Mother told me she was going to put a stamp on me and mail me special delivery to Mommy Ricks at Hopewell. (Mommy is Mother's mother.) I knew I was special. I learned that in Sunday School. But what did she mean by special delivery?
The iceman delivers ice to our house every Tuesday and Thursday. He brings a big block of ice and puts it in our icebox—even if we're not at home. The iceman's name is Bob. I think he's kin to us because if Daddy happens to be home when Bob comes, Bob always asks how Cousin Lillian is. (That's Daddy's mother.) Sometimes Mother lets me go all over town with Bob to deliver the ice. I sit in his lap and pretend I'm driving his truck. Bob has big tongs that he attaches to a block of ice, then he hoists the block to his shoulder, and lugs it in to the house. Before he goes inside, he puts a tow sack on a block and has me sit on it, so I'll stay cool. He also chips a sliver of ice off the block for me to suck on, so I won't get thirsty. After he delivers all the ice, he takes me back home.
Dr. Caldwell delivers babies. I know this for sure because once when I was spending the night with Aunt Bertie and Uncle William, when my cousins and I got up the next morning, Aunt Bertie had a little baby in bed with her. We had never seen that baby, and Uncle William told us Dr. Caldwell brought it in his black satchel and delivered it while we were sleeping. It was a girl baby, and they named her Dorothy Mae, but we always called her Dot.
I've been told that in some towns a man delivers milk to everyone's house. I guess he's called the milkman. We buy our milk from Mrs. Harmon. She lives next door and has a cow that she milks all by herself. Every other day Mother and I take a clean lard bucket that has a lid on it to Mrs. Harmon's house. She gets a bucket of milk out of her icebox and pours it into our bucket. Once a week, Mother lets the milk sour so she can make buttermilk. She puts it in a big churn and sits in the kitchen and pumps the churn handle up and down until butter forms in the churn. She dips the butter off the milk, molds it into a round shape on a pretty saucer and carves a picture of a flower on top. Sometimes she lets me make the picture. The buttermilk is really good with crumbled up cornbread in a tall glass. Mother said she taught me how to feed myself by setting me on the floor on a newspaper with a cup of buttermilk and cornbread between my legs. She said my legs were so fat my heels wouldn't touch the floor. I'll bet those people who have their milk delivered to them don't get to make buttermilk.
I was all excited about being a special delivery. Mother let me pick out the clothes I wanted to take to Mommy Ricks' house, and we packed them in my little suitcase. I dressed Honeysuckle, my baby doll, in her Sunday clothes. I still couldn't understand what the special delivery was all about until Haddon Palmer came driving up. He said he had come to pick up a special package to be delivered to Mommy Ricks.
"You want to ride with me to deliver the mail?" he asked.
"Oh, yes," I said.
Mother didn't put a stamp on me, but she gave me a big kiss and said, "Sealed with a kiss."
I climbed in the car with Haddon, the mailman, and off we went to the country. Each time he stopped at a mailbox, he handed me some letters, and I put them in the box.
When we started down the hill near Mommy's house, Haddon tooted the horn on the car. By the time we got to her house, Mommy was waiting at the mailbox.
"Here's a special delivery, Mrs. Ricks," Haddon said. "Her mother says have her ready on Friday, and I'll take her back home."
So that's how I got to be a special delivery.