Below is a list I found written by my mother. She was reminiscing of her childhood and remembering the hard times of her grade school years. She was a child of the Great Depression, born in 1929. Her parents were farmers and lived in Nebraska. She was the youngest of 9 children. Her older siblings were teenagers when she was born. Here is the list:
She began school in the fall of 1935. Her mom and dad took a trip to California shortly after she started school in the little one room school house, not too far from their farm. They left the older children in charge while they went to look for work that was much more plentiful in California. Her mother found a position of a cook for a wealthy family and her dad worked at a nearby Dairy farm and did handiman work for the people her mom worked for. The oldest girl came out in the Spring and began working for the same people and then her folks went back to Nebraska to put in the crops on the farm.
That Summer 3 of my mom's older sisters went to California and got jobs. In the late Summer her mother told her dad that it was not proper for unmarried daughters to live and work by themselves and that they needed to go out there. So right before my mother began the 2nd second grade they packed up all the of kids and went West to California.
They found a place in Redondo Beach and my mother was sent to a huge school there. It was the most people my mother had seen in her whole life. She was so overwhelmed by it all. She said the school was built on a hill and had a covered play area underneath the building. She said she felt like a scared little rabbit and during recess would go all the way back under the building and just watch all the children playing. Thus began my mother's many moves in her early grade school days.
In the next 2 years my mother moved 10 times, changing schools each time. During this time her father would go back to Nebraska for lengths of time to work the farm and try and sell it but farms were not selling fast during the Depression. Her mom stayed in California as the weather was warmer and better for her health. She had struggled with serious bouts of sickness off and on since the birth of her 7th child in 1922. They moved so much in California because of not having a lot of money. Sometimes having a place of their own and then her dad leaving back for the farm and her mom and younger siblings moving in with the older kids for a while in different places.
My mom's worst year was her 4th grade year. She had spent the summer in Nebraska and started 4th grade there. They then went out to California and lived with her mother, brother and sister. Then her mom, my grandmother, fell very ill and mom went to live with her older single sisters who had a small house they rented and worked in a cookie factory in Burbank. Grandma was so ill that she could not take care of my mom. Mom was 9 years old and was without her folks as her dad was back taking care of the farm in Nebraska.
Mom hated school. She was a shy child and over weight. She got so behind, changing schools so much and the teachers she got that year were not patient with her. She was seated in the back with another failing little boy and ridiculed by the other kids. One day in class she laid her head down on her desk and began to cry. Little did she know that at that moment the 5th grade teacher, Mrs. McGuire, was walking down the hall and looked into her class room and saw her crying. She was moved with compassion and went directly to the Principal's office and asked to have mom in her class. The principal told Mrs. McGuire he would let her take mom into her class but she would have to prepare her 4th grade lessons and not get extra pay for the extra work that she would have to put in. She said she would do it gladly. She then went back to mom's class, walked down the aisle to her desk, lifted up her head in her hands and said, "Don't cry anymore, you are going to be my little girl." She helped mom with her things and took her into her classroom.
Mom flourished in Mrs. McGuire's class and finished the 4th grade year and then had her for 5th and 6th grade years also. Those were wonderful years for my mom as Mrs. McGuire was a wonderful teacher and really thought a lot of my mom. My grandmother recovered from her serious sickness. They had found out from a family member, Dr. Hromadke, that she had diabetes. Dr. Hromadke told her that she would die if she did not take insulin. She told him, she would not die because God had promised her that she would live to raise her children and she still had a little girl to raise. She prayed about the doctor's diagnosis and the need to take insulin and God told her that if she ate a good diet and stayed away from sugar and too much fat that He would preserve her life to raise my mom. A wonderful miracle was worked on my grandmother's behalf and she recovered from large absses on her legs and regained her strength. My mom was able to have her mom again and her dad sold the farm and they were all family again, living in the house that her dad bought with the money he got from the sale of the farm.
A number of years later, my mom who was married and had my 2 older sisters, looked up her grade school teacher, Mrs. McGuire, to thank her for all she did for her. Mom asked her what motivated her that day to do what she did. Mrs. McGuire told her that she was a Christian and had gone through a terrible time when she was 9 years old when her mother died. She said, "I knew your mom was very, very ill and you needed someone to love you and help you."
Every time I tell this story about my mom, I am moved to tears. At that time my mom was like an orphan in a certain aspect because of her mother's illness and her father being gone a lot taking care of the farm. I can't help but think of this passage of scripture in James and how Mrs. McGuire followed it and blessed my mother:
"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?" James 1:27 - 2:7