Yesterday's Magazette

11 – Remembering Mom

Remembering Mom

By Sheron Donahue

Mom scrubbed the dirty clothes on the metal rungs of a washboard, causing her knuckles to turn red and raw. Then, when I turned ten, we purchased an electric wringer washer and Mom taught me how to stick the garment between the two rollers and wait for the garment to slowly make its way through the wringer, sqooshing out all the dirty water.


When I filled the basket with clean damp clothes, I carried them outside, making sure to pin the shirts and dresses upside down, like Mom said, “. . . so no mark is left in the shoulders.”

Then, I lifted the clothesline high in the sky with the six-foot pole so the garments could catch the spring breeze. One thing’s for sure, all of today’s fragrant dryer sheets can’t compete with yesterday’s fresh, clean scent of clothes hung outside.

One time, while operating the electric wringer, I caught my hand in it. My scream could be heard for blocks (I had a really good set of lungs).

Mother came running down the stairs and hit the escape bar, freeing my hand. Then she prepared a wet towel filled with ice cubes and folded it around my hand.

Because of my mother’s love and care, I received no permanent damage. But, she wasn’t always kind. One day, I sassed her, and she slapped my face. Even Dad punished me if he heard me talk back to her. But a lesson was learned: Hold my tongue where she was concerned, and do as Dad said, “Give her the respect she deserves.”

When I remember those golden days, I think of Mom’s cooking—the aroma of a roast simmering for hours in the pressure cooker or the cooked liver with fried onions. My tummy could hardly wait to savor Sunday dinner. When Mom prepared liver, I actually ate it. However, I’ve never come across it prepared to my liking since then.

I also don’t like Ovaltine. Although, when Mom offered me the drink as a child, I thought I’d been lifted into heaven. I loved chocolate, and Mom said I could have the crystals mixed in my milk every day! “It’s good for you,” she said. Now, I can’t for the life of me understand how I drank that stuff with all those little chunks invariably left in the bottom of the glass.

Since money was tight, Mom often took my older sisters’ outgrown clothes and sewed them into a new blouse or skirt for me. In a picture,

I’m wearing a plaid taffeta blouse and velvet vest that Mom made from hand-me-downs. Mom could make a castaway look like a new, store-bought garment.

When I was three, Dad and I walked to town on Monday evenings and met Mom as she left the retail shop where she worked. Then, the three of us strolled home, admiring the flickering stars, and the well-dressed mannequins in store windows. My parents nodded at others strolling past, a seemingly lost art today. I trotted briskly between the two holding their hands. I felt safe and protected.

When we came to an unusually high curb, I lifted my feet off the ground and swung out, while clenching my parents’ hands. Mom held on, but slipped off the foot-high curb. She broke her ankle. Later in life, she needed a cane to support it. She never blamed me, though. “It was an accident,” she often reminded me.

As a toddler, I shed my clothes in front of the neighbor kids. Mom came running and grabbed me up in a blanket and then dashed me inside. And, I can still see her darting outside with a flaming wastebasket in her arms. I’d ‘accidentally’ struck a match, and dropped the hot stick in the basket.

I pulled plenty of shenanigans during my young years. Perhaps, I even set some kind of record. However, no matter how much mischief I got into, she always forgave and protected me. Mom was like her warm, straight from the oven, home-baked apple pie—always and forever the best.

Vol. 37 No. 2 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Summer- 2010


1 Comment »

  1. Wringer washer clothes sometimes would get caught in it and wrap around the ringer?

    – Ho! What a beautiful antique piece. I do remember the wringer washer. Thank you. You are good.

    Comment by julie — June 1, 2010 @ 6:12 am | Reply

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