Posted in elderly, humor, Southern culture

Two Southern Sisters: A Conversation. Sort of.

When I recently visited my grandmother in central Virginia, Nana’s sister, Lillian, dropped by to deliver some sad news. The ensuing exchange—which I was able to record in the margins of a nearby 2008 Reader’s Digest—was anything but sad. And so, dear readers, we now present . . .

A conversation of two southern sisters

As transcribed by Angela Dove

The curtain rises on a sturdy round table, a mason jar of cut dahlias in the middle. Two silver-haired southern ladies in polyester pants, short sleeved shirts and orthopedic shoes sit across from one another. The sisters appear practically identical.

Lillian:    Well, I reckon you heard about Hattie Bell Crawford passing away.

Nana:    Who?

Lillian:    (Louder) Hattie Bell Crawford! You remember Hattie Bell.

Nana:    You mean Hattie Mae Crawford?

Lillian:    Bell.

Nana:    Hattie Mae Bell Crawford.

Lillian:    No! Just Hattie Bell Crawford! You know, John and Leroy’s sister? Used to be Hattie Bell.

Nana:    I know her maiden name was Bell. Wasn’t she a ‘Hattie Mae’?

Lillian:    No. She was just Hattie Bell. Then she married Asa Crawford.

Nana:    (Shaking her head) I don’t think I knew her. And I don’t remember any John and Leroy Bell.

Lillian:    Yes you do! Their daddy owned that corner store, had a jukebox in it.

Nana:    (Perking up) Well now, I remember that jukebox! We used to go dancing there after we got out of work from the mill.

Lillian:    (Puckering her lips like someone slipped her unsweetened iced tea) I didn’t do no dancing. That was you.

Nana:    Lord yes, I did! Had my first dance right there in that store. You remember that jukebox used to sit right next to the shelf of canning goods? It’s a wonder we didn’t knock those jars off the shelf when we got to twirling around and cutting up.

Lillian:    That was you doing all that.

Nana:    (Ignoring her sister and looking off into the past, a big smile on her face.) Those were some times. Wish I could remember the name of that store.

Lillian:    (Growing impatient) The name of it was Bell’s. John and Leroy and Hattie’s father owned that store.

Nana:    (Returning to the conversation) Who?

Lillian:    (Huffing out air) John and Leroy and Hattie! Their daddy was Mr. Bell, owned Bell’s Market that had the jukebox!

Nana:    (Smiling into the distance again, then nodding) Oh, yes. I reckon I danced with Leroy.

Lillian:    I reckon you danced with both of them boys. Plus lots of others.

Nana:    Well, don’t say it like that! It was innocent. Just teenagers being teenagers. I wasn’t going with any of them.

Lillian:    I didn’t say if you were or if you weren’t. I’m just saying you danced with practically every one of them boys.

Nana:    Well of course I did. I had to, didn’t I? (Cutting a mischievous smile toward her sister) Bunch of them boys wanted to dance with you, but you wouldn’t hardly ever do it, except maybe once or twice. I couldn’t just let them stand there, looking all sad.

Lillian smiles to herself but remains silent.

Nana:    So you keep up with their sister, Hattie?

Lillian:    Not particularly. I haven’t seen her in a long while.

Nana:    Who’d she marry?

Lillian:    I declare, you need to find those hearing aids! I already told you. She married Asa Crawford, used to work up at the college.

Nana:    What did he teach?

Lillian:    I don’t know if he was a teacher, or he just worked there, or what. That’s beside the point.

Nana:    Alright. So what’s the point?

Lillian:    Hattie Bell Crawford!

Nana:    What about her?

Lillian:    (losing all patience) She died!!

There is a long pause.

Nana:    I don’t think I knew her.

The curtain falls.

Angela Dove is an award-winning columnist and author of the true crime memoir, No Room for Doubt: A True Story of the Reverberations of Murder (Penguin 2009). She welcomes feedback at



Award-winning humor columnist and author of the true crime memoir _No Room for Doubt: A True Story of the Reverberations of Murder_ (Penguin Group, 2009). Inspirational speaker on issues of survivors' rights, women's issues, and general you-can-do-it-ness. Marketing consultant.

6 thoughts on “Two Southern Sisters: A Conversation. Sort of.

  1. Being from Central Virginia I feel like I’ve sit in on a few of those conversations. And yes, It does sound like some of the tales Jill McCorkle told at the conference this past weekend. Enjoyed this post.

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