Here I am in Rew attending to the affairs of my mother as a result of her recent death. Like so many before me, it is quite an adjustment to become orphaned. We are taking apart my childhood home — no small or emotionally easy task.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Irons was born in Bradford, Pa., in 1921, the second of five children. A Depression-era child, she had stories of hard times. Her father, C. Paul Armstrong, and mother, Nellie Griffin Armstrong, raised their five children in the home of his parents. I remember them. In fact, when I was born, seven of my eight grandparents were living.
Mom went to business school and began her work career at Dresser Industries in Bradford. She met and married my dad in 1943. He was one 12 children so I had boatloads of aunts, uncles and cousins. Happily, at Mom’s service, we reunited and shared memories and laughs.
My mother saved everything, but in an organized and neat way. Again, this Depression-era bringing up is not to be underestimated. She honestly is kin to the women whose children discovered a shoebox labeled, String too Short to Save. Now that could be a great book title along with Is it a Fishy Fish?
One of my favorite discoveries was a letter to my mother in 1951 from her father, Popop, as we knew him. He was working in California for a few months. The envelope had a six-cent air mail stamp. It reads as follows:
My Dear Kids,
As you know Mother’s Day is here very shortly and I have no mom to gift. So the three best mothers I know in this world are Pat, Shirley and Betsy [mom and her sisters].
You have given me life everlasting in six of the sweetest grandchildren in the whole world. As a little token of my thankfulness for such a nice family, would like you three mothers to have dinner with me at the Emery on Mother’s Day.
Mom and I will be there in spirit, so enjoy yourselves and say a little prayer. I think the three Pops can take care of kids that day. No doubt you have other plans for the day, so pick out one that will suit all and have a good time. Enclosed is a check for $15, which should pay the bill. [!!!] Couldn’t just decide who should make the arrangements, so figured the oldest — that’s you, Bets!
Hope this meets the approval for all of you. Take your Kodak and have someone flash a snap of the party. Have fun.
We visited another old mission tonight, makes five we’ve seen. They must have been rugged old guys to build them.
We only get mail once a week, so hope we have a lot in Bakersfield.
Nite now, love to all.
That’s all I got! Life goes on.