My mom was probably one of the most unusual people you would ever meet. I’m sure a lot of people say that. But let me just give you a sampling.
My mother is a complicated person to describe. When I was a small child she had me believing in gnomes and fairies. With her words, I could imagine a magical, beautiful world filled with wonder and enchantment.
My doll house did not have Barbie living in it, but elves. The moving neon lights outside the stores at night were lit and powered by small beings (elves again?) inside that were throwing levers and turning knobs to make them move. Every mushroom was an umbrella for a tiny fairy!
My mother could cook a gourmet meal over an open campfire and tuck us into bed that night snug and warm. We may be living in a tent, but we felt safe and secure. Mom made sure of that.
My mother raised 4 of us kids, mostly by herself. She had no real education. She graduated from high school and her chosen profession was waitressing.
My mother’s Picker was broke. You know, the thing inside us that we use to “Pick” a mate. Hers never did work right. She married 5 times. Badly.
We lived on commodities, pinto beans, peanut butter and pancakes. One of my favorite meals to this day is fried potatoes, pinto beans and cornbread. This was a meal we ate often.
With the wages my mother made, things were very tight. There was NO extra money. Mom would make light of it and we would have a pancake eating contest that night at dinner. Because pancakes was all there was to eat. If there was no money to buy bread, our school lunches would be a sandwich made on a homemade biscuit.
My mother would go hungry if it meant one of her kids could be fed. There were times when she did just that.
One of my mother’s “Picks” was a man that picked fruit for a living. So we followed the fruit. Doing so meant that we would live where we could while traveling. It might be a “picker’s cabin”, which was basically just a wooden structure to keep the rain off of you. Or we might be living in a tent or sleeping on the ground.
If you ever want a real eye opener about this kind of lifestyle, you should watch the YouTube video called Harvest of Shame. This was broadcast on Thanksgiving Day in 1960.
This video is about an hour long. You will be amazed and horrified at how these people were treated. There is one man in the video that made the comment “we used to buy slaves, now we just rent them”. He was referring to the migrant workers.
In this documentary, they show mostly black people, but in the 1960’s, more than 80% of the migrant workers in the US were white. White families just like mine.
Despite the hardships of day to day living, I had no idea that we were “poor”. I was a happy kid. I was loved and cared for.
Looking back, my mom is the one that had the hardship, not us kids.