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The modern-day chain letter
Sudie Crouch

I come from a bunch of superstitious women, so I have some curious ways and beliefs.

I don’t pick up pennies on the ground unless they are heads up; I will, however, turn them over for the next person to find some luck.

If a broom falls, I normally cuss under my breath because I don’t like uninvited company.

And even though my own SexyFrank is a black kittie, I cross myself seven times anytime one crosses my path.

The line of demarcation between the Redheaded duo and myself gets blurry when things like chain letters were involved.

Mama always loved to wait for the mail man when I was growing up, hoping to have a chance to look through her magazines before she went to work. Instead, she normally found a chain letter.

Those things were like an amateur ransom note with the poorly scrawled penmanship on the front of the envelope with a demand for a dollar inside or else you’d be cursed with bad luck or some plague befalling you.

Mama would normally send the dollar.

Granny, the polar opposite, would get on the busy end of a hissie fit when she would get one.
“I swunny it’s a dang crying shame that people know how to send a cussed chain letter but they don’t know how to send a blasted get well card when I was in the hospital a few months ago,” she exclaimed, crumpling the letter into the trash. Or that’s kind of what she said; her sentences had a few more colorful metaphors than I can’t print.

“Mama, you went in the hospital for your yearly-resting-of-your-nerves,” Mama gently responded.

Granny shot her a stank eye. “Let me tell you something, if it wasn’t for dealing with nonsense such as this, I wouldn’t need to rest my dadblamed nerves! Who in the dickens is sending these?”

Mama shook her head. “I don’t know but I don’t think you should break the chain. It’s not worth a dollar to risk bad luck and all the ill that could come with it.”
“You wanna know who’s gonna have some bad luck? The person that sends me another one of these!”

Mama furtively dug the offensive letter out of the trash as Granny stomped off to her sewing.

“What are you doing?” I whispered.

Mama waved me away. “Shush. It’s worth a dollar to me to make sure Mama doesn’t break this. Don’t you tell her.”

Now, one of the things about these chain letters is, in addition to threatening you with a swarm of locusts there was also a tiny little hope you’d get some small fortune yourself if you sent it to 10 people you knew.

Hey, back then, we didn’t have the internet and the hope of some foreign prince wanting to share his fortune with us via email.

Mama sent the dollar back, thinking that would be the end of it and Granny would be shielded from any curses by mail.

Until a few weeks later, she got another one.

“I wanna know why in the Sam hill these thieves think they gonna get a plug nickel outta me!” she exclaimed, twisting the letter in her hand. “I shoulda fell off their sucker list when I didn’t send them my dollar.”

Mama sat silently, not saying a word.

Mama wouldn’t meet her gaze.

“Jean,” Granny repeated. “These shameful heathens wouldn’t have sent another letter unless they got money before. Have you sent them any money?”

My mama still didn’t say anything.
“Alright! I’ve gotten the letters and I sent them a dollar.”

“Why are they still sending me a letter?”

“Okay! Maybe I sent them a dollar for you so you wouldn’t be cursed! But maybe they needed the money and didn’t know any other way to get it. It was fine!”

Granny looked at the envelope closely. “What the – I know this handwriting.”

“You do?” we both asked.
She nodded. “I sure dang do. How much have you sent them, Jean?”
Mama gulped. “Ten dollars.”

Granny shook her head as she picked up her purse.

“Where are you going?” Mama asked.

“To get your dadblamed 10 bucks back.”

She did, too, and I imagine those shameless heathens never expected the Redhead Prime to show up on their doorstep with their chain letter in hand, threatening them with far worse than a federal mail offense if they sent one more to our house.

Thank goodness chain letters are now extinct. Instead, we have emails and memes telling us to forward to nine friends to receive blessings.

The other day, I received one with a Bible verse on it.

I shared it with Mama via text.

She promptly called.

“I don’t know nine people to send it to, will you forward it for me?”
“Mama,” I sighed.

I had to explain to her that it was only for her to see the scripture and that nowhere in the Bible did it say forwarding texts or emails paved the way to heaven.

Finally, after 10 minutes of explanation, she was somewhat convinced.

I sighed again.

Bless it, I should have asked her to send me a dollar.