Mama McDonald & the King
My great-grandmother Naomi McDonald (Mama, pronounced Ma-Maw) was nothing short of a hoot. She was fashionable, spunky, and just a lot of fun. I am incredibly happy that I got to know her. In honor of Elvis’ birthday today, I’m going to share my Mama’s brush with the King.
During the days of segregation, my Mama was a waitress at a diner in downtown Memphis (and the only waitress on staff that would serve the colored section–shocking to think of that time period, really). She loved listening to Elvis Presley, and lucky for her, the jukebox at the diner was full of it. When the music was changed out, she asked her boss for Elvis’ music, but he just broke the records in front of her. One day, she was checking on customers and lo and behold, Elvis Presley himself was sitting at the counter. She told him how much she loved his music and about how her boss wouldn’t let her have the old records. Elvis asked her to point out her boss and after he had a short talk with the man, Mama got all of the rest of the Elvis records out of the jukebox. She always told that story with a beaming smile on her face.
Until the day she died, my great grandmother was a huge Elvis fan. She even had her own system of time, before and after Elvis’ death. She used it to determine such personal matters as how long her own husband had been dead! One Christmas (long before I was born), she bought a huge set of Elvis luggage and broke it up for presents to her grandchildren. Mom got the train case, which she used all of her life. It’s one of the possessions I’m most sad to have lost. There was a lot of love in that train case–and fantastic vintage costume jewelry. I do have the jewelry, and when I wear it, I’m reminded of my spunky, Elvis-loving granny. RIP Mama.
Me & my Mama McDonald – Christmas 1979