Brother Mose was the central character of many of the funny stories of my childhood and youth. I spent so much time with him and knew him so well even now as I remember those experiences, I find myself laughing and enjoying them all over again. My sister Marilyn and I are the only remaining ones in the family who knew Brother Mose, and we love reminding each other of the impact he had on us. I know Cathy and our children have grown weary hearing me tell stories about Brother Mose and Sister Bobbie, but that generation has passed from the scene forever. Our children will never experience some of the good things we did and hopefully none of the bad things we allowed. Cathy and our children did know Lillian Singleton, and I have written an account of our collective remembrances.
Although Brother Mose was hired to do yard maintenance and heavy cleaning in the house he would occasionally answer the telephone, and some of his phone conversations were hilarious . Not infrequently he would answer the phone with the following, “Dr. Mo’s residence. Dr. Mo’s porter speaking.” I don’t know where he came up with that title, but Pop didn’t require it. On one occasion Pop jokingly introduced Brother Mose to his close friends as “my footman.”
This particular telephone conversation occurred in the early 1950’s when a recording was available of a hit song by Jimmy Boyd entitled, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” The record was so popular the record stores could not keep up with the demand, and our local store, Samples Electric City was no exception. Mom had begun trying to purchase the record in August to have it available for the Christmas season, and placed her name on a long waiting list. It was taking so long she said she had forgotten about it.
Mom had a meeting in early December in our home with some ladies from the First Baptist Church and had asked Brother Mose to remain in the kitchen to help with the serving and clean-up. The telephone rang and Brother Mose answered with his usual greeting. The lady on the other end said, “I’m calling from Sample’s, and I have her record of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Would you tell her for me?” Brother Mose did not understand her message at all and said, “M’am, excuse me, what was it you said?” The lady politely repeated her words, but it still didn’t compute for him. “Could you say that just one more time, please ’em (please M’am)?” Brother Mose was then sure what he heard but wasn’t sure how he would tell Mom with all those ladies present. Mom said he sheepishly came into the room and stood there for a few moments with a quizzical look on his face. Mom said, What is it, Mose?” He said, “Mrs. Mo’ could I have a private word with you?” She was a little aggravated but stepped into the hall way and again asked, “What do you want to tell me?” Mose said, “A lady from Sample’s called and said to tell you she saw you kissing Santa Claus.” Mom looked at Mose and said, “Mose, what in the world are you talking about?” He repeated what he thought he heard, and suddenly Mom remembered her reservation for the record from Sample’s. She said, “Thank you Mose for the message.” He seemed relieved he got that embarrassing message delivered in as discreet a manner as possible, and none of the church ladies would be any the wiser. When we got the record I played it for Brother Mose a couple of times and told him I thought the fellow was singing about Mom and how she got caught kissing Santa Claus. I don’t believe Mose thought it was funny and didn’t want me talking about it to anyone else.
Great story! Brother Mose sounds like a fascinating man. What would he think of iTunes? Waiting for a vinyl record seems like ancient history yet I can still remember my thrill at finding the Byrds 12-inch record in stock at a dime store on NW Ave. in El Dorado. It took some discussion with my mother to help her realize what I had bought.
Brother Mose could barely understand how to get a vinyl record to work. He would think iTunes must be coming from another planet and not to be fully trusted. His taste in music ranged from spiritual (Precious Lord) to blues which he would hear at Lonnie Mitchell’s Tavern down in the St. Louis section or town! Thanks for reading and commenting on the blog. Merry Christmas to you and family from Cathy and me.
I don’t get tired of ANY of your stories especially Brother Mose ones! I know I would have loved him as much as you did!!!
You, Mary K and John would have been his favorites of all in the family. I can just see him finagling some “pocket change” from you while he did the Hambone and sang some of his little jingles!
My o my what a wonderful experience. What a beautiful word picture of family and how it ought to be. A caring spirit a strong action of getting it right and super picture of respect. Then a great time of humor twinkling over it all like the beauty of holiday lights. Thank you brother for this shining light.
Brother Mose was my buddy when I was a lonesome little boy and I loved him until he went to glory while I was in medical school. Mom and I were the only white people at his funeral and I think I cried more than his wife did. You would have loved him too, John. Thanks for all your encouragement.