Monthly Archives: September 2015

More Bits and Bobs from Mother Mary

A few more things have come to mind since I wrote the last column about things my mother said, and things about her life. So here we go:

She sometimes called children by the name “tuniker”. I never knew what it meant, and never ask, but I remember her using it.

She held a superstition that if a bird got caught in the house someone was going to die.

She believed in the supernatural, and felt and saw things, much as I sometimes do and said it came from her grandmother Emmett, who was her mother’s mother. I think Uncle Mose saw things too, but we could never tell if he really did or if it was his active bottle fed imagination.

She called a canker sore a “gum boil”. I was reminded of that when I had one a few days ago.

If we needed to get something done, and there wasn’t a direct way to do it, she would always say she would try to work a chicken foot, meaning I believe, a way around whatever was standing in the way.

She always made sure I had money for a phone call when I left the house on a date.
And I always had to have on clean underwear whenever we left the house, in case I was in a wreck,she always said. I always wondered about that, since if I was ever in a wreck the last thing I’d probably care about my underwear.

She cautioned me about kissing boys, and told me never to put my arms up around a boy’s neck when kissing him, because it allowed him too much access to my body. I really had to work on that one.

She firmly believe that Dwight Eisenhower was the worst president ever, because he did go to Korea as he promised, but he didn’t bring Jack back with him. Seriously though, she thought he should go there and end the war. She never voted in another presidential election that I recall.

In 1973 she was robbed while she sat in the car in the parking lot waiting for Dad to come out with a prescription. She had just cashed her Social Security check, and two young black men simply opened the car door and reached for her purse as she sat there holding it in her lap. On that particular night, Jody and I were over at Ball State, she in the music building studying, I believe, and I was rehearsing a play. I had such a weird feeling that I cut rehearsal short and went to look for Jody. We met in the hall, each on the way to find the other, and said, We’ve got to get home. Something is wrong. When we arrive there (Luick Ave. in Muncie) we were told about the robbery, and Mother was very glad to see us. We had all the locks changed on the doors, because the keys were in her purse. Several days later the police came to the house with her purse, with everything in it but the money. She got back all her pictures, the loss of which upset her more than losing the money did, I sometimes think. She wasn’t scared to go out again, but the next time we went to the grocery, she was pushing the cart and I was putting things in it. I said something to her like do we need this, and when she didn’t answer, I turned around to see her hunched over the cart with one arm up about her face. I thought she was having a stroke or heart attack. When I asked her what was wrong she used the other hand to point at something behind me in the aisle. I turned and looked and there was some poor old black man doing his grocery shopping way down at the end of the aisle. My mother had always taught me to respect everyone and to treat them as I wanted to be treated. (I had several black girlfriends in the city schools, and one even told me that she felt so comfortable at my house because my mother didn’t treat her any differently than anyone else.) I finally got her out of the store, and home, and as far as I know nothing like that ever happened again. It was all an eye-opening experience for me.

That should be enough for now. Enjoy.

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Bits and Bobs About My Dear Mother You Might Find Interesting.

For several years now, Harold has been saying to me, Why don’t you write down the things your mother said and did so the family will have it to keep. For those of you who don’t know, my mother was Mary Estes Moore, and she was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, on October 12, 1907. She had four siblings, Ethel (Ann/Nan-nan), Mose, George, and Helen/e.My mother was a great story teller and over the years of doing genealogical research I have found the most of her stories were 95% correct. She also said things that we don’t hear today, and so I thought I’d try to remember and recount some of things she would say, and do, as they might make you smile. For those of you who remember her, please feel free to add your own memories in the comment section. I’ll just start out randomly and get as far as I can.

I would sometimes ask her if she thought a certain boy liked me or not. And she would sometimes say, “Well, if he doesn’t he had better take in his sign.”

She called babies “trues” or “true ones” frequently. I have no idea where that came from.

Sometimes she would tell me not to worry about something because “That’s a lost ball in the high weeds.”

Her mother never called her anything but Sister most of the time. My mother didn’t even have a name until she was six and started first grade. another story for another time perhaps, and they all just called her Sister.

She called green bell peppers Mangoes, and I did too for years.

She called sanitary napkins “concerns”, and my father always bought them for her if she wasn’t along to buy them and needed them. That might have been a code word of theirs.

She would often describe men as having “bedroom eyes”, the kind of eyes that you wanted to have on the man who shared your bedroom.

She had some kind of seizures as a child, but out grew them before she reached her teens. I suspect it was some form of epilepsy.

As a child of about ten she fell into an old cistern, and was trapped underground in the water before she was shortly rescued. That’s why she always said she wanted to be cremated, because she couldn’t stand the thought of being trapped underground.

She never felt that her parents loved her, that they loved Ann or Helen/e better. I think it may have been because she was independent and they thought she could do whatever she wanted safely, so they just didn’t pay as much attention to her as they did to the others. She and Mose had to work in the fields, setting tobacco, and she always swore that her children would never have to work in the fields doing such hard labor. And setting tobacco was hard labor in those days, and isn’t much easier today.

She loved horses and it broke her heart when they had to sell all theirs to move to Cincinnati. She always wanted me to learn to ride, but we never had the money, and didn’t really live anyplace where we could keep them. She rode fast once she was out of the view of the house she always said. People of the neighborhood were always telling my Papaw Estes that she was going to kill herself riding like that, and he would discipline her, but it never stopped her from riding. She rode astride too, when many women still didn’t.

She graduated from high school in 1926, with Ann graduating the year before her. Ann went to Eastern Kentucky Normal School and got a teaching license and taught school for a while before they moved to Cincinnati. Mother got a job after they got there. Both of them were well educated women for their day, as most of their school mates from home didn’t pass the state test to be able to go on to high school.

The best advice she ever gave me was when Jeff was born and I wanted to go see him in the hospital. In those days you had to be 14 to go see a patient, and I was only twelve. She had me put on my best dress, stockings, and shoes with a small heel. I was already tall for my age. She did my hair up on my head, and off we went. When we got to old main lobby of St. John’s she said to me “Now walk straight ahead to the elevators, hold your head up, and act as if you know where you’re going.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of that over the years. It takes guts to enter a classroom some days. She was right, no one challenged me, and I got to see Jeff before he came home. He was born on July 11, 1956, two days before my 12th birthday.

I am sure that more will come to mind, and I will use another column for them. Thanks for reading this.

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