Mother Burks’ Thrift Shop


While visiting my sister in Florida, I had the opportunity to visit Mother Burks. We met at the Publix and took the bus to her house. Which I was really happy to do…My sister drives everywhere and when I told her I wanted to take the city bus at least once, she screwed up her face as if she never even heard of New York and talked me out of it. It was the same reaction I had in Tennessee with my best friend, Ashley. Only this time, the turn out was much better.


The bus ride was short. There were not too many people on the bus. A guy friend who works for the bus company in Jacksonville, told me later that the bus I  took did not show the real side of Jacksonville.

‘If you want to see hood rats, you are riding the wrong bus. No one rides the express bus!’

‘Anthony, I never said I wanted to see hood rats’

He was talking so fast, he never heard me.

“You need to take a bus at the hub which is what I call, Hoodrat Utopia. It’s full with people  you would want to meet…Those people take the bus all day and never get off. It’s so hot outside, they use the bus as their cooling station.

I had a customer once, he got on the bus with a huge suitcase. He tried to walk right to the back without paying. When I told him he had to pay $1.50, he stopped right there in the front of the bus and emptied out all of his belongings. Socks and underwear were flying everywhere!

I have $1.50!! He kept saying. And sure enough, he came up with $1.50.

He sat in the back of the bus and began to make a lot of noise. When a customer asked him to be quite, he took out a sock and threw it right at the man’s face!

The hub buses would sure give you a good story!”

Maybe next time, I’ll visit the hub Anthony but this time, the express bus did the job.

After lunch with Mother Burks,  my sister came over to pick me up. But, Mother Burks had a surprise for us.

Put your shoes on, I want to show you my thrift shop!

Thrift shop?


She lead us to a big shed that looked like a barn and opened the wide, wooden doors. The entire transformation was very magical. It showed a transformation of Mother Burks. I always knew her to be wise and intelligent. I found it amazing and encouraging to see her  starting her own business, alone. It also showed a great transformation of her living space.

This is very nice Mother. My sister and I stood there for a while taking the view in.

Thanks. The saints down here helped me put it together.


It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. People donated a lot of the stuff to me and my son built the racks and helped me hang clothes in the ceiling. I couldn’t have done it without them.


Whose bicycle?

Mine! (My sister had donated a brand new bike)

How much is it going for Mother Burks?

Well, I haven’t really settled on the price.

Lystria, you don’t need a bike.

Yes, I do.

Where you gonna put it?

I have a place!

You don’t even remember how to ride it.

Yes, I do. Watch!

I rode it in the grass with them warning me not to go into the mud.


When I returned, all three of us struggled to place it back in the same spot.

Afterwards, Mother Burks spoke briefly about opening for business soon while I shopped for some skirts.


What I like most about her shop is, of course the items. It’s full of churchy stuff that I know saints would buy. Like the white hat pictured above. That hat was hand-made by someone in the church. You would never find it at a store!


Waiting for the Bus in Memphis

I woke up on Tuesday and decided I would take the bus across town. I had to plan carefully because my friend who drives everywhere was totally against my idea.

This is not New York. You don’t need to take the bus, I will drive you.

I know, but when you take the bus, you see a different side of the city!

We went back and forth and then I stopped talking about it.

I left her place to take the bus after she had went to work.

The bus stop did not have bus numbers so I  had to plan my trip to a tee: the time, the address and which stop to get off at. However, it did not work out as planned and in the end, I did not really know what bus I was waiting for. The only source of information that was found at the stop was the phone number to call the base, MATA, 910-523-8134, which I did call. But only got a recording.

Needless to say, the bus never came. NEVER. And, it started raining. I was standing at a bus stop without an umbrella nor a shelter.

What came were suspicious looking men driving their vehicles who offered to drive me. I had to say no or just act like I didn’t see them. And if they didn’t offer me a ride, they stared at me too long. While standing there I felt a feeling of embarrassment, like I was suppose to own a car. I felt really bad. A feeling I never feel in New York. I notice no one else was waiting for the bus. As a matter of fact, I looked around and saw very few people on the street (maybe because of the rain).

I made sure to make eye contact with very few people because every time I did, I felt humiliated. I wonder if people who can’t afford cars feel this way in Memphis? Yet, no one made fun of me or berated me. They just looked at me.

So, I started walking. I walked to the next stop and the next stop until I gave in and called my friend. I got to see another side of Memphis but I still want to take the city bus.