Mama was born June 27th, 1935, in Pulaski, Tennessee, to Luther and Ladye. She was named Sarahann by her grandfather, Ben Chapman, who took advantage of Ladye's post-partum stupor and Luther's delayed arrival to fill out the birth certificate himself.
No one ever called Luther Luther. They called him by his last name, Seymour. Even his own wife called him that. I could devote pages to telling you what a hard man Seymour was. How filled with selfishness and greed. How bitter. But he had a soft spot for children and was capable of some genuine affection, and so Sarahann had a good Daddy for her start in life.
Ladye was a vibrant woman, on her way to becoming a great mother. She was kind to a fault and filled with love. Her first child had been stillborn in a Birmingham, Alabama, hospital a decade earlier, about a year after she and Seymour were married. The bitter experience made this second child's birth a frightening prospect and so Ladye went home to Pulaski to have "Joan, if it's a girl." Apparently, Daddy Ben didn't get the memo.