It was a real surprise to the fifteen of us who grew up in Lanier, Georgia with Jamie Woods, that he cleaned up his act, went to work at for a major corporation, and wore a suit, and tie every day.
The way Jamie was raised, it was a surprise to most of us that he grew up at all. He didn't exactly have your average, 1950's Beaver Cleaver upbringing, like the rest of us.
In fact, I remember exactly where I was standing when I first heard as a child, that the Woods had had popcorn for dinner one night. Why it was almost scandalous. None of our mothers would have allowed such a thing.
I got a particularly close look at the Woods, since they lived in the house right next to ours and their backyard was separated from ours only by a little white fence. Every morning at 9:00 AM, June Woods, Jamie's mother, would usher her three little boys - Jamie, who was my age, Bobby and Joey - down the back stairs and outside with a loaf of bread, or some crackers and peanut butter, or whatever else she had grabbed on her way through the kitchen.
Then, she'd go back inside. The door would slam, the bolt lock, and after that, Jamie, Bobby and Joey were on their own, until at least lunch // (that is, when she remembered to give them lunch). Sometimes they had to pound on the door.
Now, you can imagine what three little boys, unsupervised, got up to in that back yard. They were always either planning, or perpetrating some outrage.
They played Tarzan, army, cowboys, Indians - anything that involved dying. It seemed as if every time I looked out the sun room windows, one of them was clutching his heart, or his stomach in simulated death agony.
They also ripped shingles off my father's garage, yelled at and generally tormented all the neighborhood animals. One day they set fire to our garage and the next day to their own house. On another occasion, Jamie attempted to hang Bobby from the big oak tree in the backyard, nearly killing him.
Whenever there was the sort of crying or screaming that seemed to indicate that someone was being killed (which was often the case), June Woods wound fling that back door open and come down those stairs like a Tasmanian devil.
She had so much long black wavy hair that it seemed to be enough for three women and it just seemed to fly everywhere. She scared the beJesus out of me and I was only inside, watching. I wasn't going to get a spanking.
Little boys scattered in all directions, but it was no use. She would eventually jerk them up by the arm, one by one, and beat the living daylights out of them. Then, just as suddenly as she had appeared, she would turn on her heel, stomp back inside and slam the door. You could hear the bolt locking from our house.
No, June Woods was definitely not, one of the hatted and gloved and pearled bridge set the rest of the mothers hung out with. She was often in her bathrobe in the middle of the afternoon. She wore black framed glasses with lenses that were as thick as the bottoms of coke bottles. She wore NO makeup and she didn't pluck her eyebrows. Definitely not June Cleaver.
Jamie told me in high school that she locked herself in the house all day because she wrote country and western lyrics. But, nobody ever saw a song sheet. Or even saw her go to the post office. This went on for years.
Then, June Woods just disappeared. Oh, it was all hushed up by the adults. But, all of us knew that she was gone. We were impressed. Mothers just didn't disappear in Lanier.
Jamie told me later that she had gone to Nashville for a while and then finally ended up in a mental hospital in her beloved Mississippi. There she remains until this day. Jamie says she still spends all her time writing country and western lyrics, is perfectly happy, and has no one to disturb her.
You know, some women just weren't cut out for the fifties.