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Mom, the Inventor
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 by Frank Shortt
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       My Mom had ten children, three miscarriages, and helped raise several of my cousins in the interim. Egged on by all these kids, she had to be very inventive in order to survive.
       We all gave her cause for concern in one way or another. Some liked to run away from home. Some liked to stay with other families, even though some of the families had reputations as being white trash, or as we would say today, ‘trailer park’. The boys liked to climb trees, swing on grapevine swings, and hang out in caves that housed unknown wildlife occupants or on top of cliffs thinking they were Tarzan. Some of the girls even joined in these escapades!
       So, mom began inventing things! One of the first things she invented was “Hanging Out”! Having all those kids around required a lot of laundry. Do you think she was about to go out in freezing temperatures and hang out the wash? She ‘allowed’ the older kids to do it for her. I did a lot of ‘hanging out’ before I left home to join Uncle Sam. While serving my four years in the Air Force, yeah, you guessed it! I still had to do my own laundry.
       The next thing Mom invented was the ‘twist and shout’! Each time I did something crazy, that upset her, she would say, “Frankie, go outside and cut me a keen, hickory switch!” I even had to cut my own rod that she practiced ‘spare the rod and spoil the child on. You talk about ‘twisting and shouting” boy, you don’t know the half of it if you have never been stung with a hickory switch. I still ‘twist’ just thinking about it and get the willies all over!
       Mom also invented Rock and Roll. With all those kids her nerves were always fraught! She took up smoking at an early age, probably because one of her children drove her to it. Eventually, she would rock the cradle with one hand while rolling a Prince Albert cigarette with the other. Rocking and Rolling!!! She had a lot of fun raising us ten young’uns!
       But really, Mom was not as bad as all that! She just had a lot of stringent rules, some made up as she went along. She invented a lot of sayings like, “Frankie, lick your calf over” when I didn’t do some chore to her specifications. “Honey draws more flies than vinegar” she would say when one of us pouted too long or was a little sour at someone. Oh, and by the way, here are a few more fads she invented:
       The afro; she could tell scary stories that would curl your hair!
       Granny Glasses; We were so poor that we could not afford our own glasses for reading if one of us needed them, so Mom just solved the problem by making us wear Grannie’s glasses.
       Smiley Faces; As we were usually short on funds at Christmas time, we got no Christmas presents. You should have seen our ‘smiley faces’ when mom would produce our yearly orange and a couple of candy canes. If we were blessed that year, we might even get a few un-cracked walnuts.
       Then, there were the greatest inventions of all. We did not dare think of ever being bored. She would invent all kinds of errands to cure us of boredom; “Frankie, go fetch us a bucket of water! Frances, those dishes are not about to wash themselves! Wendell, the wood box is empty! Lula, go dry the dishes! Even the little ones were given un-boredom remedies. They could help make the beds, pull each other on the floors with an old blanket to shine them after one of the older ones had waxed them. They could help carry the wood that Wendell had chopped, or go hold the flashlight as one of us milked the cow.
       Wouldn’t it be nice if a lot of parents were as inventive as my mom?