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Gettin My Mojo Workin'
by Beth Boswell Jacks

Back when I was no bigger than a tadpole, I enjoyed lounging with my buddies on the pink chenille bedspread of Stella Roberts, who had her own apartment behind the "big house" of Margaret and Dean Pearman in our quiet Delta town. This was a black-white situation, you see, back in the early '50s. Stella was the maid, and we little white neighborhood girls were her loyal subjects. We adored her, and she ruled the roost in this segregated corner of the universe.

Ahhh, did she ever rule. Kathy, Judy, and I sprawled on Stella's bed, stringing beads and eating soda crackers, listening to blues and barrelhouse music on the radio while Stella danced around the tiny, bare room, throwing her head back, waving her arms, moving her hips. We'd watch and question her.

"Stella, how come you don't like Perry Como? Or Dinah Shore? How come you like music like that?"

She'd laugh big and say, "Girls, one day you find out what REAL music is. One day you find out what moves your soul."

The next thing we knew our mamas were preaching to us--"Y'all can't go hang out at Stella's any more on Saturday afternoons. You don’t need to be listening to that trashy music.”

Then we gave Judy a heap of hassle because she told her daddy about some of the words--mighty mild lyrics compared with what's out there today, for sure. Those lyrics didn't mean squat to three elementary school girls, because at that point we didn't know a thing about being love-sick or having powerful ways. Fact is, we weren't too knowledgeable about much of anything.

Well, we did know a couple of things. We knew Stella could sure get down with the dancing, and we knew we kids were happy as pine borers in a fresh log when we were in her magical presence.

The really big thing we didn't realize as we hung out with Stella and her wonderful music was that we were hearing the birth, right then, of REAL Rock and Roll. Two years later, Mississippi-born Elvis Presley combined blues and gospel, and there you have it.

Stella wasn’t around the neighborhood two years later though. She went off and left us. Headed up Highway 61 with her one little bag of possessions, moving to Chicago, hoping to find a better life.

But as Kathy, Judy, and I entered our teenage years, we never forgot her. Thanks to Stella, we three took a back seat to none on the dance floor. We were the sock hop queens (at least, in our opinion) because of our training on the polished hardwood of Stella’s tiny one-room quarters. She was the best. She put our mojos in high gear early on and taught us, yes indeed, what truly moves a young girl’s soul.


Beth Boswell Jacks is the editor of USADEEPSOUTH.com. Check the SNIPPETS page for more of her stories. This story, "Getting My Mojo Workin'," was published (2002) in Simon & Schuster's Chocolate series.

For information on Beth's new book, SNIPPETS II, CLICK HERE.

Write Beth at bethjacks@hotmail.com.

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