On Sundays we would go to a Gospel Sing. Mama
would fry chicken and often slipped me a wing. Then
she baked a cake with raw eggs in the batter. I got to
lick the beaters, uncooked eggs did not matter.

First the preacher preached, then we sang and sang. My
stomach started wanting “nana puddin” with meringue.
Next we’d all spread dinner, Southern food was mighty
fine. Our tables were long boards attached between two

Mama would sing alto at the top of her lungs, I sat close
beside her, gospel songs and hymns were sung. One day s
he was singing and got lost in the song. The man sitting
behind her knew something was wrong.

For she reared back in the moment and then “letter fly”
The man was astonished, I’m sure he wondered why.
His lap held the wiglet that fell off of her head. She
never missed a beat, “I need that,” is what she said.

My friends and I would play outside at the country
church, When I went back inside my refusal had no worth.
Although my face was dirty and my hair was a mess, No
shoes on my feet and tears in my dress.

She said, “You’ll sing a solo and will praise God’s
name.” If she had not insisted, life would not be the
same. “Thank God, I’m in His Care” was my sugar stick
song. I know God and Mama were preparing me all

My sister had such talent so a purchase was made of a black, upright
piano Daddy promised would be played. For twenty-five dollars it was
bought and I’m thankful still today. “Jesus is Tenderly Calling,” my first
lesson, Key of C with chords to play.

Uncle Otis refinished that piano, added a mirror mighty fine.
On it Mama taught piano, it was played all the time. I can
still see those “what-nots” shake and recall the fun As
Mama would cut loose and do the dance, the Charleston.

Speaking of Uncle Otis who plowed land with a mule,
In the Rosinton Community he taught a two week singing school.
They would sing those shaped notes which related to pitch ‘do’
Like the Zolton Kodaly method I much later came to know.

Mama’s siblings had a Quartet like Grandpa Gulledge’s
family So singing Gospel music just came to me naturally. At
Baylor music school I learned it wasn’t a common thing For
families to get together to eat, to laugh, to sing.

On this Mother’s Day 2020 I feel that I must Tell of my
dear Mother and how I realize her trust Helped me as I
grew up closely by her side. She would often say, “Let
your conscience be your guide.”

“Careful how you train your conscience,” that’s what she would say.
And I think what good advice for me, even today. “If You Know the
Lord,” trust him both day and night From the song I used to sing, “He’ll
keep you on the road marked right.”

Mama said that when she died that I should not cry “Cause
she would be with her family in the “Sweet By and By. ” But
then she would say with a bit of a smile “Oh, it’s ok, you can
cry a little while.”

I sure love you, Mama, sometimes I still talk to you.
And I know that some day when my life is through
We will meet in Heaven and as the song would say
We will be together on that “Glad Reunion Day.”


Ruby Calvert



Carolyn Newman

Carolyn Newman is a retired public school music specialist who spent much of her career at Dyess Elementary School. 




Top photo credit: License  CC BY-ND 2.0


  • Carol, the talent your mama developed in you as a youngster attending church has blessed so many people in so many places and occasions. I loved what you wrote–similar memories, but we were not blessed with musical talent–a gift the Good Lord did not give us–but sure blessed in many other ways.
    I miss our meeting together for ARTA. Thanks for writing. Nell


  • Carolyn, your poem reminded me of the days when my grandparents in Arkansas participated in what they called “sangins.” A group would stand around the piano and belt out Stamps-Baxter harmony hymns. I still enjoy listening to an old tape of them singing their songs.


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