T Mattie's Manners
By Rita Collins
My beloved aunt, Mattie Godwin Swanson, whom we affectionately call “T. Mattie” Born in 1922 in a sharecropper’s cabin, Aunt Mattie grew up to become one of the most proper ladies the Deep South ever produced. While working as a “domestic”, she observed and took note of all the etiquette practices that defined grace and opulence in the homes of southern gentry. Aunt Mattie learned to set a proper table, arrange flowers, send thank-you notes, paint with oils and water color, design and create pottery and garden. She went on to become a fashion model, well renowned dress designer and seamstress. She was in high demand all over the southeast for her beautiful original designs in wedding dresses and ball gowns, as well as, antebellum dresses which were popular at southern cotillions. She studied home economics at the University of Alabama in the 70’s. Aunt Mattie happily lived to see several generations of her African American nieces and nephews glean from her, the rules of social etiquette. T Mattie’s Manners is the story of great-niece Morgan’s visit with T Mattie.