Memories of Mom, by Paul Dean
Contributor: finnsh Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
There are things I have been told and things I remember that I shared with her as well as things I thought I knew that I'm not sure about. Of her story. my version, this is my beginning:
Verla May DeGraw was born in Spring Lake, Utah on June 4, 1915 to Loren DeGraw and Phoebe Jane Pendleton. Her Mother lived only two years after her birth and died giving birth to a little boy, who also died. Verla was taken to her Grandmother DeGraw, who was a widow and a licensed midwife, to be cared for and reared. Her older sister, Mame Lethora, who was 12 and her brother Loren (Bus) stayed with their father on the farm in Spring Lake. Grandma DeGraw lived in a home on the Southeast corner of 600 South and 4th West in Payson.
I don't know much about Verla's early years, but at some point, Grandma DeGraw's daughter Rhoda divorced and came with her children to live with Grandma DeGraw too. Rhoda had a daughter, Elsie, who was near Verla's age. Verla (Mom) once told me a story that led me to believe that she and Elsie were somewhat competitive with one another, though Mom never said anything bad about her. Both Mom and Elsie took piano lessons and practiced and played on Grandma's Piano. Grandma decided that she would have them play for her and whoever played best would get the piano when she died. Grandma said Mom played best, so she was to get the piano. After Mom died Dad told me that when Grandma died, Mom's father Loren sold the piano for drinking money.
Grandma DeGraw smoked a corncob pipe and Rhoda smoked cigarettes as did other family members and friends who visited their home. Mom was embarrassed at school and church because her clothes smelled of tobacco smoke.
She told me that once she saw a girl (Stickney) who lived several blocks beyond their home coming home from school on a cold day without a coat. She took her own coat out and lent it to her so she could be warm. She watched as the girl continued up the hill until she thought she was out of my mother's sight. The girl took off the coat and threw it on the ground. Mom thought it was because the coat smelled of smoke.
Mom started, but never did finish the ninth grade. I don't know how old Mom was when she met Dad. They lived a half block apart and Dad was friends with her brother. Dad remembered how he had seen her running up the hill between her Grandmother's home, through the block to her father's home. Her father and her brother had moved into town by then. Dad also remembered how she would go to the home of an elderly couple across the street on Sundays to sit on their couch and read the Sunday paper. He said he guessed the Cory's liked having her around because of her youthful energy.
When Mom and Dad were married, The Great Depression was still alive and well in Utah. Dad didn't have enough money for the marriage license. Mr. Ericksen, who lived just south of the old Dean home offered to pay him to cut down a tree. The pay just covered the license.
Mom and Dad lived with her Grandmother while Dad, his father, and his brothers cut some large quaking aspen trees up Payson canyon and built a two room log cabin on the west half of Grandpa Dean's property. I think they moved into the cabin after Gladys was born. Grandma DeGraw was midwife at Gladys' birth. I was born in the log cabin without a midwife or doctor present. Dr. Asa Curtis checked on us a few hours after my birth. They had no phones then and I was born between 2 and 3 AM.
Mom had another daughter, Beryl, between Gladys and I, but she only lived for two hours. Mom said they had been painting and she thought the turpentine fumes probably caused the premature birth and death of the little girl. Mom mourned the baby's loss all her life. She was looking forward to seeing her again as she became aware she was dying.
Dad couldn't find work in Utah county. He had two brothers working in Salt Lake, so he looked for and found work there as an orderly at St. Mark's hospital. He left his family in Payson for a time and then moved us to SLC. We were there until I was almost three. My first memories are of Salt Lake City. I remember Mom telling me she had given my one-eyed teddy bear to the boy scouts for Sub-for-Santa. I remember seeing broken flower pots in a fenced yard where clay pots were manufactured. I remember Gladys seemed to have lots of friends who liked to steal salvage metal and sell it back to the salvage yard for candy money.
I remember the day we moved back to Payson.... the hill up the highway on hwy 91. I was in the back of a pickup with some of our stuff. Jenine was born in December and Mom had to stay in the hospital for a week. That's how they did it then. I had to stay at Dad's Aunt Gertrude's house that week because Dad had to work at Ironton, between Springville and Provo. It was 1942 and the war was on.
We lived in the old Jimmy Wignal home near the southwest corner of 8th south and hwy 91. There wasn't a corner then. 8th south was just a vacant right-of -way between the hwy and 5th west. With Gladys in school, Dad at work, and Jenine just a tiny baby, Mom and I were alone for lunch much of the time and had lots to time to talk. I did most of the talking because I knew the most to talk about. Often, I would sit in the sand in the dry irrigation ditch and play and listen to bird calls.
Once or twice, while their men were at work in the evening, Mom, Aunt Sadie(Bus's wife), and Aunt Lethora would bathe us cousins, put us to bed and go across the street to the White Top Café for a girls night out. It was fun, not just because the cousins were together, but because the women were in such a good mood, young and girlish acting. They didn't get out much.
It says something about Mom, I guess, that she named me after her favorite disc jockey. She named my brother Marvin after a friend of one of her cousin's sons.
Marvin was born on her birthday in1945 while we were living in a two room "shanty" at about 455 west 600 south in Payson, Utah. One of the few memories I have of her there is one evening when she and Dad went on a date together. I remember the smell of her perfume and how she wiped her lipstick off my face after she kissed me goodnight.
While we were living in the shanty, Dad built a basement home on the corner of his two acre property. He put a roof on the basement, planning to build a real house on it when he could afford it. I was six and seven when we lived in the basement house. Mom liked to sew on her treadle machine and to listen to country music on the radio. This was the first home in which we had an indoor bathroom. She had a washing machine, the old kind with wringers and she had to hang the clothes out to dry. She would only use White King Soap.
One day, while Ross Wilson and I were playing, we climbed through a barbed wire fence and Ross, who was going shirtless, got 4 or 5 long scratches on his back. We went to Mom for help. She didn't know what else to do, so she put Iodine on his scratches. I think he nearly passed out. Mom was beside herself. Ross was the youngest son of Mom's double cousin, Nell Wilson.
Mom made me stay at home one day as punishment for going to a friend's home to play without permission. She was firm and restrictive with me all day, I think in an effort to meet Dad's expectations of her parenting. Late in the day someone remembered it was my birthday. I think Mom felt guilty for punishing me on my birthday. She sent Gladys and I to "the little store" for a cake. I think that Mom was pretty much left to her own supervision in her Grandmother's home and knew nothing about how to supervise as a parent. She knew how to love and nurture, but little about structure. She knew her children needed to learn. She made sure we got to school and she bought a set of books for us called "My Storybook House". Dad didn't know about the books until they were paid for.
Memories of Mom, by Jenine (Dean) Crofts
Contributor: finnsh Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Some of my happiest moments with mom was when we went on trips together. She loved to travel. She took some of our children on trips with her so she could enjoy their company and make memories with them. I know she took some of the rest of her grandchildren as well. She loved spending time with all of her family. I remember some trips we took that Aunt LaThora and her family came with us. She always wanted to back to the pageant in New York but it just did happen, because even though mom and dad had decided to go she discovered a lump under her collar bone and it was cancer. That would have been 1975.
Mother was having chemotherapy that year and came to see me in the hospital in Am Fork when I had Scott in Oct. They were on their way from Salt Lake to Payson after one of her treatments and she really wasn't feeling very well. Before her treatments even started she had had her spleen taken out and then became ill with a blood clot in her lung. When she first got to the hospital she made sure I went and got all of her grandchildren who were having birthdays in June a card. She always tried to remember us all on our birthdays.
Moms cooking was one of the things that we probably all remember. She liked to travel and I had the opportunity to go on more than one trip with her. Dad worked earned the money and let us enjoy our time together. He and mom also traveled together, sometimes taking a grandchild with them. Dad always helped other people who had needs that he could take care of. He often shoveled snow for the widows in his home teaching group. He had a talent for making his yard beautiful with shrubs and flowers, even having an artical written about him and his yard in the news paper. They were both hard workers and did their best to teach us all good moral and spiritual values.