Friday, December 05, 2008

My Parents



My parents in 1941.
They were part of the "greatest generation"--the incredibly hardworking people who pulled this country out of the depression and onward, through WWII.
My father was a young teen during the depression. My mother was a tween. She used the same 6 bobby pins for five years. She learned to sew her own clothing. Her family owned a dairy. My grandfather just kept delivering milk to the families who were not able to pay their bills until he went broke. They never recovered financially.
My father worked two after school jobs at 17. His father owned a grist mill and he worked there, too. So, three jobs, really. His two brothers worked just as hard and they all made it through The Colorado School of Mines in about six years, taking turns: two in, one out, working full time.
I keep thinking about them lately. How they managed.
One Christmas, when I am sure there was very little money, my mother bought a few small gifts and hid them all over the house. When we woke up Christmas morning, there was a green string for me--and a red one for my sister--each tied to a branch of the Christmas tree. We followed the string, winding it up as we went all over the house, out into the yard, the porch, the garage. Sometimes the string was overhead, or wound in a back and forth pattern around chair legs... it was a great Christmas. It took an hour or more of laughing and complaining and teasing and criss-crossing and untangling, to open two or three presents--none of which I remember at all.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story about the red and green string, and you and your sister and your parents, and the Christmas-morning-filled "laughing and complaining and teasing and criss-crossing and untangling." Thank you for making my holiday a bit brighter!

- martyh

kathleen duey said...

Martyh,

Remembering it brightened my day. My mother was a clever woman, and the queen of make-do.

Carole@Fowl Visions said...

Thanks for sharing. A few years back I hid the gifts in the house and then set clues in different places. Each clue lead to the other until the gift was found. It was like a treasure hunt and the boys loved it. I think I will do it again this year!

Shari said...

Thank you for the story. It reminded me of the time my Mother did the same thing on Easter day. My Brother and I spent the Easter morning winding up yarn the was all over the house. Mom had hidden plastic Easter eggs with jelly beans or nickels inside and the yarn led us to them. It was fun and I have always had fond memories of that day.

kathleen duey said...

Carol and Shari,

Thanks for your memories...

Now that I am reminded...my mother did the treasure hunt clues one year, too. Every clue was a little puzzle, a riddle, figuring out a rhyme.

I miss her. I miss them both. And, oh, I am grateful for their legacy of every-day, kitchen-sink, down to earth, resilience.

kathleen duey said...

Katie,

I figured that out...That's smart for someone your age to do! I am sure your parent prefer to keep your blog safe, too!!

So...I have to travel to speak at a teachers' conference until the middle of next week. ASAP after that, I will write you here...

In the meantime, if you like, go to www.kathleenduey.com and read the guestbook entries. LOTS of those kids want to be writers and I have answered lots of questions about writing there...

All best,
k

Val said...

Your stories reminded me of the Great Depression stories my mother told. She was one of eight children, the eldest girl. and never went anywhere without at least two of her siblings. The family was so poor they ate potato soup or cabbage soup for dinner, but my grandmother always put real candles on the Christmas tree and lit them on Christmas Eve. My mother said it was truly magical. The tree was covered with her handmade ornaments, gold and red foil Danish baskets and dozens of crocheted snow flakes.

Katie said...

I sent an invite to you from an e-mail address I got from your website. I don't know if it is a valid e-mail or not.. I e-mailed kathleen@kathleenduey.com Can you get the e-mail from that?

Katie