Idella Parker, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings', "Perfect Maid"

Tenant home at Cross Creek

The original tenant house was demolished years ago.
The original tenant house was demolished years ago. | Source

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings gained worldwide acclaim after her novel, The Yearling met with great success.Marjorie spent most of the last twenty five years of her life living in a tiny village of Cross Creek in Alachua County, Florida.

She wrote her memoirs which she entitled Cross Creek. In this book a peek inside the world of a rural town and its people is given. She does not stop there though. Colorful, detailed images of the plants, animals, and wildlife that are an important part of day to day life flow out of her mind and onto the page.

An important person emerges too in the telling of her story. This person is Idella Parker whom she would call her perfect maid.

Idellla had gone to work for Marjorie quite by accident. She had been scheduled to go to work for the Camp family in Ocala. Through a series of twists and turns, Marjorie heard that Idella was looking for work as a cook. She drove out to Idella house and one thing lead to another and Idealla became her cook and much more.

Idella: photo of a picture from Idella's book.

Source

The perfect maid worked for Marjorie Rawlings for about ten years. This remarkable woman, Idella Parker went on to become much more than a maid.

She became a confidant, a source of support, and one to whom Marjorie could turn for a listening ear.

Idellla had gone to work for Marjorie quite by accident. She had been scheduled to go to work for the Camp family in Ocala. Through a series of twists and turns, Marjorie heard that Idealla was looking for work as a cook. She drove out to Idella's house and one thing lead to another and Idealla became her cook and much more.

Idella's Momma

Idella's Momma did not want Idella to go to work for Marjorie in a village near Island Grove. Too many stories had been told about how, with no explanation, blacks would disappear. Her Momma was afraid that something would happen to her daughter going off with some white woman.

Her Momma had no use for whites. Most African Americans probably felt the same way at that time and understandably so. These citizens of this country really had no privileges of citizenry: unable to vote, unable to sit where they chose on a bus or a train, unable to dine at the same lunch counters with whites. This was a time when all who were created equal found little reality in those words.

Idella had worked for a white family in West Palm Beach and liked working for them a great deal. However a young man was trying to court her and his presence there often caused a scene (of his doing). For that reason she headed back to her home in Reddick, Florida, much further north of West Palm. She heard that a writer lady was looking for a cook. That would begin the years of working for Marjorie Rawlings.

Idella's Mother: Ethel Riley Thompson

This photo was taken in 1959.
This photo was taken in 1959. | Source

About the Photographs

Many of the photographs are photos that I took of pictures in Idella's novel.

Arrival at Cross Creek

When Idella arrived at Cross Creek she was introduced to Martha Mitchens and her family. Martha led Idealla down a short path to a small unpainted tiny house where she would live with the Mitchens family.

Martha took her by the hand and taught her all she needed to know about how to run Marjorie's house. How she liked her breakfast, presented just so on a try with a fresh flower, and cat food for her kitty.

It took Idella a few weeks before she began to make subtle changes in how things would work at Cross Creek. She learned to give Marjorie the quiet and space that she demanded for her writing.

She was a blessing to Marjorie.

Idella when she revisited Cross Creek

Source

Idealla and Martha in the Cross Creek kitchen

Source
Idella: Marjorie Rawlings' Perfect Maid
Idella: Marjorie Rawlings' Perfect Maid

This is a short book packed with so much that you would like to know about Idella's life while she was at Cross Creek. Idella tells the story of those years in such a matter of fact, straightforward way that you are turning the pages quickly so see what is next.

 

Asking too much

Marjorie and Norton Baskin, her second husband, traveled to Crescent Beach for a weekend or longer of relaxation. Idella went along and provided whatever services required of her. On her free time, she was allowed to borrow Marjories' car to travel in to St. Augustine to visit with friends. She also entertained her sisters and friends when she had free time.

Marjorie traveled to New York from time to time and again Idella went along. She spoke of the beauty of the area but she was lonely most of the time during those trips.

There were times when Marjorie would cry and hug idella for comfort she longed for in the periods of her dark moods and depression.

Understanding the relationship between Idella and Marjorie is poignantly expressed by these words of Idella's:

"A person gets wary carrying another persons' misery and woe, and gradually I was beginning to feel that I could not carry Mrs. Baskin's much longer. (Marjorie took Baskin's last name when they married).

Cross Creek
Cross Creek

Cross Creek is Marjorie's story of living at the Creek, she calls it. She tells of every day life and adventures that occur during her years there. This writer was energized by all of the goings on at her home place. You get to see Marjorie as she tells of life at that time.

 

Perfect Maid

Idella became much more than a cook and housekeeper for Marjorie Rawlings. She became a trusted listening ear when Marjorie would pour out her uncertainties. Idella would be there for her when she consumed drink after drink to dull the pain of missing her husband, Norton Baskin who was away running his hotel.

Idella spoke highly of Marjorie explaining how generous she was. She would often think of others and give to others rather than buying things for herself. She would often buy gifts for those in the community who would otherwise have no Christmas gifts.

Idella spoke of how well treated she was by Marjorie as well calling her at one point her "perfect maid."

Marjorie often loaned her car to Idella.

Source

Idella's brother: Edward Milton Thompson

This photo was taken in 1944 just before he was killed in action in World War II.
This photo was taken in 1944 just before he was killed in action in World War II. | Source

There were times when Idella became weary from carrying the burden of Marjorie's problems---it just became too much. And as you can imagine, listening to the white folks who had been invited to Marjorie's to dine, make fun of the black ladies who were serving them would definitely take its toll as well.

Idella shared much more of her life at Cross Creek and other locations where she traveled to work for Marjorie in her novel, Marjorie Rawlings Perfect Maid.

She clearly admired this woman with whom she spent about ten years of her life.

Idella's first husband: Bernard Young

This photo was taken in 1944.
This photo was taken in 1944. | Source

Dorothy, Idella's sister, with Idella's second husband

This photo was taken in 1952. Bus Parker seated with Dorothy.
This photo was taken in 1952. Bus Parker seated with Dorothy. | Source

Marjorie and Pat, her dog

Photo taken at Cross Creek in the late 1930s
Photo taken at Cross Creek in the late 1930s | Source
Source

sources

Marjorie Rawlings Perfect Maid by Idella Parker

Cross Creek by Marjorie Rawlings

© 2013 Patricia Scott

More by this Author


Comments 17 comments

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi Sonjay

I am glad you found this interesting. It has been so much fun for me to learn about all aspects of her life. And how cool is that...you read a translation of the Yearling..that is awesome.

Thanks for visiting. Sending Angels to you this morning. :)ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi Sonjay

I am glad you found this interesting. It has been so much fun for me to learn about all aspects of her life. And how cool is that...you read a translation of the Yearling..that is awesome.

Thanks for visiting. Sending Angels to you this morning. :)ps


sanjay-sonawani profile image

sanjay-sonawani 3 years ago from Pune, India.

I am a big fan of Marjorie...had read Marathi translation of "The Yearling" when a teenager and since then I have gifted copies of the translation to many of my friends...it has power to change perspective towards life. Your article gives important information as we here not know much about her life!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hello again Eddy

Reading Idella's book about her experiences while in Marjorie's employ was so interesting. It gave me a whole new viewpoint of how things were. I would like to recommend it to you. I think you will enjoy it.

thanks for stopping by

Angels are on the way :) ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hello again Eddy

Reading Idella's book about her experiences while in Marjorie's employ was so interesting. It gave me a whole new view point of how things were. I would like to recommend it to you. I think you will enjoy it.

thanks for stopping by

Angels are on the way :) ps


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

This is truly wonderful PS; what a wonderful read;I didn't kow this writer at all but I do now.

Voted up up ad away here. Enjoy your day.

Eddy.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Good morning drbj

It is to me quite fascinating to learn of these two ladies who walked the planet before us. Knowing of their lives and their interactions has brought them to life for me.

It is so nice to have you visit today.

Have a lovely week

Sending many Angels and blessings your way :) ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Good morning drbj

It is to me quite fascinating to learn of these two ladies who walked the planet before us. Knowing of their lives and their interactions has brought them to life for me.

It is so nice to have you visit today.

Have a lovely week

Sending many Angels and blessings your way :) ps


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Now thanks to you, Patricia, I know all about Marjorie's perfect maid, Idella. Fascinating story and great detail, m'dear. With your photos as perfect accompaniment. Thank you for the pleasure you provided.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Marjorie wrote, The Yearling, which gained her fame years ago. It was set not far from where I now reside which makes reading it all the more interesting. It is a detailed writing which allows the reader to walk along inside the story.

Idella Parker went to work for Marjorie and proved to be a wonderful asset to her life. She comforted and consoled her when she needed it most.

It is my pleasure to share this story.

:) ps


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I saw this pop up yesterday but Easter prevented me from reading it.

This author must be fairly well known because I have heard of her even though I have never read her work. Thank you for a great review. I'll be picking up her book at the library provided they carry it.

blessings and a hug,

bill


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi Carol

As I have said probably too many times, I am enjoying the heck of this whole researching thing. New doors open around each corner.

Nice to see you this afternoon. I hope you have a lovely week.

Sending Angels your way :) ps


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

New information for me also. I have heard of her but never in depth. YOu did a super, super job..So well written with detailed and very interesting information. Voting up+++Pinning..


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi Martin

Writing about these remarkable. women is an interesting journey back in time. I have learned so much.

Thank you for visiting this morning.Angels are on the way to you :) ps


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Nice piece of research here. Thank you for the time and trouble.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi Karen

This has been such an interesting pursuit for me. I live within a few miles of Cross Creek and Reddick where Idella grew up. I can feel Idella when I walk through the kitchen there at Cross Creek. Her short novel is packed with answers that we longed to know.

Thank you for visiting. Sending Angels your way. :) ps


Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier 3 years ago from Georgia

Nice hub with lots of history and really great pictures to match what you wrote. I never knew very much about Marjorie Rawlings so it was an interesting read. Voted up and interesting.

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