Moss the Mom

On the North side of Baltimore in 1932, there was  a large family. We were one of many large families and I was the last of many children children but the first to be born in a Hospital.   I suppose this was to make this birth easier than the others but it did not come without excitement.  There was a minor fire at the hospital.  (Camille) Mother’s bed was wheeled into the nurses quarters for sanctuary from the smoke.  Soon after,  Mother Superior swept into the area in her power Habit and declared that no baby would be born in her nurses quarters.   I am told she said,  “Think of what the newspapers would make of this!”  This no doubt was an omen of my very large and very nomadic life.

Mine was a loving family each of whom felt a responsibility for the new kid in the crib. It was not until I was about three that memories began to make imprints.  Also, it was a time that stories began to be shared with me.  Oh! stories about the oldest brother had a Big Band called Wood and Chips that was apparently  popular in its time.  That time changed shape when the girl he married was not about to have her new husband out conducting a band when he should be at home conducting the business at hand–their new marriage.  Anyhow,  numerous times  rugs were rolled up to create a dance floor  (Not an uncommon thing in those days)  The older kids would decorate the large living room prior to the at home dance parties with seasonal decor.  The sisters told me they made beautiful gowns from old curtains.  Knowing them,  they were not pretend dresses but beautiful dance dresses.  Our family, in those depression days was in the category of genteel poverty.  They were a classy bunch though and they knew who they were: really okay persons.  Handsome and richly interesting futures were awaiting  each of them.

Whoops!  Forgot:  this is all about me.   Now my mother said I was born just at midnight but the doctor documented a time of one AM.  I remember being held lovingly, particularly by Aunt Jeanne.  Later I remember staying with my oldest brother and his wife and little girl for almost a whole summer.  I was playmate to my little niece, for that period.  She is dead now.  That same brother and wife took me to Atlantic City with their little family.  I remember holding Carole’s hand at the side of the huge dance floor while her mother and father danced to the music of one of the major band leaders.  Just can’t remember who that band leader was (big deal though) maybe, Tommy Dorsey but I do remember seeing at  Atlantic City–the famous woman on the horse jump from a great height into a small pool of water.  Wow!

All those brothers and sisters were my second parents and they loved and cared for me as if I were their own.  They bought me shoes.  They took me to the dentist. They took me downtown on the trolley so that I could dress up in my starched dress with my white gloves.  Mother took me to Peabody Institute to hear the young people play the piano at recital.

I was not always an easy child.  There was the time I put a  cardboard box in the driveway and got inside and stayed for a long time.  I heard screaming because the neighbor who shared the driveway– lightly bumped up against the box and upon feeling resistance she got out and found me inside.  I don’t know why but my mother felt the need to apologize profusely to the neighbor before she turned around to scold me roundly.  Another time I found the Ex-Lax which looked pretty much like chocolate to me and the Elka-Seltzer that I knew turned into soda (I thought).  In my innocent dishonesty, I hid behind the sofa and had  feast on my newly found treats. Someone missed me and the search was on.  They found me behind the sofa with my stash.  Mother was incredulous and put me in a place where the least damage could occur from the ingested treats.

In that same era, I remember watching the young brothers  secure a screw driver that they used to take the hinges of the China-closet which held a newly baked cake. They sliced it carefully and then put the hinges securely back on.  They ate their cake but I did not get any but none the less, I was dazzled by the operation.   Poor mother (Camille) she had her hands full.

While still at this preschool age I remember Mom making me a satin evening gown which I ,the only child present- a hem!, wore to the banquet that honored Uncle Charles  for winning the Maryland State championship for bike racing.  Somewhere someone has that picture.

Uncle Bob who was younger than Charles sneaked  the racing bike out one morning not long after the above mentioned event and only discovered as he was riding down a steep hill at Clifton Park that racing bikes have no brakes.  Bob was one battered boy. Charles was furious but at the same time he felt sorry for Bob.  Bob was kind of a pet in the family.  Mine too.  My warmest memory of early childhood was going out with mom and dad on their weekly dinner date.

Something happened to Dad’s finances in those early thirties necessitating our moving form the suburbs to the city.  This was very hard on my mother who cried quite a lot.  However, in Dad’s defense he did put us on a street that was the creme d la creme of the city:  Broadway.   Broadway in those days had a grassy parkway that went down the center of the street which  was covered  with velvety grass  and pathways that separated only for the center flower gardens that were resplendent with large  red flowers and  variegated sizes of colorful flowers.  This center parkway extended with the exception of cross streets, from North Avenue right down past Johns Hopkins Hospital and on to the wharf, now called Fells Point.

As the Moss  grew a little older, Girl-Scouts beckoned.  That was a happy time and I did earn many badges but the one I was most proud of was the starting a fire without matches.  Toward the later stages of Girl Scouts,  a major department store in downtown Baltimore put out a call for models.  I was one of the lucky ones chosen from my troupe.  The fashion show was presented at the Lyric Theater in Baltimore, a famous Opera House.  Mother (Camille) was so proud.  I remember wearing two outfits on stage.  One was a sports outfit from head to toe and the other was an evening gown.  The very tall and beautiful woman who coordinated the show was very tall and beautiful and pushed us gently by the shoulders to be in the right place at the right time.  I loved those gentle pushes onto the stage.  There would be many more theatrical stages  as well as stages of life.

moss the mom part 1

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~ by mosswood on June 20, 2012.

2 Responses to “Moss the Mom”

  1. Now that is a great story! It’s great to get a taste of your life through the layers of your life. Feed me more please.

  2. You are a dear.Pete Encouragements is appreciated.

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