Bodices and petticoats,
Long hooped skirts and pointy shoes,
Smelling salts for vapors,
Hankies scented with perfumes.
White gloves and dainty parasols,
Bonnets tied beneath the chin,
Shawls draped around the shoulders,
Hand-crocheted, complete with fringe.
Grandma used to tell me,
About Miss Genevieve,
A lady of the Old South,
A kind no longer seen.
She wore satin party dresses,
And danced cotillions with a flair,
She debuted at sweet sixteen,
Had her first love affair.
Grandma said her heart was broken,
At least a dozen times,
As Miss Genevieve sought her true love,
While well within her prime.
She loved dogs and cats and horses,
She used to ride a lot,
And her favorite dog, Jedediah,
Along her side, would trot.
Her house was big, with porticos,
At the side, magnolia trees,
This old plantation of the South,
Home for Miss Genevieve.
I always thought Miss Genevieve,
Was like a hot-house flower,
Delicate, fragile, wanting,
Attention by the hour.
Southern ladies, in those days,
Were a group unto themselves,
Proud, demanding, spoiled perhaps,
They were called Southern Belles.
It seemed to me Miss Genevieve,
Surely fit the mold,
"What a silly lady, Grandma."
Said Grandma, "Put that thought on hold."
"It's quite true she started out,
In a pampered way of life,
But that didn't last too long,
The Civil War brought stress and strife."
"Ailing mother, absent father,
And the Civil War not done,
Miss Genevieve alone to handle,
A place not far from firing guns."
"No hot-house flower here, my girl,"
My Grandma said to me,
She shook her head, "Oh no," she said,
"You don't know Miss Genevieve."
"After Grant took Richmond,
The whole South in disarray,
Homeward made their way."
"But, also greedy, hostile bands,
Of renegades ran loose,
They roamed throughout the countryside,
Creating havoc and abuse."
"No Southern home or lady safe,
Miss Genevieve, as well,
She tucked a gun into her pocket,
Called Jedediah for sentinel."
"One day her fears were realized,
Some renegades appeared,
Though Jedediah was ferocious,
They just laughed and jeered."
"A lonely damsel with a dog,
'A sitting duck,' they grinned.
No matter Jedediah growled,
They swaggered and moved in."
"When one scruffy fellow raised his gun,
And aimed it at her trusty dog,
Miss Genevieve shot from the hip,
Crying, 'Help me and forgive me, God!"
"She hit the hand that held the gun,
Of that old reprobate,
The whole group then went flying,
And Miss Genevieve was safe."
I always liked to hear that part,
When Grandma'd finish, I'd applaud,
"So, don't you think," Grandma would add,
Southern ladies can be cowed."
"Southern Belles, like sturdy flowers,
Have deep roots ... aren't easily mowed down,
Their strength's just hidden by their beauty,
And they blossom all year 'round."
"How come you know this, Grandma?"
My first question, out of many,
"That's simple, honey," Grandma said,
"Miss Genevieve was my Granny."
"Years ago she told me all these tales,
So I know that they are true,
And you, young lady, need to know,
There's some Miss Genevieve in you."
"Sho 'nuff?" I smarted back,
Grandma had a twinkle in her eye,
"Sho 'nuff," she said, "Ya'll come now,
And we'll get some Pecan Pie!"
~ Virginia (Ginny) Ellis ~
Copyright © 2001