World Mom grew up in different from today’s world


Leah Lehman, Leader Columnist

My mother was born in 1900, and as I think about that, I am reminded that the world she was born into, is light years from the world we live in today.

She was the oldest child, born at home, I am sure. Funny, that is something we never really talked about. She was not one to share a whole lot of her personal stories of childhood. From my own childhood recollections from visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, I have a tiny idea of her home environment.

I can recall the kerosene lamp that hung over the dining room table. I remember, the handle we had to pump to get water to do the dishes after a meal. There was a parlor with a player piano. One night I remember staying overnight, sleeping upstairs.

The kerosene lamp brings a lot of memories to me. Eating rabbit, or some other game that my uncle had harvested. My grandpa eating peas with his knife. Of course, knives were wider in those days, but still, I, as a clumsy child, was amazed by that. I never got to know Grandma that well, as she died when I was young.

She did share stories about the horse and buggy used for transportation, and how in the winter they would use a heated rock, or bricks, to keep their feet warm. Of course, at that time, they were fairly self-sufficient, so they didn’t need a lot of trips to town.

When my mother grew up, she ventured to Milwaukee to work. When I think about that now, I wonder how she had the courage to do that. Ma was a woman of courage, and independence. There, she met my father, and though their first date did not impress her, my Pa did not give up.

Pa grew up in Milwaukee, and Ma from Shawano County, yet they married, in 1929, and then the depression hit the country, and there were no jobs to be found in Milwaukee.

Ma suggested that they find a farm, because at least then they could grow their own food. The farm they settled on was in Waupaca County, between Clintonville and Marion.

When it came to growing food, she had a knack, her raspberry patch was legend, and she really never wanted anyone else to help her tend it, or pick the berries. She made bread, more than once a week, turning out several loaves of perfection. Usually there were some type of donuts or sweet rolls made on the same day.

My mother sewed our clothes, knitted our mittens, hats and even socks. I don’t remember her without an apron on, and that apron was used for so many things.

Ma loved her chickens, and every year we would get a fresh batch of chicks from the feed mill. There were heat lamps to keep them warm, and she lovingly tended them. The eggs were enjoyed at family meals, and at times we had extra to take to town and sell.

When someone had a birthday, we had angel food cake, made from scratch, and with the yolks, she sometimes made a moss cake.

When I think of Ma, I think of her always being in motion. Even when she was sitting, her hands were in motion, patching something, or making some handiwork item, something beautiful to decorate the house. No one today knows what a doily is. Well, Ma knew, and made them.

My mother passed away many years ago, and yet not a day goes by that I don’t remember her, and admire all of what she was able to accomplish.