I prefer to remember Mother as she was when I was growing up on the High Plains of Texas. At age 94, she doesn't communicate anymore and cannot do anything for herself. During the forties and fifties, though, she had plenty to say and much to do. She never slacked off any domestic duty—our home was truly her castle.
She was very pretty. Really, she had lovely features—thick black hair, expressive dark eyes, and a somewhat voluptuous body. I did not inherit any of these characteristics. Believe me…none. I was always proud of her when she dressed up to go to church in her suits—often red—and heels, and red lipstick. She could carry off those colors. Me? Pinks and lavenders and turquoise to go with my mousy brown hair.
|ME--AFTER A HOME PERMANENT|
Hair. Oh, mine was straight as a board, cut in a Buster Brown until I was four. Daddy said one day, why don't you curl Celia Ann's hair? I got my first permanent with one of those horrid machines with wires hanging down from the helmet to attach to each roller in my hair. When Mother discovered Home Permanents, I endured them on a regular basis until I turned thirty. Finally I rebelled and have had straight hair ever since.
Mother sewed like a professional on her little portable Singer Featherweight. She kept all three of us girls dressed to the nines in new clothes, our hair always curled and "fixed," and shoes that Daddy polished every weekend. "Look at those Davis girls," people would say, "shining like a new dime."
Like all good mothers of the fifties, mine taught us how to run a household.
We learned how to wash clothes in an agitating washing machine in the garage, with two big square tubs, one for rinse water, and one to collect the wrung out clothing. The wringer was on a swing arm attached to the washer. Mother left us alone in the garage to "do the wash," admonishing us not to get our hand caught in the wringer lest we got our arm torn off. That was fine by me—not putting my hand in the wringer.
In the summers, Mother took me and my little sister out to farms who offered their produce for sale. The only catch was that the buyer had to pick the food. So, we donned our shorts and sleeveless tops, and picked black-eyed peas, cut okra, picked tomatoes, gathered yellow squash and corn, and occasionally, a watermelon or two. The bad part was back at the house, all that shelling, slicing, chopping, and shucking. Then came the last chore—canning. I never learned how to can, just watched Mother. As a wife and mother, I chose to shop at Piggly Wiggly.
I was pleased that Mother took food to shut-ins, sat with sick and dying people in the hospital, and took the elderly to Bible study or to church. Even though she told me not to volunteer her as a "room mother," I always did anyway. I wanted her to come to my school—and she did, pleased that I wanted her there.
Bless her this day, on Mother's Day.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas