Today, December 13 was my Grandmother Zady Dulan's birthday - she was a beautiful deep dark chocolate brown Black woman of Creek Nation heritage - unlike most Sagittarians, however, she was very quiet, owing to her Creek Indian heritage, where women are very obsequious, and beautiful.
|GRANDMOM ZADY DULAN|
She might have been quiet, but she was never idle. She could cook like anything - and had an old treadle sewing machine that she used to use to make the clothes for my dad, aunts and uncle Adolf Dulan (of Dulan's King of Soul Food in Los Angeles, CA).
My Grandfather, Silas Dulan talked enough for the both of them. He could, and often did talk you under a table. I'm sure she was perfect for him - they never argued, but loved each other immensely. They were married for over 50 years. They were married when he was 16 and she was 15 - raised their four children, and 11 of my grandfather's brothers and sisters, who were orphaned when racist, rednecked, white marauders out of Missouri came riding through and murdered my great granddad - Ben Dulan - who had escaped from them and moved his family into Oklahoma Territory for safety. His wife committed suicide, leaving the responsibility of raising their children to my grandaddy, who was probably all of 15 at the time (but the oldest at home).
Quiet as she was, Grandmom Zady was the Matriarch of the family, of which my granddad was the absolute patriarch. I remember her cooking mile high biscuits, home made syrup, home made ice cream (we used to help crank the ice cream maker), churning home made REAL BUTTER, pop corn popped on top of the pot belly stove, kerosene lamps - because they didn't have electricity. She used to chop wood and fire up that old wood burning stove and make magic. There was a long plank table, and we all sat around it waiting for the food to be served. I could hardly wait - I loved her cooking!
They lived in a sod and clapboard house in Luther Oklahoma, which was part of Jones County - no indoor plumbing; they had an outhouse, and a shed for the school bus Grandaddy drove. These were all built by my Grandfather's hands. Granddaddy was a dairy farmer, but he also raised the best watermelons in town - Grandmom Zady used to help him pick and grade the watermelons for freshness - Granddady sold them off the back of his truck!
There was a creek down back of the house, and a root cellar that she had Granddaddy dig so she could cure her herbs, and put up her canned fruit and vegetables. There was this big windmill that was used to bring the best tasting ice cold water up from the ground; and she used to draw the water, heat it up and then bathe us kids in this big galvanized tub - using Ivory Soap.
I loved hanging out there in Luther, Oklahoma and helping her get the eggs from the chickens, planting her garden, and eating those fantastic preserves she'd make - especially on top of the freshly made biscuits. But my absolute favorite Grandmom Zady dish was succotash! She had a way of preparing it that I have not been able to duplicate.
Her cooking was so great, it's what inspired my Uncle Adolf Dulan to start his soul food restaurant, Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch, and later Dulan's King of Soul food. We had real cornbread - not that stuff that's almost as sweet as and had the consistency of cake - and enough food to feed an army. It was almost a sin to not know how to cook in the Dulan family.
I love to cook and I'm a great epicurean soul food cook (i.e no pork), but I confess, my biscuits are atrocious - and my Grandmom would agree. She tried to teach me how to make biscuits from scratch - but I never got the hang of it. It always blew my mind how she could make the perfect Angel Food Cake, Lemon Merengue Pie, succulent turkey, fried chicken, collard, mustard and turnip greens, and never have anything more than that old green wood burning stove to work with.
We had the best Christmases - because all of us would come together and celebrate - we'd rotate houses - Luther one year, for Grandmom and Granddaddy; Olkmulgee the next for Aunt Zethel and Uncle John Q; Oklahoma City - to my Aunt Alene and Uncle Major; and Oklahoma City again to our house. There would be house gifts, family gifts and individual gifts - and we kids always got something - loved it - we'd have to unwrap the gifts; say thank you and present our gifts. Missing those days, especially this time of the year when everyone is scattered so far across the US now.
My Grandmom Zady was a stickler for speaking proper English - even though I don't think she went further than the 6th grade herself. If you talked flat, or were grammatically incorrect, you couldn't finish the sentence until you said it correctly. It's a habit all of us have - we stop our kids and make them say it properly - my daughter, Kira, does the same thing with her boys.
Grandmom and Grandaddy put all Granddad's brothers and sisters, as well as their own children through college - Langston University in Langston, OK - and they all went on to excel as teachers, professors, and in my uncle's case, entrepreneur. My dad was the only one not to attend college because he went into the service during WWII - and immediately went to work when he came out of the service - had a family to raise (me and later my sister Brenda) and didn't want to waste time. Daddy was perhaps the biggest stickler of them all for making sure we four got our education, but it was instilled in him and all my relatives by my Grandmom Zady Dulan.
My Grandmother used to come to our house in Oklahoma City laden with home made gifts, or things she had ordered from Sears and Montgomery Ward; then she would then sit quietly, as though in meditation, and maybe only say something once every other hour - like "Hot enough four you?" and we'd respond, "Yes, Grandmommy." Then she'd smile and say "That's nice." and go back into the silence.
She was also a stickler for good manners. You'd have to say "Excuse me; or I beg your pardon," and you never butted into other people's conversations without their permission. I'm still working on that one - lol -
I remember when I first became aware of Astrology, and I was looking up everybody's sun signs, I asked my Grandmom when her birthday was - thinking it would be some quiet reticent sign like a Virgo or something. When she told me she was born on December 13, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I couldn't quite wrap my mind around that one - I had never, ever ever seen a quiet Sagittarius before. I think I even had the audacity to ask her if she was sure - lol - like she wouldn't know her own birthdate (she never would tell me the year though - we still believe that a woman who will tell her age will tell anything, and therefore can't be trusted - oh yes, we are a bougie family - don't let the sod house fool you!)
She definitely believed in spare the rod and spoil the child - and would send you to get a switch in a heart beat. Grandmom Zady didn't tolerate spoiled brats.
Later, when she and Granddaddy were getting up in age, and too old to handle the farming by themselves, they decided to move into Oklahoma City - I remember being highly confused and upset - what was going to happen to the farm? No one would tell me anything at the time - I think I was about 14 or 15 - but I couldn't imagine them living in Oklahoma City - what would they do? How would we get ice cream and fresh butter and the most important thing, who was going to grow the watermelons???
I don't think I ever adjusted to my grandparents no longer living on the farm. They still owned the land, and my Dad, granddad and uncle used to go out there to hunt - they were pretty good at it too. I went on a couple of them myself - I'm not a bad shot either. Learned from the best!
The early pictures I had seen of her and my Granddaddy show that they were a beautiful couple - of course they were both kids - it took my granddad forever to grow a mustache in order to make him look more grown up. But her love for us, her dedication and devotion, her mild introverted ways are probably the reason I'm not more of a fire breathing Aries than I already am. I am learning to find my quiet place within myself - and when ever I get to the point that I feel that I'm just gonna burst, I remember the still calmness of Grandmoma Zady Dulan.
I know that she, Dad, Granddaddy, Alene, Zethel are all together now - probably enjoying some of that wonderful home cooking of hers.
So Happy Birthday to Grandmom Zady Dulan - your memory and your positive spirit lives on in all of us. Love to you from your first Granddaughter - Gloria Jeanne
Stay Blessed &