Memories ofMother

BY CAROL ANNE BLITZER, Advocate staff writer

In honor of Mother’s Day, The Advocate People section asked readers to share some stories about their mothers, and share they did. Several readers related hilarious anecdotes, and all of the submissions were filled with admiration and love for mothers and motherhood.

Turkey tale

Doug Johnson, of Denham Springs, will never forget when he was 15 in 1953 when his father came home with a large live turkey on the day before Thanksgiving.

His family lived in a small Tennessee town that had no supermarkets.

If Johnson’s mother wanted a chicken to fry for dinner or a turkey for a special occasion, she would send Johnson up the road to buy a live one or two.

“Mom tied it to a clothesline by its feet and then called for me to bring the butcher knife outside.A thank you and more

Retired WBRZ anchor John Mahaffey recalled the past era when schools used corporal punishment for discipline. “My mother had the aggravating habit of writing thank you notes to whoever dished out my recent paddling,” he wrote. “Her standard line was, ‘Thank you for beating my son. As always, remember the flesh is yours, the bone is mine. Sincerely, Ruth Mahaffey.’”

In the pew

H.E. “Hots” Aull describes his mother, Jeanette Aull as strictly old school.

“Once when I was about 6 or 8 and still in short pants, I convinced my mom that I was mature enough to sit away from her in another pew,” he wrote, so he and his cousin Sonny Slocum took seats on the second row of the Florida Street Presbyterian Church while their mothers sat in the middle of the church.

“Evidently we didn’t meet their behavior standards because I heard my mom walking down the middle aisle toward us, and she was doing her I’m not happy walk,” Aull wrote.

She stood between the two boys and whispered, “I am fixin’ to pinch your thigh as hard as I can, and if you make a sound, I’ll blister your behind, too,” wrote Aull, who said that he didn’t answer because he was afraid his answer would constitute a sound. Aull said the preacher was watching the whole scene from his “eagle’s nest.”

“I know that he was enjoying himself, as he covered his face twice with his handkerchief to keep from laughing,” Aull said.

Rose’s solution

Mickey Montalbano’s mother, Rose Montalbano, who only had a sixth-grade education, outsmarted the whole U.S. Navy during World War II. “She loved me so much that when I volunteered for the Navy after graduating in 1944 from Baton Rouge High, she told me to write and let her know where I was all the time,” Montalbano wrote. “I tried to explain that the United States censored all mail, and I couldn’t give her the correct information or whereabouts.”

So Rose came up with a solution. She told her son to spell out his location in the first letter of the first paragraphs of his notes home. “She always knew where I was at all times including China and Japan,” Mickey Montalbano said. “She wrote two letters a day.”

A poet

Georgia Courter gets tears in her eyes every time she reads a poem her daughter, Amy Courter Palmer, wrote for her for Mother’s Day several years ago. Palmer, who now lives in Buford, Ga., was a sophomore in high school when her father, Robert Courter, an LSU professor, took the family to Denver on a sabbatical.

“We had a heavy snow one day, and she had not taken her boots to school,” Georgia Courter wrote, “I walked two miles to her school with her boots.” What Courter did embarrassed her daughter so much that she completely ignored her.

Palmer’s poem reads, in part:

“You tromped two miles through cold, knee-deep snow

To bring me my boots at school, you know.

Just wish I had shown the least bit of gratitude

But what did I know? I was a teen, self-absorbed and rude.”

Punk rock mom

Keith Horcasitas’ memories of his mother, the late Mercedes Kleinpeter Horcasitas, include a time during the days when punk rock was popular. “We had a little party with my friends, and my mom was so easy going that she felt comfortable even putting on a punk rock wig and pretending to be playing punk music,” Horcasitas said. “We had a wonderful time, probably embellished with some Dixie beer.”

Hear the bells

Anne Maverick recalled a classic story in her family when she took her daughter, Emily Maverick, then 4, to a rehearsal of her mother’s bell choir in St. Louis. “Like many 4 year olds, she liked to help,” Maverick wrote. “So she pitched right in. I don’t think she was invited to handle the bells during the rehearsal, but she didn’t hesitate to sing along. She has grown up to be a fine musician, and my mom, Beth Beattie, still leads a bell choir at her church in St. Louis.”

A ‘capitol’ idea

Sharon Callahan, who grew up in Ohio, moved to Louisiana in 1972, when she married a local man. “When my northern relatives came, their visit wasn’t complete without a trip to the top of the State Capitol, a high adventure for my three kids,” she wrote.

One summer, while showing a vacationing cousin the capitol, her younger children, then 3 and 5 and in the “run, don’t walk stage,” jumped in an open elevator before Callahan, who was limping with a broken toe, could get in.

“I don’t know who was more shocked when the doors shut and the car descended without me,” she said.

Callahan grabbed the next available elevator and raced down to the governor’s floor, where she looked everywhere for the children. She then returned to the floor on which her cousin was waiting, but she still could not find the children.

“Thanks to a blessed security guard with a blessed walkie-talkie, the wanderers were located on the floor of the governor’s office, no less,” she wrote. “Imagining two frightened, tearful children, we rushed down to find them slurping up attention and Cokes from the governor’s secretary.”

Seed planted

Paula Bourg, of Ethel, remembers when her daughter Bonnie’s Scout leader asked for her seed cookie recipe. “I felt pleased until she said, ‘Your little girl told me and the rest of the Brownie troop that your seed cookies are the first thing she thinks about as Christmas draws near,” wrote Bourg, who gave her age as 94 plus.

“In later years, when my daughter was grown, she thanked me for teaching her to remember by association,” Bourg wrote. “I reminded her of the Brownie incident, and I told her that I felt I had failed as a good Christian mother. I told her that I expected any child of mine to relate to the birth of Jesus as the first thought of Christmas.”

Bourg said she got no comfort when her daughter replied, “Mother, I watched you dancing around the kitchen and singing cheerfully as you carefully shaped each miniature confection individually.” But Bourg did find peace when her daughter added, “I witnessed love and associated love with God.”

Own incubator

Fredrick Joseph Prevost, of New Orleans, told the story of his mother, Vivian McCoy Prevost, who gave birth in Franklin in 1939 to his brother, 2-pound Willie Prevost III. “Grandmother Sedonia McCoy had an in-house incubator, a hot water bottle,” Fredrick Joseph Prevost wrote. “The doctor from the clinic came and took the temperature of the baby. He said, ‘He’s got to go to the hospital,’ but Grandmother McCoy said no. She put the baby on the bed, and he was fine.”

Did he say that?

Cleo d’Aquin James said that when her daughter, Joel d’Aquin Thibodeaux, was about 4, she asked her mother what an idiot was. “I told her, ‘Well, an idiot is someone who is an adult but has kept the mind of a child.”

“The next day, when a hired workman came in to hang new blinds for the living room, little Joel watched him intently,” James said. “Then she called me in the next room and said in a very loud voice, ‘Momma, I think this man is an idiot and has just kept the mind of a child.’ Silently I scooped her up and took her to another room.”

The best gift?

Sarah “Vonnie” Peterson Sylvest, of Clinton, writes that before Mother’s Day in the 1950s, her mother showed her sister and her a friend’s new Hollywood-style bed, which her mother described as “the latest thing in society.”

“It just looked like any other bed to us except with a short headboard and no footboard at all,” Sylvest wrote. “We talked about Mama’s old antique bed all the way home and figured out a way to turn it into a Hollywood-style bed for Mama’s Mother’s Day present. Together we downsized Mama’s big old headboard and sawed off the footboard completely. It didn’t look so good, so we decided to paint it. The only paint we could find was black, but we had enough to paint not only her new Hollywood-style bed but her dresser and everything else in the room including her old, faded-out window screens. Then we pulled her door shut, hung a sign on it reading, Happy Mother’s Day and waited anxiously.”

Sylvest said her mother was speechless when she opened the door. “She was just standing there staring, still holding on to her sign. Then she sat down on her new Hollywood-style bed, the latest thing in society, and cried, what we proudly figured out, real tears of joy.”

Elaine Bergeron Gauthreaux was the fourth child of eight born to John and Marie Bergeron, of White Castle. “My mom was due in May, and on May 12, 1946, she started having labor pains,” Gauthreaux wrote. “We did not own a car, so my mom walked to the hospital. When she got there, the doctor said it was false labor and sent her home. By the time she had walked home, the labor pains were much worse, so she walked back to the hospital.”

Gauthreaux was born that day, which was Mother’s Day. “I will always remember my mom, who is deceased, saying that I was the best Mother’s Day gift she ever received.”

Hi, Daddy

In 1980, Susan Hendry Tureau flew with her daughter, Kristin Hogan, then 1 1/2, from Houston where they were living at the time, to Baton Rouge, where her parents lived. “My husband was unable to join us for the trip,” Tureau wrote. “Before the plane took off, my daughter stood up in her seat, turned around and said, ‘Hi, Daddy,’ to the man behind us. Then she turned toward the opposite row and said, ‘Hi, Daddy’ to the man opposite us. Then she said, ‘Hi, Daddy,’ to every man she saw. I was getting some strange looks and was beyond embarrassed.”

Boys will be boys

Carl N. Williams described a family camping trip in Yellowstone National Park with his late wife, Dorothy, and their two sons, and his sister and brother-in-law, Mellissie and Wallace Marson and their children. Most of the group had gone to sleep in a travel trailer, but the older boys were in a pup tent nearby.

“Without our knowledge, the boys had saved hamburger meat to bait a bear,” Williams wrote. “Soon we heard noises and scratching on the ice box by the steps. Dorothy, being nearest to the door, got out of bed and opened the door to see a 7-foot grizzly raised up on hind legs. The bear and Dorothy were eyeball to eyeball. She let out a blood-curdling scream, and the bear turned tail and walked off.”

Williams said that when the family returned to Baton Rouge, he read in The Advocate that a little girl had been mauled at the same camping site. “The three boys waited until they were grown to confess,” he wrote.

Robert Mitchell, of New Orleans, was playing football in the streets of the Desire Projects in the summer of 1970 when he caught a pass for a touchdown and then ran into a parked car. “Needless to say, it knocked me unconscious,” Mitchell wrote. “My mom’s friend, Mrs. Frit, literally picked me up and carried me one block and up a flight of stairs screaming that I had broken all of my teeth. My mom was perming someone’s hair. She looked at me and said, ‘Get up. What’s wrong with you?’”

Robert Mitchell’s mouth was full of blood and he was still holding onto the football as he told his mother, Gloria S. Mitchell, that he had been eating popcorn. “Everyone laughed so hard that tears were rolling down my mom’s face,” he said.

Some special moms

Along with the wonderful anecdotes about their mothers, some readers wanted to say a few words about their special mothers or experiences with motherhood.

After Cole’s husband returned from World War II, she “wrote letters to my mom every week, letting her know what the grandchildren were doing and learning.”

After her mother died, Cole found a box of the letters. “I realized that she had reread each letter before she died. She had put the date that each letter was reread on the envelope and had written a comment about what I had told her. She knew that I would be the one to find the letters.”

Sadly, Prager’s mother, Althea Dowty Prager, died of cancer a short 15 months after her son’s return. “As we were the ‘silent service,’ she was very concerned all through the war,” Dutch Prager wrote.

“She wasn’t a movie star,

She didn’t win any awards

But her heart was full of love and caring

And she put her trust in the Lord,” Hall began his poem, “My Mother.”

“I felt a spring of love begin to form inside my heart,” she wrote. Her daughter, Madison, is now 15 months old.

“Everyday I come home to the best part of me, my daughter,” she wrote.

“We’d get letters every few months, but most of the time letters couldn’t reach him. We would go to the movies every Saturday so we could see news updates on the war. Mom died when I was 21, and I wasn’t mature enough to understand what she had done for us and our country.”

“I am the third child of their five daughters and three sons,” Ward-Flaggs wrote. “When I was 12, my father got sick and was unable to return to work. My mother managed to take care of her sick husband, put six of her children through college while providing loving care for hundreds of working mothers’ children over her 45 years of operating a child-care center. She cared for children who grew up to be judges, lawyers, engineers, nurses, teachers and entrepreneurs in our community. Her home, 65 years later, is still the hub, a safe place for the neighborhood children.”