Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alfred's Torn Shirt

One of my Memories:

My brother Alfred was just two years older than I. He was truly a Saint....so kind, compassionate and loving. These attributes, he carried with him throughout his lifetime.

One day in 1920, when he was twelve and I was ten, I heard Alfred dashing through the hall vestibule door (instead of coming in through the store-door), hurriedly up to the bedroom floor where I was performing my after school chores (making up beds), before I proceeded to the store area to relieve my Mother. "Oh, El, El....look at my new shirt....Mom will kill me". What happened? "I was playing with Johnny and he grabbed me....and look El, my shirt is torn". I helped him to remove the shirt, and after examining it, quieted Alfred by informing him to stop crying....that I thought I could mend it. It was the custom in our household to change into play-clothes immediately after school. I scolded him: "If you did what you were supposed to, this would not have happened". The shirt was not torn, but ripped out of a shoulder seam. I instructed him to tip-toe downstairs to the kitchen, collect some matches, and thread and needles from the sewing machine. "Sh! Sh! Let's go down to the cellar and I'll try to mend it for you. " (Luckily for us, Mom was busy in the store; it was the busy time of the day.) I sat on a box placed against the wall of the coal-bin and Alfred sat on one of the stone steps that led up to the side-walk. With Alfred holding the candle, and sobbing softly, and I desperately trying to sew by the dim light, the mission was accomplished. Several wash and ironing days went by and never a harsh word from Mom. Al and I were convinced we put one over on Mom.

Many years later, during one of Mother's visits to see the grandchildren, I decided to do some ironing of my own children's clothing. My baby Angela was playing with the buttons on my Mother's beautifully embroidered, pleated white blouse , when suddenly Mom giggled and then laughed. I thought she was amused with the baby's antics until she said: "You know, as I am watching you ironing, I just remembered somethng that happened one day, many years ago. When you were a little girl, I was ironing one of the new shirts I had made for Alfred, when I noticed hand-sewn stitches in the shoulder seam...almost like embroidery. I knew then that Alfred, when in trouble, had gone to 'his little mother' for help." I laughed and laughed...and then asked Mom why she never said anything. I can still see my Mother, with Angela in her lap, seriously saying: "Why? I was so proud of the good job you had done, and I was so proud of myself...that you learned from me to sew so well, I had no intention of spoiling a deed well-done.

Can you beat that! What a wonderful Mother I had!


  1. That's a lovely memory Elvira. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Good Post Mom, Stories such as this enabled me to develop my theories of Maternal strength in horse racing. Coming from the male line that I did, I would have to have had an exceptional female line to overcome it. Fortunately for me I had an exceptional Mother and Grandmother. What makes a great woman? They are the ones who take care of everyone else. Love, Floyd

  3. Hi Martin:

    I'm so happy that you enjoyed my recent post. Thank you so much.

    My son Floyd's comments overwhelmed me with tears. He is the author of GOLDEN HOOPRINTS, a newsletter he wrote monthly during the late 70's and early 80's about the breeding of Thorough Race Horses, before the internet days. Due to his consulting advice, many horse breeders became Stake Winners, with nary a word of acknowledgement. However, I hope his posts will set the record straight.

    Did you get to read my comment of Nov 24th under the post entitled 'The Dell Corporation'.

  4. Elvira,

    Hope you don't mind, but I was turned onto your postings by Laurie Oliver (who I have the pleasure to work with). This story is grand and makes me remember my own mother who I lost from this life so long ago. Your shared memory has given me the gift of remembering my own mother on this day. Thank you.