Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: STEAM (12/03/15)
- TITLE: The Washerwoman's Gift
By Bonnie Bowden
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She dropped the first bundle of clothes into the tub and stirred them with a long stick before rub ’em, wrench ‘em, rub ’em again, starch ‘em, and hang ‘em on the line until they sparkled. She felt the sunshine on her back. “There ain’t no better smell than fresh air lined clothes,” she said to herself.
“Ola, swatie, could you please help me with the ironing?” Aunt Evelyn called out the back door, “We gotta get this load done before the people get here.”
Aunt Evelyn had two boards set up with an iron on each one. Misty droplets formed on the bottom of the plate. Ola glided the hot, steam iron over the shirt until she pressed every wrinkle out of it.
"Remember, Ola, there’s nothing better for the soul than hard work. Every job can be done well and every day has its satisfactions.”
“While I wait for the people to pick up the laundry, why don’t you go back outside and start on the next load,” Aunt Evelyn said.
Most days followed the same routine, getting up with the sun, washing and ironing and stopping when the sun went down. Sundays were the only break in the monotony. Mama Lucy, Grandmother Julia, Aunt Evelyn and Osceola would walk to Friendship Baptist Church and sing hymns and hear God’s Word. The change of pace always did them well.
Life became more solitary for Osceola after the deaths of her grandmother in 1944, her mama in 1964, and her aunt in 1967. After her aunt and mother had died, Ola put the small inheritance from them into her savings account at Trustmark Bank. She remembered when she walked to First Mississippi National Bank and opened her first savings account. She wouldn’t think of taking any of it out, so her money kept growing.
After the death of her aunt, she began to think she didn’t have anybody. She started to think about what she wanted to do with her money. She wanted to leave some of it to her church and her cousins, but since she always had always wanted to go back and be a nurse she decided to leave the rest to USM. The school used not to allow colored people to go there, but now that they did she thought they should have it.
Osceola walked into Trustmark Bank.
“Mr. Laughin, I wanna leave the bulk of my money, $150,000, to the University of Southern Mississippi for scholarships. I just want it to go to somebody who appreciates it and learns. I’m giving it away so the children won’t have to work so hard, like I did.”
A reporter from her hometown, Hattiesburg, asked, “What do you think the secret to your life was?”
“I think my secret was contentment. I was happy with what I had,” Oseola said.
"I can't do everything. But I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do."
Based on the life of Oseola McCarty.
Oseola McCarty, Simple Wisdom for Rich Living
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