Happy Corner: Cousin Homer and the Grass Widow Happy

Cousin Homer, one of my dadÂ’s 57 first cousins on his mamaÂ’s side, was in his thirties and had never had the courage to court a young maiden. 

He lived at home on the farm with his Mama and Pappa, who he and his siblings called Ma and Pa as did all the grandchildren. 

Homer was a quiet son who faithfully did his mamaÂ’s bidding and although he did plenty of work on the well-run (by Ma) family farm, he was always available to do her bidding around the house. 

No slacker, this Ma. She was a homemaker, wonderful cook and very industrious. She always had a flock of laying hens whose eggs she packed in crates weekly to be picked up by nephew Hugh (my Dad) to be sold on his run to Panama City. In addition, she milked at least one cow who produced the cream to make butter which she also sold through nephew Hugh.

There was one thing Aunt Della depended on: Cousin Homer would always be right there when she needed him. And then, this grass widow moved to Caryville where Cousin Hugh made weekly trips on Saturdays to sell mullet fish and farm products and hang out with Mel Jenkins in his general store, lending him a hand occasionally. 

Now this young grass widow, MelÂ’s cousin-in- law, had three small children plus a teenage brother living with them since his mother and hers had died. There was no family service agency at this time in the late 1930s or early 40s.

The two matchmakers – Mel and Hugh –  decided it was time to find this young woman a husband, and Cousin Homer was just the right candidate. So, the two conspired to get them together. 

Things went smoothly, and a courtship ensued to the point that Mel and wife Christine, along with Cousin Hugh, drove to Bonifay on a Saturday afternoon accompanying the would-be bride and groom to purchase a marriage license.

Now Cousin Homer had not had the courage to mention to Ma that any such thing was imminent, had not even brought his intended to the farm to meet the family, and had made no set wedding date. But on the way back to Caryville from Bonifay, impulsive Cousin Hugh said, “Mel you are a Justice of the Peace. You can perform a marriage. LetÂ’s pull over and stop here and go ahead and finish this process.” 

The two were in agreement, so the marriage was performed right there alongside Highway 90.

Then reality set in. Cousin Homer owned a house, but still lived at home with Ma and Pa. What to do? How to break the news to the family? 

Knowing there would not be a joyous celebration at home, it was decided that the bride would stay in Caryville while Cousin Hugh accompanied Cousin Homer to break the news to Ma and Pa. 

While Pa received the joyous news with good humor, Ma was a different story. She was devastated. She took to her bed for days. 

I remember going with my Grandma, her sister, to try to talk some sense into Aunt Della, but she would not be consoled. 

Homer went on after facing the music and moved his bride and her family into his house where she quickly made it into a home. Eventually, she became an important part of the family, a person on whom family members depended, helping to care for children for other family members and some in the community. 

A staunch Southern Baptist, she soon became adapted to the quaint ways of The Primitive Baptists and was a faithful member of the church the family attended as well as an important part of the community.

Through the years, the two matchmakers congratulated themselves on a job well done.