Friday, August 8, 2008

My Mother - Part One - Post 53

Photo - Circa 1921
Today would have been my mother’s 107th birthday. She was born on August 8, 1901, in Temple, Texas, 2nd child and first daughter of her parents. There were nine more children born into this family, but two died in childhood, one in a tragic accident -- a subject for another post, someday. The youngest, and last surviving, of my mother's siblings, my uncle Truett, died only a few months ago at the age of 85.

I don't know how old my mother was when the family moved from Temple to Victoria County, in South Texas – that’s South with a Capital S! Not the farthest south one can go in Texas, but only 20 miles or so from the Gulf of Mexico. Mama's father bought a farm in a place called Crescent Valley. There they raised cotton, chickens, and the children, six boys and five girls.

Mama graduated from high school in Victoria, a nearby town, and then attended Baylor Female College in Belton, Texas (now Mary Hardin-Baylor University) for a year. Mama always called it "Baylor-Belton." It was while she was in college that she learned to play Bridge, a card game she continued to enjoy for years. She also became 'modish' to the point that she, and most of the other young ladies, bound their breasts so as to appear flat-chested -- which was all the rage in 'flapper days.' She said it was quite painful, and absolutely forbid her younger sisters to do it. In all my memory, Mama never had a 'bosom.' Her breasts were droopy and as flat as pancakes, while her younger sisters all had nice figures.

I don't know if it was a matter of funding but, as mentioned above, Mama completed only one year at Baylor-Belton, then taught school in a small town for a term (one could do that in those days; a college degree was not required). I think she discovered that teaching was not what she wanted to do for the long term and went to work in the accounting department of the Woolworth store in San Antonio. Somewhere along the line, she had completed some secretarial courses and I remember well her trying to teach me Gregg Shorthand (I learned to write my first name, Pat, and the word "dray," not a word I ever heard used in anyone's conversation.)

Mama's father died in, I believe, 1924. Mama left San Antonio and went back home to Crescent Valley and to work in nearby Victoria. As the eldest daughter, when not at work she helped her newly-widowed mother with the younger children, and her wages also helped to support the family. The youngest child was only about 1 year old when Grandpa died, and there would have been several more young children still at home. One of Mama’s brothers, my uncle Talley, quit school when his daddy died, and became the “man of the house” -- at age 14.

Mama told me that she bought a small car (she called it a “koo-pay”) with part of her earnings, and drove over the country dirt roads into Victoria to work as a secretary/bookkeeper for the Gross-Parish Company, where she was still working when she met my father. (I wrote about that in Post 20 - My Father.)

Mama was almost 32 years old when she and Daddy married, on July 24, 1933. They moved around quite a bit to wherever employment opportunities for my father arose. The Great Depression was still in full swing, and jobs were hard to come by. I was the first-born of four children, arriving on this earth in Yorktown, Texas; my sister Meg was born in Kingsville (home of the famous and h.u.g.e. King Ranch); and the youngest daughter, my sister Carol, was born in El Paso. Mama's last child, and only son, my brother Eddie, was born in Las Vegas, NM. I wrote about the day of his birth in Post 6, April 10,1941 . Mama told me in much later years that she was horrified to learn that she was pregnant and worried a great deal about how she and Daddy were going to provide for themselves and four children.

Then -- World War II


End of Part One




24 comments:

Louise said...

This is a terrific post. I love detailed family histories. These stories are always so interesting.

Saddlegait www.gottabeacountrygirl.blogspot.com said...

More more more....I love stories like this. My mother has written a "book". She actually has written about her life and stories she was told of past and put those stories in two notebooks that she has given to each of her children. I cherish that book.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

What an interesting story. She was quite lovely. I love it that she was modish although the bound breasts sound horrible.

Countrygirl said...

Oh great story, Pat! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I will be a' waitin' for the rest!

Sherry Peyton said...

Such a lovely store Pat. I wish I wish I even knew the basics of my parents early years. They were decidedly uncommunicative as were my granddad and grandma about either one of them. Nice memories to have :)

Nancy said...

Oh, what a coincidence! I just wrote about my grandmother whose birthday was yesterday, but I never got it posted til early this morning. She would have been 121 yesterday, having been born in 1887.

I love your story about your mother! She was such a beautiful young girl!!! Drop by my blog and check out my birthday tribute to my Grandma Jenny!

I dropped over to your blog from Old Lady Lincoln's to check out the dog story. I read that you have cats...so do I. I have 33!!! All in the house, but separated. 12 ferals in my large laundry room, 8 here in my office and then 13 that share my living areas with me. They are clean, no fleas, no worms, all were tested for diseases, feline leukemia and feline AIDS, and all are spayed and/or neutered. Keeps me busy! I have some of their photos posted on my sidebar, plus several posts listed under PETS.

Nice to meet another animal lover!

(((((( HUGS ))))))

Egghead said...

Oh Pat this is so interesting. I love reading about the history of people. No matter that I don't know them personally it just gives me a glimpse into what their lives must have been like. Keep up the good work. I can't wait to go back and read things you have written earlier.

JC said...

As always a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

Have a great weekend. Grace and blessings to you.

Bob Brague (rhymeswithplague) said...

What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing about your mother and other members of your family. I'm looking forward to Part 2.

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

good to see another Arkansawyer! :)
I enjoyed your writing. I miss my Mom- she died 19 years ago at 46.

Marvin said...

A great story about your mother, Pat.

I've been through Victoria many times on my way "home" to the Corpus Christi area. (It's more correct to say "around" Victoria since it's been bypassed on Highway 59 for many years.)

Old Lady Lincoln said...

What a wonderful story and tribute to your Mother.

Texas Travelers said...

Being a 4th generation Texan, I love any story about Texas and it's people.

Looking forward to Part II.

Thanks for the visit,
Troy

PS: No red/white striped shirt.
Waldo was in the garden. Too bad.

Hildegarde said...

Across the ocean, there are some similarities : certainly the many children and the very hard work, and both my grandma's had to raise the many children alone because they were widow very early. About the flat-chested fashion : I didn't know that, but again it proves that women are likely to follow it. Beautiful old photo, and lady :-)

ratmammy said...

wonderful tribute to your mother. Hope to read more of your family's stories!

Ranch wife said...

Great post Pat. You are blessed to have these stories to share, and we are blessed to read them. Thank you for sharing with us all.

~M~

"JEANNELLE" said...

Lovely telling of your mother's story. She appears determined in the photo.

That's funny you recall learning the shorthand for "dray". Funny what we remember sometimes.

That's cute what your mom called her car....the "koo-pay"....a coupe, I imagine.

Kay said...

This is such a beautiful testament to your mom. She sounds like a really interesting, resourceful woman.

Suldog said...

I love stuff like this, Pat. Thanks for sharing!

imbeingheldhostage said...

2nd time reading this, and could've sworn I commented before...
I love this detailed history-- it's great you're keeping these memories alive.

Kerri said...

How fantastic that you've learned so much about your "history". I really need to sit down with my Mom and Dad and document their history! I love the way you wrote it!!

And your Mom was beautiful!!!

Titania said...

That was great to read, Pat. My mother was born 1910 in Austria and my father 1903 in Switzerland. Around the same time as your parents.

Hilary said...

Your posts are always interesting, Pat, but they're particularly wonderful when writing about family.

I'm still in catch-up mode from spending some time away from the computer, but I'm looking forward to part two.