Our mother’s birthday is in early June and she has been on my mind a lot, lately. Betsey Elizabeth Young was born 105 years ago in Newfield, the daughter of John and Pearl Young.
She grew up with her family on the Pushersiding in the house where she was born. She attended the first eight grades in the one-room school that was just down the road from the family home. Betty boarded with her grandmother in Ulysses during her high school years and graduated in 1932 from Ulysses High School.
Over in Gold, just few weeks after she was born, a baby boy arrived in late August, the first child of Seth and Mary Morley. They named him Chester after Seth’s favorite uncle. He grew up on Peasley Hill and went to grade school in Gold.
When it was time for him to go to high school he boarded with a relative in Coudersport and graduated in 1932 from the Coudersport High School.
That summer, Betty rode along with her brother Reed one evening to a dance in Colesburg. A handsome young guy named Chet asked her to dance and then to take her home (much to her brother’s dismay). And the rest, as the saying goes, is history. At least, it is our history.
Chet and Betty were married in September 1935, just a months after Chet turned 21. Of course, Betty was a few weeks ahead of him. He never tired of reminding her with a huge grin, now and then, that she was older than he was. She would laugh back at him and flip a bit of soapy water from the dishpan with her finger.
Years went by and Betty and Chet became the parents of six kids: five girls and one boy. Mom was busy from morning until night: keeping the house clean, trying to keep us clean and trying her best to make us behave. It was no easy task.
And yet, as many memories that I have of her as she lugged baskets of wet laundry out to the yard and hung each piece carefully on the clothes line, as she ironed everything from our blouses to the pillowcases and as she ran that noisy vacuum cleaner every day of the week except for Sunday, my favorite memories are very different.
I remember her chocolate cake and wonderful pies.
I remember the delicious gravy she made around everything from pork chops to chicken and now and then, just milk and butter. I remember her joy when we were happy and her sadness when we were hurt or upset.
I remember her pride in each one of us and our accomplishments. I remember her absolute belief that her kids could do anything, if they wanted it bad enough.
Each one of us gave her reason to wonder at times. We scared her. We worried her. And now and then, we made her very angry. However, we never doubted that she loved us. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have gotten so riled up, would she?
Before the house was empty of their own kids, it began to fill with grandkids. And those “kids,” some of whom are grandparents themselves today, remember that same unconditional love.
Although I began this with the intention of remembering our mother, memories of her are not possible or complete without including our Dad. That young couple who met at a dance all those years ago were, as the saying goes, meant to be. Their love for each other and for each one of us is the foundation on which we have built our lives.
So, I remember, each June, our mother. I remember Dad’s grin as he reminded her now and then, that after all, she was older than he was. And I remember her smile as she flicked a handful of soapy dishwater at him.
Jeannette Buck is a lifelong resident of the Gold area who, since listening to her Grandma Williams’ stories as a child, has been deeply interested in local lore and history.