December 26, 2021

My Mother 122621

     Today, the day after Christmas Day, marks the passing of 100 years from when my Mother, Mrs. Dorothy Mae Shepard, was born in Spokane, Washington, to Mr. & Mrs. Edwin and Matilda Griffin.  The family moved to Prairie City, Oregon, not long after my Mother's birth. 

She was born the oldest of three daughters, then Marybelle Schmale and Carol Duncan, respectively, and with one older brother before her, Dorsey Griffin.  Her father, Edwin, was a successful automotive mechanic shop business owner - and who owned three cars himself - leading up to the time of the Great Depression.

Although Edwin lost his business during the Great Depression, and whereas the only sustained family income was in the form of his World War I pension amounting to $60.00 per month, the family otherwise lived reasonably well to the extent that Matilda was proficient at canning foods from the garden and orchard during the harvest season for use in the winter months.  She did the sewing, mended the socks and all those sorts of chores that contemporary families nowadays mostly don't seem to know how to do.

The leanest times for the family during the Great Depression years was the last week or two of any given month when the $60.00 would run dry and mostly all that was left to eat were potatoes:  They had fried potatoes, baked potatoes, scalloped potatoes, boiled potatoes and you can name it when it came to preparing potatoes.  Because of these interim lean meal periods that tended to lack sufficient nutrition, my Mother suffered a moderate case of "rickets" disease during her early teen years, which is caused by a deficiency in vitamin D and directly affects the proper development of bones.  But she came out of it all okay when that part of her life, and of the family history, was ultimately said and done.

     This first photograph shows my Mother at age 19 following her invitation to act as the Princess of the Grant County Fair held in Prairie City, Oregon.  Her official acknowledgment addressing her acceptance of the invitation was dated for Wednesday, August 20, 1941.  The fair itself was held from September 19 through September 21 of that year.  On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor.
     This second photograph depicts a portrait of my Mother at age 21.
     The third photograph below is of my Father taken during his enlistment in the United States Navy during World War II.  He was drafted into service, which was the only time in history when the Navy imposed a compulsory draft regimen.  Being one of only a handful of draftees at the time of his induction who was able to effectively use a typewriter, he found himself fortunate enough to become enlisted under the rate of "yeoman" and safely fulfilled his entire 2-year tour of duty on base within the United States, thus never actually becoming involved in combat.  He achieved the rank of Petty Officer First Class within that scant 2-year period and was between 29 and 32 years old at the time of this photograph. 

My Dad apparently had the kind of rugged good looks that could have earned him a successful Hollywood acting career should that have been his ideal, with his particular brand of looks being something of a cross between Clark Gable and James Dean.
     This fourth photograph shows my Mom during December 1974.  She was 53 years old.
      This fifth photograph compliments me at the age of 17 posing outside my Father's house located at 59 Brosnan Street in the Mission District of San Francisco, California.  That is an actual "rubber tree" branching out in the background, and was one of an extremely rare number of trees - regardless of type - that were seen to adorn the yards of any homes both near and far to that particular geography of San Francisco.  The yellow building on the left of the street is the original manufacturing facility of the Levi Strauss Company, purveyors of fine denim clothing.
      The next and sixth photograph here shows my Mother and I apparently attending a Christmas gathering based on the Christmas tree showing in the background.  I remember the red, goose-down jacket she is seen wearing that I bought for her as a Christmas present, including the red wind-breaker jacket I am seen wearing that was purchased at the same time.  So I know that this picture was taken during Christmas time of 2007.  My Mother was 86 years old and I was 46.
     There's me and my Dad in this seventh photograph when I was apparently about three years old.  I can actually remember riding on that horse ride that very day.  He would have been about 53 years old.  And check out the glimpse of the vintage motor car of the day parked in the background.
     This eighth photograph is of my Dad shown with my beloved pet Pomeranian dog, named Foxy, standing outside his home on Brosnan Street in San Francisco, California.  My Mother and I apparently would have traveled there for a visit (they had separated when I was five years old, but remained friends and never actually divorced) from Oregon, since I know that our dog did not live there other than for a brief visit.  He was about 67 years old here, or approximately three years before his death.
     The next and ninth photograph of me and my Mother was taken on November 3, 2008, at the wake ceremony commemorating the life of longtime family friend, Mark Turnbow, who passed away October 2, 2008 at age 57.
     This tenth and final picture, taken during August of 2011, is of my Mother at her care home in Milwaukie, Oregon, and shows her talking with her sister, Marybelle, from California.  She is 89 years old in this photograph.
     My Mom is gone now, as is her beloved sister, Marybelle.  Remembering the date she was gone is - for me - less important than remembering the date that she came to be, which was 100 years ago today!  She is survived by many who loved her...

Happy Birthday, Mom



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