poverty · Southern Living

Poverty Had Its Advantages


As from the Welcome and About pages you already know my name is Tina. I am currently writing a series of children’s books. I can’t tell you where this desire to write came from. I can tell you that the desire to make a huge financial success from the series arises from a desire to help my family.

I grew up poor. I may have been born into it, I was too young to remember that part. At school, we ate free lunches, by presenting a small card with our name on it to the lunch lady. I still have a lunch card. It’s autographed by a football player named, Jim Miller. He was from my hometown, Ripley, MS, and he went professional. Jim came to our school for a visit and that is the only thing on me, at the time, to have him sign.

Growing up on Hatchie, our mailbox was a mile away from the house, and gravel road coming and going. That mailbox is where we had to walk to wait on the bus, rain or shine. My mother didn’t like us treated in any such manner. We “are the only kids to pick up down that road and I am not driving this bus down there just for four kids!” According to the driver. My mother got onto the bus, closed the door and spoke with the driver. After that chat we never walked a mile to wait on the bus again.

This is NOT a gravel road in Tippah County! It’s just a pretty gravel road.

 A gravel road in Tippah County has a vast difference in texture and appearance than any other in the world. Its shade of red is known to change the color of socks, shoes, tree leaves, snot and paint color of cars. The texture is far from smooth. Think more like a life-size washboard.




 We didn’t get to eat out. We didn’t point to everything in our line-of-site at the grocery store and scream “I want that!” We didn’t wear store-bought clothing but frequented Yard Sales. We didn’t get a lot of toys for Christmas or birthdays. Instead, we amused ourselves by swinging on grape vines. Gathered a smelly little weed called Rabbit Tobacco and swimming in the Hatchie river.

The school bus stopped at this store, Richardson’s Grocery, after school so the kids could spend their dime on candy


Strange, yet intoxicating odor. Rabbit Tobacco


If we did go eat at any place that required payment; anywhere other than relatives, we knew it was special. We treated it as such. Back in 1980 my mom, all her kids and her sister were at a diner. I had a banana split presented in a plastic boat-shaped bowl. That was just too much excitement for me, at the time, to have forgotten it 36 years later. But what put a mark on me that day was, when my aunt’s son walked in, sat down, and told her he wanted a hamburger. She didn’t pause or blink and yelled, “shut up boy! You have pinto beans cooking at home!”


 To this day, when I eat out/dine it is still a special thing for me. Yes, my standards are high! Not because I am a food snob. Not because I am well-traveled or a food connoisseur. They are high because I have been cooking food and creating dishes for myself and family since I was 7. If mud pies count, then I started at 5. I had a knack for using the perfect ratio of small pebbles to fine sand. My mud pies never fell apart and had that eye-catching look of having chips in them, like a good cookie.

 Food I grew up on was planted, nurtured, harvested, cleaned, husked, peeled, shelled, sliced, diced, pickled, canned, or froze by our own hands. Along side my bonnet-wearing, hoe-toting Grandmother. Not raked off the shelf with wreck less abandonment. Nor taken from the freezer section of a grocery store and reheated.

Walking into a dewed cornfield at 3:00 am to beat the heat, nothing like it.




Cutting off Yellow Jarvis field corn with only a knife, by the washtubs, torture. But, It’s some good eatin’.

 This has nothing to do with writing childrens books, yet. I’ve been on Earth for 40+ years, you are not going to get to know me in just a couple of paragraphs. I will write and self-publish an ongoing series of books, but that isn’t blogworthy at the moment. In the meantime, please have a beautiful and safe day : )

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