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Where we've been, The Forgotten Americans: Part 3

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posted on May, 31 2015 @ 11:59 AM
Where we’ve been,
The Forgotten Americans: Part 3
Mary Fields

Shotguns, whiskey and the U.S Postal Service my friends. It has been a scientific fact for some time now that during certain celestial alignments this trio can go hand in hand in hand as harmoniously as ZZ Top. At least that’s how it was before jerks in Washington started cutting back on fun. The days when the end result of a friendly bet between a postal worker and a local tavern attendee was someone’s face getting bludgeoned are over, unfortunately. Now while your mind is wrapping itself around that image, let’s make the shotgun slinging postal worker a 6ft tall black woman with one of her own gnarly hand-rolled cigars hanging out the corner of her mouth, and a sleek little .38 tucked away in her side pocket. Oh, and she’s in her early sixties and has a reputation of sometimes getting a little pissed off if you’re a fan of running your mouth, or foolish enough to not pay a debt you owe her. The story of America’s “First Black Woman Postal Carrier” should surely warm your heart.

“She was one of the freest souls to ever draw a breath or a .38." - Gary Cooper

Mary Fields was born into slavery in Hickman, Tennessee back when record keeping was run by the local FFA chapter and a retarded cousin of the mayor. For all good intentions we’ll say in 1832. Not much is known about what she did growing up but I’m sure it was grueling slave stuff. We can’t change that now but since she was probably the toughest slave in the area, we can rest assured she was definitely driving her foot into something’s sphincter. Once freed in 1865 she undoubtedly came down on her former slave master with a glorious driving elbow off the top rope and grabbed her tobacco and his wallet and started singing Mustang Sally as she danced like Tina Turner all the way to the home of Judge Edmund Dunne where she worked and helped with Dunne’s family. When Dunne's wife Josephine died in 1883 in San Antonio, Florida, Fields took the family's five children to their aunt, Mother Mary Amadeus (no relation to Tom Hulce), the mother superior of an Ursuline convent in Toledo, Ohio. In 1884, Mother Amadeus was sent to Montana Territory to establish a school for Native American girls at St. Peter's Mission, just west of Cascade. Learning that Amadeus was ill, Fields hurried to Montana to nurse her.

Amadeus recovered and Fields stayed at St. Peter's and like Sylvester Stallone in Over the Top she hauled freight for the next ten years and provided protection for the nuns and the school. When she wasn’t choke-slamming townies (one nun famously remarked, "May God help anyone who walks on the lawn after Mary has cut it"), she would tend chickens, take care of the garden, and hand punched nails into any new building projects.

One famous account of a routine freight delivery involved Mary and a pack of bloodthirsty wolves. During one of her 120-mile deliveries, her stagecoach filled with medicine and food for underprivileged nuns, a hoard of wolves tried a ninja attack on her horses and flipped her coach over. Everything went everywhere and Mary hid behind the overturned coach and throughout the night fought off all the wolves. Shooting them with her shotgun, and then switching to her revolver after she ran out of buckshot. When morning came she didn’t call AAA or her daddy to come help her out. Nope, she flipped the coach over and put everything back into place, found the surviving stray horses and headed along her merry way whistling some Duran Duran and drinking whiskey out of a newly acquired wolf skull.

Mary had a free pass in the town of Cascade. She was the only woman who wasn’t a prostitute who was allowed to drink in the bars. In fact, she was the only black resident in town and so feared and awesome, the mayor decreed she was to be served at any bar, at any time for the rest of her life. And if anyone had a problem with that, she would give them a Bruce Lee beat down with a rock, or like another workhand for the convent learned, a bullet in the hind end. Which he had coming to him for going around and complaining behind her back that she made more money than him. The Great Falls Examiner newspaper once cited her as having "broken more noses than any other person in Montana," The Native Americans called Fields "White Crow" because "she acts like a white woman but has black skin." Local whites did not know what to make of her. One schoolgirl wrote an essay saying: "she drinks whiskey, and she swears, and she is a republican, which makes her a low, foul creature." In 1894, after several complaints and an incident with a disgruntled male subordinate that involved gunplay, A.K.A guy who complained about Mary making more money than him, the bishop ordered her to leave the convent.

Mary left the convent without a skip in her step and tried opening a restaurant in town. It failed miserably due to her giving away food to people who couldn’t pay and mostly due to the fact that her idea of scrambled eggs was an entire chicken beaten to a mangled pulp served with a side of whiskey. In other words she was no Aunt Jemima in the kitchen.

So in 1895, still a young woman in her 60’s, she got a job with the U.S. Postal Service delivering mail throughout the Montana Territory. For her job interview, she and about a dozen rough and rowdy cowboys half her age were asked to hitch a team of six horses to a stagecoach as quickly as possible. The 60+ year old Fields made it look like butter, and blew the others away. She became the second woman, and the first black person of any gender to work for the U.S. Post Office. For the next 6 years there was not a pack of wolves or pack of Indians, not the harshest of Montana snowstorms, or freak winds, or the blistering sun or twisting, winding, steepest of mountain passes that would stop Mary from delivering the mail. She was never late, never missed a day and never failed to deliver a letter, not once. If the horses couldn’t make it through the snow, she tied them to a tree and snow shoed the rest of the way. If someone tried to rob her, she’d cut them down with her 10-gauge. She earned the name “Stagecoach Mary” throughout the Montana territory.

[continued below]

edit on 5/31/2015 by Illumin because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 31 2015 @ 12:00 PM
a reply to: Illumin

Once into her 70’s Mary retired from delivering mail and opened up a laundry service in Cascade. While sitting in a bar one day playing poker and blowing smoke rings into everyone’s face, drinking everyone else under the table I’m certain, she overheard a squirrely little voice outside talking about how he had just gotten his laundry done but had skipped on the bill. Mary excused herself from the table and walked outside and sized the little hobbit up and down, and then flattened the dude with one punch. She then leaned over his frail, limp body and told him that that had felt better than getting paid for the laundry service. She then walked back into the bar, and continued drinking.

Mary died in 1914 from liver failure. Go figure, since up until the day she died she had a standing bet at her local saloon: Five bucks and a glass of whiskey said she could knock out any cowboy in Cascade, Montana with a single punch. She never lost that bet. Stagecoach Mary was one bad mamma jamma. Besides her life of whiskey drinking, cigar smoking, cussing and fighting, she was a fervent supporter of the local baseball team, and was the town babysitter whenever a parent wanted to leave their child in the care of a 10-gauge carrying female Muhammad Ali. She loved to help people as much as she loved punching them. The lesson for everyone she left behind is this, no matter how old you are, or what color your skin is or your gender, as long as you have a little grit, a bottle of whiskey, and a desire to live life to the fullest, then it’s never too late to try something different in life.


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