Eudora Welty reads her story "Why I Live at the P.O."
I was getting along fine with Mama, Papa-
Daddy and Uncle Rondo until my sister Stella-
Rondo just separated from her husband and
came back home again. Mr. Whitaker!
Of course I went with Mr. Whitaker first, when he
first appeared here in China Grove, taking "Pose
Yourself" photos, and Stella-Rondo broke us up.
Told him I was one-sided. Bigger on one side
than the other, which is a deliberate, calculated
falsehood: I'm the same. Stella-Rondo is exactly
twelve months to the day younger than I am
and for that reason she's spoiled.
She's always had anything in the world she wanted
and then she'd throw it away. Papa-Daddy gave her
this gorgeous Add-a-Pearl necklace when she was
eight years old and she threw it away playing
baseball when she was nine, with only two pearls.
So as soon as she got married and moved away
from home the first thing she did was separate!
From Mr. Whitaker! This photographer with the
popeyes she said she trusted. Came home from one
of those towns up in Illinois and to our complete
surprise brought this child of two.
Mama said she like to made her drop dead
for a second. "Here you had this marvelous
blonde child and never so much as wrote
your mother a word about it," says Mama.
"I'm thoroughly ashamed of you." But of
course she wasn't.
Stella-Rondo just calmly takes off this hat, I
wish you could see it. She says, "Why,
Mama, Shirley-T.'s adopted, I can prove it."
"How?" says Mama, but all I says was,
"H'm!" There I was over the hot stove,
trying to stretch two chickens over five
people and a completely unexpected child
into the bargain, without one moment's
"What do you mean 'H'm!'?" says Stella-
Rondo, and Mama says, "I heard that, Sister."
I said that oh, I didn't mean a thing, only that
whoever Shirley-T. was, she was the spit-
image of Papa-Daddy if he'd cut off his beard,
which of course he'd never do in the world.
Papa-Daddy's Mama's papa and sulks.
Stella-Rondo got furious! She said, "Sister,
I don't need to tell you you got a lot of nerve
and always did have and I'll thank you to
make no future reference to my adopted
"Very well," I said. "Very well, very
well. Of course I noticed at once she
looks like Mr. Whitaker's side too. That
frown. She looks like a cross between
Mr. Whitaker and Papa-Daddy."
"Well, all I can say is she isn't."
"She looks exactly like Shirley Temple
to me," says Mama, but Shirley-T. just
ran away from her.
So the first thing Stella-Rondo did at the table was turn
Papa-Daddy against me.
"Papa-Daddy," she says. He was trying to cut up his meat.
"Papa-Daddy!" I was taken completely by surprise. Papa-
Daddy is about a million years old and's got this long-
long beard. "Papa-Daddy, Sister says she fails to
understand why you don't cut off your beard."
So Papa-Daddy l-a-y-s down his knife and fork! He's real
rich. Mama says he is, he says he isn't. So he says, "Have I
heard correctly? You don't understand why I don't cut off
"Why," I says, "Papa-Daddy, of course I understand, I did
not say any such of a thing, the idea!"