411 Focus

Back when I was a kid, it was called cussin', and it was taboo. Heck, it could keep a kid on lockdown

Contributed By:The 411 News

Legacy: A Clean Mouth

I don’t recall hearing my dad say a “bad word” ever! I’ve racked my brain, searching in all its corners, peeking and prying to discover one I may have overlooked, all to no avail. To use a favorite phrase from the Isaac Hayes and contemporaries’ period, “It ain’t gonna happen!”

Back when I was a kid, it was called cussin’, and it was taboo, something that would get one in more trouble than he could dig out of for months! Heck, it could keep a kid on lockdown so long that it would seem he was losing weight! Nope. Some words were just not in our vocabulary, and if Daddy heard that you had said a “bad word,” it was worth your while to have witnesses ‘cause there was trouble up ahead!

Now, my stepmother would use ‘em. She had her favorites. Compared to us, she was a “city” woman. From Chicago Heights where she’d done housework for a family of even a fairer hue than hers, she was “light-skin’ded.” She’d let loose, particularly after Daddy and his logic had gotten on her “last nerve!

Her “cussin’” sent Daddy out the back door and down the steps where he’d make a sharp turn to the right, his head bobbing up in sight through the two kitchen windows as he made his way to the barn. I never heard him say anything once he left the house, but I knew him well enough to know that cussin’ was the one thing he hated most, be it his wife, or somebody he didn’t give a hoot about! It was on his “things-not-to-do list!” He was a deacon, and cussin’ was an “abomination,” and Daddy couldn’t accept anything that was at odds with his beliefs!

About the strongest “curse word” I heard from Mother was “Got-durn-it-all,” which, arguably, could register outside profanity, but we all knew what it meant, and we got just a little bit stiffer… and walked a tad softer as we put, bit by bit, more space between us and Mother, though no matter how close to red her face came, she’d not lash out at us. We knew we were safe, but we…well I… still edged away… as if there were an urgent chore that demanded immediate attention, though I’d dodge a chore like death!

There were a lot of things I missed out on growing up. For instance, I think the first time I went to the movie theatre was as a teen to see “Imitation of Life,” a movie about a woman “passing” for white, who waited too late to be her mother’s daughter, too late to appreciate her, “passing”with her own fair skin, and “disowning” the one who gave her life.

I cannot imagine growing outside my parent’s love, even for a second dishonoring, rejecting the source of my life! I will always honor my parents, faults included. Miles away from perfection, they were the tree that nurtured me when I was but a limb. I hold them, natural and by marriage, close to me and worthy of respect.

Each – my father, my mother, my stepmother – has returned to the dust, but I carry them in my heart, and I continue, and will as long as I live, work to represent the values they instilled in me.

May we all be examples for our children, by birth or other means.

Story Posted:07/22/2019

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