My mother was born June 10, 1912. She didn’t seem to remember much of her earliest years when I talked with her. In fact, she rarely talked about her childhood. She remembered her mother’s death because she was just four years old. She remembered her sister Ora’s death when Ora was just 16 years old. She told of a time when there was a flood and they couldn’t cross the Arkansas River to get home from school. They had to stay with friends for about three days with no change of clothes until the river went down enough for safe crossing in a boat.
When Mom needed new shoes, Grandfather gave her money to go and buy some. She thought it was stylish to have small feet. So she bought them about two sizes too small. She said it really hurt trying to walk home in them. But she always bought shoes for fashion and not comfort. She did pay the price later when she had bunions and hammertoes and had to have surgery on her feet.
Mom was a very good student. She won lots of metals for spelling competitions.
Mom had to do lots of farm work. She was planting potato eyes when her brother John was born. She said he became like her baby as the children shared chores. She always felt close to him.
When Mom was high school age, Uncle Randolph took her to his home in Memphis, Tenn. She loved living there and had nice clothes and a good life. But Uncle Randolph and his wife separated so she was sent to Superior Arizona to live with and help Aunt Beulah and attend high school there. Aunt Beulah and Uncle Randolph were siblings of her father. Aunt Beulah and Uncle John Fry had three young children, John Jr., Scottie, and Betty Ruth.
Mom excelled in Superior High School too and won a scholarship to the University of Arizona. Dad was her English teacher and they liked each other. The law wouldn’t allow fraternization so when they took drives in the desert, Dad’s sister, Marguerite had to go along. They did all attend the same Presbyterian Church where Grandfather Dugger was pastor.
Mom turned down the scholarship and married Dad on June 6, 1930. They immediately left for San Diego where Dad had been hired to teach English at Hoover High School. That trip across the desert in a model T over wooden roads must have been something. But when they arrived they stayed at a motel in Ocean Beach, out over the ocean just before the entrance to Mission Bay. She loved that place for their honeymoon. Some years later we fished on the beach next to where the motel had been but it was no longer there because it had been washed away in a storm.
Mom had been married just before her eighteenth birthday. She was young. She started College at San Diego State College. She had an English class with Art Linkletter, (who later became a Radio and TV Star) with a teacher that I had some eighteen years later. Mom got pregnant with me, and had to give up college. She always felt she wasn’t as good as some of Dad’s friend’s wives because she didn’t have college. She was so bright, no one would know, but it bothered her.
Mom was active in PTA. We were all active in church. She loved to play bridge and because she could memorize all the cards, she often won their small money pots. We loved the days she entertained her bridge clubs because we got to eat the fabulous desserts she made and served with coffee and tea.
Continuation: When we were in college, our Mom typed our term papers. She could type over 80 words a minute and was an excellent at spelling. That meant our papers were always neat and complete.
Avery important thing about Mom was that after we left home she got involved in many things. She was listed in “Who’s Who of American Women”. She received a plaque from her church which stated “a lifetime of distinguished service to church and Community”. It listed fist woman moderator of the Synod of California, Utah and Nevada”, First President of San Diego Presbyterial, Organizing President of local Women’s Association, President of United Church Women of San Diego, President of San Diego County Board of Welfare, And she received the Woman of Valor Award..
When Mom was slightly over 80 years old, she fell at home and broke her hip, or the hip broke and caused her to fall. My brother couldn’t reach her by phone and asked our neighbor to check as she had a key to the house. Mom was in “la-la land” as we used to say because she was in a world of imagination. She was perfectly happy believing she was at a retreat. After the surgery for her hip she never came back mentally. She no longer remembered many of her friends. She had Alzheimer’s Disease. Of Dad, when we showed her a picture, she said she didn’t know who it was but she thought it was someone she loved. She always seemed to know Ellis and me. But her quality of life was gone. Ellis brought her newspapers which she always loved to read, but now couldn’t understand them. Even the Padre’s ball games she could no longer enjoy. Then she began to have difficulty swallowing. It was so sad to see.
Then one Sunday morning Mom just died. The doctor said it was Pneumonia as she had had a cold. About the time she died, at Ellis and Alison at their church were singing Mom’s favorite hymn, “Is it me Lord”. This was one death which was a blessing as she would never have wanted to live in that condition.
[Next time we will talk about my father.]