Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Remarkable Woman Indeed

I posted some old photos of my mom on Facebook for Mother's Day and they drew enough attention that I thought I'd add a few more to the collection and present them here. Gladys Viola Jenkins, my mother, was a remarkable woman indeed. Born in 1924 on a hardscrabble farm in eastern Oregon, her family moved to the western Oregon town of McMinnville when she was a child:

The family was very poor, so much so that the local fire department brought them gifts at Christmas time. Her father held lots of jobs, including as a bronco buster and a street fish vendor. But her parents got divorced, a brave move in those days, and her mother began renting out rooms in their large house to help pay the bills. She also opened a popcorn wagon on the streets of McMinnville. It was close to the movie house so she could sell popcorn to theatergoers on their way into and out of the movie house:

 At nights, my mother helped make caramel corn and popcorn balls on the big kitchen table at home:

 And of course she took her turn selling popcorn in the wagon:

 She was a western gal through and through, comfortable with outhouses, campfires, wood cook stoves and horseback riding:

 She loved life and she loved God. She was a devout Christian all her life:

 She had two sisters and three brothers. They were a close, loving family all their lives:

 Her mother, my grandmother, saved up enough money to buy a log cabin up on a nearby mountain. We used to go there often when we were children:

 This is my mother with her younger brother, Claude, in front of their home in McMinnville:

 She grew up in the small town of McMinnville, surrounded by family and friends from school and church:

 When the war came, she took a job as a secretary for a military base in Corvallis, Oregon. Yes, she was a beauty:

She met my father, a Marine passing through the base at Corvallis. They married and moved to his family home in Ohio. There, my sister and I were born. We were raised with a respect for nature, identifying plants and animals with the Little Golden Books available at the time. She was a determined anti-racist and devout Christian, raising my sister and I in a local church. But in her theology, love trumped everything else, and her life proved it. After she divorced and her children were on their own, she moved back to Oregon to take care of her aging mother and her sister with Parkinson's. My mother died in 1997, a woman loved and respected by everyone who knew her, and is buried beside her mother and sister in a little mountain cemetery in Oregon:

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