May 10, 2014 11:02:03 PM
Last weekend there was a reunion of sorts in Columbus, mostly of people connected with Lee High School football during a certain time span. I had houseguests, two friends from childhood who fit into that era -- Betty Stephens Cooper and Ann Garland Weaver Russell. Both had brought clippings and memorabilia to share, and among those things was the inspiration for this column.
We predated the scrapbooking craze, but Ann Garland's mother was a pioneer. She had made a scrapbook for Ann Garland that we always thought of in capital letters: The Scrapbook. Mrs. Weaver had had a good subject; her daughter, an only child, was a glittering example of high school glamour. Betty was a great subject, too; but all of us in our little crowd had at least a page in The Scrapbook, with clippings and pictures carefully mounted.
It was just one example of what lengths loving mothers will go to for their children. Most mothers probably would not make such a scrapbook (which, incidentally, Ann Garland had brought with her for us to look at, along with clippings and pictures Betty, too, had saved.) Lucky children everywhere have their own memories of touching "extras" their own mothers have done. One of my memories is of a white sweater that my mother had secretly embellished with gorgeous appliques as a surprise for me one Christmas. I know from experience how much mothers enjoy doing such things.
The thing about such friends of long standing is that the same influences that formed their personalities and characters affected ours, too. All of us were shaped by the same environment -- our time in history, our location, our schools, teachers, churches, families, and, what we remember today, our mothers.
I remember my friends' mothers, not as clearly as my own, of course, but with a clarity I cherish. The Scrapbook was indicative of Ann Garland's mother. She was creative. For a while she worked at the library at MSCW, and it was her intention to write a book. Finally, she did. Ann Garland has persisted in getting the book published. "Our Piece of Earth" is a history of Coffeeville, Mississippi, from 1833 to 1918.
Betty's mother worked at Pryor's, a fine ladies' shop. The sales associates there knew their customers and would often call them when some garment came in that they thought the customer would like. Miss Carrie did that for me sometimes, as well as look out for her own four daughters. In addition, if it did not work well, she would say so. "No, that does not look good on you. Let me find something else."
You just do not get that kind of attention any more. Neither do we wear the carefully constructed garments we used to buy. Come to think of it, I think we really were better dressed back then. And my friend's mother looked after me, too.
My own mother worked also during that time, as a bookkeeper.
Our generation came into our teens during World War II, when women were leaving the hearthside to go to work outside the home. Some of this surely was because the men had gone to war, but the women stayed in the workforce after the war as well. We had gone from the Great Depression into war; and when both were over, women often remained at their jobs. It marked a major change in the mores of America.
Yet whatever the changes, mothers have remained right in there, caring for those children, no matter how busy they are. My mother worked outside the home, my friends' mothers worked, mothers today still work their fingers -- and their feet -- to the bone. They deserve, not a tepid, sentimental acknowledgment, but a resounding salute.