What My Mother Said About Her Youth When She Lived Alone in a Hotel

The Hub of Gideon, Missouri, When Cotton Was King

Allow me to digress a bit. At one time, my little town was a fairly successful establishment, and even when I was a child, the place was as cute as it could be. As I have said before, Gideon is in what was formerly very good cotton-growing country. Before it became cotton fields, however, the area was a tree-filled swamp, just beyond the Mississippi River. Two business men [Mr. Gideon and Mr. Anderson] built a sawmill in what is now Gideon, and for several years, money was made there in the logging business. After that time and for a while, people made money farming.

A small hotel was built immediately across the street from what you see in the above photograph. It was named the Sherman House Hotel in Gideon, Missouri. Although the Andersons lived in St. Louis, they often visited Gideon, and they had a full, private residence there. Even after the hotel was torn down, the private residence remained–as a separate house. As fate would have it, my mother and dad bought that house and lived there several years–until my dad died, at the age of 91.

In the previous post, my mother tells that her older sister was married and the couple moved to California. Although she was only six years older than my mother, her sister had taken care of my mother, as best she could. What follows is what my mother said about what happened after her sister moved away.

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–that is not in square brackets]:

“…[My sister] had told me that she would send me rent money every week. I remember I paid $4.00 a week for rent and I ate breakfast there. I doubt that was in the deal, but it just became a habit that I had donuts or cereal there. [More like survival] [My sister]…sent me $5.00 a week and I used the other dollar to eat lunch (a candy bar out of the vending machine at school-which was a nickel) and my supper. That was always a hamburger and coke or a bowl of chili in a little restaurant here in town. In fact, the restaurant was right across the street from the hotel. That was before Dr. Ellis’s house and office were built there.

“A quarter did a lot of good in those days, believe me.”


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

Read More about the upcoming book: https://jackikellum.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/it-is-time-for-the-world-to-hear-from-3-strong-women-from-the-missouri-bootheel/

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