Happy Birthday, Mama

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Today is my mama’s birthday.  This is a photo taken in 1944, she was barely 20.

Born Martha Ellen in 1923 during the great depression in Tulsa Oklahoma, the heart of the dust bowl.   Ten brothers and sisters.  Her mother and father,   my  grandparents, made,  sold, and  transported “boot leg” whisky during prohibition to help make ends meet.

California 1944. Wiping something from my hand and face, probably dirt, I was about nine months.

Thanks, mom, for taking care of me, teaching me, cleaning me, helping me to grow.

1948 with (in my opinion) my unnecessary  younger sister.   I remember when this was taken.  We were downtown, Enid, Oklahoma where we lived after the war had ended.  We went downtown every Saturday, and met my father for lunch where he worked at Gorton’s Furniture.  Mr. Gorton always gave us a long red and white paper bag of popcorn.  They served popcorn every Saturday at the furniture store.  Sometimes we would go and eat a hamburger at my great-uncle’s hamburger stand, where you could buy a burger and fries for a nickel!  no kidding!  They were big burgers and my mom, sister, and me, always split just one!  Daddy ate one by himself.   If I was lucky we would run into my grandpa and he always had change in his pocket.  He would take it out and if I could guess how much each coin was worth and add them all up I could have the change!  it was a big deal to 5-year-old me!

My mom decided on the spur of the moment to have our picture taken.  It might have been near Christmas since we were wearing very scratchy wool sweaters and wool skirts, but I don’t remember wearing a coat this day, so it might have just been fall.  This is pretty much how we looked most of the time – not just for a photo.  Weird compared to today – the fluffy hair (what a job for my mother) and pretty ribbons.  My sister’s hair was naturally curly, but mama had to curl mine with these long strips of sheeting called ‘rag’ curlers.  You wound the hair around the strip then wrapped it up with what was left of the strip and tied it at the top – my arms got tired holding the top of each strip until it was tied, and  it was very uncomfortable to sleep on!  I’m sure she made our skirts – she sewed all our clothes.  I don’t remember what color they were.  I think our sweaters were navy blue.  Mama’s jacket was cream color with charcoal gray stripes.  I’m wearing nail polish and I can see its chipped, so is my mothers!

I haven’t got any artwork to share right now – I’ve been busy going here and there and everywhere getting ready for Christmas, and flying to Denver tomorrow to spend Christmas with a very wonderful 3-year-old!  Let it Snow!!

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5 responses »

  1. I see where you get your good looks from, your mom was beautiful! She looks like a movie star! Have a wonderful and safe trip.

  2. I too, thought it was photos of a movie star. What a beautiful Mum, outside and inside as well. Both you and your sister follow in your Mum’s footsteps. Thank you for sharing them.

  3. Thanks Rosemary, I always wished I looked like my mom – but I look more like my dad!

  4. love the photo’s and the story-your mom looked like judy garland in that first photo-i had an aunt who did my hair in rag rollers once-ended up with banana curls (in the early 70’s) wish i had a picture-i was so proud!~

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