Serbennia Photography

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Bmore's Linden Avenue

Posted on April 15, 2018 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (3)

                                                                    Annie Mae’s House


     The train ride seemed long from Dunn, NC to Baltimore, MD. We caught a taxi-cab ride from the train station to Annie Mae’s third floor one-bedroom apartment on Linden Avenue. This is where she resided with her two teenage sons, Garrison and Five-Cent. She also worked nearby at the neighborhood lounge as a barmaid. The depth of love that Annie Mae felt for her sister by raising the three of us was remarkably profound. Months earlier the two promised each other that if anything ever happened to either of them, they would care for the other’s children.

     A motherless child herself, Annie Mae and baby sister, Bernie were the youngest of six daughters of Robert (Bob) and Cora Clark.  Their mother died during childbirth of a seventh child when they were only toddlers too.  Except for one sister, Mable who died by food poisoning, the other three sisters were grown.  

     Granddaddy Bob was later remarried to Georgetta –-from Georgia. They moved to Baltimore to start a new life. The two little girls were left behind, and court ordered to be raised by their mother’s sister, Great Aunt Ruth Ann. Overwhelmed and stressed, a child abuse case eventually brought both little girls to Baltimore to live with their father, Bob and stepmother, Georgetta.

   In 1957, when Annie Mae became a sixteen-year-old teenage mother, Granddaddy Bob made her quit school. She stayed home to care for her baby boy, Garrison. Two years later another son Allen (nicknamed Five-cent) was born. Later in life she went to night school and earned her High School Diploma.  Her untimely pregnancy was also during the time Grandma Georgetta was expecting a baby girl, Rachel and a few years later, little Beatrice.

     Before we were a twinkle in Momma Mittie's eyes, she would send for her two small nephews, Garrison and Five-cent. She helped to raise the boys for her teenage sister Annie Mae. By this time Aunt Bernie had her first son, Terrell.  He would also spend time with Momma Mittie in Dunn, NC. This could have been one of the reasons Annie Mae felt so obligated to raise the three of us. She was overly protective and very strict but the three of us stayed together because of her outspokenness and strong determination.  Some say, "she could cuss like a sailor and hold her liquior."

     The family’s child abuse and domestic violence legacy began long before we were born though.  It continued throughout several generations. Like so many other African American families, we were victims of “the slave mentality” - feelings of inferiority complexes, verbal and physical abuse coupled with depression, drugs and alcohol.

     Often, we thought Annie Mae was the meanest woman that ever walked the face of the earth.  But we knew better.  She had a huge caring heart and shared a lot of the little we had with many others who were less fortunate. She was the backbone of our existence and we loved her for it – mean and all! 

   One thing for sure, she never allowed us to forget Momma Mittie and how she was killed and we could never call Annie Mae, "Mother!"   

Black House Rules by Serbennia Davis

Posted on April 1, 2018 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

     This ain’t the White House. It’s the Black House! We don’t live in Upper Arlington. We live in the country - outside of Grove City. Your friends don’t take care of you, I do! This ain’t about friendship. It’s about family! You don’t get to live in my house and come and go as you please! 18 or not, there are still house rules that you must abide by while living here. If you can’t follow them, go live with your friends. So, don’t insult my intelligence with smart-ass disrespectful remarks to impress your friends or whenever you get stressed out because you fucked-up by having poor judgement. Stop trying to be something that you are not. Manners don’t cost a cent, but they will get you into a lot of places in life.

     Education is not an option, it’s a requirement. Not raising dummies. Raising geniuses. Don’t return home without the “sheep’s skin.” Failure is not an option. Trying to teach you how to fish! Not feed you a fish. Complete-the-mission at hand.

     Rent is due on the first of the month or you will be evicted – just like any other place. Nobody is going to take care of you for the rest of your life. When you work, give back to those who sacrificed and helped you along the way. We didn’t have to do it. It was a struggle for us too. Often, we are still paying for those sacrifices. I’m not your maid – clean up behind yourself. That’s what grown folks do. Next to Godliness is cleanliness. Nobody wants to live in or around filth. Always help people who helped you. Why would you do it any other way? Don’t be a fool for your “friends.”

     Intestinal fortitude seems to have vanished in this current generation. Some of them give up too easily and are extremely fickle. When things fail to work out, they get depressed and feel sorry for themselves. Everyone gets depressed! They just don’t stay that way. People find alternate ways to improve their lives when things get tough, by working towards mending their way through their crisis. As we say in the military, “No pain. No gain!”

     Once you play the, “I’m grown now!” card you will be expected to pay monthly bills and the new ones you have created when they are due and be broke just like all the rest of us grown folks.  Bottom line, responsibility often sucks!

Holy Week Memoir: Sweet Momma Mittie by Serbennia Davis

Posted on March 27, 2018 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

     The three little toddlers were snuggled into a deep sleep at two o’clock in the morning on Palm Sunday in April 1966. Someone pounded on the front door telling their Aunt Gertie that their mother, Mittie had just been killed on the street corner right outside of their front door.

     Momma Mittie stepped out of a friend’s car, walked behind it for her safety, and headed towards her front door a few feet away. She and two others had been out celebrating her thirty-eighth birthday. They had no idea they were being followed and stalked by the next-door neighbor and jealous husband of her friend Eve.

     Buddy was also the nephew of the children's father, Jimmie. Filled with outrage and fuming with anger, he thought it was his unfaithful wife when he saw a woman getting out of the car. He sped up his vehicle and rammed it into Momma Mittie crushing both of her legs between the two cars. Not once, but twice! He backed up his vehicle and raced forward a second time crushing her body to death. She died instantly upon the final impact.

     Screaming “No!” at the top of her lungs, Aunt Gertie woke up everyone.  The frightened toddlers started yelling and crying too, “I want my momma! I want my momma!”  They did not understand what had actually happened. They were very afraid during the commotion.

     Sadly, their reality nightmare became the beginning of the end for them. Infinite innocence had been perpetually stolen – in more ways than one. At ages two, four, and six-years old, they were too young to understand the adult conflict over their mother’s death.

     Lifelong questions haunted them even as adults.  Why did Momma Mittie's side of the family now hate Daddy Jimmie’s side of the family? Why didn't Buddy ever go to jail?  Why had daddy only visited them once after momma's death? Did Momma Mittie sacrifice her life to save Eve?

     Abruptly, they relocated from the little corner house surrounded by pecan trees in hard time Dunn, NC to the fast-paced Chocolate City and high rises of hard time Baltimore, MD with Momma Mittie's sister Annie Mae.  They were three little country bumpkins forced to live, stay and become city slickers.  What would happen to them next?

Art Inspired by the Front Lines

Posted on November 7, 2016 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (2)

Women Behind the Uber Wheel

Posted on March 23, 2016 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (2)