This is a photograph of my mother. It would have been taken in approximately 1959. The dress she's wearing was made by her own hands. The pearls were a gift from Dad one year for her birthday and the shoes were some that she would have bought when they were on sale. They may even have been dyed to match her dress.
Mom always made her own clothes and those of her children. She made dresses for my sister and I and shirts for my brother. She was handy with a needle and had an old electric Singer sewing machine. On rare occassions we would get store bought clothes, but it wasn't something that we expected.
Mom worked hard all of her life. She and Dad always grew a huge garden. Corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, watermelons, beans, squash, pumpkins and so much more was planted in that garden. When we kids were young, she tended it daily throughout the summer months and then, when harvest time came, it was all preserved to supplement our table through the long winter months.
Mom didn't work outside the home when we were young, except for during the corn harvest when she worked in the canning factory. Her job was to cut the corn off the cob. She worked a shift that ended at 2am, so she could be home with us through the day. She also grew cucumbers for the cannery. We kids would help her pick them. They had to be sorted for size and put into burlap sacks and placed at the end of our driveway on the days that the cannery picked them up.
In the winter, Dad worked longer hours and Mom would always be sure there was a hot meal on the table for him every night when he got home from work. She didn't own a dryer and all clothes washed in the old wringer washer were hung on the line year 'round. During the winter, they would be brought into the house frozen stiff, thawed and ironed while still damp.
When Dad was hurt in a workplace accident, he was hospitalized for weeks. At that time, Mom got a job at Woolco, a division of F.W. Woolworth's. She worked for very little. I remember when she got her first pay check...she cried because she didn't make enough to buy socks for us kids.
There were many times that Mom struggled to make ends meet. She never let us know that there wasn't enough money to go around. I enjoyed pickle sandwiches for my school lunch and we often had leftover roast beef ground with the hand grinder with pickle and mayonnaise added to make the meat go further. We had sausage or fried bologna for supper many nights because it was cheap and because that's all that she could afford.
Mom was pretty much isolated on the farm. She didn't get her driver's license until she went to work. Once a month, Dad would drive us to town on Saturday morning when he went to work. We would go to a relatives to wait for the stores to open and then Dad would pick us up at noon when he was finished working. Sometimes on Sunday afternoon, if there was enough gas, Dad would take us for a drive or to visit his parents, or Uncle Hardy and Aunt Lil. Mom never got to go to a movie or out to dinner. The money just wasn't there for such luxuries. The only time I remember going to the show with Mom & Dad was when Snow White and the Seven Dwarves came to town. That was a real treat and the first time we kids had ever been to an inside theater. Sometimes Grandma and Grandpa would take us to the drive-in to see Ma & Pa Kettle.
When I look back at those times, I never remember a word of complaint coming from my mother. She was always grateful for what she had and though I'm sure she would have liked things to be different, she never dwelled on the things she didn't have.
Today, I pay tribute to Mom. She worked hard, loved her family and did her best to give us things that she never had. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I wish you many more.
Do you have memories of your mother that you'd like to share. I'd love to hear them.