Hattie Flowers: Places of the heart

Published 7:34 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

Hattie Flowers has lived a lot of places.

The Watkins place, the Dickerson place, the Hicks place, the Johnson place and her own place.

And, at each place that she has lived, she has found peace and contentment. That’s Hattie’s way.

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Hattie will laughingly admit that she has worked for just about everybody in Brundidge at one time or the other. And, she knows as much about the town and its people, past and present, as anyone.

“I kind of feel like everybody here is part of my family,” Hattie said. “I just love people, and I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve ever done. From working in the fields to taking care of people when they were sick and close to death.”

When Hattie talks about the humorous things that have happened in her life, she throws back her head and laughs. When she talks about the sad times, she leans forward in her chair, clasps her hands together and drops her head in memory.

“In all these years, and there’ve been many of them, I’ve loved everybody and gotten along good with them,” she said. “Well, except for one. I just had a hard time working for her. But I loved her through it. I stayed and I prayed. And, you know, one night I was staying with her and she’d sleep off and on. Every time she’d wake up, she’d pull me to her and say, ‘Hattie, I love you’ and I’d say, ‘I love you, too.’ I think that was her way of apologizing for making things so hard on me.”

Hattie was used to hard things. She had worked hard all her life but harshness was something that she didn’t understand and she was thankful that she “didn’t see a lot of it.”

“One thing that I learned was that if you’re a young lamb, you’ll be an old lamb,” she said. “But, if you’re a young lion, you’ll be an old lion. People don’t change all that much. What you are is what you are.”

Hattie Flowers must have been a young lamb because she has certainly been a comfort and joy to all of those she has “cared for” over the years.

Hattie was born to John and Ada Frazier Griffin in 1922 on the Dickerson place.

“I had seven sisters and three brothers and we all worked on the farm from the time we were able to hold a hoe,” she said. “It was hard work but I didn’t mind and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because we didn’t have any other choice.”

The family moved time after time, from one work place to the other but always doing the same work – farm work.

“We lived out on the Shiloh Road close to Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church,” Hattie said. “Some of the grownups gathered up enough lumber to build a little ol’ one-room schoolhouse and that’s where we went to learn.”

Because the children were needed on the farms, school was only in session about seven months.

“Even in the afternoons, we went to work on the farm when we got out of school,” Hattie said. “I just got through the sixth grade. I loved school. I liked reading, spelling, arithmetic. I wished I could have gone longer but ….”

When Hattie was 13 years old, she got a “high paying” job baby-sitting for the Blanton family. Norris Blanton and his wife owned a “milk dairy” out on the Tennille Road and Hattie went in at 8 a.m. and worked until 1 p.m. keeping their young child.

“There were two other dairies out in the piney woods and they supplied milk for the CCC camp out that way,” Hattie said. “It was a good job. I made $1.50 a week. But I still had to go to the field in the afternoon.”

When Hattie’s family moved to the George Hicks place, her dad went from farming on fourths to farming on halves.

“When you farmed on fourths, and you made four bales of cotton, you got three and the man that owned the place got one,” she said. “My daddy had his own mules, wagons and plowing equipment. But when he went on halves, he didn’t have to supply those things. He still looked after the mules but he didn’t have the responsibility of the feed and all.”

When the family moved to town to work on the Fox Johnson place in 1948, Hattie began to realize that she had talents other than “digging in the dirt.”

She found inside work to her liking. She worked for the Leon Chamber family cooking and cleaning. The Roy McDowell family hired her to baby sit and cook. She cooked and cleaned for the Belchers and the Leverettes, the Chambers, the Flemings, and the Morrises, where she also learned to do upholstery. She took in sewing for the public and sewed for most folks in town.

“I worked for the Richburgs and, they had a drug store and sold sandwiches,” Hattie said. “I made the sandwiches, and my own mayonnaise, and put them through a window in the back of the drug store and two girls serve them to the people.”

In 1948, Hattie married Major “Will German” Flowers. She had met him five years earlier when was working down in Florida, for a short time, as a waitress.

“It wasn’t love at first sight,” she said. “I don’t believe in that. How can you fall in love with somebody you don’t know? They might have been our robbing or worse. You just don’t know.”

In the late1950s, Hattie worked for Dr. Hawkins, a general practitioner and got a feel for the medical profession. She worked for a time as a housekeeper at the hospital in Troy and then took a correspondence course to become a nurses’ aide and passed the test.

“I worked as a nurses’ aide at the Troy hospital from 1969 until 1984 and, when I retired I did sleeves at the Braswell dry cleaners. They had this little ironing board just for ironing sleeves and that’s what I did.”

Since 1962, Hattie has worked for Jeanette Caldwell. She does some cooking every now and then but mostly, she’s just a friend as she has been to so many people over so many years.

“Me and Mrs. Caldwell get along just fine,” she said.

“We love each other. And that’s what life is all about. Caring for people. I love my church, County Line Baptist, and I believe in missions – in doing for others. I’ll be going to the state convention next week and I’m looking forward to that.

“And, when I’ve got the time, I go fishing. I’ve loved to fish all my life and I’m as happy as I can be when I’ve got a fishing pole in my hand and my grandson at my side. Fishing is good family fun. It reminds me of my growing up. “My mama and daddy were good Christian people. They taught me right and I hope that others see good things in me. If you stay prayed up, God will give you strength to handle whatever you have to face. If you want to see Jesus in peace, you’d better love everybody.”