Movin' On with Nellie: Mom


We posed for the formal photograph when I was in third grade. My sister Barbara and I had on our best Sunday dresses. Mine was red with a gathered bodice and my sister’s was a baby blue with white collar. Mama was in her late 50’s full skirted black dress complete with a petticoat showing off the silver stripes alternating with velvet. That dress was her go-to clubbing dress when she and Joe danced at the enlisted men’s hall. When photographed, she wasn’t sporting her rhinestone necklace that completed the dancing ensemble.

Mama held on to that photo turned into an oil painting by a Spanish artist near Madrid through her 12 relocations following our dad around the world.

When the marriage was still new she bore another daughter. I learned after Mom passed on, that my youngest sister Lori grew up wishing she had a family picture with Mama and somehow was in the picture with us.

I tweaked the photo I took of the painting and placed her alongside us by using Photoshop. Now we each have a black and white photo with our mom.

I have another digitized photo of mom. Mama shared with me once how she and her best friend would double date with their boyfriends. Sometimes they’d park for romance on the levy or for dancing in the moonlight with a six pack of beer and Ferlin Huskey. This photo shows mom’s happiest smile and I can almost hear her laughing.

Still another portrait of mom was the picture of her in a bathing suit showing that Betty Grable pose with her hips to one side and her arms behind her curled bop. The practice was to tan on tin roofs when you could and she did that in those hot Texas summers. When deep black hair was in she would follow the day’s practice of swamping her hair with black charcoal. I laughed when she told me that. Didn’t everyone know?

Once, she took me downtown Mercedes to show me the soda fountain where she learned the soda fountain blues a slurpy sound with a straw and a finished milk shake. She loved the movies and spent Saturdays at the movies or at the sock hop where she danced in a poodle skirt and bobby socks.

When Mom was a single mom with two small children, she worked at a bank where she was the original ID protector--there she reviewed signatures to make sure the checks were signed by the right person. She worked hard enough she was able to get a green Chevrolet that she was proud of. I remember the soft ice cream - a curly cone - at the El Sombrero snack shack and driving home singing Home Again Jiggidy-Jig.

Another time, I was with my babysitter when we were watching the Hidalgo Stock Show and parade on the brand new television! I was so concerned seeing Mama in that new box and couldn’t figure out how she happened to be in that box! I looked around it and said I wanted to get in there with Mama.

There was one day after she married Joe when we had been naughty and Mom gave us time out in our white wicker rockers. She placed them at opposite ends of the room since we were supposed to stay separated. When she wasn’t looking, I convinced Barbara to join me and put our rockers on the double bed and began to hop and rock until Mom caught us!

Mom always tried to raise us up with discipline and love but clearly I pulled at her patience.

Happy Mom’s Day!