Her name was Alice, and I looked in the mirror; I see her looking back at me. She was one of the strongest and smartest people I have ever met. I am proud to have known her.
She was funny and kind in her own way! If she had been allowed to continue beyond grade school, she would probably have been a Doctor or Attorney. She had to quit school to help care for her 2 brothers and 4 sisters.
She consistently beat me, playing Double Solitaire and Double Nine Dominos. She could find a 4-leaf clover in a field without searching.
She grew up on a farm in East Corinth, Maine. She was immune to every childhood disease. I got some of her immunity to childhood diseases; I had all of them so light it was hard to tell I had them at all! Not so with my two older brothers; they looked like chipmunks or some horribly diseased people with mumps and scarlet fever.
She found herself alone in a small cabin in the middle of winter with 3 little kids; she managed to keep us warm, clothed, and fed by doing men’s jobs. She picked beans, peas, potatoes, and cut seed. I watched her once; it was the scariest job ever! She straddled a barrel with a wicked knife upright attached to the barrel, facing her. She swished potatoes on that knife, making sure there was one eye on each potato chip! One slip, and there goes a finger or hand!
If you know anything about picking potatoes, imagine this! My Mamma picked 100 barrels a day. Each barrel holds, I think, 4 or 5 bushels, and she did this and still watched 3 kids. The owners of the fields told her that they would pay her half of what the men got because she was a woman! She challenged them! “I will work for one day, and if I don’t beat every man, you don’t have to pay me anything, but if I beat them, I get paid the same.” She beat them all! From that day on, she was paid the same as the men.
As a teenager, I could pick 20 barrels on my best day!
One of my fondest memories of her was, one day, she was walking back to the field when one of the young men, who had obviously drank his lunch, came walking over to her saying, “Hey, sweetheart, how about a kiss?” And as he swung his arm around her shoulders, she never lost momentum; she coldcocked him and laughed as he stumbled over three rows of potatoes and fell on his ass. None of the guys approached her or us again.
She loved to fish! She fished every chance she could. One of her favorites was Brook fishing. We fished together many times. One time, we stopped at a farmhouse and asked the farmer, sitting on his porch, for permission to cross his land to go brook fishing. He smiled and said, “Sure, Sweetheart!” He held the barbed wire fence up so Mom could safely climb under. As she crawled between the vicious prongs, he patted her on the ass, and I nearly fell over, trying to keep from laughing out loud. But I also knew that my turn was next! I was amazed that he didn’t get his head knocked off.
The last time we went brook fishing, I was about 6 months pregnant, and we got lost. I fell in the brook, and we had to walk about 5 miles back to the car. We usually caught a few “pocket fish,” we were lucky we never got stopped by a game warden. When I laughed and told my Doctor about my adventure, he about choked. He told me all the bad things that could have happened to me. I answered him with, “How much trouble could I get in, I was with my Mother!!!!
I told her my teacher wanted to know how old she was. Bending over a ringer washer, she was not in a great mood. She said, “Tell her I am 104!” That is exactly what I did! And no amount of talking from the teacher could convince me she wasn’t. If my Mother said she was 104, she was 104!!!
She met the love of her life when I was a very young child, and Lloyd was the best! He took on the responsibility of three little kids and a wife without hesitation! His job was working on the railroad, laying and repairing tracks. It was hard physical work! Lloyd wasn’t very tall; he and Mon were about the same height. Popeye would be envious of his set of shoulders and arms!
They bought a 15-acre farm when I was in the 6th grade. The seller had sold it many times and repossessed it each time! They were the last ones to buy it, which I am sure disappointed him a lot. We lived off that land! Until then, I was the smallest kid in class; however, I gained so much weight the next year that I got stretch marks. Mother had an acre garden, and we kept a cow, had chickens, and raised a steer for beef. Lloyd hunted, and we always had Deer meat. We sold the hay from the field and stored some in the barn. My job was to stomp the hay in the mow to pack it down because I was the only kid who did not have hay fever.
The farmhouse was over 100 years old, and after I was married and had a daughter, the farmhouse burned down. They put a Single-wide Mobile home on the foundation and added a room. A few years later, when visiting Maine, I drove back by our farm and was disappointed that the owners had let the field grow up to trees.
You can never go back!