Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Help

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.
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  1. I love this post... I have been reading 'the help' and find it amazing.
    One friend commented on how hard it was to understand the 'dialect' it was written in... I had to say what dialect??

  2. This post brought back so many memories! I grew up in a southern home with an african american nanny who was an important part of our family. She was the person who actually raised my sister and me and we both loved her dearly. It wasn't until I was an adult that I wondered about Mamie's family. Who watched and loved her children while she was watching and loving my sister and me? She was in the kitchen when I got up each morning and didn't leave until after supper was on the table. I loved sitting with her on the porch swing in the afternoons snappping green beans and felt unconditional love from her....I will have to read this book. Thank you for this post!

  3. Oh, I loved that book! Did you know they are going to make it a movie?

    I remember my grandmother's help, Gladys....she made the best biscuits!

  4. Brenda @ Graceful MishMashJune 17, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    Thanks for the great post. I really enjoyed the book. It brought such prespective to me and how things were not that long ago.

  5. Great post! I loved The Help!

  6. This is a great post. I really enjoyed The Help too.

  7. I'm reading The Help right now and really enjoy it too. Living in the Northwest I don't know much about the south. I know times have changed but it seems very different even now. Love your blog!

  8. Its amazing to hear such warm and fuzzy memories from the kids raised by these women! Before now, I'd only heard the accounts of "the help", my grandmother, who kept a home and kids in FL while my aunt, thirteen years his senior, raised my dad. Life truly is about the lemonade, not the lemons!

  9. My bookclub read The Help a couple of months ago and we all thought it was fabulous. The discussion at our meeting was very meaningful as almost all of us had been raised in some part by a housekeeper. They were always beloved!

  10. I've just stumbled upon your blog ~ what fun!

    I read The Help a few months ago and loved every page. Our book club had one of our best discussions because of this book and the lifestyle which is foreign to my generation.


  11. I need to check out this book...looks good-
    sandy toe

  12. Wow, such an interesting post. It's amazing how different things were. It's so normal to tote kids around with us all day. :)

    Things are always changing, and mostly for the better. But what memories.


  13. Just starting to read this but I swear it depresses me! Ps following you on twitter now!

  14. Great post!! You did a very good job of being insightful and factual. The facts are just that- that that was the way of life for so many families. My mom grew up with her Beulah raising her and all of her siblings and Beulah's husband was my grandparents handyman. They too, were treated like family and all of their children came to play every day with my mom and aunts and uncles. It wasn't viewed as anything other than just very loyal extended members of the family. Still to this day, we go and visit Beulah and my mama has loved her like her own mom. It's the culture- and you're right, not everyone was treated with the same respect that my grandparents showed their Beulah and Mose. I have been wanting to read this, as I know it's a step back in time but like The Mrs., I tend to be uncomfortable when reading about stuff like this. But you did a great job!!!

  15. Loved this book, one of the better ones I have read lately. What neat insight your mother-in-law has from her own experiences!


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