Moms and Mom Stand-Ins

Miss Oneia Gahr, was as close to being my substitute mom as anyone.  My great-grandmother was her father’s sister.  She was mother’s best friend, attended the same college–earned a teaching degree.

Their personalities were exact opposites.  My mother was quiet and reserved, Oneia was outgoing and plain-spoken.  Mom taught fourth-grade elementary, Oneia, high school mathematics.  Miss Gahr was a strict disciplinarian at home, and no doubt, the same at school.

Several summers were spent working on Miss Gahr’s dairy farm.  As an adolescent, it seemed like pure drudgery.  Who knew dairy cows didn’t like their mornings interrupted?  “Talk to them gently, in a low voice, or they might kick you.”

That didn’t mean to act goofy and crazy, “Hey girls what’s happening this morning?” But, rather to be gentle, not boisterous.  It worked, and I never got kicked.  It did nothing, however, to stop swats from muddy cow’s tails.  To them, I was just another fly that needed swatting.

Whatever needed to be done–she worked as hard as any man around the farm.  She cut me no slack when it came to cleaning the dairy barn.  And, oh that cattle waste–tons of it, had to be hosed away.

Miss Oneia went at life full tilt.  Driving was no exception.  She liked flashy land yachts.  Had a slew of Pontiac Bonneville convertibles in the sixties.  Before that, she had a fifties-era, Ford hardtop convertible.

Riding with her in the old rattletrap Chevy pickup over farm roads was a neck-snapping thrill ride.  Nothing topped the day the wiring in the Ford two-ton grain truck  caught fire under the dashboard.  Acrid smoke filled the cab as the insulation burned.  Miss Oneia grabbed a hay bale hook, yanked out wires till the smoke subsided.

We always considered her part of the family, not just a distant relative.  All three of us boys raised bottle calves that she donated.  My sister raised a white pig.  She tutored me in Math and Geometry.  Happy Mom’s Day to both my mom, and my substitute mom!

 

 

 

“MOMISMS”

There were the usual admonitions.  “Wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.  Don’t make that face–it might stick that way.”  She had some unique expressions.  “Pass the gravy, Navy.”  “Don’t stinch yourself.”  Some of them forgotten or their meanings lost.

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“Mom, some men, like Uncle Harvey don’t have any hair–why?”

Mom ignored the question as long as she could.

“Mom, Mom, daddy’s got lots of hair.  Mr. Wilson’s got a little bit of hair.  Why is that?”

“Why, why?  What, what?”  Mom mocked in frustration.  “I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because they scrubbed their heads with a wash rag.”

For most of my life, up to young adulthood, I was very careful not to shampoo my hair with a washcloth.

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Editor’s Note: I’m on the left, in the above picture.

“MOMISMS”

Bill, Jerry, Mom & George

“Mom, some men like Uncle Harvey don’t have any hair–why?”

Mom ignored the question as long as she could.

“Mom, Mom–daddy’s got lots of hair.  Mr. Wilson’s got a little bit of hair.  Why is that?”

“Why, Why?”  “What, What?”  Mom answered in frustration.  “I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because they scrub their heads with a wash rag.”

For most of my life up to young adulthood, I was very careful not to shampoo my hair with a washcloth.

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Editor’s note:  I’m on the left, in the above picture.

MAMA’S BOYS

Bill & Mom in kitchen.1966
I’m proud to be
A Mama’s boy
Because of
Everything she
Selflessly gave
I became
The person
I am today
A lot of other guys
Were Mama’s boys too
Whether they’re
Man enough
To admit it
Or not
I miss her
Especially, on
Mother’s day
Her warm
Caring spirit
How she always
Saw the best
In everything
Even when others
Had doubts

And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see–or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.  –Alice Walker–

MOTHER’S DAY

early picture of MomShe seemed happy
Contented, in the
Backyard, with
A butterfly net
A young girl
Pictured in
Black and white
A long time ago

With tomboyish
Grin, much like
Huckleberry Finn
Chased butterflies
In this idyllic scene
In overalls and jeans
Later, a teacher
Would become

You’re no longer here
Thank you, because
You, gave me life
Taught, many things
Opened my eyes,
To wonders of nature
In my own backyard
Happy Mother’s Day!

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 23, Roosevelt Era Ends, V-E Day

fdr's death

April 15, 1945

I’ll answer your letter of March 25th now. Today was another Sunday with the afternoon off.

It was too bad about the death of Pres. Roosevelt. Truman has quite a job ahead of him, now. I sure hope he’s capable of doing the job.

I haven’t learned much about typing. There’s a lot of difference typing out an address and typing a whole letter. Dorothy knows how to type though, and if the necessity ever calls for it, she can do my typing.

I wouldn’t mind taking a short course on farming after I get out of the army and before I start farming. I could do that in the winter when I couldn’t do anything else. I could work and earn a little as long as I could, if I’m free during the summer and fall months.

I’m afraid that the 300 dollars I get when I’m discharged, won’t do much more than buy my clothes as I’ll have to have a complete outfit. Then, too, I’ll have to convert my insurance which will probably take some time. I think I’ll have it changed to 20 year pay and then the money would come about right for the kid’s education, if there are any.

I sure want to stay in the States when I get there, and I intend to do everything I can to get to stay.

Right around here I haven’t noticed many flowers yet. things were torn up so bad, that if there were any tame flowers, they wouldn’t be here now. Wild orchids grow in some regions around here.

I’m glad you got the birthday present in time since I sent money to Dorothy to have her get you something and it just got there a few days ahead of time. Sixty isn’t so old nowadays if a person takes care of himself.

By the time you get this letter, I think the war in Germany will be over. That should make quite a difference in everything. Maybe by the time I get home, things will be sort of loosened up back there.

Well, that’s about all for this time, I guess. Everything is fine over here, except the heat.

April 21, 1945

I received your letter of the 2nd a day or two ago, but I waited until my regular time to write.

Tonight is the kind of night when a person is glad he has a roof over his head. Otherwise he’d get rather wet.

I wonder if you are still having rains? If not, I imagine everybody is busy with gardens and getting ready for corn. It’s hard for me to realize that another planting time has rolled around. I sure hope that by next year this time I’m home for corn planting or nearby.

I guess I’ll get to see the crop this year anyway, even though I won’t get to see it put in. Maybe I’ll be there in time to run a cultivator a time or two. I want to eat some of that fried chicken. If you have any strawberries, put a few away in the locker so I can get a taste of them.

I’m sorry to hear about Mr. Sawtell. He was getting pretty well along in years, I guess. There have sure been a lot of deaths around Chesterfield since I’ve been overseas.tree grows in bklynI’m glad that you two get out once in a while and see a show. I’d think you could go a little more often as you haven’t so many responsibilities now. I saw “Meet Me in St. Louis” over here a while back. It was a fairly good show. I want you to go see the show, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” because it’s very good. I read the book around Christmas and then saw the show about a month ago.

Uncle George and Aunt Minnie are pretty spry yet, I guess, if they still go to the show. I guess the “kids” take them. I don’t imagine that Greene or the other fellow living on the Gahr place, cares much about them carrying off stuff either, after giving up possession. It wold take a lot of nerve, looks to me like, for anyone to try to do that.

meet me in stl

If Uncle Val [Gahr] and Dowland haven’t any money now to pay for feed, they never will. They should have it now, if ever.

I’ll bet things are pretty around there now.

Bill Dams didn’t stay overseas very long, it seems like, but I guess he saw plenty of action while he was there.

I’ll close for this time. Hope you are well.

April 29, 1945

I have your letters of the 8th and 15th to answer tonight as they both came since I wrote you last.

I’ll keep writing you letters as long as I can, but I don’t think there’s any need for you to write me anymore as I more than likely will no longer be at this address when you get this letter. Now, don’t get excited about my coming home, as I don’t think I’ll be there before the last of June or the first part of July.

There sure have been lots of rumors coming over the air today, but so far most of them have proved to not have any foundation. The first thing this morning, we heard that Germany had surrendered and later found that they hadn’t, but had only asked for it. I don’t suppose it’ll be long, though, before they’ll actually be out of the picture, whether they ask for peace or not. There isn’t much left of Germany anymore that the Allies haven’t run over.

I was out to see Russell Scott this afternoon. I told that it would likely be the last time I’d see him for a while.

I’m surprised that you didn’t butcher any pork this year. It’s been a long time since you’ve never butchered a hog during the winter, hasn’t it?

There sure have been a lot of deaths around Chesterfield lately. I sure was surprised to hear of the death of Florence Reesor, as she was so young. Gertrude is going to be tied down now with those three kids.

So Clarence Dowland and Hazel finally got married. They sure waited a long time.

I hardly recognized Harold Huyear in the picture you sent me. I suppose after four years, one forgets faces that he wasn’t too familiar with. There’ll probably be a lot of people around home that I won’t know. Especially the kids that have grown up will be strangers.

I’m over the cold and sore throat OK now. I’m going to be awfully bad off if they can keep me from coming home.

It looks like Uncle Pete is having his share of tough luck now. He’s going to have a tough time of it this summer with no man if he’s still trying to farm the Wooley place.

May 13, 1945

Here it is another Mother’s Day in India. I believe it makes about the third one over here.

I’m sure sweating it out here as the weather is sure hot. I’m waiting for (censored).

I should be back in the States by sometime in (July). It’ll probably be hot back there too by then.

Well, now that the war in Europe is over, things should loosen up a bit back there in the States.

VE DayHeadlines announced V-E Day

Some of the luckier ones will get discharged, bit I guess I’ll be stuck for the duration. If I’d been in a combat outfit, I’d probably be getting out of the army by now.

I hope you have plenty of fryers as I’m going to want plenty of fried chicken.

I’m going to be plenty hungry as it’s too hot to eat here and I’ll lose weight.

I hope to be seeing you before too long.

Editor’s note:  That was Dad’s last overseas letter.  Exact details of his departure weren’t available.  Would things go according to plan?  After being away from home for so long, a little more inconvenience wouldn’t be a big deal.  Return transportation took time–probably less time than the trip over.  There’s more to come in the concluding chapter.