A mother is a delicate balance. She is strong enough to be the cornerstone of the household and the matriarch of her little family, yet gentle enough to offer her shoulder to tiny crying faces. She is confident in her maternal wisdom, both inherited and instinctual, yet humble enough to remain in the shadows to let her children take the spotlight. She is beautiful, sometimes in ways only a mother can be, whether it’s the light in her eyes when she plays with her children, or the beaming “glow” radiating beyond the round, firm belly of pregnancy, yet she lacks enough vanity to put her children and her family before herself. She is the first friend. The loudest cheerleader. The kisser of bumps and bruises. The steady hand when learning to walk. The phone call for reassurance. The first card on your birthday. The giver of hugs and kisses and rides to elementary school. She is both uniquely and wonderfully herself, yet a perfect combination of the mothers and grandmothers who have come before her.
Today, Sincerely, Doris Jane focuses not only on celebrating our own mother, but the mothers and grandmothers of our family. Grandma Doris and Grandma Jane, who we were blessed to be able to celebrate with for many years, and also our great-grandmothers who we never met, but love just the same. We decided to call our Poppy to get some first-hand information about what these wonderful women were like, and to have him share some of his favorite memories. Below you’ll find our little interview with him. We hope you’ll enjoy this little trip into our maternal history. Happy and blessed Mothers Day to all of our readers!
SDJ: What is your favorite memory of your mom?
P: “Her playing the piano…Especially when she played Beautiful Ohio. I like that song. And something about a glide … Edelweiss Glide. When I was real little she gave me the first piano lessons … she taught me how to play piano.”
SDJ: What is your favorite meal that she used to make?
P: “Oh, loose hamburger with mashed potatoes and gravy and peas. She used to make that I lot. I’ve always liked anything with hamburger in it. You know that green bowl you’ve got at home, that’s the bowl she used to put the mashed potatoes in…We never really had dessert. She made ribbon salad, but that was later on, not when I was a kid.”
SDJ: What were her hobbies?
P: “She liked playing the piano. She used to knit too, and when she was younger she would get together with her women friends and they’d sit around and make a quilt. Maybe like 6 women working on a quilt at one time…back when I was a kid women more like just housewives. They cooked and did all the washing and everything and, ya know, just taking care of the home. We didn’t go out to eat much. My dad never owned an automobile”
SDJ: Did you ever get into trouble when you were little?
P: Well I got in a few fights (laughing). One of the fights they used to bring coal and dump it in the street and then I’d put it in a wheelbarrow and then dump it in our basement window to put it in the coal bin in our basement. The one time this kid kept throwing some kind of berries at me and I told him to stop and he kept doing it so I ran after him, I ran him over into Mr. Windsor’s yard. And when he didn’t have any place else to go he just turned around and, ya know, was going to hold his ground and hit me in the nose. I had a bloody nose. I remember my shirt was all bloody.”
SDJ: Did you ever have to do chores at home?
P: (laughing) “My dad cut the grass, but I never really had to do anything at home. Of course that was a small yard. He liked cutting the grass anyway he probably didn’t want me to cut it. I can remember cutting it sometimes, but to trim our lawn I remember we used to use a hatchet. We’d be on our knees and we’d use a hatchet to cut the grass around the sidewalk.”
SDJ: What do you remember about your Grandmas?
P: “I can remember Grandma Lehmann sitting in our front room over there on Minor Avenue…she could speak some French and some German I think. I always thought she was speaking three languages at the same time (laughing). Grandma Brunne was a really nice person…she sat in the rocker a lot. She lived with my Aunt Marie and Uncle Roy. I remember we’d go there to visit and she’d be sitting in that rocker. Her face was all – you know, in those days it seemed like when people got to be in their 70’s and 80’s their face was all shriveled up – hers was. It’s not like nowadays. You see people now almost 100 years old and they don’t have all those wrinkles in their face. Grandma Lehmann and Grandma Brunne, both their faces were all wrinkly. They both used to tie their hair in a bun in the back, like a ball with a comb stickin’ in it. I dated a girl once who wore a comb in her hair … haha…I went to see a football game at Purdue one year with a friend of mine, we went on a train, and that girl was with her friend. We both knew her friend. We were sitting on a bench on the train and those two came over and sat across from us. We wound up buying them lunch. That was in 1957, I remember because I bought a brand new car that year.”
SDJ: When did you get married to Grandma? How did you propose?
P: We got married in 1961. We went to St. Anthony’s monastery, they have a grotto with a lot of candles and I took her in there and gave her her engagement ring. I think I’ve only been back there one time I think since then. It’s a wonder we didn’t go back there more often…We went to a place called Meier’s Wine Cellar in Deer Park on dates sometimes. One time there was about 6 inches of snow on the ground. I went and picked her up anyway, we were supposed to have a date that night at that Wine Cellar. It may still be there (It is! Check it out here), I don’t know if it was Meier’s or what it was. We spent that evening there drinking wine and eating cheese. Our first date must have been in December of 1959, we went to the Albee Theater to see a movie. It had a big boat in it, but I don’t remember the name of it.”
SDJ: Where did you go on your honeymoon?
P: “We went to Gatlinburg, and then we went on to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Down there in Florida there’s a hotel down there that’s shaped like a boat, but I don’t remember if we stayed there or not. It’s still open down there. (We later figured out this is called the Yankee Clipper) The hotel we stayed in in Gatlinburg on our honeymoon isn’t there anymore. The first night we stayed in a Holiday Inn in Lexington, KY. It took about 2 hours to get there. (When we got to Florida) I remember we went to a restaurant that was supposed to be famous for their apple pie and we got the apple pie and it wasn’t any different than Mrs. Smith’s apple pie. I didn’t see anything special about it.”
SDJ: Did you ever get Grandma flowers for Mothers Day?
P: No, I could never get her flowers because she was allergic to them. More recently for anniversaries I never got her anything – even for Christmas – we stopped giving birthday gifts and Christmas gifts to each other because we didn’t now what to get it would have been a waste of money. We didn’t need anything else. I don’t remember when we quit doing that, we’d just go out to eat.”