Deep South – Deep North

In this final of four excerpts from her book, Deep South – Deep North: A Family’s Journey, published in 2018, Ridgeway native Lottie B. Scott tells both the heartbreaking and triumphant tale of her maturation into adulthood against a racially-charged, impoverished, yet fiercely loving backdrop in Longtown, S.C.

Racoon a Dinner Delicacy

Family members [living up north] made yearly trips to South Carolina to visit family members. In the springtime, Saul and Freddie would travel to fish, each time returning with large coolers filled with white perch and other types of fish. In August, Saul and Joyce made their yearly journey to attend the traditional picnic held the second Saturday of the month in the White Oak area. This tradition dates back as long as we can remember. Going to the picnic guaranteed they would see family members who still lived in the area, as well as visit friends and relatives from the North who took the trip for fellowship and to talk about the past and the present. There was lots of good food and the traditional annual baseball game. Fall was deer hunting time, and Saul and Freddie went to South Carolina to hunt. They never returned empty-handed and would bring back many stories of who shot what, when, and how. There was plenty of meat to share with family and friends.

During their Christmas gathering in Connecticut with friends and family, the table was full with turkey, ham, sliced deer meat, deer stew and raccoon roasted to perfection. While South Carolina transplants were delighted to devour this delicious fare, our white guests screamed and laughed. They could not believe we were eating raccoon.

At down-home gatherings of Southern friends and family, I always had a story to tell about whites up north not appreciating good meat. I was invited to the home of a white schoolteacher to discuss fair housing. During the meeting, the lady suddenly invited everyone to look out on the porch. It was filled with raccoons of various sizes eating their dinner. She was so proud of her raccoons. I stood there knowing what a delicious meal they would make, but there was no way to separate the raccoons from the schoolteacher. Mama’s words rushed into my head: “White people have a fool way of looking at things.” Looking longingly at the raccoons, I agreed.

Tribute to Mama on her 75th Birthday

On July 3, 1992, the family gathered at the Purity Lodge in Ridgeway, South Carolina, in honor of Mama on her seventy-fifth birthday. This is the tribute I wrote for the occasion:

Seventy-five years is a long time – or a short time depending upon the context in which it is viewed. Seventy-five years is a short time when comparing it to the life of Methuselah. It is a long time when considering the lifespan of young black males. With so many people living to be 100 years old, it is the dawning of a golden era. Today, we join Estelle, our mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, and mentor in celebrating the commencement of a golden era.

Like Sojourner Truth, Mama could plow the fields, and like Harriet Tubman, she used a shotgun when necessary to protect her family and property, or to discourage intrusion. No celebration is complete without a reflection on the past. No journey should commence without first reviewing past journeys.

Mama was a pioneer in her own right before it was considered all right for women to assert themselves on equal footing with men. She sought credit knowing that no one gave credit to women, and when she was told her husband needed to sign, her reply was, ‘I am doing the work. What do you mean my husband must sign for me?’

She always had dreams beyond working on someone else’s land and depending on others. Her favorite saying is, ‘Mother may have, father may have, sister may have, brother may have, but God bless the child who has his own,’ as sung by Billie Holiday in 1939. She did not subscribe to the opinion that you do nothing and just wait for your inheritance. She expressed the view that you work for what you want and depend on no one.

Mama dreamed of owning her home. This dream came true when she purchased her own home in Ridgeway. This house was not much to look at, but she said, ‘It’s mine.’ She did not believe in working all your life and having nothing to show for your labors. Today, this ‘dream’ house, painted white with black shutters, and surrounded by beautiful flowering plants and vegetables, is beautiful. When she comes out the front door, as she looks to the right, she sees the residence of her grandson Dwayne Bell and his wife Hazel. When she walks around the back of the house, she comes face-to-face with the home of her son MacArthur, his wife Jessie Mae, and their youngest son, Darryl. Now she is witnessing her granddaughter Reecy and her husband John build their home across the street.

In seventy-five years, Mama has witnessed her children and grandchildren achieve goals that at one time were thought to be fool hearted for blacks. All eight children have been achievers, each in their own right and their own way. You will find a builder, a deacon, a mechanical tradesman, an attorney, a homemaker, an administrative worker, and a civil rights manager.

Mama was not satisfied with having eight children, many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She wanted more. So she adopted Mattie and Inell, and added another dozen or so to the family.

She is devoted to her sisters and brothers. She is willing to help when and however she can. Mama is known for her straight talk. She does not mince her words to make them more palatable to the listener or the target of her comments. After delivering her remarks, which often sting, she usually ends with, ‘I don’t mean no harm.’

As most of her children have reached the half-century mark, they are beginning to seek her advice on many things, but mostly on how to keep healthy. They are asking her to share old home remedies. The more they learn from reading their books, the more they realize how much Mama knows – and knew long before it was printed in the books. She has taught that common sense prevails, and it can take you farther than formal education.

Today is a joyous time, as family members and friends join Mama on the occasion of her seventy-fifth birthday. To her was say, ‘Our lives have been enriched by your love, devotion, understanding, straight talk, and being there for us in time of need. We wish you good health and happiness as you begin your golden years. Happy seventy-fifth birthday!’

“Deep South, Deep North: A Family’s Journey” is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon:…/dp/1480960349. It is also available at Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]