Remembrances for Mother’s Day
Sometimes we think of the stereotypical mom as that little old lady in the purple dress that wears a tiny purple pillbox hat with a fake daisy on it standing up like a periscope. We’re going to celebrate Mother’s Day Sunday, and I’d like to put the lie to some of our preconceived notions about moms.
The one I’m thinking about was raised on a farm in central Pennsylvania just after the turn of the 20th century. She never learned how to ride a bike, never had more than waded in the water – swimming was out of the question, and never could wrap her tongue around correct grammar. She would say to her guests, “I’m so glad you have came.” Pennsylvania Dutch was at the forefront of her language, and “younce” meant just you and “younse” meant you ones. She would “red” up a room, meaning that she tidied it up a bit, and “oncet” meant once.
These little idiosyncrasies aside, she was about the best bridge player and poker player anywhere around. She could remember what cards had been played and what hadn’t, which gave her a pretty good advantage over her opponents.
She could make about the best chocolate pudding ever from scratch, and would allow her children to lick the cooking kettle clean. The pudding was even good when it developed a thick rubber-like skin on top. Some people even ate that skin.
She was ever motion-sensitive for whatever reason. And it gave her kids great ability to move about on the front porch glider where she was seated without so much as a slight jiggle.
Her husband’s mother lived under the same roof, which always seemed to cause some kind of a conflict. One time her mother-in-law, in an attempt to compliment her on an unusual dinner said, “Pretty good for a change!” This was taken by the mother in question to mean that the food was good for a change – as if it had been bad before.
One time on a vacation trip to Canada, all the guests of the hotel where she was staying with her family had gathered in the lobby for some kind of a get together. A bat flew in! There was much screaming, covering of heads and flailing of arms as that poor little bat tried to find an escape. Finally, the quivering little creature came to rest on a picture frame. Over that mother went, and calmly, gently, grasped the little fellow and held him until someone offered her a shoebox to put him in. He was released into the night.
A favorite trick of hers was to catch one of those huge, fat, fuzzy, yellow and black bumble bees. Now, I won’t vouch for how humane this was, but she would, with long fingernails, pluck the stinger out of that bumble bee’s rear. She would then cup him in her hands as she sought out the manliest fellow she could find and ask him to hold out his hand to receive a special present. A brief chaos followed.
She loved to pick blackberries, elderberries, raspberries and blueberries, and would spend many hours at the stove readying those berries to be “put up” or canned. Elderberry blossoms dipped in batter, deep fried, and coated with powdered sugar were a wonderful treat.
She could cup her hands, place her thumbs together, and blow into the little opening below the knuckles of each thumb to bring forth quite a loud whistle. By twiddling her fingers, she could vary the sound, and she was able to play quite a good little tune.
Her husband loved new cars. An argument would ensue when he thought it would be great to get one. She would really put her foot down-absolutely no new car, and that’s final! Her kids would snigger a bit as they knew that later in the day he would show up in the driveway with the new car he had purchased.
Her husband also had a great vocabulary of swear words, which her kids learned quite readily. They would save those choice words for when they would have company, then let fly with a couple of doozies. Of course, she said told her guests that her kids learned those nasty words from those bad boys next door. Sure.
Her son had very tightly-curled hair which precluded any need for a haircut for quite a few of his young years. He hated the fact that he was often mistaken for a little girl. Finally, Rocky Santo, a local barber (God bless him!) cut the little boy’s hair as she tearfully pranced around the barber chair catching the little ringlets in an envelope before they fell to the floor.
Would you like to see them? I still have them in a drawer upstairs.
Mumford, of Warren, is a community columnist. Email him at columns@trib today.com