*Hattie has finally found a peaceful second for my interview. Welcome Hattie from Clara Gillow Clark's Hill Hawk Hattie, and Hattie on Her Way.
Hattie is one busy person!
Hill Hawk Hattie by Clara Gillow Clark
Hattie, will you please describe your home before you mother passed away?
Before Ma died, we were always singing, and Pa would get up and dance a jig. Ma’s biscuits and stews were so flavorful, and Pa said he could smell her sweet plum pies a ‘holler away, but Ma was the sugar that kept us sweet.
What is the happiest memory you have of your mother?
Every day was a happy time with Ma. I loved when Ma taught me at home in winter when the snow was too deep in the woods for me to traipse to school. Ma taught me the Latin names of flowers and how to be a real lady.
How did she pass away?
I was 10 years and 9 months old when Ma got real sick with pleurisy. I did everything she said to make her better. I brewed sassafras tea with honey. I made a poultice, a mustard paste with spices in a flannel bag to put on her chest. Then one morning when I came in from milking the cow, Ma’s breathing had turned to a gurgle. She turned her head to the wall and gave up. She gave up on me.
How did your father react? Did he treat you differently after it happened?
Pa used to call Ma and me his girls, but after Ma died he just called me “girl”. Ordered me around with curse words like I was nothing.
How did your home change after?
After Ma died, Pa told me that I had to do the cooking and fetching. That meant no more school. That meant I had to split the wood; keep the fire; bake bread, churn the cream into butter; milk the cow, and a whole lot more.
When my birthday came, I told Pa that I’d outgrown my dress, told him I’d favor me some purple hair ribbons, too. Pa came home drunk on redeye and tossed a brown package from the General Store in Pepacton on the table. Inside, were overalls, a red flannel shirt, and long johns. Pa said, “You’re tall and scrawny like a boy; you might as well dress like one.” I was so mad that I cut off my braids. Awful sorry about that.
What did you do to cope with all the changes?
Ma had a journal that Pa bought her. She used to write things down about me. I liked to run my fingers over her words like, “Hattie Belle won the spelling bee.” It made her feel closer to me. She left a whole lot of blank white pages, so I started to write things down about Ma, mainly; things that were starting to get erased like chalk from a slate board at school from living with
After your father introduced you as his “son” to his friends, how did that make you feel? Did he treat you any differently at that point?
First off, I thought it was some kind of mean and sorry joke. Then I saw the devil wink in his eyes, and knew he had a good reason for saying I was his boy.
It wasn’t so bad, because I made me a good friend—Jasper. Pa stopped calling me girl altogether, and just called me “boy.”
Hattie On Her Way
by Clara Gillow Clark
How did you feel when your father first announced moving you to your grandmother’s for your education?
When Pa told me where he was taking me, I got a lump in my throat the size of a walnut. I thought he was quitting on me, but he wasn’t. Pa called me His girl; I grabbed his hand and he held it fast.
What’s your first impression of your grandma’s home?
Grandmother had a fancy gingerbread house with brick walks and flower gardens and trellises. When I first met her, she sat stiff and straight as a bristle in her fancy-rose-backed chair, her voice chilly as a killing frost. I noticed pretty quick that the dining room had dark spots on the wallpaper where pictures or furniture used to be, but most of the rooms in her big house were locked. Then I found something queer and creepy in the cellar. There was something real queer and secretive about Grandmother’s house.
Was it hard to change from overalls to dresses?
Overalls are pretty practical for living in the woods, but Ma liked pretty things, and I know she liked me to look pretty as I could, too. When I put on my new blue dress that Pa bought me, it was like being born again into the real girl I longed to be.
Did you “feel” your mom’s presence there? How did you feel when you first went into her childhood room? Did you feel closer to her?
Grandmother finally unlocked the door to Ma’s room—the violet room, Ma always called it. Ma loved deep purple violets and there were thousands of them hand-painted on the soft-lilac colored walls. There was something strange and sad about her fairy doll house in the corner of her room, but I didn’t let on to Grandmother that maybe something had been wrong with Ma. Instead, I comforted her. The violet room didn’t make me feel any closer to Ma; it just made me a little sick-feeling to think about her invisible pretends.
When did you finally come to terms with your situation?
There were a whole lot of strange things to work out at Grandmother’s. For one, there was the scary story the girl in the big blue house next door told me about Grandmother and Buzzard Rose the cook murdering my grandfather. NOBODY ever wanted to talk about Grandfather, and then I found bones in the garden. I guess you’d better read all about it for yourself. It’s written down in my book, Hattie on Her Way. And I’d just love for you to meet my tutor, Mr. Horace Bottle.
Do you have any advice for your readers?
My pa gave me the best advice, and I think it’s pretty good advice for everybody. Pa said that hard as it is to keep going, keeping on is the only way to get through the hard times. I learned a whole lot more about doing that in my next book, Secrets of Greymoor, where I make a big mess of just about everything.
It was mighty fine to talk to all you good folks. Thanks for listening.
Hattie Belle Basket
Hattie, you’re very inspiring, I admire your strength. Thank you for your time.
Clara Gillow Clark is giving away Hill Hawk Hattie and Hattie on Her Way as a thank you for getting to know her beloved character. There will be 2 winners, 1st winner gets first pick of her personalized, signed book.
What do you need to do to enter? Just answer this question:
Think of the most difficult thing you’ve endured. How has it shaped your life the way it is today?
Clara is a wonderful lady. Please drop by and say hi here. To learn more about her, visit her website!
Contest closes July 28th at 9:30 pm EST and the winners will be announced 10pm!
*note: the contest has been postponed until further notice!
*post has been updated