My Mother grew up on a tobacco farm in Tennessee in a family of 13 children. They grew food, made lye soap in a wash pot, and had feather beds and homemade quilts. My sister and I loved her tales about her childhood and always asked her to tell us about the “olden days.”
She was quite a storyteller. When she became older, she wrote a memoir of her stories. It was accepted for permanent retention by the Tennessee State Archives and is also published in a blog on the Internet.
Mother met daddy while he was visiting Tennessee. They fell in love and eloped to North Carolina and married. There she found work in a cotton mill where she was a spinner and picker. Some other women thought her job of picking was easier than spinning. She had a bit of temper and took leave for a month. She told the boss to let every single woman have a turn doing her job while she was gone. He did, and when she came back to work, no one complained that her job was easy any more.
Church was the religious and social center of the community where she grew up and also about all there was to do. As an adult, she went to church twice on Sunday and prayer meeting on Wednesday night. She taught Sunday school, studied the Bible, and loved to discuss her interpretation of the scriptures. Her point-of-view sometimes conflicted with that of others, but she was certain her way was right and could never understand why everyone did not agree with her.
Mom once took on the Teamsters Union. Daddy was a member of the union, but they failed to give Dad health insurance when he retired. She went to see the head guy of the union who, of course, would not see her. So, she staged a one-woman protest and sat in the waiting room of his office every day for over a week until he finally saw her and gave her what she wanted. Not many people take on the Teamsters and win.
Like most mothers, she also had a soft side and many homemaking abilities. She loved cooking southern food and making pies. Mom didn’t like to make cakes, so if we wanted a cake we had to make it ourselves. She knew how to crochet and made Afghans by the dozen, which she gave away to family and friends. She always had flowers planted around the house and a row of Zinnias in the vegetable garden. She liked knick-knacks and kept every single thing anyone ever gave her on display in her house. I don’t know how she kept all that stuff dusted.
Mom always worried a lot. When she heard a siren, she would turn on dad’s police scanner to see if anyone she knew had been in a wreck. She also was scared to death of thunderstorms and thought the house would be struck by lightning, a tree limb would fall on it, or a tornado would blow it away. If she was alone, she would go to a neighbor’s house until the storm was over.
Mom and Dad loved to travel and they took many automobile tours to the western United States always taking, kids, grandkids or some of mom’s sisters along. I’m not sure how many times they went in all. They didn’t make pictures, instead daddy bought postcards. So, we have no pictures of them at the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, or Old Faithful – only boxes of postcards.
Mom never did learn to drive in spite of our many attempts to encourage her. But she was very good at manipulating people and getting them to take her places – grocery store, hair dresser, or doctor appointments. She said she didn’t need to drive as she could always “get a way.”
Mother lived to age 94. I miss her a lot, but have a lifetime of stories and memories.
Copyright 2014 Sheila Moss
Mom’s Memoir “Growing Up on PZ Ridge”
can be found at http://timeslongago.blogspot.com/
I just wrote a long note about my mom refusing to learn to drive until an uncle became ill. Dad forced her learn so she wouldn’t be stuck like my aunt was. Later she was grateful, especially as Dad’s ability deteriorated. The previous long message went to wherever lost messages go, but this gives you all the basic info. So glad you shared this story Sharon
Mom never would. She depended on dad until he went in the nursing home. Then my sister had to go get her unless her neighbor was available. It was hard on other people. She was in her 40’s before she learned to swim. Seems driving would be easier to learn than swimming. I don’t know. We offered to teach her, but she had her own mindset about things.
What an amazing life and chronicled so well 👌👌
Thanks for commenting. We always liked hearing about a life so different from our own.
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She had many sides to her personality. She could be tough as nails, but also cried very easily.
She sounds like a very determined and resourceful woman! You had to be to survive in those “olden days.”