Mondays with Melitas – March 3, 2014

WHICH CENTURY?                                                            MARCH 3, 2014



Gotta tellya:  Some of this story is very recent, and some of it is very ancient.  We were sitting around the other evening shooting the breeze, or maybe it was chewing the fat, who knows?  The Warden was there to put in her 2 cents worth, and we would allow her since she is the strongest, and you always let the strong ones have their say-so.  The weaker can just get their say-so in when the Warden has run out of breath.  You have to be nimble in this conversation, and sometimes we don’t bother for the talker to take a breath — we just barge in.  Tammy was there, and Dorys (with a “y”) was there, then Barb, and there was I lurking to jump  out from nowhere with a story to tell which had crawled into my head as others were taking up the talking space.

Dorys had somehow grabbed the opportunity to speak to tell a little story, and her story was about “oranges” and these young people just loving them — I caught the word “oranges,” and because it was past my bedtime of 8 o’clock, I was probably half asleep, but the word woke me enough to conjure up a story of many moons ago.

The Scene changes:  I had grabbed the mythical mike, and was off with one of MY stories.  The others didn’t stand a chance.  They either had to hear my story, or they could sit there and try to sleep through  it.  It was a story from my Mom, and it was about her folks, and also about her when she was a little kid.  Grampa and Granny Moore had emigrated from Plymouth, England with an infant son, Jim, around 1874.  Grampa had come alone first, and was working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania.  He sent for his family because he was all hot to trot out to the silver mines in Nevada. (Well, wouldn’t a silver mine be cleaner to work in than a dirty old coal mine?)  So it was that Gramps ended up in the big Sutro Mine (very big time mine) in Virginia City, Nevada and became one of the Superintendants, and my Mom was born there in October 1878.

This doesn’t seem to follow along with the “oranges theme,” but please hold on — I’ll get there.  It just takes me longer when I keep on, inexorably, at that, into my advanced years.

So my Mom, Salome, and her younger sister, my Aunty Mabel, had arrived in the Moore household, and moseyed around with their little friends, playing, and just being kids.  What they loved the most at that young age from about 6 years to 11, was for some Chinese person to need a funeral. There was quite a contingent of the Chinese there in those days because the Big Guys who were building the railroad cross country needed many, many bodies to pound those big spikes into those railroad ties, and they sent for loads of Chinese.  After the railroad was completed, thousands of the Chinese stayed on in the States, and in Virginia City they worked in the silver mines.

So it was, that during the year, there were always some of these immigrants who would pass on into their next world, and would have to be laid to rest, and their survivors would give the “late” person a huge send-off.  The big thing was to leave them a great mound over the gravesite filled to overflowing with food — all kinds of food for their journey because it may be a long one.  The kids would hunker around staying under cover until the funeral cortege would leave after the burial ceremony.  Then they would emerge like a horde of locusts to swoop upon the gravesite, and grab the food.  Mom and Aunty Mabel especially were crazy for the oranges. Not too many oranges made it to Virginia City, so what a feast they enjoyed under these circumstances.

In my minds eye, I can see them with the oranges, peeling them, or maybe not bothering to peel them, (I eat the skin lots of times) the juice all over their faces, in ecstasy every second, munching away on those fragrant, juicy, sweet ORANGES.  Those kids were in Heaven on Earth.

What a scene!  And as if those Chinese people didn’t know what was going on behind their backs as they trudged out of the cemetery, after having said their final farewells to their relative or friend.

If you ask me, I’d bet that the funeral organizers would put out more food than was needed — they had learned to gauge just how much those little gremlins could go through, and then there had to be enough left over for the late person to be able to arrive at his destination — in Chinese Heaven, of course.

Dorys, I apologize for butting in.



MELITAS FORSTER                                      MONDAYS WITH MELITAS



The picture is of my Mom all grown up, holding my brother, Buddy in 1907.   mel blog mar 3

12 Comments to “Mondays with Melitas – March 3, 2014”

  1. Another good one!!

  2. Aw Melitas! You sure do have a great writing style. As I read it is as if I was sitting in your living room as you tell the story to me. Thank you telling your stories, for letting the Warden talk, and for being so bold as to interrupt and putting down the amazing history which is your life.

    Love you mucho!
    Michele and Josh

  3. You’re tale reminds me of those written about Tom Sawyer. You have a gift.

  4. Melitas

    Oranges are a sign of good fortune in the Chinese culture! So, It makes perfect sense, does it not, that oranges are placed graveside for the recently departed!

    Another good story, Melitas! Keep ’em coming!


  5. Good story.. I enjoyed it a lot

  6. Great story-telling, as usual. Enjoyed every bit of it!

  7. Love the story reminded me of when I was a kid. Miss you my friend….Ceil

  8. Loved it keep the stories coming

  9. I am so glad I said ‘oranges’
    and next weeks word is……

  10. Dear Mena,

    I doubt that many people could tell a true story like that one. I loved reading it.

    I love you,

  11. You sure do amuse me. Your story tellin’ makes me feel like we are just sittin’ on an old fence chewing on a little stalk of timothy grass. My dad built a soddy house in the plains of Nebraska and they burnt cow chips in the winter when I was a littstle kid. So your tales sure remind me of home. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  12. Sure glad that Dorys said “oranges” to spark this one. Incredible. Maybe I’ll say something this weekend to spark another one. Love, Marcie

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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