Copyright 2017 by Bonnie Boerema
grandma Mabel was quite a woman. She was born in 1902. She married
grandpa Luther in 1920, at age eighteen. He was five years older than
her. He was born in 1898, and he’d been a cowboy out west
before they married.
dad was Will, and her mom was Bertie. She called them Pa Pa and
Momma. They farmed west of Conway, Missouri. They had eight
children, five sons and three daughters. Grandma Mabel was their
middle daughter. Grandpa Luther farmed, too, as did many in the
midwest in the 1920’s 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. He
was good at it, and made them a good living with it. Grandma Mabel
I was a little girl, Grandpa Luther had made little red stools for my
twin sister, Connie and me. Grandma would seat us on them at her
feet while she milked a few cows. She raised her own baby chickens.
While they were still young chickens, she’d take one, wring
it’s head off, get the feathers off, wash it, cut it up, and
it’d be in the bowl in fifteen minutes.
raised pigs, and butchered a hog twice a year. She’d tell us,
as little girls, “Don’t ever get in the pigpen, the hogs
will eat you up.” They started work on week days at 5:00 a.m.
on the farm. Grandma’s work was milking a few cows, separating
the cream from the milk, stirring up the biscuit dough, rolling them
out, and cutting them with a biscuit cutter. Then she baked them,
and started breakfast, which consisted of bacon or homemade sausage,
gravey and eggs, along with the biscuits. They were served with
butter and sorghum molasses and hot coffee. They finished eating
early, between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. Grandma Mabel was a wonderful
cook. The smells coming from her kitchen worked up a real appetite.
She cooked on a old wood cook stove. Then Grandpa bought her an
electric cook stove. They had an old-fashioned ice box when I was
was cream from the top of the milk from their cows that they put on
their table. When Grandma’s had the whole family for a meal, my
mom, dad, and us, with my mom’s only sibling, Uncle Bill, who
was eight years younger than mom, his wife, Brenda and their five
kids. She’s fry one of her home-raised tender chickens with
mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, and candied apples, and iced tea
or coffee to drink. Dessert was either strawberry shortcake, coconut
cream pie, or chocolate cake.
Connie and I stayed overnight with them as kids, at 5:00 a.m. you’d
hear one of their roosters crow, “Cock-a-doodle Do.”
Mabel was an excellent seamstress. She used mostly Butterick or
Simplicity patterns. Her clothing was so perfectly made, it looked
like a tailor had made it. When my sister and I were very young, she
made us many clothes.
first sewing machine she had was a foot treadle on the bottom to run
it. But over my growing years of the 40’s and 50’s,
Grandpa Luther had bought her the best and newest model of Singer
filled up the rest of her morning, until time to fix Grandpa Luther
something for lunch, by either sewing or crocheting. She crocheted me
two beautiful afghans after I was married and had my own family.
farm was west of Conway. Their afternoons in the 50’s consisted
of errands into Conway or Marshfield, Missouri to get groceries and
suppliesat the hardware store, or Grandma to get her hair done at
mom’s beauty shop.
around 4:30 p.m. they’d start their chores again, milking the
cows, feeding the chickens and the hogs. Of course, they were very
hungry by supper.
their middle age years, Grandpa Luther became an M.F.A. Insurance
Agent, with her helping him. They had a thriving business, with many
customers. My first secretarial job was at the M.F.A. Insurance
Company in Springfield. Grandpa Luther drove me to their office, and
put in a good word for me. They hired me.
Grandma Mabel and Great Grandma Bertie were dear, sweet women,
especially Grandma’s Mabel, who changed mine and Connie’s
diapers, and gave us bottles in the middle of the night when we were
tiny babies. I always wondered why I felt much closer to her than
mom. It was because I bonded with her early on, and always felt her
love. Grandma Mabel had a profound effect on my life. She was one
sweet-spirited woman, as was her mom, Bertie.
Connie and I would stay overnight as kids, she’s fix the
feather bed mattress on the bed in the guest bedroom. The old type
with straw tick on the bottom, and the feather tick on top.
we slept on it, we’d sink down in the middle. But it was very
soft and fun to sleep on. The next morning Grandpa did all the
chores, and Grandma Mabel entertained and gave us all of her time,
just entertaining and enjoying being with us.
had moved back in with them during World War II, while dad was in the
Coast Guard, fighting overseas, and mom was attending beauty school.
Grandma Mabel took care of us. Uncle Bill told the story about how
Grandma would just get one of us fed, and quit crying, and the other
one would start crying. Finally, she said, “Luther, you’re
going to have to help me, I can’t even cook.”
Grandma Bertie had Indian heritage, long black hair, which she wore
pulled back, and black eyes. She lived to be ninety years old. She
was a petite, slender lady, and still pretty when she died. When
Connie and I were four years old, and she was living in her small
home in Conway, we’d stay with her two hours. She’d pull
us up close to her and the radio in her living room. We’d
listen to Ma Perkins.
was a remarkable woman, who’d raised eight kids, and seen many
changes in her life. Born eleven years after the Civil War. She’d
seen all the wars our country had engaged in. All the progressions –
from horses to automobiles, from wringer washers and dryers to
automatic washers and dryers, air-conditioners, dishwashers, and
Grandma Mabel or Grandma Bertie held a job out of the house. But they
both worked very hard. Grandma Bertie eight children. Her three
daughters, Maude, Grandma Mabel and Mary kept the home, and raised
with all the hard work of being a farm wife, Grandma Mabel was an
excellent cook and helpmate. Aunt Mary was a farm wife, too.
farm was near Buffalo, Missouri. Of Grandma Bertie’s five
sons, Uncle Arvin was an insurance salesman. He and his wife, Hazel
lived in Musokee, Oklahoma. Uncle Walter and his wife, Nita lived in
Dallas, Texas. They both worked for an oil company. Uncle Ralph owned
a jewelry store in Richland, Missouri. Uncle Paul was a substance
abuse counselor in Phoenix, Arizona. Her youngest son, Lowell stayed
on the old family place, and farmed it. In later years,
Lowell died, he left the place west of Conway to his oldest son,
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
story list and biography
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher