Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Passing of a Matriarch

Janie Jefferson Porter
My Great aunt was the youngest of 22 children born in 1922  to Sussex and Louvenia Jefferson.
Our family name Jefferson originates from the Thomas Jefferson plantation in Virginia.Some of the Jefferson children left the south in search of better opportunities, aunt Janie settled in Chicago as a domestic until her retirement in 1977. Now you're beginning to see the tradition I speak of relating to Old School Brand Laundry Soap. You could eat off Aunt Janie's floors! She took great pride in her work much to the dismay of her children. When Aunt Janie would start to hum old negro spirituals, it was a sign that it was cleaning day! Just in case you didn't get the message that she meant business, the humming would escalate, then she would be standing outside your bedroom door announcing in the tone of a preacher that it was time to get up and get busy. You know the term, cleanliness is next to godliness! Aunt Janie was the queen of clean and mean! I think her furniture is still covered in plastic.I never understood that, because the covers never came off even for "company"! There were the good set of dishes and the everyday set? Then there was the  voice she used in the presence of company and the voice she used when we were alone. I could always tell who was on the phone by the tone of voice my aunt used.  The tone would be an octave higher for strangers like teachers or bill collectors. We kids knew when to take advantage of "company" being over by asking for something which under normal circumstances would be a "NO"! Asking in front of company would get an under the breath yes, just to get rid of us! Later we would pay dearly for the interruption.

Aunt Janie and her famous collard's
Aunt Janie lived fully her 97 years and had the privilege to vote for the first African American President in her lifetime. I can only imagine the world aunt Janie saw and experienced through Jim crow, and the civil rights movement.
The tradition continues through our sharing stories with each other and our children. Aunt Janie would approve of Old School Brand, it's all about the clean!! By the way, my aunt hung her clothes out on the line! I appreciate Aunt Janies wisdom, nurturing, and putting the fear of God in us! I think we turned out just fine!
I believe she's setting up housekeeping in heaven!

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