My mother was a "Yankee Doodle Dandy". She was born on July 4, 1923 and was only on this earth thirty-nine and one half years. However she impacted the lives of every one she ever met. The people she knew are all my age or older. The older ones are pretty much all gone now but for years whenever I went to a funeral or a family gathering someone would always tell me how much they loved my mother. She saw good in everyone and passed that optimism on to me. I was a momma's boy and it would be years before I would even spend a night away from home. She was a nurse when she met my father while working at Doctor Martin's office in the Bennie Dillon Building on Church Street. Daddy worked at a nearby Walgreen's. They married in 1949 and at some point she became a full time stay at home mom. Probably about the time of their marriage daddy bought his own drugstores. One was at 17th and Charlotte called Segroves Drugstore, and two partnerships with an old army buddy. Segroves-Kelly Drugstore and Market, at 12th and Jefferson and Segroves-Kelly Drugstore at 9th and Cheatham. After I was born my sister Donna and I were always with her. My brother Mark would come along in 1955. We spent a lot of time at the drugstore and she even had a playpen set up out on the floor for me while she helped my dad. When I grew older I learned to work in the store. Such chores as dusting, cleaning glass with Windex, sweeping floors and working the cash register. Because our stores were in predominately black areas of town she taught me the power of words and not to use words that were negative. I was not allowed to use racial slurs at a time in the South that they were commonly used. Primarily she taught me to respect everyone and to be courteous. Mother taught me not to use profanity and she forbade words even as mild as darn. We couldn't call a person a liar. She preferred to call someone a storyteller instead. Because I was so loved and secure in her love I have always recognized love when I have experienced it.
She wasn't in church every time the doors opened but she loved Jesus. She made sure that we were always in Sunday school and church somewhere. She had a beautiful voice and played the guitar. She was always singing hymns either by herself or in jam sessions with her cousins down on Cahal street in East Nashville. Some of my favorite moments was hearing her sing gospel songs as we drove along in the car. Every single night she would bow down beside me as I prepared to go to bed and listen to me recite "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take". Although I didn't become a Christian until I was twenty-one her love preserved me for that day and I am sure that my brother Mark and my sister Donna could say the same thing. My father was married before he married my mother and he had two girls, Carolyn and Faye, by his first wife Mamie. My sister Carolyn told me once that she loved my mother more than she loved her own. They spent many weekends at our house during those years. I am an evil man but whatever is good about me I owe to my mother. She was such a gentle soul and I will never understand, until the day that I die, why God allowed her to die in such a violent manner but it is because of the legacy of love that she passed on to me that I have never blamed God for the bad things in my life. When we all bow down on that last day, we will understand.
|Donie Brown with her grandmother Mattie Mayfield Frogge|
|Donie Brown (circa 1933)|
|Donie Brown during WW2|
|Donie Brown & her brother Alton Brown|
|Mother with her boyfriend Allen "Frog" Smi|
|Mother and her best friend Dorothy McMillan|
|Mother jamming with her cousins on Cahal St.|
|Donie at an unknown lake|
|Me, my sister Donna, and mother|
|My sisters Carolyn, Faye, Donna, me and mother|
|Mother probably just after she first bleached her hair|
|Daddy, mother and Mark|