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Friday, September 16, 2016

Mom's work and play

My mother, Mataley Rogers, had a job almost all her life.  At least all the life after she moved to St. Louis where my sister and I went to a private school.  My mother became the technician for creating slide shows for that school.  It was called the Patrons Office.  A lot of the school was funded by contributions of Christian Scientists across the country. Also new students would come after their parents heard about the school (from grades 9-12 there were dormitories for boarding students.)

My mother learned how to use a tape recorder (reel to reel) and help people read scripts that were recorded. These tapes were played in conjunction with a slide show of the school, with a "ping" whenever it was time for the next slide.  She even would splice the tapes using some really lethal stuff, carbon tectra chloride. I really liked the scent, along with gasoline.  I was doomed to become an addict.  Wonder how I got out of that! Perhaps because I also liked the scent of coffee.

Mataley Rogers has on the headphones
Now in 1950 having a mom working full time, meant that my 4 year old sister, and myself at 8, needed to have someone care for us after school.  I don't really remember how that happened. Perhaps when we were very young, Mother got off early after school to be with us.

I do know I read every book* in the elementary/middle school library, and started on the high school library during the summers. (*Books of interest to me, of course!)

And as soon as I was 12, I helped out in Mom's office, like stapling papers and cutting things out.  I later learned how to work the old switchboard.  I was so proud of myself earning $0.40 per hour on my own.

Not myself or my mother, but that's the kind of switchboard I used on my first job!
But this is about my mother's life.

In the 50's a woman was the housewife in a family.  But since mother was at work all day, she did everything when she got home which the other wives had all day to do.  Dad would come home from work and sit in a rocking chair and read the paper until dinner was my mother of course.

And as very young daughters we weren't much help.  I could iron handkerchiefs and pillowcases.  I doubt that my sis could do much work of help for quite a while.  And eventually I learned how to iron my dad's shirts....and of course my own clothes.  I don't remember doing any of my mother or sister's clothes.

At one point I remember my mother driving a station wagon to pick up other children (like a school bus) mornings and evenings.

 She also spent at least one year as a girl scout leader, or maybe a brownie-then a girl scout leader.  She was amazing, to have accomplished all of that.

After I took Home Economics in 8th grade I was able to bake cakes and make a few dinners which gave my mother a break.  I even learned how to sew some of my own clothes on her sewing machine.

For play, I think she liked movies.  And she also liked to read, mostly when she was in bed.  We would listen to music on the radio when we were home, and when we got our first black and white TV, it was great to be able to see Howdy Doody and The Lone Ranger. Oops, that is what us kids did!  The Walt Disney show every Sunday was popular with all the family.

Mataley Rogers posing with an antique train at a museum
Mother grew up in her grandmother's household, and her grandfather was the conductor of a train in Texas, so she was interested in the train from Texas at the museum .

I think my mother also liked to spend time in the car going for drives on Sundays.  She especially liked the Jewel Box botanical garden in Forest Park, in St. Louis, MO.

And another Forest Park favorite for every summer as I was growing up.  One night a week, Mother would take my sister and myself to sit in the free seats at the Muni, or the Operetta, as we called it.  Wonderful musical performances all summer long.  No wonder I loved Gershwin, Rodgers and Hamerstein, and all those show tunes!

It wasn't until I looked for a photo of it, that I learned this is the oldest outdoor stage in the US, since 1917.

A big salute to my mother.  I enjoyed (mostly) her opinions, as well as her directing all the traffic and decisions of the family. She was a very strong woman.  Her religion was her daily practice.  She never voted, however, saying each election that she and my father would cancel each other out.

Another week for Sepia Saturday, with the meme of Work and Play.

Go to their site to see other folks' posts (click on links with their names).

Today's Quote: (Look, I'm back adding a favorite saying here again!)

There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance.
St. Paul


  1. A mother/wife, ahead of her time!

    "Dad would come home from work and sit in a rocking chair and read the paper until dinner was my mother of course."

    But a father/husband, stuck in a past time. -sigh-

    I was married in 1958, and happily, for my husband at least, the "old husband ways" did not stick to him. We were and always have been, a 50-50 marriage.

    Since this was still "in the 50's", I guess he was a husband/father, ahead of his time. :-)

    1. Thanks for comments. Yes, a man who was into sharing 50-50 was certainly a keeper!

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post, and the more I read of it, the more I shook my head. I could easily put myself in your place. Everything you mentioned - and I do mean practically everything - reminded me of how it was when I was growing up. Reading everything I could lay my hands on & when old enough, walking to the library by myself to check out more books. Mom taught me how to iron. Like you I started with handkerchiefs and pillowcases, but advanced to table cloths & my Dad's shirts, plus my own things. Helping Mom in the kitchen once in a while, I learned at least the basics of cooking & baking. My first all-by-myself cake, however, came out flat as a pancake. Fortunately, I got better at it. I tried to make pies, but sadly I've never - to this day - managed to conquer pie crust. And our family frequently took "Sunday Drives" somewhere - those drives often taking us miles & miles from home. But I recall them with a smile & have lived my entire adult life wondering where little side roads go to the point of turning onto them to see first hand, for myself. :) And though he did a lot around the house (mostly outside) on the weekends, my father was the same as yours during the week, sitting in his easy chair to read the paper on returning home from work (he was an insurance underwriter), while Mom fixed dinner after a day of housework and dealing with young children (I had 3 younger siblings). And then you mentioned the old type switchboard & ran a photo of it and I laughed out loud. I worked one almost exactly like it. The picture was in B&W, however, so I can't tell if the cords had different colored heads? The board I worked had orange & blue heads so I could keep them properly matched. Gosh, what memories you've brought back to me with this post. :)))

    1. I think our switchboard had red and black heads...and I wouldn't have remembered the colors until you mentioned it! Yes our lives do have similarities! We're so lucky to be alive to remember these things, simple though they may have been.

  3. A lovely tribute to,your mother at work and play. I could never have coped with an old fashioned switchboard. It took me all my time where I worked to press the right buttons when trying to transfer a call, without cutting the caller off!

  4. My mother worked hard too, both et work in a part time then full time job, and at home too, but I think my father did more around the house than yours did, from the sound of it. Nice family photos.


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