Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
May 6, 1998, Page 28
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Oldies" Articles
Good Old Days
Compiled by Dee Zimmerman
Motherís Day is Sunday, May 10th, this weekend. It will be a day of family get-togethers for some. Or, it may be a time of some solitude with memories of the mothers who have passed from our presence.
A family is a group of individuals within an order or subdivision of an order. Each generation is headed by parental guidance.
The quote, ďA mother thinks with her heart when dealing with her children,Ē can be true in influencing a motherís decisions. The desire to protect her children from some of lifeís circumstances is often in her thoughts.
Each generation experiences; growing up in a different way of living from the previous generation. However, the parental love and guidance is usually there for the children.
Thinking back about my Mother, as I was growing up in the 30ís and 40ís, there are others who can relate to the ďway things were back then,Ē too.
At that time, very few women worked outside of their homes. World War II, when men were called to serve in the armed forces, women started working in factories and other jobs to fill the vacancies in the home-front employment needs.
My Mother was very artistic but with her busy homemaking and farm chore duties, she had little time to pursue the fine art talents she possessed. Occasionally, my brothers and I were able to coax her to do some chalk or pencil drawings. We would marvel at the characters or landscapes she was able to draw.
Mom used her artistry in home decorating, designing clothing and other projects. She experienced a sense of satisfaction when a pattern of her creation resulted into a garment as she had visualized.
When I was seven years old, a community talent show was planned for our rural area. A suggestion was made to have a tap dancing act made up of eight and nine year old girls. It was the time of the Shirley Temple era when the little curly-haired girl won country-wide popularity through in the movies. Her singing and tap-dancing abilities were a hit with everyone. Other little girls longed to learn tap-dancing, like Shirley temple.
Plans were made for a tap-dance routine, to be learned by the group of girls of which I was to be included. It was decided that we should be dressed alike for the event. None of the parents could afford to buy fabric for dancing dresses, as it was the time of the Depression. My Mother suggested buying colored crepe paper which could be carefully sewn into dresses. A package of twenty-four inch width crepe paper cost only 15 cents and cut carefully could make up two dresses. Two colors were chosen for the dresses. Light green and pink.
Mother made up a pattern using an old newspaper. She cut out pattern parts, adjusting sizes to fit each girl. The crepe paper ruffles were hand basted to the dress bodice to keep if (it) from tearing. Crepe paper left-overs were designed and sewn into headpieces for each girl, too. Metal toe taps, purchased for ten cents a pair, were carefully tacked to the sole of a pair of shoes, for each girl to wear for dancing. Eight girls were out-fitted with the tap-dancing shoes and all the meager cost of only $1.40.
We gathered for a few sessions of tap dancing lessons prior to the event. The excitement at the talent show was shared by all of us girls and we felt very ďdressed upĒ in our crepe paper dresses and tapping shoes like Shirley Temple wore.
A humorous story about my Mother, as a newly-wed bride, often was retold at our family gatherings. Every bride usually has at least one first housekeeping embarrassment that the family members never forget.
Motherís embarrassing moment as a bride involved sewing. My parents were married in 1927. Dad wanted a new suit for their wedding. He chose the fabric and had measurements taken by Sam Saxe, an experienced tailor, who would make a new suit, complete with a vest, for Dad to wear on the wedding day. Dad picked up his newly-made suit the day before the wedding and didnít have time to put it on to check the fit. When he dressed for the wedding, he discovered the trousers were too long. Some emergency tucks of material got him through the day.
A few days after the wedding, Mother decided she could shorten Dadís suit trousers. She marked on the trouser legs where the bottom of the pant cuff should be for the proper length. It was the era of the cuffed pants style and Mom hadnít thought of that when she cut on the marked length line. She hadnít allowed extra material for the fold-over cuffs. When Dad put on the altered trousers, the cuffs were above his ankles. My Grandfather was of a shorter stature than Dad, so he received a new suit. Motherís brothers enjoyed teasing her about her husbandís ďhigh water pants,Ē or, ďthe new suit she gave their Dad.Ē
As a teenager, I became a member of a neighborhood 4-H Club. I chose gardening and home canning as projects. I helped Mom with those tasks during the summer, so it would fit in with everyday work. Soon it came time to do some canning for the county fair exhibiting. As I made the necessary preparations, Mom reminded me to choose vegetables of various colors for the three pint jar exhibit. Of course, in a teenage mode of thinking, I wondered what difference that would make to the judges. She did convince me, so one jar contained pickled red beets, the second jar was peas and carrots, and the third jar was filled with yellow wax beans, the uniformly sized beans were placed vertically in the jar. The exhibit won a first prize at the county fair and was entered in the State Fair competition. Afterwards, I credited my Mother as winner of the award as it was her encouragement on the ďvisual appealĒ concept that won the prize. A lesson was taught and learned by that canning project.
Mother had rules about her home baking, also. When expecting guests for a Sunday noon meal, any bakery served had to be baked the forenoon of the day it was to be served. No way would she serve a cake, pie, or bread baked the day before. Each recipe had to be made from ďscratch,Ē no pre-mixes. The bread was mixed up and set to rise before she went to the barn to milk nine or ten cows by hand. I could do baking for the family, but not for guests. Baking for guests was done by Mom, only. Of course, Momís baked goods were done to perfection.
Home canning was a necessity then, as we didnít have a refrigerator or freezer for our foods. Mother got a great satisfaction in canning home-grown produce.
There were 400 canning jars, pints and quarts, in the cellar that would be filled by the end of September each year.
Many of you, Iím sure, can remember the home-canned pickles that were a must in every household. Our summerís quota was to have about 85 quarts of pickles. There would be a variety of cucumber pickles; dill, sweet-sour, 14-day, bread & butter and tumeric (turmeric). Red beet and watermelon rind pickles were a must on our list of favorites. Guests at Motherís dinner table were offered a choice of at least four or five pickles to compliment the meal.
When the summerís canning was completed, the jars all filled placed in an orderly fashion on the cellar shelves, Mom had a feeling of security in being able to cook good meals for her family in the winter months ahead. As the jars emptied, they would be needed for canning meat and sausages in January. A favorite of mine was chunks of beef that had a broth gravy through the canning process.
If unexpected guests came to our home, they were always invited to stay for meal time. Mom could whip up a meal quickly after a trip down to the cellar to choose from the array of canned goodies.
Even though Motherís work days were long, she seemed to enjoy seeing her accomplishments at the end of the day.
After I left home, I found employment in a large city where I saw a different life style. My apartment was near a community where the women lived lives of fashion and luxury. Then, I often thought about my Motherís life in comparison. Seeing the differences in lifestyles, I became aware of a sense of values and choices in life. I came to realize Motherís long hours of working were done to provide a comfortable home, nourishing meals and a pleasant atmosphere for her husband and children entrusted of her care. Her tasks were done willingly and with love, a special legacy to be remembered.
This Motherís Day, each of us will have some special memories of our Mothers, memories to hold on to.
On May 11, 1907, the first Motherís Day observance was held in Grafton, West Virginia by Anna Jarvis to honor her mother. She requested that those attending the service wear white carnations.
A turn of the century mother wearing a millinery special to compliment her blouse, and long skirt.
A photo of a pretty young lady neatly attired in the 1920ís style, including the Marcel hair-do.
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