On October 27, 2021, Teresa Nicholas discussed her new book The Mama Chronicles as part of the History Is Lunch series.
Growing up in the Delta town of Yazoo City, Nicholas believed that she and her country-born and -bred mother weren’t close. She knew little of her mother’s early life as a sharecropper during the Great Depression, but whenever she brought up the subject her mother would reply, “You ask too many questions, young’un.”
Nicholas left Mississippi to attend college, then settled in New York to work in commercial book publishing. Twenty-five years later, she and her husband decided to shift careers to writing, trading their home in the New York suburbs for a casita in the Mexican Highlands. But as her mother’s health deteriorated, Nicholas spent more time in the small town she thought she had left behind.
“Over long afternoons in front of Turner Classic Movies, I grew closer to my mother as she finally told me stories about her hardscrabble childhood,” said Nicholas. “Those years taught me that the past isn’t always the way we remember it.”
"In The Mama Chronicles, Teresa Nicholas artfully sews together a complex Mississippi quilt of family, place, and memory, that famous southern holy trinity of things that can never be escaped,” wrote W. Ralph Eubanks, author of A Place Like Mississippi.
Jackson resident Teresa Nicholas is a freelance writer. She has contributed articles and essays to Delta magazine, Mississippi Magazine, The Bitter Southerner, and NPR's Opinion Page and has been a travel writer for Fodor’s in Mexico and Guatemala. Nicholas’s other books include Buryin’ Daddy: Putting My Lebanese, Catholic, Southern Baptist Childhood to Rest, and Willie: The Life of Willie Morris.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson.