Becky Says...

2000-07-26

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Meet My Mother

From time to time, I'll share anecdotes about my mother and father. In fact, I already did tell you about the brownie-baking episode. But before I tell you much else amusing, I want to tell you about the people themselves. Today, I'll tell you about Mother. She's been dead for over four years now, but her influence will live on.

Mother was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina, on November 11, 1911. Her name was Mary, and her fraternal twin sister was named Rebecca. They were their parents' only children. Most of their early childhood was spent in Wilkes County, then the family moved to Winston-Salem. The two girls went to high school there, then stayed to attend Salem College. After that point, my aunt married, and my mother went job hunting.

It is important to note here that during the Depression, Salem College "forgave" the tuition for students who were not able to pay it. This allowed my mother and my aunt to finish their degrees on time. It is something for which I am grateful.

Mother's degree in Latin and Spanish did not land her a teaching job right out of college, as she had hoped. Seems all the schools wanted slightly older teachers, with experience. So Mother took a business course, and moved to Gastonia to live with her uncle and aunt while she worked as secretary for the county district attorney. The district attorney's nephew was also an attorney, named Frank. (Nineteen years after Mary and Frank met, they were married. I came along a couple of years later.)

During World War II, she decided to join the Army. Although she was amply qualified to apply for officers' training, at that point most WAC officers were being kept in the States and she wanted to see some of the world, so she passed on the training. She was assigned to work in the Provost Marshall's office (think JAG), and served several different places in the States before being sent overseas to New Guinea, then to the Philippines. In the Philippines, she not only worked in the Provost Marshall's office, she also taught Spanish classes.

After the war, she came back to North Carolina. Her sister, brother-in-law, and nephew were living in the mountains, where the two adults were teaching school. Mother found a teaching job, in Fayetteville, where she remained until she married my father. During her time in Fayetteville, she earned a Master's from Teachers' College at Columbia University, during summer sessions. She always loved learning.

They moved to Gaston County, where he had resumed his law practice after the war. They didn't live in Gastonia, but four miles away in Dallas, which is my hometown.

Before you ask: no, it isn't named for Dallas, Texas. Both of them were named for the same man, though.

The first year she lived in Dallas, Mother taught at a school in another small Gaston County town, Cramerton. She took time off to have me. When she returned to teaching, it was at Dallas High School. She remained there, and at its successor, North Gaston High School, until she retired. After her retirement, she did some tutoring, and indulged in a few hobbies.

She was the single most important influence on my life. And I am blessed to have been her child.

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My friend David's new message board at Planet SOMA is attracting some interesting comments. He also has a message board set up here, for those with knowledge of or interest in grocery stores and their history. We got started talking about stores in the South today.... Come see what we've been saying. And add a note to either board.

Text copyright 2000 Becky