By Karen Hutchings Weber
“Why do I have to wear leggings?” I asked sourly.
“So your legs will stay warm in this cold weather I don’t want you getting sick.” My mother retorted.
“They take too much time to get on and off. Did your mom make you wear leggings to school?” I continued.
“Yes, she did and long stockings too just like yours.” Mom answered.
I hated to wear leggings, but when it came to discussing how we should dress when going out of doors, Mom always won. There was no sense fighting it, she persisted until you gave in. Mom had an over active sense of what it took to keep us healthy. She was positive that if you didn’t dress warm enough you were destined to be sick. Maybe that came from having a father who was a doctor or maybe her mother was the same way. Whatever, it really bugged us kids. I can still hear her say:
“You had better put a scarf on your head, the wind is blowing and you don’t want to get an earache.” She would chime.
The funny thing was Mom was usually right. Once when I didn’t wear a scarf, I did get an earache and had to go to bed.
The winter boot ordeal went right along with the rest. No matter how hard I pushed and pulled I couldn’t get my heel to go down into the boot. It was frustrating. Mom’s answer was to use plastic bread sacks. I put a bag on each foot. It worked wonderfully, holding the back of my boot and giving a little push, my foot slipped right in.
Now I was ready to head out the door dressed in long socks, leggings, plastic bread sacks, boots, sweater, coat, hat and mittens. I was a sight to behold. At school I had to struggle in and out of this cumbersome winter paraphernalia at recess time. Most of the other school kids were in the same boat I was, but not all of them had to wear leggings. I let Mom hear about that too, but it did no good. She stuck stubbornly to her guns. Mom didn’t relent even when I was older. It was always,
“If you’re going outside put on your coat, hat, and gloves!” She called from the other room. I swear she had eyes in the back of her head.
One night I was heading out the door to attend Mutual. There was a dance that night and I was anxious to be on my way. She took one look at me and said, “You’re not going anywhere, you have the measles!” She exclaimed.
“What!” I retorted in shock. I ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Sure enough, I had red spots all over my face. I was miserably disappointed.
Regardless of how well Mom cared for us, we had the normal number of colds and childhood illnesses. When we were ill, Mom always knew the right thing to do. If we had a cough or cold, she rubbed a healthy layer of Bengay on our chest. Whew, it had a strong smell and a burning, tingling sensation. Depending on the severity of our cold, Mom might even set up the hot steam vaporizer and add a strong smelling medicine. She said the steam would break up our cough and help us to breathe easier.
Mother insisted we stay under the covers even if we were burning up with a fevor, but as soon as she was out of sight, I would throw back the covers. That didn’t work for long because she was always running in to check on us.
If we had a prolonged illness, Mom made a bed for us on the couch in the living room or down the basement, where we could watch television. When we suffered from tummy ailments, Mom prepared ample amounts of gelatin and applesauce for us to eat.
There were times when our illnesses required a visit from Dr. Wright. When Mom announced his visit, we children went into a panic of tears and fussing; this of course didn’t help our cause. A visit always meant a shot from the doctor or Aunt Velma who was a nurse.
At our home when one of us children came down with a bug, it wasn’t long before we all had it, and poor Mom, here she was home with a bunch of sick kids. I’m sure she felt like pulling her hair out some days. She was a devoted nurse and always took such good care of us.