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Mississippi Mae
By Curtis L. Johnson, Sr.

A few years ago as I began to reflect upon the people, places, and things of my past, especially where I grew up, I was reminded of people with the middle name of Mae. I suppose that there is or has been or will be some government study or research that would be much more detailed, and their approach to this subject would be more scientific. But let’s face it - my personal experience and observations cost neither me nor the taxpayers anything, and I take delight in merely remembering such people.

My father had a middle name which was James, but neither my mother nor my grandmother had middle names. Four of us 12 children had double names – Ella Mae, Linda Faye, Shirley Ann, and me, Curtis Lee. It’s interesting that the other 8 siblings did not have middle names and I don’t know why. Anyway, there were enough people with middle names, and I’m certain there were many like me who seldom used them because we were not very fond of our middle names.

My mother’s given name is Georgianna and her name is perhaps also Southern, but that is another subject. I mention my mother because many of the ladies with the middle name of “Mae” were friends of my mother. Mom had a very close friend whose name was “Betty Mae.” They both were beauticians who worked out of their homes and also did each other’s hair. I’m told I was Betty Mae’s favorite. I have very good memories of her, and she was a nice lady with a pleasant temperament.

I remember another friend of my mother whose name was “Annie Mae.” Annie Mae and her family lived not far from us across the railroad tracks that ran straight through the middle of town. Annie Mae also had a daughter named “Catty Mae,” and a husband named Sam, whom we all called Mr. Sam Railroad. I went to school with one of their sons, Sammie Lee, who had a middle name the same as mine. I must say that Annie Mae also was a nice and friendly lady.

Mother had another friend by the name of “Johnnie Mae” who lived down the hill from us. Johnnie Mae and her husband operated a nightclub, the center of activity after everyone got off work. I might sound like a broken record, but this lady was also nice. I think my mother was such a dear person that she really attracted nice people to her. She made them look beautiful as they sat in her beauty chair, and Mother must have listened to a thousand stories or more.

A little farther around the bend, my mother had another friend who had a daughter named “Dorothy Mae.” I remember they moved away when I was very young. Mother had no end of friends with Mae middle names, because a little farther around the bend and across the field was a dear lady named “Daisy Mae.” Mother was around Daisy Mae and her sister Mary Alice a lot. I think it had something to do with the fact that both Daisy Mae and Mary Alice had children who were close friends of my sisters and brother. I hasten to add at this point that Daisy Mae had a daughter named “Callie Mae” and Mary Alice had a daughter named “Lillie Mae,” who were close friends to my two sisters. As you can see, females named Mae were plentiful in my little community and we were all mixed in there right together.

Apart from all the Mae connections with my dear mother, there were others. I suppose if I investigated further, there would certainly be more girls named Mae, but I cannot presently remember them all. Lastly, there was “Della Mae,” who lived a mile or two outside of Mattson. She was the sister-in-law to my oldest sister Ella Mae, who married her brother Willie.

I have not studied to confirm such, but I suspect Mae is indeed a Southern name. If not, I must say I was certainly surrounded in my little Mississippi Delta town with a lot of them!


Curtis writes to Ye Editor: “Growing up on the plantation in poverty, I never realized how rich I really was. As I look back on those days and develop the snapshots of my memory, I discover those golden treasures. Thanks for allowing me to share such treasures with others!”

Curtis Johnson, Sr., a native Mississippian, is a former pastor and presently owns a business with Barbara, his wife of 35 years. Residing near Sacramento, California, he is the proud father of 3 and grandfather of 6 grandchildren. He loves gardening and writing. Email address: cj8080

Read more stories by Rev. Johnson:
Southern Seasons
Mattson ~ A Place Unforgotten
More Than Race
Man, Mule and Mouse
Missing Mississippi

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