The family of Cameron Foreman lived a couple of miles down the bayou from us. Mr. Foreman was a rice farmer and his wife was a truly beautiful young blonde-haired woman named Bessie. She was from Arkansas and was several years younger than her husband. They had several children, and whenever Bessie had a new baby, my mother and my sister "Dee" would go over to help take care of her and the children.
Bessie's son, James (nicknamed "Kank") rowed his little skiff up the bayou to our house in Perry one day to bring a message to my mother. Bessie sent word that Cameron had brought her a bottle of black walnut extract from the grocery store and a big block of ice from the ice house in Abbeville, and she wanted to make some ice-cream, even if the evenings were still cool. She wanted us to come over a little early so that my mother could cook the custard.
About mid-afternoon, my parents and little brother and I boarded the Osprey and boated over to the Foreman's house. My mother cooked the custard for the ice cream, and after it cooled, we kids took turns turning the crank of the ice cream freezer. It was early evening before it was ready to eat, but it was delicious.
Night had fallen before we started home, but what happened next stands out clearly in my mind, even today. When Dad started the engine, a spark flew and ignited the oil in the drip pan, and suddenly the whole boat cabin was lit up by great flames leaping from the oil pan.
Well, my little brother and I froze, Dad starting jumping up and down and yelling, in total panic. Mom was the only one who kept her cool. She pulled off her coat and dipped it into the water, leaning out of the back door of the boat cabin. I remember her telling me to watch the baby, because Jerry, seeing the open door, was trying to jump out of the boat. Mom took her dripping coat and threw it over the flames, successfully smothering the fire. Mom was a hero!
It wasn't until we had finally got home and she got a look at her ruined coat that she "got the chills." Dad put her to bed, covered her with three quilts, and held her tight until she finally stopped shaking.
The following Christmas, Mom's gift from my sister Dee and her husband, was a brand new winter coat.
Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
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