Mom, who was our grandmother, but insisted that her grandchildren call her mom, was a major force in my mother’s family and therefore in our family as well. As a result of having to call her mom, we had to call my mother, mother.
When we were children, we often went to visit Mom with my mother. She lived several blocks away and since we did not have a car, walking would have to do. Three of mom’s daughters, she had eight, lived with her at the time. And a few had married and had their own homes and families. Two became teachers and the rest worked in the silk mills in the area and turned in their pay to mom as long as they were living at home. Mom used some of the money to send two of the youngest girls to Teacher’s College. Mom was very progressive especially being she was from the “Old Country”.
We, my sisters and I, were shy and would hide behind my mother if we were asked any questions when we visited. Mom would comment on how bashful we were and my mother would scoff and say, “They are not that way at home! Can’t keep them quiet there.” Which of course, made us more bashful when we were out..
We kids enjoyed playing in mom’s large backyard where she kept chickens and had a vegetable garden. We made up our own games and were usually pretty tired when mother would call us in for a snack of lemonade and cookies that mom had made. Usually oatmeal and raisin cookies and the lemonade was so cool and refreshing that we guzzled it down.
After all the playing and then walking home we kids were pretty tired and usually took a nap, giving mother a brief respite and maybe a visit with her friend and neighbor, Mrs. Kelly. Mrs. Kelly lived right next door to us and had a large yard in which were planted all manner of vegetables. She used to give us vegetables on a regular basis, anywhere from carrots to tomatoes and onions. My mother would make wonderful stews with chunks of meat and always potatoes added. My mother had a small garden and even some chickens but with four children, was always grateful for donations of food especially around the holidays.
Mrs. Kelly, in addition to being very helpful to us, was also a bad influence on my mother, teaching her to smoke and sometimes drink alcohol. But mother never became a big drinker and she never became a heavy smoker either, in spite of Mrs. Kelly. But they did have a good time when they got together. They both loved hearing and telling a good story. There was always a lot of laughing when they got together.
To be continued.