Chapter Two: Just Call Her a Woman of the Soil


     In order to get a more fully shaded picture of who I am, it is important to get a stronger sense of the woman whose thighs I came through. A mother of seven, I was the fifth to come through my mother, Mosea Lee Barnes.
      My mother was born on December 12, 1912. I always found her birthdate interesting, because of the numbers.

      Twelve, twelve, twelve.

     Mom was born and raised on a farm in the Magnolia/McComb area of Mississippi. She was raised by her mother and father, Lillian and Flowers Osby, and was eldest of twelve children.

     There was that twelve again.
     Though she always valued education, being the oldest child, she had to quit school in the eighth grade to help on the farm. Two very important lessons came to her from her humble beginnings: one was to honor the earth and employ resourcefulness in having her needs met. And the second was the importance of an education.

     Without consciously being aware of it, her early lessons would spill over to me as a child over and over again. In Oroville, California, my hometown of busy bodies, crickets, rednecks and a Black community that indeed was a village that raised its own, I would witness her resourcefulness as a matter of fact. She always grew a garden that was sure to sprout corn, tomatoes, greens, squash, black-eyed peas and even watermelon. She also raised chickens from “biddies” that she would not hesitate to wring the necks of when the time came to savor them as part of our Sunday dinner.

     She also baked pastries and cooked meals from scratch. She canned our garden delights for the winter and sewed many of our clothes.

     A self-starter, my mother decided to build her own home with the help of her brother and community folk.  Our home at 3330 Fallbrook Avenue was built by the community of Oroville, California.


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