Heat Level: 3 Flames
A Place For Ida offers a fresh insight into racism and coming of age through the eyes of a child. Abandoned by her parents at a tender age, she was left to be raised by her grandmother. By the age of thirteen, Ida longed for touch and affection. Everyone was already telling her she was a heartbreaker…with the strong shapely muscular legs of a stallion. It was pathetic the way she forced herself upon men.
Billy, her first true love, would send her life into a whirlwind of emotions, causing a sea of passion that Ida hardly had the capacity to control herself. During the early 1960's when the world was changing so fast, Ida tried her best to surpass time.
The year was 1960, it was the second day in their new home. They had moved from a house in a small town in South Carolina. (Her brothers and sisters called it the house behind the woods.) A redneck, named Mr. Floyd, owned it. A big tall cracker with hands as big as bear claws. He always wore the same plaid shirt and dingy coveralls, that reeked of pig manure. His face was always beet-red, and he had a way of looking at you like you were trash, with those beady black eyes that appeared to be placed close to the sides of his head for that purpose. He used the old house to store cotton and tobacco; it was also home to snakes, rats, and God knows what else.
After meeting with the family a few times (they were in desperate need of a place to stay), he decided that it was good enough to rent to niggers. “They are not much better than field rats,” he said to himself as he reviewed the small dingy shack.
Ida was the youngest of five children and can barely remember any significant details about the house behind the woods, except for the occasional snake that slithered its way into the house. The rats became usual unwelcome members of the household, helping themselves to whatever was accessible in the kitchen at night.
They had electric lighting, but there was no indoor plumbing, they had to pump water for cooking, bathing, and washing. There was an outhouse out back, which was seldom used because of the snakes.
The woods came in handy when they had to relieve themselves, but at night no one dared to go out, so they used a pan until morning. The woods were also utilized for heat and cooking, they had an old black wood-burning stove in the kitchen and a small potbelly wood-burner (heater) in each of the two bedrooms. Wild rabbits were a delicacy at home, since they were the main inhabitants of the woods.
Being the youngest of five children made Ida’s life a lot easier. The years passed quickly, basically carefree, she was too young to be burdened with the discomfort and miseries of the house behind the woods.
Through her naïve perception of the world, everyone seemed to function pretty well, until a snake menaced its way in one night, and bit one of her brothers, Harry. Ida had nightmares for months after her brother died, screaming and crying every night about worms and snakes crawling all over her. She sometimes dreamt how she and Harry used to play games underneath the house, or run around their grandmother’s flower garden. But too often in her dream she would relive the night Harry was bitten by the snake. He had gone to the kitchen in the middle of the night, in the dark, to get a drink of water. No one was able to sleep, when Ida had her dreams, until she was overcome with fatigue and weariness from hours of crying and screaming, only to be awakened by another nightmare.
The family was in turmoil; all the children were being deprived of sleep, not to mention the strain of maintaining grades, and the grownups were struggling with the upkeep of the house, so the decision was made to migrate within the city limits. Move! But with what money? Her mother’s brother had left sometime ago, to move to New York, to find a better life for himself. He had gotten married and both he and his wife were employed, with no children. So Ida’s mother decided to write and request his help. He wrote back that he would be glad to help.
So, the family moved into this house which was a far cry from a mansion, but this one had the modern conveniences of indoor plumbing. Hot and cold running water, and an indoor bathroom (so I guess it is a mansion). The bathroom contained a pink tub and a flushing toilet – definitely a new-found luxury – and an electric stove! THANK GOD! And the yard, the beautiful snake-free yard!