The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Helen Depuydt
Saco Stories 

Mary, My Second Mother


December 6, 2017

Pulling the fragrant golden loaves from the oven, thoughts of long ago flooded my mind. Mary, my silver-haired neighbor, had suggested that I reserve potato water for bread making. It does lighten up the dough, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

This lady with her ability to mix nonsense with common sense, surely brought a lighthearted dimension to my lonesome bride’s life.

A gravel country road named Turkey Track separated our farm houses, enabling us to visit frequently. Many times we met at our cluster of mailboxes. If a certain magazine arrived, Mary would read the amusing stories. It was a fun time giggling over the anecdotes with the ever-present wind ruffling my tresses.

There were more serious times, such as when our 4-year-old son suddenly appeared on her doorstep. After letting him in, she telephoned me and advised me not to scold him. Her reason was sensible: I may need to send him over sometime.

Yes, she had been there when the babies started arriving. Did I ever need an experienced mother’s advice! I was the youngest one in my family and now was venturing into an unknown territory. Mary advised me on the application of corn starch for diaper rash problems. When the newborn’s navel protruded, she mentioned taping a silver dollar over it.

I can still hear her, “Set your table even though the meal isn’t ready; it looks hopeful.” Psychology – you bet!

This unique individual was the only woman I’d met who wired her own home and have it pass inspection. This was in 1948 when the Rural Electric Administration came to our isolated prairie land. Her handmade kitchen cabinets were awesome. A rolling pin was an attractive pull on her flour bin.

Mary offered to sew a layette for our third expected baby. It was beautiful with the hand embroidery decorations on the pristine white flannel garments. I was never more prepared for a baby as I was this time.

Excitement was in the air. Before I packed my suitcase in preparation for the hospital stay, Mary said our little boys were so happy anticipating a new baby that if something should happen, they would be heartbroken. I was told much later that our family physician anticipated some problem, but couldn’t bring himself to tell me. This baby boy only lived a few minutes, and it was a sad time indeed.

Mary and her quiet husband were always there when needed. Our older children considered them wonderful grandparents. They were truly our angels in disguise, fifty-plus years ago.

Helen DePuydt is a regular contributor to the Courier and a member of a homesteading family in the Saco area. All of her stories are true


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