Sunday, May 11, 2008


My Mom, Anne Marie White, never graduated from high
school. The only school I recall her mentioning was the Mary
E. Curley School in Jamaica Plain, which today is a middle
school, grades 6-8, and I haven't been able to determine as
yet if it was a high school in her day. And the only story I
remember her telling about her school days was one about
how she'd been made to sit under the teacher's
desk once for acting up in class back in elementary school.

Mom dropped out of school sometime during WWII and went
to work at an A&P Supermarket. Uncle Ed had enlisted in the
Navy and so there was just Mom and my Grandmother Aggie.
I'm not sure how old she was when she went to work, but
Mom was born in 1927 so she'd have had to have at least 14
or 15 years old. Years later when we living in Malden she'd
shop at the A&P in Linden Square and I remember her using
the coffee grinding machine which impressed me!

Mom was a very intelligent woman and I'm quite sure that if
she'd stayed on in school she would have done well. She was
well-spoken, a good conversationalist, and liked to read. She
liked historical novels and some of her favorite authors were
Taylor Caldwell, John Jakes, and Susan Howatch, but she
also enjoyed Sidney Sheldon and Jackie Collins. She also
read historical romances such as Beatrice Small's books, and
mysteries. Occasionally she'd surprise me by reading one of
the books I'd been reading, such as a Stephen King novel, and
then asking me if the author had written anything else. The
only type of books I do not recall her ever reading were the
science fiction and fantasy books I loved other than Marion
Zimmer Bradley's Arthurian fantasy "The Mists of Avalon" .

Over the years Mom held a variety of jobs most of which
were of the light assembly or warehouse variety, although
her last one was as a switchboard operator/receptionist.
That one required using a computer for the first time and
once she got over her initial unease she did it well.

She was the Red Headed Witch of Evans Street and
taught me how to ride a bike in her own unique style.

My mother had style too, and dressed as well as family
finances and the budget allowed. When my sister and I were
working in the garment business at Collegetown and had
employee discounts we had no trouble figuring out what to
get Mom for her birthday, Christmas, and Mother's Day.

I'm firmly convinced that given her intelligence Mom might
have done quite well if she'd finished high school and maybe
gone on to college if circumstances had allowed it and if she'd
been a little more self confident. She never got over her
father's estrangement from the family.

I'm proud of both my parents. Neither of them graduated
from high school but they raised three kids to adulthood and
did it through good times and some very tough times but
did their best to keep a roof over our heads and food in our
bellies. They weren't perfect but they kept at it.

And they are missed.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.


Jasia said...

A lovely post, Bill. You do your mom proud.

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

What a sweet tribute to your mom, Bill. She sounds like she was a very special woman.

wendy said...

That's a great tribute to your mom. Isn't it amazing how our parents' generation muddled through on next to nothing and came out (sometimes) better for it? Wish our generation & those coming after us would learn the same. Thanks so much for sharing!