Just a bit of background: In another post, I shared my mother’s words about the brief time that she, my dad, and my older brother moved to New York for my dad to pursue the pipe dream of becoming a beekeeper. For my mother to move from Gideon to New York would be comparable to my moving to Mars now. The venture lasted no more than a month–perhaps two. My dad’s dad offered to buy my parents a house–if they would move back home–to the Bootheel of Missouri. The following is some of what she said about their next financial venture.
From the Memoir of Laura Mae Dunscombe Baker,
Born December 6, 1926
Recorded by Jacki Kellum, Born 1950
If you have read other of this series of posts, you will remember that my mother actually said what I will share:
“I don’t know whose idea it was when we got back, but Mart [my dad’s dad] wanted to build the Snack Bar restaurant for us (I guess to keep us close to home or to give us a job), so he and Hank [my dad] decided to do that. We would run it and pay him rent (I guess we did because I was pretty determined that they not support us). Hank’s friend…was in architectural school and about to graduate in St. Louis. So he took on the designing of it for a school project. I still have the original layout he drew up. That went pretty fast, I guess because we opened that about September [they had moved back to the Bootheel in late June]. I remember that it was still warm weather but Hank insisted we serve chili. Everyone said it was too hot for that, but we did it anyway and it was a big success. In fact, the whole deal was a big success. We BOTH nearly worked ourselves to death! …[my brother] was barely walking by then and I was so tied up with the work that we left him in a stroller or a plalypen for hours. He was usually pretty well occupied since everyone coming in would play with him. He didn’t cry much. I would usually go home in the afternoon to rest myself and give him a nap. And Hank would drag in late at night. It was rough for us to get goood help. So within a year, we took in a partner…who took over a lot of the extra work. I worked some, but not nearly as much. Hank soon just sold our part out to him.
“…after we left the snack bar, Hank went into selling meat for Mayrose Packing company of St. Louis. Of course, Mart had influence here, too, since he was manager of the Gideon Anderson meat department. But we probably needed help. We sure weren’t getting anywere on our own. We were oblivious to the problem, but the problem was still there. This took us to Piedmont….We loved our stint there…..You were born there or while we were still there.
“The nearest hospital was in Ironton, over the hills and through the vales, and you were born on March 13, which was still cold weather in that area.
St. Mary’s Hospital in Ironton, Missouri
“We were worried, but everything went great. It was a Catholic hospital, and it was immaculate. I remember that above all. We waited for a doctor on that eventful morning, but non came. Finally, you were there, and a Nun delivered you well before the doctor got there. But, of course he took credit for it. They strapped my stomach tightly, so that all bad things could come out and so that I would not have a big stomach after it all. And I didn’t. It was probably the very best of natal care that one could have. You were offered to me on schedule for breastfeeding, no hanky panky, but right on time.
“I will never forget the intensity of the care we got in those days. And 10 days of it, too. Grandma and Grandad stayed at our house all that time and took charge of things while I was gone. It was truly a different era.
“You and we were blessed. I will never forget it!!!
Copyright Jacki Kellum October 18, 2015
As I have also said before, I have begun a 3-Way Memoir, where I’ll record some of my mother’s responses to some questions that I asked about her life. I hope to have the memoir published for my mother’s 90th birthday on December 6, 2016. It will be my grandmother’s story, my mother’s story, and mine–all told about our lives in the now very dusty and boarded-shut Bootheel of Southeast Missouri.
You can find excerpts from that memoir in various places on my blog, by searching:
What My Mother Said, Calico Cotton, Cotton Child, and When Cotton Was King.
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