Miss. I never knew Jesse's maiden name . Phea was her married name.

      Oh I could spin a historical fiction book out of this story for sure :)

    2. Yes, Janey, I did. No hard evidence, just a conversation with cousin Jack, from her memories. She asked Jessee about the long history of working for McAfee girls. "Why, honey, we're all Fee(Phea?) N*****s. We come from Mississippi when they did."(the N word is the one Jesse used.Usually she was "colored" and reserved the N word for those she didn't like.Jack wondered how they could afford it.The McAfee's came by train. My guess - Robert McAfee hired a box car and loaded all the household goods,etc. into it. Maybe the blacks rode in the box car. My Dad says that's the way his family moved around in his childhood and youth.

  4. sounds like a long relationship filled with care and respect.

    1. and respect...but also LOVE. May be hard to believe, but I knew Jesse, and there was LOVE in that sweet lady.