Mother believed in something her daddy, James Tucker, once told her.
“Quit complaining about things that don’t get done, and do them yourself,” he said. He was a self-made man who went to school for only three months but learned to read and was fervent about it. “If a person learns to read, he can learn anything,” he’d say, and he did. He eventually became president of the Bank of Thomasville in their small south Alabama town.
So when Mother saw how trash and debris were tossed about, littering her Selma neighborhood, she didn’t complain. She fashioned a broomstick and nail to use as a litter dagger and regularly walked the blocks around Royal Street picking up trash.
The neighbors were accustomed to seeing Mother with her trash bag and dagger, but to passersby, it must have looked odd seeing that little aging woman tromping about gathering up others discards.
One day she was out on her litter patrol when a car slowed to a stop right next to her. The driver slowly lowered the window just enough to hold two dollars out in Mother’s direction. Amused, she took the money, thanking the driver as he pulled away.
We often teased her about the handout, threatening to put her out on the street to collect funds to support herself in her old age. But for as long as she could walk the block, she continued her litter campaign. And she did not complain.
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Dilcy Windham Hilley
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