This passage appeared in the recent article I posted about Lawyer Sanders and his 35 children. By happenstance, shortly before I saw the column, my mother mentioned learning when she first came to Wilson in the early 1960s that, in local usage, to go “up the road” meant to migrate North. Thus, for reasons we cannot know, shortly after giving birth to a child that did not survive, Dora Clark Sanders joined the Great Migration, leaving her husband and remaining children in Wilson. She did not return.
I wonder, of the people who read it, who understood the full meaning of the phrase? It seems a bit like a coded message, meant only for those who had also traveled “up the road” or had family who did. Thank you again for these illuminating posts.
Had my mother not mentioned it offhandedly, I’d have missed the significance, too. I’d have assumed Dora Sanders had traveled just a few miles away. My mother said her students would say, “My mama up the road,” when explaining, for instance, why they lived with a grandparent.