I finally finished reading “The Help" and it was a wonderful book – one that makes you think about how different things used to be and wonder how much they will hopefully continue to change for the better in our society.
I called my mother-in-law to get some real-life stories of growing up with the help. She’s read the book too and said her experience was much more positive because the help were viewed as part of the family. “No one was ever unkind. They worked in your home.”
She said her mammie was always in the kitchen cooking alongside her help, Sak. Grannie had “Willie”, who did all the cooking. “Grannie was not one to get into the kitchen and didn’t mind telling you that. Willie made the best food in the world. The crispest pie crust you ever tasted.”
This picture of my mother-in-law and her help Christine, was taken on her back steps. She says she can’t remember much about Christine, because she was only there when she was little, but she was mostly there to take care of her.
“You know how you all take your kids with you everywhere? Our mothers wouldn’t have dreamed of taking kids anywhere. We took an afternoon nap until we were twelve.” So the help was there to watch the kids so the mothers could have their activities, outings and entertainment.
“Nuvell was at mother’s house growing up and Lucille worked at mother’s house and helped mammie when I was older. She was heaven on earth. She helped me to know what to do with a baby when I had Mike.”
I know not all help was treated kindly, and some of the ways people were treated are hard for me to comprehend - not having ever lived that way or exposed to such extreme beliefs. There are some wonderful stories and memories like these to show that some of the help were appreciated for their work and are still remembered fondly today.