A belated Mother’s Day (1930s)
By Bill Shepard
“Only One Mother”
Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.
– George Cooper
Only one Mother! Only one and I suppose that every boy and girl believes his or hers is the best! That is the way it should be.
Good mothers leave beautiful memories that keep on speaking, long after their departure. I had a good mother and her words of wisdom and unsolicited advice have never left me.
They seem to show up at the right time, every time! I cannot tell you the times, when working in my yard, I have found a small volunteer tree or unwanted bush that is beginning to grow and I would hesitate to dig it up or cut it down. That is when I would hear one of her favorite lines of wisdom — “Nip it in the bud, Bill!”
I have wished many times that I had listened to Mama’s words of wisdom.
When I was a boy, Mother’s Day was a special day at our little church on the Mill Village where I grew up.
The girls would be wearing a new dress and their mothers would have one that was made from the same material. The boys my age would have on a pair of nearly new overalls. Overalls were the most popular dress of the Village boys and men. Their special pair of overalls would have been washed and then ironed, until all the wrinkles were gone.
A new pair of tennis shoes would be in style for the occasion. It would be a little early for barefoot time; besides, this was a special day and no boy would have wanted to be in church on Mother’s Day in bare feet!
It was not until the mid-1930s that we had a church on that part of the Mill Village, referred to as Across the Creek! Before then, we had visiting preachers come each year, during the summer and erect a large tent and hold services each night, for weeks at a time.
There would be a number of converts, but there never seemed to be enough to organize and build a church. I looked forward each summer to the time when the preachers would come and was always saddened when the time came for the tent to come down. We lived near the spot where the tent was located each year and that made it easy for me to be present each night, after the tent services began.
It would be a sad time over the Village when the tent left, and there was no way to know if or when the travelling preachers would be back with their big tent. My sister once said, “Bill, we (Village folk) were considered to be a foreign mission country.”
Sometime in the mid- to late 1930s, a small group of Village folk, with the help of a visiting preacher, decided to organize a church. The church was affiliated with a group known as The Church of God; it was of the Pentecostal faith.
For a while, the church met in homes scattered over the village. Soon and with much effort, the group set out to build a church building where services could be held. After much effort, hard work and sacrifice, a modest church building stood on Phillip Street. Now, regular services could be held, and occasional revival meetings took the place of the tent meetings.
As I write, my mind travels back to one or many of the Mother’s Day services held inside that humble little church building.
Most of the people inside have long departed to that place where all of God’s people go when they leave Planet Earth. Come with me, and we will look in on one of those early Mother’s Day meetings held long ago.
One of the things that made a strong impression on me, as a child, was the rose that each person wore on Mother’s Day. A red rose was worn by those whose mother was living and a white rose, by those whose mother was not. That tradition was much alive when I was a boy, and no one would have wanted to be in church on that day and not have a rose pinned on their garment.
I always felt sorry for the folk that wore a white rose. How thankful I would be that a red rose was pinned on my overalls. The little church would fill up in a hurry, on that special day, and resemble a large vase filled with red and white roses.
The singing would begin and the words “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again” would ring out over the small building. Before the song had been sung over twice, there would not be a dry eye in the church.
There would come a time when emotions reached a peak, and folk would begin to move about inside the church, hugging and weeping with each other. The pastor would preach a sermon, following his reading that beautiful passage of scripture found in Proverbs Chapter 31 (KJV).
When church had ended, I would promise myself that I would be a better boy from that day on. Mother’s Day would be over, and another page of beautiful memories would be filed away. Today, they have returned, and it has been my joy to share them with you.