I love how family stories just pop up sometimes. Like last night.
I’d called my aunt to talk about a death in the family. Suddenly we veered off into reminiscing about how she’d first come to Seattle. She and my mom were both doing clerical work at an industrial laundry company. As two young women from the Dakotas (my mom from North and my aunt-to-be from South), they bonded. My aunt eventually met and married my dad’s brother, making the two Dakota girls sisters-in-law, as well as friends.
My aunt told me that she and my mom often went shopping together on a Saturday, always eating lunch at the Copper Kettle coffee shop (which continued as a family tradition all through my own childhood).
But the most delightful memory my aunt shared was that after work, she and my mom often caught the bus downtown to go to a local soda fountain and drink Green Rivers—a genteel, 1950s “happy hour” soda for two small-town girls in the big city.
When my mom talked to me about this time in her life, she usually talked about the difficulties. Although she was happy she and my dad had moved to Seattle, jobs had been hard to come by during those post-WWII years.
My parents sometimes rationed their food, and my dad finally had to take a job 60 miles away. A longish commute today, for a couple without a car in the 1950s, it was impossible to be together except on weekends.
So many of my adult memories are wrapped around my mom’s elder years, and her fear and anxiety of life. I wish I’d known her as a young woman, exploring life in the big city for the first time, feet twisted around a soda fountain stool as she sipped a Green River and talked about her day with her friend.
Today would have been my mom’s 95th birthday. Happy birthday, Mom.