Remember when you’d look at your sibling and said sibling would whine”Ma, she’s looking at me!” With five sisters ,I heard that a great deal. Mamma would say”The cat can look at the queen!” I’d look at one of my many sisters and think that they were the farthest thing from queens I ever saw.
I think what she meant was that king, queen ,duke or dustman, none of us is better than the others. My mom was a very strange type of bigot. We made poor kids look well off. Every year the native people came to our door ,selling beautiful baskets and wonderfully coloured shaved wooden flowers.
They were not expensive, but mamma had no money.When I say no money ,I mean NO MONEY! Not a spare dime! Regardless, she would always end up with something from the native lady selling her wares at the door. How did she do it you may ask? Well she would trade. Maybe it would be kraft dinner,or maybe it would be some piece of clothing,or canned milk or something that for us was excess.Believe me that was not much. I loved the beautiful things the native people made , but as I grew older, I realized that this was not a luxury mamma could afford. I asked her one time why she went to(for her) extraordinary means to get these craft items.
Mamma looked at me with wide eyed innocence and said “Power!” I was confused! What did she mean? of course I had to ask.”What do you mean,power?”
“These people have power.” she said. “They can give you the evil eye and you’ll never have a day’s luck . My life is hard enough. I don’t spit in the eye of God. These are favoured people! A cat can look at a queen!”
I didn’t understand. I don’t think I ever will. Years later when my friend Bev came to visit me my mother didn’t even invite her past the screen door. Bev was a big dark girl with straight black hair and a dark complexion. Bev laughed and said “Your mom thought I was an Indian.”
Yes Bev, she did! She was afraid of you because she thought you had the “power”.
And at that time ,native people were considered by the”white” populace as somewhat beneath the rest of the world. Not by my Mamma. She believed in “Power” and even though the rest of the world put our native people down, my mother knew that “a cat can look at the queen” and very often the cat had”POWER!”