By SUE SEIBERT
Many of you knew my mother, Rose Ficke Sparks. In fact quite a few of you were taught by her, either at the old junior high that used to be the first high school or at Houston Elementary School.
Mother died in 2005 at the age of 95. Last week I saw a photo of one of her best friends and co-educators, who just turned 101 – Fern Hudson. My goodness, life was different when they were born in the early 1900s. I know, I know, for you young people, you imagine life was different when I was born in the mid 1900s. And you’re right, it was; but in the early 1900s there had been no World Wars. They lived through Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties.
Raf always says of Mother that she was a flapper (a woman who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior) and never got over it! You all might not have known Mother that way, but we did! No doubt about it!
Interestingly Mother kept two different diaries, one which we didn’t see until after she died. The other she gave me to use to see if I wanted to keep a diary when I was in my teens. Neither she nor I kept it up, although she did better than I. I know writers are supposed to keep diaries, but I was never good at remembering to write daily.
Anyway, when I was a teen Mother had told me she had been married when she was a teenager to a high school sweetheart but that the marriage had been annulled. I didn’t know until I read the second diary that she had been married to the fellow for several years before the divorce and that at one point her father had gone after him to bring him back to his “little girl” who loved him.
Diaries. Should we keep them to be left for the grandchildren and children to sort out and sniff through, or should we not keep them or, at some point, destroy them? I just don’t know, but I do know, for the most part, I am not good at remembering to keep one!
Here are some excerpts from Mother’s diary. This one was written on her 21st birthday in 1931. At this time she was at Southwestern in Georgetown.
“My birthday! 21 years old! Oh, Gee! B & A brought me back to G. at 2. Date with Henry. Danced at Frat house. West to Austin to hear choir tonight. Went with Morris. Bless his heart. I wonder??? Came back an kiss.”
Mother told me about some of her boyfriends, but I don’t remember Morris or Henry. I did get a kick out of “Bless his heart”. Wonder if it was a swipe at him like saying, poor thing. Or did she really like him? Don’t know.
The next year she was in Norman, Oklahoma, at the University of Oklahoma, and this is what she wrote.
“Well, I’m 22 today. It doesn’t seem real. Dad & Mother sent me a check for $7.50 and a cute little picture of Pop. Bless him. Luke sent me a pair of bedroom slippers.”
Wow, $7.50, and my grandparents were quite wealthy! But I do remember her telling me they never had her a birthday party or a birthday cake. They were an odd bunch!
On her next birthday, the diary read: “Well, here I am 23 years old. A date with Joe tonight. Had my fortune told. So far no birthday gifts.”
Those entries aren’t much for the beautiful, smart girl my mother was, but in ten years she would be a wife and a mother for the first and only time.
May she rest in peace!