“This is Peggy Barbour Straughen and I am on my way back to Ohio from a family reunion and I thought I would report some of my childhood memories of my grandparents. As I am speaking of this, I am now 60 years old. Let’s see…”
My grandmother grew up in south-central Pennsylvania, living for a time in Shippensburg but growing up mostly in Chambersburg. In 1997, she recorded a tape recounting memories from her childhood and transcribed it. These are some of Peggy’s memories in her own words. Today’s mother’s day post is made up of many extracted portions of other stories throughout Peggy’s narrative, but for the occasion I thought it was appropriate to collect and compile them into a single post.
Part V: Mother’s Day
My Mother [Harriet Pauline Coleman Barbour (1908-2003)] was the only one of her family to have a college degree. Neither her sister nor her brother, who were both older than she, ever went to school. My Mother was determined to get away from the farm. She did not like living on the farm or being a farmer’s daughter. So she went to Shippensburg Normal School or as it later became – Shippensburg Teacher’s College for a two year program to be a teacher. I guess my Mother was the scholar of the family. My Mother was also a schoolteacher in one room schoolhouses in the country and of course, she was a natural at it. Before they were married, she taught in a one room schoolhouse which was about a mile as the crow flies, from their family farm, so she lived at home. After they were married in 1932, and living in Shippensburg (they were married 5 years before I came along), she taught at another one room schoolhouse on the road between Newburg and Shippensburg. She taught in 3 different one room schools and she was loved by her students….So there was never any question that Mary Louise or myself would go on to school.
My Mother taught a young adult classes and Bible School. In fact she was still teaching in her own S.S. Class until well into her 70’s. She was very active in the Women’s Society of World Service, (WSWS), the forerunner of today’s United Methodist Women.
My Mother had a sewing machine, but I don’t ever recall seeing her use it. It was our telephone stand in the downstairs hall. My Mother was not an extraordinary cook, but a good cook. She cooked what my Dad liked which was natural. The worst things she made were Jell-O salads with canned fruit cocktail in them and baked beans using big old hard butter beans. I did not like either of those. But she made wonderful Busy Day Cakes with a broiled coconut icing that I loved. Then the summer between my Junior and Senior years, my Mother gave me the responsibility for cooking for the family.