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Mothers I have known

The Spirit of Tehachapi


They come in all shapes, sizes and dispositions. Mothers, of course. I had half-a-dozen children and each one has always managed to make me glad, sad, proud, amazed and completely baffled at times. That's not counting all the times you worry about them. There is an invisible worry clause in every birth certificate. They always call me on Mother's Day though, and that makes everything OK.

My grandmother, Minnie Anderson, had three sons serving "Over There" in World War I. Her son, my Uncle Ray, was in nine major battles and lived to tell about it, but he never did talk about it. Her son, my Uncle John, was gassed and ended up paralyzed. He was picked up off the battle field with other casualties. The person loading him on the dead wagon noticed him blinking his eyes. He survived and the paralysis left. Her son, my Uncle Jim, was a mere sixteen, but was able to fib about his age to say he was eighteen and then joined the Army. He was sent to the battlefields of France and was captured by the Germans. Grandma had no word about him as to his survival.

In 1918 there were no movie theaters in the small town where my grandmother lived but a newsreel was being shown in a public building. Grandma had never seen a moving picture before and she and my mother stopped in to view it. It showed a hospital ship arriving in New York and as they were taking the stretchers off the ship the camera focused on the face of a soldier on the stretcher; it was her son, Jim. She knew he was alive. He lived to complete his growth of six feet three inches and was good to his mother. Mothers worry?

A Posts Script needs to be added to the above story: In 1943, during World War II, my Uncle Jim wanted to enlist in the Seabees, a U.S. Naval Construction battalion for building Naval shore facilities in combat zones. The enlistment folk said he was 45; just two years too old as the age limit was 43. When he informed them he had lied about his age in 1918 and was really only 43, they allowed him to enlist. He built air fields and bases in the Pacific Islands during World War II.

My mother, Maude Davis, during the days of World War II, was able to worry about my two brothers; one in the Pacific Theater of War and the other in the European War Zone. One brother was already down in the Pacific in New Guinea. The other one was being transferred but couldn't say where because troop movements were top secret but we knew he would be shipped overseas. (He ended up in Germany.)

One Mother's Day, the phone rang and the voice said there was a telegram for Mrs. Maude Davis. Telegrams were not welcome news during those times. The message was, "Happy Mother's Day, Mom." She began to cry and my Dad, understandably, was alarmed and asked her what was wrong. She told him of her Mother's Day greeting from their son. He said, "Well....honey...." giving her a hug.

Getting closer to home, a classmate of mine, Mary Louise Rodriguez, called by everyone, "Dee Dee," used to go to our Tehachapi Saturday Night dances. Barely seventeen, her mother, Mary Rodriguez, walked her to the dance and stayed there. A young Marine in dress blues, Pvt. Eddie Bachara, asked her to dance. The first words out of his mouth were, "I'm going to marry you!" So much for small talk. She laughed and said she was Catholic and she would only marry a Catholic. He excitedly announced, "I'm a Catholic!" and began to recite prayers she would recognize. He walked Dee Dee and her Mom home from the dance and said he'd see them at church the next morning.

Thinking she had seen the last of him, she was surprised the next day as he winked at her walking down the aisle, a bit late, but present. He also was sporting a black eye which meant he'd been somewhere else after the dance.

They began to date and also became engaged. He was shipped overseas and distinguished himself in battle during combat in the Battle of Tinian in the Mariana Islands. After a year, he returned from overseas and his prophetic words came true as they were married in 1945. Dee Dee was a devoted wife and mother. It was a happy marriage which lasted until Eddie's death in 1982.

To add to this tale, my son, Jim, married Dee Dee's daughter, Teri.

A friend and mother I knew in Tehachapi was the late Ruth Chesnut. She and I met about 1947 at a Tehachapi dance. She was with her fiancé, J. T. Chestnut. We didn't see each other often and were, at that time, just acquaintances. In fact it wasn't until we both became Charter Members of Summit Singers that we finally settled down to being friends. We both were First Sopranos but Second Soprano parts were needed so we volunteered. Second Soprano parts seem to be little parts that show up and are not very musical by themselves but necessary to fill out the chord. We always sat together.

She and I had one thing in common; people said we looked alike. I never could really see it but it must be true for often someone would say to me, "Hi Ruth! How are things?" I mentioned this to her one day at Summit Singers practice and she said people would call out, "Hi, Pat!" to her. I finally told her that unless they stopped to speak and were just greeting in passing, I would just say "Hello there!" She told me she had started doing the same without correcting them. Our little joke.

This very dear and fine person was a wonderful mother to her two sons. She made a great name for herself and did Tehachapi a good favor by moving here, so long ago, with her parents, Merle and Eleanor Brown.

As I mentioned, mothers come in all sizes and shapes and dispositions. Mine will always live in my heart and that is good. She wasn't famous but who needs to be if you can leave this world and meet the Lord, and have Him say, "Well done!"


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