A Tribute to My Mother on Mother's Day

| 5/5/2015 10:47:00 AM

Tags: Mothers Day, Tribute, Farm Women, Mary Conley,

Mary ConleyI think of my mother and mother-in-law more and more as I get older, whether I want to share something we are doing at the farm, or wishing I could ask them questions. When Larry and I process sweet corn or do any canning, we wonder how they did it all, often by themselves and with little appreciation. They were true hard-working women of the past.

My mom only went to school through eighth grade as she had to quit to help her mother who came down with shingles. I heard her stories often of how she learned to make pickles, hominy and sauerkraut. She became a good cook, and was well-known for her homemade cinnamon rolls, pies, fried chicken, and chicken and noodles. When she was in her 90s, she told me she remembered feeling sad when she couldn’t finish school, but looking back, she realized that helping her mother taught her all she needed to know to take care of her own family during the Depression.

A story I often heard from Mom was that she made nearly all the clothes they wore. Even underwear. My favorite sewing account, though, is how she would buy a large piece of blue cotton fabric and then cut out Dad’s and all five boys’ shirts from it. She would lay out the patterns for the big pieces first, and then arrange and rearrange the patterns for the smaller boys until they all fit. Of course, if there was a scrap of material left, it would be saved for patching or a quilt block.

Following five boys, I was born when Mom was 40. Yes, she finally got her girl, but always said that she never expected to live to raise me. Yeah, yeah! How many times did I hear that? Then she lived to be almost 97!


My family in 1942. That's me as a baby on Dad's knee.

6/5/2015 8:45:39 AM

I love this entry, Mary! I think often of my grandmother. I have no idea how she managed. She had a massive garden, she had enough chickens that she sold them, she canned hundreds of quarts of home-grown vegetables each year, she made her own wines, she had four children, and she had a job - she was the postmistress. How is all that possible? I think the days were longer back then. I'd give anything to walk beside her for a week in say August, during the peak harvest.

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