By Cheryl Bland
All six of us were born in the “Colored Ward” of the Macon Hospital in Macon. We were raised in the small middle GA town of Gray, in the community of Clinton in Jones County. My mom, Mary Lois Johnson Bland, was an English and French teacher, basketball coach and finally a school counselor. Daddy, Benjamin Franklin Bland, was a civil service worker.
My Daddy was a big tall dark man. He stood 6 foot 2 inches. He blew cigarette rings and let us play alligator on his long tall legs.
He lived by the “Good Book”. During the holidays he and Momma made sure that we had love and the word, “one big thing” a few little things, fruit, candy and nuts under the tree every year.
We always put the tree up on my birthday, December 17. Daddy cooked and sang “Happy Birthday” to me as he cooked. The next few days were filled with Daddy’s versions of “The Christmas Song” and “Please Come Home for Christmas” among others. He read to us “Twas the Night before Christmas,” before we were sent to bed. Then he and his friends put together toys, bikes, Easy Bake Ovens, among other gifts. We all gathered on Christmas morning, he and Momma would act surprised when we told them what we got for Christmas. We had prayer and ate a big Christmas breakfast. After dinner, we piled into our car and went to visit Momma Lessie, our grandmother and other family at her house. They called him Uncle Frank, he and Momma Lessie presided over family time every Christmas evening. Gone are Momma, Daddy, my brother Pierre, Momma Lessie. I still tear up when I hear “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole.