In talking about Mother, I guess I’d have to say that she was almost the complete opposite from Dad. She was very intense, very much concerned at all times with doing the basic things that would keep her family alive, healthy and working.
My other memories of Mother are, I guess, very typical. I thought she was very pretty and she always wore some kind of very enchanting perfume or cologne. I remember her trying to start the old Model-T Ford, and I think it used to be in a garage that must have been what was once the old pump house. I remember it was the Model-T because it had those three little peddles down on the floor. Around the steering wheel were the spark and gas levers, and she was having trouble getting the car started which I guess was something in those days.
And also, I have a memory of Mother and Aunt Minnie at the railroad station in Albert Lea. The thing I remember best about it is the old, big arm that came down to block off the street next to the railroad tracks. And Mother and Aunt Minnie were crying as the train pulled out and the arm came down. Of course, this is when Uncle Tom went off to World War I.
I remember her taking me to the old wooden church in New Richland. It was a winter day and it was slightly warmer inside the church, and she was there to see old Father McVeigh about something. And my mother, I guess, was a very beautiful woman.
Of course, I also remember Mother’s actions during the great flu epidemic. I can remember her praying and, who knows, we all lived through it. Who knows about the value of prayer? Of course, when we were children and Uncle Albert died, and we had all of this hardship and we tried to do all the farm work, Mother would very frequently come out to the field to help us. She was always very happy doing this kind of work. She’d say, “Okay, Charlie, let’s go out and shock some wheat.” And she could shock as well as a man. In fact, she could do many things out in the field as well as a man could.
Mother was the kind of a person who didn’t go much for show. I remember when I was going to school in Dodge Center. She came up to see me and there was a declamatory contest. I was a sophomore and I won. And Grandma, of course, was there. And Grandma stood out in the vestibule as the people were leaving and of course she knew most of the people, and she didn’t hesitate to remind them that that was her grandson who won in the humorous division. And my mother stood there for a little while, but after witnessing five or six episodes of Grandma’s carrying on and saying things like “That’s Charles Crumb. That’s my grandson,” Mother grabbed me by the arm and said,” Let’s go home.”
When I had grown into a young man, Mother and I were pretty good pals. I used to kid her into doing special jobs on my shirts when I wanted to go out, and if I was coming in from the fields, late, and I had a date that night, she would get a tub of water ready for me so I could take a bath and we were really pretty good pals. I used to kid her about sewing. And she used to sew buttons on my shirt, or take a piece out of the tail to patch a shirt, or something like that and of course, you all recall how very good she was with a needle and thread.
The peaceful time around our house when we were little, if you will recall, was when the chores were done and the dishes were washed and Dad got out his book and pipe and Mother sat down by the old sewing machine that she pumped. She would be there pumping away and sewing and singing those Polish songs. I guess she was never happier than when she was making something, or patching something, for someone to wear that would keep out the cold and make them more comfortable.