This is Living Stories, featuring voices from the collections of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. I'm Kim Patterson.
Mothers make the world go round and wear many hats for their children: that of doctor, teacher, cheerleader, chauffer, chef, therapist, maid, and the list goes on. They're so wonderful that they have their very own holiday, and it's the perfect day for us to reminisce about special times with our moms.
Wilma Buntin grew up in the Houston area and recalls helping her mother with wash day every Monday—in the era of rubboards, washtubs, and washpots:
"We'd get out there under two big old cottonwood trees and then along toward the house was a fig tree. And my mother and I would begin singing hymns out there, and we had a mockingbird. And that mockingbird [would] come sit on a telephone post. And when we got going good, he'd flop his wings and he'd just go right straight up singing and then he'd come back down. And he'd get a breath. And he'd go right up. And we used to just sing just to see how long he would—(laughter). But that helped make our morning go fast. And some of those chores that today would really seem like work, well, with our singing—and my mother had a knack of having [a] good time when she worked. And she taught us that. So when work comes to me, I just tie right into it and decide to have a good time while I'm doing it."
Madelyn O'Brien of San Antonio recounts a favorite memory from her youth on a Washington County farm:
"In the fall my mother would bring the incubator into the dining room where we hatched our own chickens. So we'd take eggs, and she would let me turn the crank that rotated the eggs so that they were evenly heated. And when they began to—to make the first pecking, you know, to release themselves from the shell, she would come and get me and we'd watch in amazement, and that was a real treat for me."
Avery Downing, former superintendent of Waco ISD, was reared in Harrison County and remembers his mother's interest in his education:
"In grade school, and also in high school, many mornings she would be on the back porch shelling peas or churning or doing something. And she'd call to me to see if I was ready to go to school, see how I was dressed. And then she would say, ‘Now, let's—let's do this spelling.' And she'd take the speller, lay it on her lap, and churn with a—a dash, and check me out on that spelling. The same way with the arithmetic assignment or any other assignment that she had reason to believe I needed a little last-minute coaching. And she knew at all times where I stood on my assignments."
When Tom Charlton, first director of the Institute for Oral History, decided during his sophomore year at Baylor to pursue a career in history rather than medicine, his father was not thrilled. But his was not the only opinion that mattered, as Charlton explains:
"My mother was a very sweet, very supportive person who said that she—she was proud of me no matter what I did. And so I had the assurance that my mother would still cook those good Cajun gumbo dinners for me and all those things that I had grown up with no matter what I studied in college and what I did with my life."
To all the moms out there, thank you, and we love you.
Living Stories is heard every Tuesday on 103 point 3 FM, Waco's NPR. For full transcripts of the interviews featured in this segment, or for more information about the Institute for Oral History, visit baylor.edu/livingstories.
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