Her Name Was Hazel

While I have not been consistent in blog postings, it seems almost sacrilegious to approach Mother’s Day and not share some of the thoughts.  Besides, considering the current state of confusion in our world today, reminding ourselves of an era past, when the world was much more wholesome, is a good thing. 

Then again, I suppose that each of us assumes that our mothers (and fathers) were “normal,” and that the way we were raised was “normal”—and it was normal—to us.  While I officially retired at the close of 2020, after a 50-plus-year ministry, I had time to step back an analyze life and ministry.  Perhaps in the future, I’ll share other thoughts, but on this Mother’s Day 2021, I’ll use that context. 

I am thankful beyond description for the upbringing that was afforded me in the 1950s and 1960s.  Not to diminish the investment of my father, whom we children called “daddy” while growing up, I think much of the credit must go to mom.  After all, she was the one with whom we interacted much of the time, since dad was both a dairy farmer and builder in the 1950s. 

Hazel & Dale Peterson, circa 1954

Reflecting on those days, I do not remember an obnoxious alarm clock awakening us each morning, whether for school, work, or chores around the house, but rather the gentle voice, “Boys, it’s time to get up!”  With that gentleness came a certain expectation that we would actually get out of bed when called, make our beds, fold our pajamas, and place them under our pillows, and get dressed for the day. 

Additionally, we knew that a stop in the bathroom to wash our faces and comb our hair was also in order before heading to the kitchen for a hearty breakfast.  Although oatmeal or cream of wheat was sometimes placed on the table in front of us, more often than not it was eggs, bacon, or sausage, drop biscuits with homemade jam, jelly, or apple butter, and juice. 

The significance of that meal (like most other meals in our home) was that much of whatever we ate had been raised right there on our farm.  Our eggs came from the hens in our chicken house!  Not once do I recall our biscuits ever coming from a cardboard cannister from Grands or Pillsbury.  They were “made from scratch!” 

Oh, to be sure, mom shopped regularly at the A&P and the White Store for groceries—and purchased the items needed when they were on sale.  She always carried her “S&H Green Stamps” book in her purse when going shopping, too.  I remember riding to three or four grocery stores (though never Cas Walker’s because mom never thought they were “clean”) so that she could stock up on sale items. 

All of that was a far cry from online grocery shopping today and stopping by your local Kroger store, pulling into a parking spot reserved for pick-up only, and having the groceries loaded into the back of our SUVs!  My question is this—what are we doing with all the time we’re saving by clicking on the items we need, rather than going up and down the aisles in multiple stores in order to stock our pantries? 

That reminds me of another task that was common to our home in the 1950s—wash day.  Perhaps your home was like ours—Monday seemed to always be “wash day.”  Now bear in mind that in the 1950s, mom used a ringer-washing machine—Westinghouse, if memory serves me correctly.  Dropping a modern-day automatic washer lid on your finger doesn’t begin to compare to the “fun” or getting your fingers caught in the ringers! 

When each load of wash was complete, the wet items were not tossed into the dryer sitting beside the washing machine!  Oh no!  At our house, each load was then put into laundry baskets or tubs and carried through the basement (the length of the house), up the steps, and 50 yards or so to this new green deal that we had!  Yes, we were using clean solar and wind power in the 1950s, since our wet laundry was hung on the clothes lines and air-dried. 

Once dried, those items were transferred back to the house, where some of them were neatly folded and put away.  Some items were “sprinkled” with water, rolled, placed into plastic bags, and put in the refrigerator.  Why? because Tuesday was always “ironing day!”  I first learned to iron under the tutelage of mother by ironing handkerchiefs and pillowcases. 

Thinking about those two days of each week has me wondering, what are modern mothers doing with all the time saved doing similar chores in a fraction of the time with our permanent-pressed everything, automatic washers, and driers? 

Beyond a homemade-from-scratch breakfast every morning (except Sundays, when we usually had “Post Toasties” or “Raisin Bran,” giving mom a break on Sundays), packing lunches for dad, cooking dinner (we called it “supper” down on the farm) each night, and baking cakes and pies from scratch … and keeping up with laundry the old-fashioned way, mom also found time (she was a good at budgeting time as she was money) for other things … like quilting … and sewing … as well as a long list of other tasks. 

Dale Peterson, first grade, shirt handcrafted by Hazel

Not only did she know how to shop for Simplicity dress and shirt patterns, but she also knew how cut and sew, making many or her own clothes, as well as shirts for us boys.  She also found time to craft things for others.  A few years ago, while visiting my middle son in Long Island City, New York at Christmas, he pointed to some ornaments on his tree and asked, “Dad, do you remember these?”  He was referring to some red and white “candy cane” ornaments that mother had crocheted when I was a child. 

That makes me wonder, in our modern Amazon-eBay-Etsy world of online shopping for everything to be delivered right to our doors, what the heck are we doing with all the time we’re saving?  Let me cut to the chase here and tell you some of the things that we are not doing.   

We are not doing our children any favors with a lack of regimen in our homes.  Neither are we building future men and women of godly character without discipline in the home.  We are not effectively mentoring young men and women in time management with all the time-saving equipment in our homes. 

As Rush Limbaugh used to say, “Don’t doubt me!”  Study the culture that permeates America today.  Watch as our teens and young adults choose to stay at home collecting unemployment rather than securing jobs.  Watch the “peaceful protests,” complete with burning buildings and destroyed businesses.

While I am not suggesting that we return to ringer-washing machines, clothes lines in the back yard, and sewing our own clothing, I am encouraging a fresh evaluation of how we are spending the fleeting years as parents with our children.  Truly, our lives are but vapors that appear for a (short) season and then vanish. 

My oldest grandson Jared, now twenty-one, was just here helping me detail/wax my 1965 Olds Cutlass and our Jeep.  It seems only a short while ago that he was born, and only “yesterday” that he took his first ride in that car.  We laughed together today as we remembered him jerking on the door handle, trying to open the door, not realizing that old cars required pushing in a button before pulling the handle! 

Then again, in retrospect the nearly 71 years that have passed since “baby Dale” was brought home from St. Mary’s Hospital to the house built by Ralph and Hazel Peterson have flown.  That leaves me reflecting on how I am spending the days of my life that God has given, and the skills of life instilled in me by godly parents. 

Hazel (Summers) Peterson

BTW, do you pray?  If so, perhaps on this Mother’s Day 2021, we would be well-served by spending some time thanking God for the mothers who gave us life.  While I understand that not everyone had a “Proverbs 31 mother,” we owe our very lives to our mothers.  Whatever deficits you may perceive from your up-bringing, remember—you are in the driver’s seat of your own life.  Refuse to be a “victim.”  Own the life you have.  Chose to make wise decisions as you expend each moment. 

2 responses to “Her Name Was Hazel

  1. airbus5@netzero.net

    Dale, I’m sorry I was just now able to read this! Excellent tribute to your mom!


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