Happy Ninetieth Birthday

I had the pleasure of hosting Mother’s ninetieth birthday party Saturday May, 5th.  My mother’s only first cousin brought her an unusual gift, their grandmother’s hat.  Above, you can see Mother wearing it.  I looks kind of like a cow patty.  It must have been intended to be perched on a bun, since it is so small.  Mother said one of her earliest memories is of her grandmother in that small hat.

Here Mother is pictured with her five children.  Below my grandchildren make the acquaintance   of a lizard.  Don’t worry.  The lizard was unharmed.

 

 

Below, My granddaughter is investigating some yard art in my backyard.  I wish these cousins could play together every day, but they live across the country from each other.

Just love these images of little guys having fun.

 

Kathleen Swain in her new birthday hat, complete with tags

 

 

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Musings on My Father, on His Birthday (Part 1)

parents wedding pic

Bill and Kathleen Swain’s Wedding Picture, June 29,1945

family3   My father and some of his siblings.  He is the small boy with the wet pants holding his cap.

If my father had lived, he’d be ninety-one today.  I’ve been thinking about him all day.  He was born to share-croppers during the deepest of The Great Depression.  He was shaped by it, just like everyone else.  He was fourth of seven children.  His father died young, leaving a widow and three young girls still at home.  Bill was thirteen and never really lived at home again.  He worked and lived wherever he could for something to eat and maybe a little something to bring home to his mother and the three sisters left at home.  He said he worked a whole day chopping bushes in the winter rain one for a five-pound bag of meal.  He spent a lot of time at his Uncle Albert’s home.  Though Uncle Albert wasn’t always kind, he always provided him a home and something to eat when Daddy showed up.

He was over six feet tall at fifteen, and passing for seventeen, got his first job for the public, as a watchman at a drill rig.  It wasn’t far from his mother’s house, and sometimes he’d slip home to get something to eat.  His older brother got him on as a greaser in the oilfield soon afterward.

He joined the Navy at seventeen at the start of World War II, knowing he’d be drafted, choosing the Navy because he heard they got regular meals.  He never intended to be hungry again if he could help it.

Upon discharge from the Navy, he joined a construction crew running heavy equipment, and met and married my mother in East Texas.  They barely knew each other. Before long, they moved back to Northwest Louisiana, where he got on at International Paper Company and worked thirty-five years.

I knew my father as a driven, difficult man.  He was very loving to us when we were younger, but didn’t deal well with older children.  He made it clear he preferred having our “respect” than “love.”  I don’t think he understood he could have had both. I loved him dearly as a small child, but he wasn’t comfortable with girls and distanced himself from his girls as we grew older, thinking we were Mother’s responsibility then.

Daddy bought remote, unimproved acreage to build a cattle farm in my early teen years.  I thought that was wonderful till I learned the reality of what that entailed.  The place hadn’t been farmed in decades.  The house place under three huge oaks was overgrown in a locust thicket.   Locusts bushes are covered in long, sharp thorns, almost as hard as iron.  We had to help clear that thicket, pile it and burn it before the slab for the house could be poured.  Many times one of us stepped on a locust thorn and had it pierce our shoe and go into our foot,  sometimes more than an inch deep.  When you pulled it out, the tip was left to get infected and fester for days before it swelled and shot out in a purulent core.   The process was hurried along by soaking the pierced foot in hot salt water.  I don’t think any of us ever went to the doctor; it was such a common problem. We learned to dread those locust thorns.  For several years after we moved there, those locust thorns would turn up in our feet.   (to be continued)

That was Good

 

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In 1950, the US population was less than 150 million, yet you knew more people
then, and knew them better…
And that was good.

The average annual salary was under $3,000, yet our parents could put some
of it away for a rainy day and still live a decent life…
And that was good.

A loaf of bread cost about 15 cents and it was safe for a five year old to
skate to the store and buy one…And that was good.
1950s 1

Prime-Time meant I Love Lucy, Ozzie and Harriett, and Lassie. So nobody’d
ever heard of ratings or filters…And that was good.
We didn’t have air-conditioning, so the windows stayed up and half a dozen
mothers ran outside when you fell off your bike…
And that was good.

1950s 4

Your teacher was either Miss Matthews or Mr. Adkins, not  Ms. Becky or Mr. Dan.

The only hazardous material you knew about was a patch of grassburrs
around the light pole at the corner…
And that was good.

Most families needed only one job, meaning Mom was home when school
let out…
And that was good.

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You loved to climb into a fresh bed because sheets were dried on the
clothesline…
And that was good.

People generally lived in the same hometown with their relatives, so “child
care” meant grandparents or aunts and uncles…
And that was good.

Maw Maw by Car

TV was in black-and-white, but all outdoors was in glorious color…
And that was certainly good.

Your Dad knew how to adjust everybody’s carburetor, and the Dad next door
knew how to adjust all the TV knobs…
And that was very good.

Your grandma grew snap beans in the back yard and chickens behind the
garage…
And that was definitely good.

First Grade School Picture

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And just when you were about to do something really bad, chances were
you’d run into your Dad’s high school coach, or the nosy old lady from up
the street, or your little sister’s piano teacher, or somebody from church.
ALL of whom knew your parents’ phone number and YOUR first name…And that was good.
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Fathers and Time

good pic of DadI hadn’t seen this picture of my father until recently.  He died in 1981.  This is so typical of how happy and loving he looked the last few years of his life, once his children were grown and he retired.  He was a loving grandfather, endlessly patient and loving.  He never tired of his grandchildren.   At this point in his life, he couldn’t get enough of his family.  I am glad to have this memory.

The Things We Do For Our Kids! Guest Post By Cordelia’s Mom

Cordelia CardI am so proud to that Cordelia’s Mom did this Guest Post for Mother’s Day.  Please check out her lovely blog.  You will love it as well.

It was the mid-1950’s.  I was in first grade.

Mother’s Day was approaching, and my teacher decided to have us all make noodle necklaces for our moms.  She brought in a variety of dry noodles, along with string and water paints – and wrapping paper.  I was so proud of my creation!  Mom was going to love  it!

On Mother’s Day, I watched my mother open her precious gift. She oohed and aahed, and put the necklace around her neck.  I was so happy to see her wear it that day – I thought it was the most beautiful jewelry she ever had.

My mother didn’t work (back then, few did). Her only recreation was going bowling once a week in a league with other mothers.

Her annual bowling banquet was the week after Mother’s Day.  I watched my mother dress in her most beautiful (to me) outfit, high heels and all.  As she started to reach toward her jewelry chest, I told her she should wear the necklace I made because it was better than anything she had in that jewelry chest.  And she put that necklace on and left the house for her banquet.  I was so proud!

Fast forward approximately 25 years.  I was now a young mother whose girls often brought me hand made gifts.  One Sunday, I was visiting Mom, and we got to discussing little girls and how to raise them.  The subject of the noodle necklace came up.  I chuckled and told Mom that I was sorry I made her wear that necklace to her banquet, and that I now understood that she probably took it off as soon as she was out of eyesight.

There was a silence as my mother thought fondly back to that day.  Then, she told me:

No, I didn’t.  I wore it all evening and told all the other mothers that my little girl made it for me.”

And that’s how I learned to be a mother. Mom was tough when it was called for, but she loved her kids and made sure that we all knew that.

Mom once read about a father who told his child, “You are my favorite, but don’t tell your brothers and sisters because it would hurt their feelings.”  After the old man died, the kids were comparing notes and discovered that he had made that statement to each and every one of them.  Mom thought that was a wonderful way to make a child feel special – and while neither she nor I ever tried it with our own kids, we both understood the philosophy behind it, and tried to love each child in the way that child needed to be loved.  I know she succeeded; I hope I did, too.

Happy Mother’s Day!  If you have children, give them hugs from me.  If your mother is still alive, give her a kiss on her aging cheek.  And if you are a mother, may you be showered hugs, kisses and homemade gifts from your own children.

Thanks, Linda, for allowing me to guest post for you today.  I will hold you to your promise to reciprocate on my blog!

I love to hear from my readers.  You may comment on this post, comment on my Facebook or Twitter pages, or email me at cordeliasmom2012@yahoo.com.

Image by Cordelia’s Mom

Trip in Time

mother and dana

Mother and our friend Dana took a day trip to a local Jonquil Festival Saturday. After so much rain and dreary weather, it was a glorious gift.  We spent the day tramping through displays, enjoying the glorious blooms.  The sunshine and blooms sent my mood off the Joy Scale.

door  Later we found a wonderful old abandoned house.  Can you imagine how many times this old door must have been slammed by children as they came in calling, “Mama, Mama!’ ?  Late-arriving teenagers must have crept in quietly, hoping not to be caught.  Drunken husbands may have banged it as they came in late after blowing their whole paycheck, not caring that a furious wife lay waiting. New mothers opened it, bringing their new babies home to meet Grandma and Grandpa. Hopefully, it opened to more good times than bad.

side porch

This shady side porch must have seen wonderful times.  The family probably sat here to shell peas or eat watermelon.  They probably ate out here on hot summer afternoons and evenings, as the babies napped, flies buzzing on the screen. Likely, they’d have pulled their beds out here in summer to catch a breeze.  This is the haven to visit with neighbors in rockers and straight back wooden chairs as children shrieked and chased fireflies and young people slipped into the shadows to court.

 

Farewell to Domino

DominoPark Patrol.  That was Domino’s job. A beautiful black and white Akita, Domino patrolled the streets of his Highland neighborhood and Columbia Park for nearly eight years.  He made his appointed rounds four times a day, rain or shine, accompanied by his assistants, John and Carissa.  Everyone in the neighborhood knew Domino by name, though his Continue reading