Mother’s column revives memories

In a box on the bottom shelf of the pie safe are my mother’s columns for Farm and Dairy, dating back to 1952.

She was old-fashioned and believed that “fool’s faces always appear in public places” so she used a pen name, Aunt Teek, since much of what she wrote until her passing in 1965 was about antiques. She was Berenice Thompson Steinfeld, and reading through what she wrote, not only about antiques, I am overcome with nostalgia for “the way we were.”

Below is her column written for Dec. 17, 1958. She likely wrote it Dec. 7, just as I am doing today.

Also in the box are a 1955 calendar from the Petersburg Creamery advertising homogenized regular and chocolate milk, butter, cream and buttermilk, cottage cheese and orangeade — huh? — and a 1957 calendar from the Johnston Hardware Co. at 101 Main St, Poland, telephone number Plaza 52879. (When we were learning to drive we were allowed to go to Petersburg for their wonderful ice cream.)

Herewith is a portion of Mother’s column, as is too long to run in its entirety. Her adored grandson, Joey, mentioned with such love, is now 61 and an attorney with the SEC in Boston. We talk together, he and his dear wife, Marilyn, every Sunday. They also come to visit me.

Column

Mother wrote …

“Surely this is the nicest week in all the year, this week before Christmas. The winter is still young and hushed. Furthermore, we shall have with us the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Isn’t it grand that the longest dusk and darkness come at Christmastime when our thoughts are often on the evening sky anyhow just now and on that star which shone down on the Christchild.

“Christmas darkness has a quality of magic, an added brilliance to its stars and streetlights. And there are always the colored lights of the houses which are decorated this week for some party or other so they offer a special early sparkle to the season.

“We fling open the door to callers, not looking at Joey’s galoshes or moving his snack tray out of sight. It’s the truth, somehow, that the boots and stuff don’t even show. What does show is the wreath n the door, the pine on the mantel, the silver bowl with holly and the angelic look on Joey’s face. He is filled with righteousness, having completed his own personal Christmas in the bay window.

“An early Paul Revere pierced lantern with its proper bees’ was candle to decorate as he pleases. And Joey’s idea of suitable Christmas decorations is to have all the little toy hogs and little pigs playing in the lantern and around the candle and cavorting gaily in the branches of greenery and bayberry.

“A far cry from the Madonnas and cherubs you might say, but who would deny Joey his pigs in the Christmas decor? Surely some day Joey will be a good farmer doing well raising real pigs. (wrong prediction, Mother! — JSJ)

“Christmas cards are about ready for mailing except just a few where you write a little note to certain friends and dear kin. What if you didn’t get even one Christmas card? Send and receive your Christmas cards and enjoy each one.

“Anyhow this is the week of all weeks to enjoy. Please think of us as you get your own special Christmas ready. And when that bright morning comes at last, you’ll know we are wishing for you a warm and Merry Christmas.”

* * *

There is so much more, but I recall a journalistic rule that the longer an article is, the less it will be read. I see in the daily paper an entire page about something or other, and the rule was correct. I turn the page without reading a word!

Apache and Toby are enjoying the pre-Christmas snow. The first snow of winter is exhilarating, just like the first mowing in the spring. As you know the excitement dwindles — but at least the snow is beautiful!

Happy holidays!

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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