chunky, pigeon-toed kid with longer than normal red hair in tight curls,
millions of freckles and bright blue eyes; his name was Sergeant Majors.
All of the afore mentioned would have been enough to make him the brunt of
many jokes if it all hadn’t been eclipsed by the unusual life and
actions (and name) of his mother, Mynah Majors.
word was that Mrs. Majors was the daughter of respectable yet peculiar
parents, but had been orphaned when she was in her early teens at the height
of the Second World War. Though they had lived there since she was a baby,
nobody ever saw her parents except when her momma came to get groceries or
when they were all together at church on Sunday morning. Even then they weren’t
ones to speak beyond a polite ‘good day’ or ‘thank you.’ Folks
glamorized her father’s lifestyle, speculating that he did some sort of work
for the government. Her daddy would be gone for weeks at a time often leaving
town and returning home at strange hours of the morning. Someone had chanced
to see a travel tag on his briefcase, supposedly emblazoned with an American
eagle. He also wore a pin-striped suit and a fancy felt hat…he, in the minds
of the locals, had to be one of those dapper heroes they’d read about who
bounced around Europe covertly fighting the Nazis.
a car accident had taken both of them. An old aunt and uncle came to live in
the house with poor Mynah shortly afterwards and stayed there while she
eventually went off to college and then got a job in the city. The aunt and
uncle eventually got in poor health and moved off somewhere to live with their
children. Mynah, who had grown into a beautiful woman, married a lawyer named
Majors and had a baby while off in the hustle and bustle of city life.
Majors moved back to her family’s big white clapboard home with the white
picket fence, white outbuildings with matching slate roofs, white wisteria
growing in the trees and, everyone suspects, a tidy inheritance. Mr. Majors
set up a law practice in town but word in our sixth grade circle had it that
he had gotten married expecting to get his hands on her inheritance. Soon
after their move from the city to the country, he got the wrong people riled
up for taking some political appointment in the state capitol and was afraid
to move back in with Mynah, especially after his boss got kicked out of office
and later went to jail. Anyway, to make a long story short, Mrs. Majors dumped
him, and set about making a life for herself and Sergeant.
knew she didn’t need the money but she simply couldn’t sit around and do
nothing. She had always been artsy. In fact she had earned a degree in fine
art at school with a minor in business. She converted the old cook’s
quarters on her property into her pottery studio, complete with electric
throwing wheel, drying shelves and a large kiln. She transformed clay she dug
from the banks of the bayou that ran in the back of her house into stunning
signature pots, figurines and wind chimes that she sold to galleries in New
York and the west coast.
knew what to think about her. But then again, where I’m from, there were a
lot of odd balls that people didn’t know what to think about. Still, amongst
her salt of the earth neighbors, she stood out. She had bleached her blond
hair nearly white and drove a white 1968 Eldorado Cadillac convertible. She
had to go through boxes of bright red lipstick, nearly always had a scarf
wrapped around her neck and wore white horn-rimmed sun shades. She loved
talking to people at the post office where she picked up material from art
supply houses or mailed her goods. She was at Bard’s Store just about every
day where she had gotten them to order her some maraschino cherries. She’d
hand her grocery list to the stock boy to fill, pop open a jar of those
cherries right off the shelf and eat half of them while sipping on a 7 oz.
Coca-Cola and rattling on about just about anything to anyone standing there.
had a giant black and white (harlequin) Great Dane dog as a house pet along
with several parrots and something that was even more unheard of back then, a
boa constrictor. She fed the snake mice that she caught out at the feed shed
where she fed her white pea fowl. She was an enigma to the adults, but an
absolute dream come true for the local children who hung out at her house
whenever we got a chance.
she’d take Sergeant somewhere, she’d ask if several of us could go with
them. We’d go to the zoo, we toured the state capitol, rode a train and went
to many art exhibitions and what she called ‘high teas.’ Every trip was a
learning experience and made a lasting impression on us all.
most memorable experience I had with Mynah Majors was when a car load of us
were to join Sergeant and her on a 40-mile trek to see a matinee of Little
Big Man with Dustin Hoffman at a movie theater in a larger town. We had
all walked to their house and had hot dogs for lunch. It was bitterly cold
outside with a half inch of ice still on everything in the shade…including
the Eldorado. Being in a hurry and not thinking, Mrs. Majors picked up the pot
of hot water the franks had been boiling in and, with us in tow, trotted
directly to her lattice covered carport and the frozen windshield. It was a
sound that only took a split second, but one that everyone there can mimic to
this day…splash, crackle, BOOM! Nearly upon contact with the scalding water,
the Cadillac’s windshield turned into thousands of little cubes of safety
glass, showering us and the interior of the car. We all stood there for a
moment, stunned. Then Mrs. Majors let out with a scream of laughter that I’d
never heard from her before. After laughing with her, we didn’t know why, we
followed her into the house where she dug out down comforters and blankets. We
wiped up what we could of the hot dog water and glass chips then headed on our
way to the movies! Strangely enough, the sun was out and between snuggling and
the coverings we had, none of us got frost bite. We all had to get cold when
we periodically took turns rubbing the feeling back into Mynah’s hands, but
it was worth it to be with her on one of her adventures.