Don’t be Fooled by Trash

September 4, 2019

Mark Twain wrote, “A, True Story: Repeated Word for Word As I Heard It” about a Black American woman’s reunion with her son near the end of the Civil War. It was first published in 1874.

Mary Codd, the mother in the story had a saying passed down from her mother from Maryland.  “I wasn’t born in the mash to be fooled by trash.” That is not how Twain heard it nor transcribed it but this author’s translation.  When the story first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly it was in Mary Codd’s vernacular.

What is born in the “mash?”  Mash could be marsh as Mary Codd was a slave and presumably her mom had been born not free in the Chesapeake Bay region, full of tidal pools.  In the story, Mary Codd’s dander is raised because her kitchen was being over-taken by a troop of Black soldiers who happened to include by an incredible coincidence her son who ran away from a Virginia plantation to seek freedom before the Civil War.

What “trash” was Mary speaking of?  We can only guess.  This author has been waiting for a chance since she first heard this story on YouTube: last week to use it.  The second half of the saying is: “I’m one of the blue hen chickens I am,” again, not in the vernacular.  So, our first foray in putting this saying in play for perpetuity is this – after watching Sixty Minutes on CBS  about the tenacious battle being fought in our federal courts concerning the health of our children and our wanton disregard for our environment, Juliana vs United States,,  (well I must make some kind of argument mustn’t I?) let us not be fooled in the mash by our own trash.  Let us be fighting blue hens like the 21 children who have brought the lawsuit on.  Let us join forces to believe that it is an inalienable right that we pass to our next generations the right to behold our beautiful grains of sand, our purple majesties and “crown our good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”


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