I was reading a story written by someone just a few years older than me, and I began to realize that even in a small town, each family has it’s own characteristics and can operate very differently.
The writer’s mother operated a mangle and pressed their sheets. She ironed their dad’s shirts and all of their clothes. She kept house and cooked three hot meals a day. She also taught her daughters how to do these things. On cold winter days, they all read books.
I never had a chance.
As the little old lady that lived in the neighborhood south of highway 16 said. “Those Sanderson girls (my mom and her sisters) never learned how to do anything useful.”
Mom sent Dad’s shirts to the laundry in Chamberlain and they came back pressed, folded, and wrapped. I had no idea sheets weren’t supposed to have wrinkles.
Breakfast was whatever we could find after we brought Mom coffee in bed. I didn’t mind. I loved cereal. At one point she thought Billy needed to eat eggs but he didn’t like them, so she mixed up a raw egg in his cocoa every morning until I told him.
Once, while driving me to band, Dad asked if I’d had breakfast. When I said, “no ” he whipped into Fern’s Cafe and bought me a sugared donut and chocolate milk. No better way to insure your daughter has a nourishing breakfast. I loved Fern’s sugared donuts.
Most of the time, Mom cooked a hot noon meal, though sometimes it was something like a Swanson’s chicken pot pie and a baked potato. Supper was leftovers or chipped beef on toast. None of us liked sandwiches. I find it interesting that Dad became a good cook and my second father, Gus, is a great cook, too.
Mom was not what they now call a helicopter parent. She didn’t stick close by me to wipe my nose or ask me unimportant questions like, “What grade are you in?” She let me get into my own messes, but I also had to get out of them. This curbed my impulsiveness a little bit.
The interesting thing is, when my boys were born, she wanted me to be a mangle mom. She did not want me to work while I raised my kids. She didn’t get her wish.
She had fun with them, though. She took them to the movies with a hundred dollar bill. When they got home, the boys said, “Grandma didn’t even have to pay because the theater couldn’t break a hundred.” That worked a couple of times. She also fed them nourishing snacks like raw carrots dipped in garlic salt. You couldn’t get within ten feet of them for a week.
When Mom called the house, the kids would yell, “It’s Grandma.”
“The crazy one.”
She loved it!
Mom said she just wasn’t made for hard work. Maybe not, but she was smart and a good business woman. All the cousins and I worked for her at the motel at some point and we all learned things that served us well in later years.
Craig, me, and Mom having tea. (Mason was there too.) Swimming off our boat. With Gus, by the pool, with Mason on her lap, and at Karen Lindquist’s one year birthday party.