My Mom

by daughter Carolyn Stephenson - September 30, 2017

Mom was born, Jewel Etha Rich on June 25, 1925 somewhere near Afton (Glenn, Duncan Flat, …) in Dickens County. Her parents were Lydia Mae Bradford Rich and Joseph Benjamin Rich. She was most likely born at home, like most people were during that time. Home was out in the country with no running water and no electricity. There was a windmill from which they got their water and coal oil lamps provided light. I believe they had vegetable gardens. Grandpa had a wagon pulled by two mules that he would take into town to get supplies. He never owned any land that we know of; he always rented. I remember Mom saying at one time that Grandpa didn’t believe in owning any land, but she didn’t know why he felt that way. Mom said that Grandpa was a very strict disciplinarian and Grandma was frail and always sick. I know she had asthma real bad and spent many days in bed because of it. That’s where Mom got her asthma. Mom had asthma real bad as well. I sat up with her many nights watching her trying to breathe.

I remember a time when we lived on Sumac (street name has changed to Redwood) in Lubbock, Texas back in the 70’s. She got so bad that she told Daddy that she couldn’t breathe. I got scared cause Mom was fighting for every breath she could get. Daddy drove her to the emergency room at Methodist Hospital on 19th street. Today, that hospital is called Covenant Hospital. We did not stop at any red lights; Mom just kept telling Daddy she couldn’t breathe. It was in the early morning hours about 1or 2 am. We got to the hospital and I ran in and got a nurse with a wheelchair. They took Mom right in and the doctor examined her and gave her an injection of some kind of medicine. After a few minutes she was breathing much better. They kept Mom a few hours to give her some breathing treatments (nebulizer). Many years later, people with asthma were given a nebulizer  pump to keep and use at home, instead of having to go to hospital for treatments. Mom had a hand held inhaler (made of glass with a grey rubber ball on the end of the tube that she would squeeze to force air through the glass inhaler to spray a mist of medicine as she inhaled) to help with her asthma, but sometimes it wasn’t enough. I still have it packed away in her dresser. My sister, Linda had asthma real bad too, but after she moved to Longview, Texas she wasn’t bothered with it much. Jenk, my older brother, also had asthma as a small boy but as he grew up, it didn’t bother him anymore. I never had asthma growing up, but it started bothering me when I was in my 40’s. I, now, have a nebulizer pump to help me when I can’t breathe and I carry a rescue inhaler with me at all times. My younger brother, David also has asthma and he too carries a rescue inhaler with him, but he also takes pills prescribed for him by his doctor. Henry, also a younger brother, never was bothered with asthma.
Mom made several more trips to the hospital because of her asthma. It was really scary watching helplessly as Mom fought to catch her breath. She really had it bad.

Mom was the oldest of her two sisters and three brothers and they all looked up to her. Her mother passed away in 1951, I was only 6 months old but at least grandma got to hold me before she passed.

Mom had already married my dad when her mom passed away leaving Aunt Bernie who was 13 and Aunt Lavern who was 15 at home. They continued living with their dad, but Aunt Bernie would go live with Mom and Daddy every summer when school let out. Aunt Bernie told me that Mom would comb her hair and it sure did hurt. It was hard to comb, because Aunt Bernie had thick hair and still does. . Mom would tell her to be still. She said she did this for about 3 years till she got married to Charles Wesley Tull in 1955 in Snyder Texas. Aunt Lavern stayed home with her dad.

Mom went to school at McAdoo, Texas to the 11th grade. That was the highest grade there was at that time. She rode the bus to school and the boys that sat behind her would always pull her hair. Finally she got tired of it and socked him right in the mouth. That boy never bothered her again. Aunt Lavern told me that Mom’s best friends at school were Anita Allen and Gwynlan Jones and Helen Riggs, She rode bus 8 or 18. Aunt Lavern couldn’t remember which. At one time, she lived near Roaring Springs on Grandpa Bradford’s ranch. Growing up, Mom liked to eat chips that she would get at the gas station. She loved to play at recess and her favorite thing to do was to jump stride. Not sure when, but Grandpa bought a green Model A for $15.00. Today a car costs thousands of dollars. And looking back today, we say $15.00 was cheap but in those times it was very expensive.  She got her graduation ring but did not get to graduate, because she had to hoe cotton. Mom loved school and made very good grades. Most of them were all A’s except for English and she made a B, because she didn’t get to finish that school year. She tried keeping up with her school work while she was out, but missed too much. Her favorite subject was Homemaking. Schools today do not teach Homemaking any more. Her teacher was Mrs. Jean Williams. Mrs. Williams was about 25 years old (already white headed) and it was her first year to teach. She learned a lot from Mrs. Williams – etiquette like folding a napkin, setting a table, placing silverware in the correct places, eating with the appropriate silverware, keeping one’s hand in your lap while eating, elbows off the table, placing a napkin in your lap, eating with your mouth closed, no talking with your mouth full. Mom loved cooking too. Mrs. Williams taught cooking lessons and Mom loved it all.

Years later as I grew up, and became a teacher I was fortunate enough that my first teaching job was at that same school my Mom and Dad attended.  I got to teach right a long with Mrs. Williams and she was still white headed. She said it just turned white when she was young and didn’t know why. Mom made all our clothes, boys’ shirts and dresses for me and Linda, out of flour sacks. Daddy had to buy the boys’ jeans when we had the money. Mom also canned food that we would get from our garden. She canned tomatoes, cucumbers, black-eyed peas. She made jellies and preserves and made pickles. Even Daddy would make chow-chow and also sausage when he and Uncle Charlie killed a hog. She washed all our clothes by hand using a scrub board. She said at times her hands would bleed, because she had them in water so much. The boys only had 2 pairs of jeans to wear and she would wash everyday so they would have a clean pair to wear to school. I think I still have that scrub board stored away in the storage building. At one time when Jenk was very small, maybe 3 years old, Daddy separated from Mom and took Jenk. It just about killed Mom. She was very hurt. She lived with Aunt Lillie so she could be near Jenk and she would go to McAdoo and stay at Ma and Pa’s house to see him. I‘m not sure how long she lived with Aunt Lillie, but after some time passed, Daddy brought Jenk back.

 She learned how to make coleslaw from the Phiffers who were neighbors. She also found out about salty dogs (called margaritas today). She loved those salty dogs. She learned that from Willie and Ruth Phiffer,  Jerry Tooke’s aunt and uncle.) Mom was a quiet person and never criticized anyone--not one person. If she didn’t like them, she stayed away from them. Mom would never talk much about growing up even though I asked her many times. She always said she couldn’t remember. Mom never danced and never drank other than having a “saltydog” every now and then. She never got her driver’s license, but she knew how to drive. There were times she drove us to school, but did not do that very often.  Mom was about 5’ 6 inches tall and growing up she was very, very thin. Sometimes kids would be very cruel and call her “broomstick”. But as age catches up with her as it does with all of us, she became a little heavier, but she was never fat.

Now, Daddy had a belly on him as he got older, but he wasn’t overly heavy. Daddy was about 5’5 inches tall. Mom loved to read. She would read the paper and she would read the Bible. She always wanted us to go to Sunday School, but because we always lived out in the country and had no other transportation than what Daddy drove, we didn’t get to go. Mrs. Hardy, a neighbor at McAdoo, would pick us up and take us to Sunday School. But that all stopped when Daddy took a notion to move.

Mom’s aunts and uncles lived to be in their 80’s and 90’s and I think Mom’s aunt, Flora Syrilda Bradford was 98 years old before she died. Mom learned how to embroidery and make quilts from her aunts (Aunt Lillie and Aunt Bunk and Aunt Mildred and maybe Aunt Velma; although I never saw Aunt Velma do any quilting, she did embroidery) They always had a quilting frame hanging in their house. They would all get together and have a quilting togetherness time. They would talk and remember old times. I still have some of the embroidery dollies that mom made and also Aunt Grace (Uncle Charlie’s wife, Grace) made. There was no television when they grew up and never cared for it that much after it became a household item. Mom never cared for television. Mostly, she would just watch the news. Mom also learned to how to cross stitch. Mom also disciplined us. If we did anything that Mom and Daddy was not happy with, we got spanked and was told not to do it again. And if we did, we got spanked again. We knew how far we could go without getting spanked, but sometimes we misjudged and got spanked anyway. We could tell by the way Mom gave us that “look”. We knew we had better stop. I got a lot of spankings, guess it took me a little longer to learn. I saw Jenk get spanked a few, but Jenk would always talk Mom out of it. He would say, “Now Mom, you don’t want to do this and would hold his hand out to block her and they would go round and round in circles. Linda and Tom didn’t get very many spankings that I can remember. They learned fast. It only took them one time and they didn’t do wrong anymore.  And Henry and David always got saved by Jenk if he was around. But they did get spankings. We were always told if we got a spanking at school, we would get another one at home. But we were all good kids growing up.

We learned to do what we were told and we were taught to respect our elders. We were taught to always do our best and look out for each other and we still do that today.

Mom told us many times that she was very proud of all her kids. We never got into any trouble and never went to jail. We all graduated from high school and 4 of us went to college with 2 of us graduating from college. Jenk and I graduated from Texas Technological College (now its called Texas Tech University) I graduated with a Bachelors degree in 1976 and went into teaching. I retired from teaching in 2011. I taught for 35 years in the elementary grades, most of those years were in the third grade. Jenk graduated with a Business degree and got his Master’s degree at West Texas University in Canyon, Texas and got his teacher’s certification to teach. He retired as a teacher from Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California. He taught 36 years. Linda almost graduated, lacking a few months to finish, but decided to get married. She always regretted not graduating. She passed away in 2003. Tom was in his 2nd year at Tech when he was injured in an attack while he was at work. He worked as an assistant manager for Safeway and a man had broken into the back of the store and came up behind him while he was in the back of the storeroom and knocked Tom down. That guy beat him up so severe that he was in the hospital for 3 months. We did not know if he was going to make it or not, but thanks to God, he did. That happened on December 24, 1975, Christmas Eve. Tom never went back to school. He moved away after being transferred to another Safeway in Hereford, Texas.  Tom moved again and lived in Ponca City, Oklahoma as manager of Discount Foods until he passed away in 2009.

 Henry is a manager of Dicks Foods in Amery, Wisconsin. Henry has been a manager for many years. David worked for Target for 19 years. During that time he was produce manager and then was promoted to being an ETL meaning executive team leader over all perishables. David now drives a truck all over the United States. He has been from the east to the west coast and up to New York. He doesn’t mind driving the truck; he just gets very tired and misses being close to home. If Mom were here today, she would not be happy at all with him truck driving. Mom worried a lot about all of us kids. She just wanted us to be safe and well.

Mom and Daddy were the best parents I could possible have had. They taught us life long lessons and I hope that my nieces and nephews, learn the same things. I learned from Mom the meaning of a “sundog”. It’s usually seen in the east as the sun rises or in the west as the sun sets. It’s a patch of bright sunlight with rainbow colors peeping through the clouds caused by reflecting light from the sun rising or setting and is usually around 22 degrees to the left or right of the sun at the same altitude above the horizon. They can be seen anywhere in the world. The same thing happens with the moon. It is called a “moondog” It got its name from the act of following the sun or moon like a dog follows its master.

Mom and Daddy separated again for the last time. He asked for a divorce in 1980. It became final July 29, 1981. After they divorced Mom learned that she no longer had to stay home anymore. All the kids were grown and moved away, except me. I just could not leave Mom. So, during my summer breaks from teaching school we traveled. Mom was very happy. She got to see places that she never dreamed that she would ever see. She traveled from one side of the United States to the other. Jenk lived in California so we made a few trips out that way. Linda lived in Longview, Texas and we would visit her every year. Henry lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin, so we traveled up there. We went to Duluth, Minnesota and saw Lake Superior. She said it looked like the ocean; it was so large. We went to Winnipeg, Canada and other places up there, just for the heck of it. She got to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota. We went to every Capitol of every state we visited. Her favorite Capitol was in Utah. We went to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Universal Studios, Disneyland, Disney World in Florida, horse races in Ruidoso, New Mexico. She got to go over the Golden Gate Bridge while holding onto the door as Jenk was driving, She went to China Town while in San Francisco. She bought a little tea set at a Chinese shop and I still have that tea pot today.

She went to the Florida Keys all the way down to Key West. Tom was driving as we crossed over the Causeway going to Key West holding onto the door and eyes closed. She got to see where Ernest Hemingway lived. He was a well known writer and author. She went to Las Vegas and dropped coins in the one arm bandit machines. She rode over the Hoover Dam and again with her eyes closed.  While in Las Vegas, Bob’s wife Linda, took us to the Wayne Newton Show. Bob Stephenson and his wife Linda lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. She got to go to her all time favorite, The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville Tennessee and see Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Lonzo and Oscar, and Porter Wagoner and the Wagon Masters. And we drove out to Hurricane Mills to see Loretta Lynn’s home. Loretta Lynn was her favorite singer. She loved country music and that’s all we listened to growing up, either on the radio or on television. Loretta Lynn’s bus was parked out beside the house, so we knew that she was probably home. She loved to listen to Kitty Wells and Mother Mayberry and June Carter and of course Johnny Cash and George Jones. She always wondered if we were related to George Jones, because Tom had those steely eyes like George Jones. And we have Jones in our family tree, but so far we have no connection.

We drove up the east coast through North Carolina over to Raleigh, North Carolina. Then on our way down, we went through the Smokey Mountains down to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

We visited Daniel Boon’s home in Kentucky and saw a few of the battlefields from the Civil War.
She also got to meet Roy Rogers and have her picture taken with him. She grew up watching him on the big screen. Roy Rogers was a western star that made movies and made The Roy Rogers Show. He was known as The King of The Cowboys, She was just as happy as I was when we met him at his museum in Victorville, California. She would pay a dime to see him at the movies when she was growing up. Can’t even get popcorn for that price today, much less getting into see a movie. Today’s cost of seeing a movie is 8 to 12 dollars depending on the time of the day you see it.

She also got to go to Branson, Missouri and we saw the Sons of the Pioneers Show. They played and sang with Roy Rogers when he was making movies and appearances. She visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson ranch and got to ride around and see the ranch, also saw the Houston’s Space Center. Visiting the Grand Canyon was not her favorite, because she was afraid of heights and holes in the ground. I never could get her to ride an airplane. She said she just couldn’t do it. She wanted to be able to step out on the ground if we broke down. And you just can’t do that when you are on an airplane.

The one time she went to California by herself was when Patty had Marc. Marc was just a few days or weeks old and Patty was needing help to care for Marc. Patty has a heart problem and was not feeling well. So Mom rode the bus all the way to California by herself. Patty wanted to pay for a plane ticket so she could fly, but Mom was not getting on a plane. It took her 2 days to get there. When she had to get off the bus, she stayed close to a window so she could watch that bus. She had never gone anywhere by herself. I was teaching at that time and could not get off work. I think she stayed about 3 months. I remember she told me that she would push Marc in his stroller down the street when she went walking. She did that a lot. I called her as much as I could, but long distance calling was expensive. Calling long distance today doesn’t cost at all today. Companies just charge a monthly charge according to the plan you have. I think Patty said it made her sad when Marc would go to Mom instead of Patty when he got hurt or just wanted a hug. Marc loved playing ball as a kid growing up, and hated to lose at any game. His favorite toy was a cardboard box even when he had store bought trucks. He learned to read when he was 2 and is now teaching high school chemistry today and he loves it. Beth was an Event Corporate Planner, but has moved on to become North American Marketing Manager for Aston-Martin cars.

 Mom was proud of all her grandchildren and there were 6 in all. Later, after Mom passed away, Henry had 2 children, Maxwell and Carly. She would be just as proud today as she was then. Four of the grandkids at that time all had birthdays in the same month. Marc’s birthday is July 2, Jason’s is July 18, Brenna’s is July 21, Julie’s is July 24. Beth’s is April 1 and Tessas’s is December 8, same as her Dad’s, David. I remember Johnny had a big birthday party for all the grandkids in July, because they were all visiting here in Lubbock at the same time. I believe Mom was happy and had some good times. She was a kind, selfless, loving mom and would do anything for her kids. She did without many times so we could have what we needed. She loved us all very much. Mom passed away April 25, 1992 of breast cancer in Lubbock, Texas at the Methodist Hospital. She was 66. She would have been 67 June 25, 1992. That was the hardest thing I have ever had to live with.