My (our) mother was born in Palmer, Iowa, just one hundred three years ago today. I imagine the birth took place in the bedroom of the farm where my grandfather worked. I wonder what she would think of all the things that have happened or haven’t happened since she passed away just 9 short years ago. She was born at a time when the U.S. didn’t want to meddle into foreign affairs. Of course, the U.S. had been busy, just 51 years before her birthday, the Civil War ended and true racism began. And, 18 years before her birth, the U.S. had gone to war with Spain which forever changed the global structure and notified the rest of the world that the U.S. meant to be paid attention to in their policies. And, of course, she was born the year before World War I, The Great War, started. Then the Roaring Twenties when she was four until the Crash when she was 13. Her maiden name was Jones, there were TEN kids in her family…imagine having 9 siblings! Two sisters, Dorothy and Edith; and seven brothers, Cecil, Roger, Edgar, Kenneth, Bob, Malcolm, and Eugene.
My impression is that they were not well off and the times made things difficult. My grandfather, Wallace Percival Jones was an engraver, a railroad worker, a farmer, and even a cowboy in the panhandle of Texas for a few years. My mother’s early years were spent in a tenant farm just outside of Huron and then to Frankfort, SD where she finished her teen years and graduated high school. Frankfort is a very small town which was barely a wide spot in the road 60 years ago and now is even smaller since they move the road to the north of town a couple of miles.
Mom’s formative years were World War I and the Roaring Twenties. Remember, women did NOT have the right to vote until 3 years AFTER my mom was born. During the early part of the twentieth century, women were becoming activists, Suffragettes, petitioning for an amendment to the US Constitution giving them that right. One of the largest, if not the largest, industrial opponents of women voting was the liquor industry. I think the industry felt threatened because women might take away alcohol. And they did. My Grandmother Florence Jones (my mom’s mom) was some sort of leader in the South Dakota Women’s Christian Temperance Union which desperately wanted alcohol eliminated. She was a lifelong teetotaler who hated alcohol and bars. I wonder about coincidences. When my mother’s family initially lived in Huron in the early 1920s, that’s when Gladys Pyle, also from Huron, was very active politically. Pyle was the first elected US woman senator. In the first part of the century she was very, very political for the Suffragettes and by definition anti-alcohol so it’s not beyond the pale that my grandmother knew Senator Pyle and was most active then. I can’t find her name anywhere but I’m not sure record keeping was on the same par as today. The South Dakota version of the WCTU and the Suffragettes was called the SD Universal Franchise League.
My mother had a hard early life where nothing was taken for granted. She married my dad just before she turned 21 in 1937 and just four years later, World War II started. Imagine those years: a Great War, then great hope and partying for some, then economic and social hardship for most, then drought, then marriage, then World War II. All before you turn 30. Wow.
Looking back usually carries good memories and makes me remember good things…like fishing. Hence, the image below!