I Remember Mama, Memories of Sabina by her daughter Melba (Part 1)
Contributor: Jeanette_Allan Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
My name is Melba Goff Matthews. My younger sister, Carol Goff Kemp, asked me to write my impression of our mother, so with apologies to Van Druten, the author of the play, "I Remember Mama", I'm going to use that title to write about my mother, Sabina Josephine Larson Goff, whose husband was Clifford Isaac Goff of Midvale, Utah.
I remember mama as a beautiful, intelligent, honest, gentle, kindly mother who loved her husband and family dearly and devoted her life to them and her church. She was patient, understanding, loving, and kind. She was humble and sincere in her religious beliefs, and happily spent many hours studying and preparing her Relief Society and Sunday School assignments. She was a steadfast worker as a mother, wife, neighbor, friend, and community worker.
Her motto of "cleanliness is next to godliness" insured us of clean clothes, house and yard. Her intense belief in good education encouraged us children to be good students in body and mind and she did all in her power to help and support us in our ideals and accomplishments.
She was a good organizer, a believer in obeying law and order, and had the wonderful ability to meet and cope with the economic crisis during World War I and the Great Depression of 1929. She made many sacrifices and self-denials in order to give to and take care of her family. She was very generous.
She loved beauty in all things, and was fastidious in her grooming and her clothing. Her great desire to always improve herself instilled in her a great love of literature and history, and geography. She and Daddy accumulated an extensive library of the classics, history and church books. She was an avid reader and always made marginal notes as she read. She used an unabridged dictionary and encouraged us to do likewise. As children, she read to us many times from "The Book of Knowledge" and the fairy tale books. As we grew older, we were provided with the Encyclopedia Britannica to help us in our homework. They provided us with novels of uplifting ideals, and good examples of gracious living and industriousness, and honor.
She loved teaching before she was married and was so proud and happy when she taught a ******** boy to write his name. She had beautiful penmanship and encouraged us to practice writing so it would be neat and legible. "Practice makes perfect" she used to say.
She was an excellent seamstress and delighted in making lovely clothes for her children and herself. Her many quilled and dyed quilts for the home and canyon use were beautifully done. She embroidered many beautify temple aprons for use in Daddy's mortuary business, and her crocheted things and her beaded dresses were works of art. Two of her hand-beaded dresses are now on display in the Midvale museum. She made many beautiful costumes for my dance programs and a lovely Martha Washington dress for herself to wear at a costume ball. I still have that costume and my black lace mantilla i wore for a Spanish dance! She taught me to mend stockings with the weaving stitch on a darning ball.
Having been a teacher, she taught her children good manners, proper grammar, respect for one another, love of nature, honesty and integrity, diligence and perseverance, love of country and respect for authority. She and Daddy provided a mission experience for their son Louis; piano, vocal, cello, saxophone, and dancing lessons for their three daughters. Even during the 1929 depression, they provided their children with special educational opportunities and L.S. High School and College and the University of Utah. She was proud of her schooling and was delighted when Carol and I took her to her University of Utah (Deseret) Emeritus functions.
I remember her as a gracious hostess to her "U Club", all graduates of the University of Deseret. She prepared delicious food and served it on a beautifully set table of lovely linen, crystal, good china and silverware. Even though she, herself, did not drink coffee, she would borrow Aunt Millie's coffee pot so she could serve coffee to those who did drink it! I remember the many delicious dinners she served to the General Authority at conference times. I was especially impressed when Daddy brought David O.McKay home for a Sunday dinner between morning and afternoon sessions. Brother McKay was a general superintendent of Church Sunday Schools at that time and Daddy was state superintendent. She loved to entertain her Larson Sisters Club and made it possible for us to have a Cousins Club.
She was always proud of and loved her Swedish parents and brothers and sisters. She truly was proud of her heritage. She delighted in telling us stories of her parents and some of her childhood experiences. Grandpa John Larson came to America alone and was soon able to send money to his sweetheart Christina Pehrson so she could come to America to marry John. Christina was a personal maid to a rich lady in Sweden. Mother was taught many lessons in how to be genteel and gracious and she passed her learning on to us.
She taught us a Swedish song, which I can still sing, and several Swedish words. Grandpa Larson would not allow any language but English to be spoken. He was proud to be an American citizen and he insisted his family learn good English.
She told us that her father worked for the railroad and injured his leg in an accident that left him wearing a steal brace on his leg for the rest of his life. He could no longer work for the railroad so he became a blacksmith and raised beautiful horses. He prized them highly and treated them humanely - he could not tolerate cruelty to animals.
One day, Sabina rode on of the beautiful horses to the cleaners with her brother Jack. While waiting for him to pick up his suit, a couple of dogs in front of the shop started fighting. Mother's horse became frightened and he reared up and mother was thrown off, hitting the back of her head very hard. She was blind for three days, due to the concussion, and developed an intense fear of dogs. Until she told of this incident, I never understood why she wouldn't let us have a dog for a pet. When we'd ask to have one, she always said, "When you have a home of your own, you can have as many dogs as you want."