Now and then, artists would use our home’s little bathroom as a dressing room for that evening’s show. On one occasion, Johnny Horton was standing in front of our bathroom mirror, applying face powder, a bit of lipstick and some other stuff as my maternal grandmother, Mama Minnie Treece-Hancock, watched.

Mama Minnie stood around 5’1” and had plumped up in her later years. She was a tough, country-raised, "Black Dutch" native of Sand Mountain in northeastern Alabama. Always with a homemade apron tied on (and donning a homemade bonnet outside), she had reared eight children on her late sharecropper husband’s East Texas farm. A hard-shell Baptist, she expected women to be women and men to be men. But she had a great sense of humor when it didn’t quite turn out that way.

So she stood at the bathroom door, watching Johnny Horton apply makeup and laughing so hard she could barely stand. She’d never seen such a thing as a man putting on makeup. Horton didn’t mind. He laughed, too, and talked Mama Minnie through his prepping, explaining that makeup was essential in the glare of stage lights


Johnny Horton