The Autobiography of Pudd’n Brathwaite: As Told to Fahamu Pecou (Part 1)
Y’all know Pudd’n Brathwaite. He’s the… uhhh… colorful character who provides craft services for The 15 Project. We know he loves his prosecco and that he knows his way around a hot plate. We also know he “spent a little time in jail”. What we don’t know is why.
Well, its been several years since Pudd’n has been in our employ and at long last he has given us permission to share his story with the world. I suspect he was saving himself for Oprah, but that ship is sailing- and The 15 Project was an obvious next choice. I’ve pieced together what I initially thought were Pudd’n’s tall-tales, but with a little fact-checking, came to learn that his life story is truly one of mystery, intrigue, joy, pain, drama, setbacks and triumph.
So with no further adieu ladies and gentlemen… here it is;
I was born on a river boat in Riverbeen, SC. The odd thing about it was there weren’t no rivers in Riverbeen, the old folks used to say ‘that river been done gone’ and thats how the town was named. But my mama ain’t have no car so they hitched her boat to a plow mule and tried to make it to the nearest hospital. But I was in a hurry (as my mama always say) and I just came on out. Mama loved me right away. Even though I was number 14 of 19 children she had, I always felt special. My mama, Ella Ann Mary Brathwaite was a hell of a woman. She made sure at least 12 of us ate everyday. She was a proud woman and aint never asked nobody for nothing. Whatever we didn’t have, she made it. Whatever ailment afflicted us, she fixed it. She was our teacher, preacher, doctor, lawyer and dentist. She was a kind woman and never uttered a foul word. But she would cuss a sailor to shame. I didn’t know my daddy name. Saw him everyday of my life but I never thought to ask him what his name was. He was a community leader and a man on a mission. He never let racism or bigotry get in his way. It wasn’t really an issue though being in a town of all blacks. He ran Riverbeen however. He was an Olympic sprinter and ran several laps around the town everyday. He was known for carrying a starter pistol around to for folks who wanted to start something.
I was educated in the South Carolina public school system. We had a one-room school in Riverbeen. It was also where we lived. On Sundays it was the town church. And every Friday night we turned it into a juke joint where Mama would play the piano and sing. It would have been better if she knew how to play the piano, and if she didn’t have such a horrible stuttering problem. But the people of Riverbeen were not that discerning. As long as my Daddy kept that hooch flowing they didn’t ask no questions. It was in this one room house/school/church/juke joint that I learned how to cook. See, Mama was so busy giving birth to children that each one of us mastered a skill. Since I was the fat kid, I took on cooking. As a child I was morbidly obese. By the age of 9 I weighed a good 220 pounds. I was bed ridden for most of my teenage years. It was a good thing I slept on the kitchen table. It made it easier for me to cook. One day I decided I didn’t want to be fat no more. I wanted to be able to run and play and sit up like my brothers and sisters. So I ask Mama to help me go on a diet. She started bringing me sandwiches from Subway and the weight just fell off me. By the time I completed my high school equivalency exams at 32 years old, I was down to 110 pounds and ready to take on the world. Mama told me I should go to the big city. That I could make something of myself there. Also her and Daddy was tired of me living on the kitchen table, especially since they also had to sleep there and all my other siblings had long since moved away. So I took her advice and made my plans to move to the city. I used all my savings to buy a Greyhound ticket to the closest major metropolis. That’s how I ended up in Carcerated, Mississippi.
to be continued… (Next Chapter “Murder was the case that they gave me”)