Judy Carlson, the author of “The “Hays and the Terrells,” writes a weekly column for the Hitchcock County News. The following are three of her articles from that Southwestern Nebraska paper.
TO MOTHERS EVERYWHERE
To Mothers everywhere; Especially my own
“…A women who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 24:30)
This coming Sunday is set aside to honor our mothers. The custom began many years ago in England and was called “Mothering Sunday”. Julia Ward Howe suggested that people observe a Mother’s Day on June 2nd as a day dedicated to peace. Officially Mother’s Day began to be celebrated in 1887; in 1915 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day an annual national observance.
Of all the people who influenced me along my life-journey, it was Mom who helped me the most to become the person I am to day. She did all the things for her six children that mothers do – kept our home and us kids neat and clean. One of her sayings (she quoted little sayings often) was “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” She was (still is) through in whatever task she had – when we wanted to take short cuts to do a task we didn’t enjoy, she would inspect our work then say “haste makes waste, and send us back to finish the task property. To this day her words echo in my mind if I hurry through a task to get it out of the way.
From the time we were toddlers, Mom read to us nightly as we curled up on a bed, snuggling next to her and each other. I credit her for all of us being avid readers and good spellers. After the two youngest siblings were born, I took her place reading nightly to them as they snuggled next to me. It was wonderful preparation for the arrival of Lanny’s and my three children; it became our nightly tradition.
Mom taught me about fortitude and courage. In the early 1940’s Daddy broke his back, having to wear a full body cast for awhile. He couldn’t work. Then International Harvester, his place of employment went on a lengthy strike. There was no income; we lost our home. I can remember standing on the sidewalk, toward dark, as strangers moved all the contents of our home out on the lawn, spilling over the driveway. Brother Ken and I held hands, Corky was a toddler with asthma … Mom was with child once more.
Life went downhill for quite awhile for the Rogers family; the only place Daddy could afford for his family was one room in a firetrap hotel. Every night before we kids went to bed Mom had to remove the bedding to shake the cockroaches from it. We shared a bathroom with other tenants; it was filthy. I can picture her scrubbing filth from the commode, sink, floor to make it safe for us kids to use. The smell was abhorrent. No complaints from her, it was done for the well being of her family.
Once she saved me from being kidnapped by a stranger. I believe she saved me from an early grave that day. Eventually Daddy found a shell house for our family 20 miles west of Chicago; no inner walls, only 2 by 4s divided the rooms. Mom made it homey with blankets to give us some privacy. After the hotel period it was a snap. She planted flower gardens wherever there was space where Daddy hadn’t planted vegetables. Daddy had another job, shell houses were cheap; we lived there for many years.
In 1961 Daddy died; he was 47 at the time and there were still three children at home. Three days after the funeral Mom did something she swore she would never- could never do … she learned to drive. I had feared she wouldn’t be able to “go on”… I should have known better, her deep and abiding faith has sustained her every moment of each day.
When Lanny and I visited her last summer in her Illinois apartment, my Aover 80” year old Mom, a victim of osteoporosis, upon waking each day would open her Bible, read for awhile, then bow her head in prayer. Think that says more about Mom and her life than all the words in the world.
Everyone has a story to tell and I know all of you reader’s mothers played an important part in yours. Honoring Mom is important but a big thanks would be even better. Sharing your A Mother’s stories with others will keep her memory alive forever.
I love you Grace Rogers,
Your loving daughter, Judy
“CHANGE” IMPORTANT THINGS ARE FOREVER
“THOSE WHO ARE GENEROUS ARE BLESSED” (Proverbs 22;9)
When I was a young teen, growing up in Illinois, one of the highlights of my life was a trip into the Chicago Loop. My best friend, Peggy, and I saved babysitting money until there was enough for round-trip suburban train fare, lunch at Walgreen’s Cafeteria, and the show.
We would search the “Chicago Tribune” for newest movie releases before we began our journey so we wouldn’t waste the day trying to decide which one it would be.
Armed with a fresh bag of popcorn (we automatically budgeted for that) we settled side by side in the dark theater to become a part of the journey unfolding across the screen. Afterwards, if the movie wasn’t too long, we haunted the huge department stores – Carson Perry Scoff, Goldblatts, Marshal Field, Woolworth, were a few I can recall among many.
We rode escalators as high as they would go and if it wasn’t too crowded, we ran their steps to see if we could beat the bottom stair to the top. We were daring! The two of us tried on expensive clothing, then had the garments held in our name while we “shopped around”. As I think back now, I wonder it we really fooled the clerks with this trick.
Once Peggy tried on a full-length mink coat, then asked the clerk to put it in the back while we shopped to compare prices. Don’t know if she was fooled by us or knew we wanted a bit of fantasy land in our lives, but she did as Peggy asked, who told our friends we had a mink coat on hold.
When one is a teen it is fun to mingle and lose yourself in a crowd … it was exciting to be a part of the smells, breath the Lake Michigan humidity, hear the traffic moving across and around the city … observe its melting pot of human souls. Before each trip there was always a parental admonishment: Remember, don’t talk to strangers!!
Then I found my Nebraska man. Five years, and two babies later (with one on the way) we migrated west to Trenton, Nebraska. A new vocation awaited us – farming. No masses of people pushing and shoving along main thoroughfares; no department stores stretching to touch the heavens … the Movie Marquee titles were ones I had seen long before. The “main drag” (as it was referred to then), was lined with lots of shops – Kotter & Wallets, 4 grocery stores, (ground floor) Department stores; Campbells – where cream and eggs were “traded by the farming community.” There were lumberyards, implement dealers, a 5 & 10; Smith’s Clothing; Gambles, 4 gas stations, eateries, The farmers Co-op; a few “dens of iniquities’.
Trenton teemed with life – as did most area towns in rural Nebraska at that time. The Trenton Register was published weekly; I know that was a fact because I heard it referred to, back in the 1960’s as the ‘weekly wipe’. That was an expression new to this city gal! I loved that paper! Where else, beside the party line, were you able to find out what your neighbors had been up to?
Homes snuggled side by side, “Dear Trenton High we love you” wafted from school buildings; four church steeples reached for the heavens touching souls with eternity through song, sermons, and praise to the God of abundant crops and the strengthening God of farm hardship times. The town mortuary lay to rest those who passed, from earth to eternity, in the hillside cemetery. “Never talk to strangers”…but there I was in a town of strangers! I didn’t have to take to strangers, the strangers all spoke to me! Of course my one name was easier for them to remember then all of their names were for me.
Of course I received the “once over” strangers do everywhere, but it was accompanied by friendly waves and bits of conversation. After my loneliness began to fade (thought for a while I had come from outer space) thanks to many who encouraged me to be a part of their happenings, I found a corner of Southwest Nebraska to belong.
HOPE ON WHEELS
“THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH AND MY MIGHT, AND HE HAS BECOME MY SALVATION…” Exodus 15:8
As I was driving down the highway listening to a C.D. this past week, I found myself singing along with the music, peaceful and content. From some fantastic event in my life? I guess you could call it that. I love to drive! I love the solitude, the purring motor sound. I think of driving my car as the “Wind Beneath my Wings”
….. It wasn’t always that way, though. When I started to high school I dreamed of the day I would be able to take driver’s education. That time came, but for some reason I can’t remember, I wasn’t able to do it. (Think it was because I would have had to stay after the bus left and would have no way home.)
My Dad valiantly offered to teach me. I know it was a big decision for him. Once when he decided Mom had to learn to drive, after we moved 20 miles west of Chicago – the country part there was this horrendous event…
Because of our lack of electricity Daddy had to purchase a gas-powered electric motor to run the washing machine. Why he decided Mom should have a driving lesson at that time, I don’t recall, though I was with them. Driving down a country road was easy for her, I thought she was doing a great job! Then, as she turned into the yard to drive as close to the house as possible to unload the heavy motor, Daddy told her to put on the brakes …. She accidentally hit the gas pedal. The only thing that prevented us from parking in the dining room was the jolt from the sudden breaking jarred the heavy motor loose, causing it to break away from its bindings and fall from its resting place. She finally stopped the car about a foot from the house – end of Mom’s driving lessons. I don’t recall if it was her or Daddy’s decision, but she no longer had any desire to drive.
Daddy said to me, again, and valiantly: “I’ll teach you how!”… It went fine the first time I took the wheel, the first time I went around the block. I was filled with courage! I was bursting forth with might! I COULD DRIVE!!!!! …. and I went in the deep ditch beside the gravel road I was driving on. “Why in the h… did you do that?’ he questioned from his ashen face. I wanted to tell him I didn’t do it, the car did, but couldn’t think it a good time for joking… end of my driving dream. My longing to drive and the strength to do it quietly, but quickly melted into oblivion.
Six and a half years later, married and parents of two babies and one on the way, Lanny’s dad called us in Aurora, Illinois one day; Uncle Virgil wanted to retire from farming and move to town. Would we like to come farm his place? We would have the house to live in.
Because we had visited when we had come through there on our honeymoon, I said yes! I knew it was a good house and I thought it was beautiful …. No one told me how lonesome it would be. Not knowing how to drive gave me a feeling of isolation. I prayed about it regularly. Going back to my beginnings to be with my Illinois family was out of the question. The loneliness became more painful daily. One day, while I was visiting her, Lanny’s Mom said “Judy, you’ve got to loam to drive. You can’t live 15 miles out in the country with two young children and a baby and not know how to drive.”
Lanny was dubious about it all (I’d probably told him about my first lesson and adventure). His Mom then told him and me how she would teach me. My first thought was, Brave soul!!! She did; kindly, patiently, and slowly help me to know the country roads and maneuver on them. I had one of the most patient Mother-in-law’s in the whole world. I flew on the wings of a renewed and strengthened faith. I could do all things through Him who strengthens me – thanks to the help of one of God’s most special angels helping me.
Because she gave me “Wings beneath my Wheels”, I made new friends, taught Sunday school, began the volunteer work I loved. For almost nine years I had an unexpected blessing from God: pastoring a church, where being able to drive a car was a necessity; and to me, and unexpected gift.
Is there something in your life now you’re finding a bit tough to handle? Climb in your car, take a drive to a beautiful place, then pray about it. Believe me, you will find an answer to your prayers in ways you cannot fathom. There will be a special angel somewhere for you. Remember – You will be able to do all things through Him who will strengthens you.
(By the way, the “HOPE” part of my title this week? It’s the name of my car.)”…. In (God) my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by. Psalm 57:1
Thank you, my Nebraska Mom, for all you have helped me along my Nebraska-life-way.