The Norman Transcript

Columns

May 16, 2013

Mothers today aren’t like early mothers

NORMAN — Early mothers were known for their ability and willingness to sew for family as well as friends and neighbors. When clothes needed mending or someone needed a dress or a jacket, many mothers could always come through.

“You have to stand still, Betty,” Mabel says. “I can’t get this pattern folded right with you wiggling so much.”

James, Mabel’s son, comes in.

“Going somewhere special?” he says to Betty.

“Party.”

Mabel sighs. She sits back in her chair.

“OK, Betty, you can go now. I finally got it pinned right.”

Betty rushes out the door.

“High school kids seem to be always in a hurry,” Mabel comments. “Will you be that way, James?”

Later, when his mom is sewing Betty’s jacket, James says to her, “Why do you sew for our neighbors for free?”

Mabel glances up.

“Just like your aunt, the neighbors need me to sew for them because some of them can’t sew.”

She looks back down and straightens fabric on the sewing machine.

“They do things for us in return. We help each other.”

Helping extended to the community. The party line brings busy news.

“We need a casserole or dessert for the Priestley family,” a familiar voice imparts the news. “The father is ill and can’t work. The whole family needs clothes. Help all you can.”

For more than a month, the women help with laundry, mending, carrying in food, driving to the doctor — until the father can work again.

They often brought food into the local church to feed workers with hammers and saws complete youth centers or make repairs.

“Bring your hammers and saws Friday evening,” the pastor tells the congregation. “We’ll start building rooms in our new addition. The concrete is dry and our ladies agree to feed us.”

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