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Monday, April 9, 2012

Change

Our neighborhood dynamic shifted after Yankee died and Mrs.Smith moved into the house next door.  Our house became the neighborhood resource center.  I didn’t consciously realize this, it simply occurred around me.  Mom could distinguish between measles and chicken pox, and could advise being put to bed in a darkened room for the former and vigilance about scratching for the later.   She could calculate when a child was no longer contagious for measles, chicken pox or mumps and welcome back into the group.  The neighborhood crew seemed to congregate in our back yard; the croquet set was up most of the week, until grass mowing time.  There was the blacktop for bicycles and my parents’ couple of vacant lots for ball games.

We chatted yesterday, Jan and Beth and I, while dinner was in the oven.  I asked Jan about the neighborhood dynamic when she was growing up.  She’s ten years younger, and it was surprisingly different.  Mrs. Smith was a given among her group; they avoided her because that’s what you did.  Although a few of them surely were threatened with poison raspberries.

Jan’s best friend was an entire street away, although the trips back and forth were through two back yards.  The world she knew at five was already broader than mine at five.  She reminded me that mom went back to work when she was in kindergarten; mom was not at home; mom was not even in the neighborhood.  Jan’s emergency back-up mother was Mrs. Davis, one of the few stay at home moms on the street.  Jan fell into a puddle once, on the way to school, and was soaked through and through.  An older boy in the neighborhood fished her out and told her to go home for dry clothes.  She went right to Mrs. Davis and spent the afternoon drying out.

Of course mom went back to work.  So did many women on our street, in the late fifties, for various reasons.  There was need for two incomes in some homes, but I think mom was looking for a change.  She had been employed before marriage; and she always worked in her fathers’ business and was his bookkeeper.  She worked for the next twenty five years, during which time she held three different jobs, all of which she loved.

Before she went back out into the business world mom went to a local secretarial school to brush up on her skills.  When Jan mentioned mom going back to work I remembered the school, mom doing homework and mom worried about re-entering the world she left fifteen years before.  Her fears were groundless, of course; mom was a competent person.  She worked for three or four years part time as a church secretary.  Later she took a job downtown in an insurance agency, a job she enjoyed and kept until the agency moved.  She preferred being downtown and finished her career as the secretary to the manager of the building she worked in, the Akron Savings and Loan Building.

Mom’s first job back to work was part time; I recall she had a job, but it made little difference to the household I knew.  We still cleaned the house on Saturday mornings, washed dishes and helped make meals.  Three years later, when I applied for college, mom did go back to work full time.  Jan was almost eight, and being looked after by two brothers when she came home from school was a big change in her life.

13 comments:

  1. You always have the most wonderful stories.

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  2. I worked in and around Akron for several years and prolly saw that building hundreds of times!!!!!

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  3. Saturday mornings were always a busy time. We had to strip the beds to wash the sheets, scrub floors on hands and knees, dust the furniture, shake out the rugs, sweep the porch, put out fresh towels, scrub sinks and toilets, etc. It was after everything was done, we could start to enjoy the weekend!

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  4. Ah yes, the Saturday morning frantic cleaning binge. I remember it well.

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  5. My mother did not work prior to 1970 something. I had never seen her in a pair of pants until then.

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  6. I remember that time period well. On the farms, most women stayed home as part of the farm-team. That was my mother. there were a few women in town who worked, and most of us kids thought there was something wrong at their home.

    Saturday cleaning? Spring cleaning? It was a tradition!

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  7. Bonza story. Your mum was certainly a hard working lady indeed :-).

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  8. I love your stories for their own sake, but also for the things they make me remember about my own life. Like mother, like daughter, I reckon!

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  9. My mother was one of the first to go back to work when I was growing up. A lot of people disapproved. She was happier though, and accordingly so were we.

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  10. Lovely story. It's strange to think how much life changes for each generation; my kids will never know some of the things I did as a child. We used to run thorough the forest, between fences, all over town. And you're right about there being a neighborhood dynamic. We certainly had one!

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  11. It was a different world, wasn't it? My childhood was in the 60s and 70s, and my mother was home during the day, our house clean and our dinners ready. :-)

    She went back to work, of course, when we were in junior high, and she worked for others the way she continues to work today: competently.

    Pearl

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  12. Like Elaine, above, I like your stories for themselves and also for the memories of my life that they evoke. My mother was a teacher and always worked - before, during and after kids. We had a lovely older neighbour lady who looked after us when necessary. I never felt I got any less of my mother's love or attention, although I know in part that's because she worked so hard to do it all.

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  13. I LOVE hearing about your family memories! They come from such a warm place!

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