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Apr 8, 2013

A STORY OF MY MOM

My pea soup post yesterday reminded me of this story from my youth. I still love pea soup. Click here for that post.
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This is a story about my mom. Although parts of this story may seem sad it is actually isn't. I learned a lot from my mom. She died when I was 25, before my kids were born. She had always had a pretty rough life and seemed beaten down a good portion of the time. We will go back to the year 1969, Christmas time. I was 13.


One of my sisters and my brother chipped in their money to send my mom and me from British Columbia back to Ontario to visit our eldest sister who lived there with her husband and kids. They didn't have enough money for a plane so we were traveling by train. They also didn't have enough money for a berth so we were going to sleep in our seats. For 3 nights. 
The food at the diner counter was pretty rough looking. The only thing they had that seemed decent was some pea soup. Breakfast, pea soup. Lunch, pea soup. Dinner, pea soup. My mother finally had enough of this but had such a tight budget I didn't know what she could do. 
She brought me through the train cars, past the luncheon counter further and further until we got to the dining car. Train travel back in those days, when you had the money was very elegant. The tables were set in a fashion that would give Bill or Susan a run for their money on Tablescape Thursday for sure. 
She hustled me over to one of the beautifully set tables. The table was set with icy cold water filled crystal glasses, crystal dishes filled with olives and celery and other tidbits to nibble on. White linen napkins starched into perfect folds.  A silver basket lined with a white napkin held some yeasty warm breads and the butter pats were close by molded into shells on their silver plates.


"Quickly" she said. "have some bread and butter" She tore some bread and managed to get the crumbs on the tablecloth. On purpose. 
"Have some olives and celery" she said while drinking from the crystal glass. 
Slowly down the aisle way came the conductor. He was chatting with the patrons. I ate some olives. Closer he comes, I drink some water. Finally he reaches our table. He asks my mother to see her ticket expecting (or not) to see a first class ticket which would entitle us to be in the elegant dining car. 
She hands him our tickets and he says, of course, that we are not supposed to be in the dining car.
 

Really? she asks. Oh my I didn't realize that. The conductor eyes the table in front of us. They would have to completely redo the table if we left. He decided that we could stay and we ordered our dinner. I think the only thing I recognized on the menu was a steak so that is what I had. I don't remember what my mother had but she enjoyed every bite of it.


Well this story almost has a happy ending. Remember this was the first solid food I had eaten in a couple of days. The train was shaking back and forth. I could feel it slowly coming back up and I excused myself quickly from the table. I raced out of the dining car and into the first bathroom I could find. I threw up my entire dinner as the train jolted me from side to side. It was a colossal mess and I took off back to our car as fast as I could. I was so embarrassed. 
The next morning I went to get some pea soup from the luncheonette and they were all out.

(I have also posted this on my other site:Stories of My Ancestors)


19 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is an interesting story. And reminds me of a train story too from back in the 50's. My mother, sister and one brother (at the time) all rode from Houston, Texas to Champagne, Illinois. What a trip!
Thanks for stirring up some memories for me.
I hope you are working on a collection of memoirs!
Hugs,
Karen
Ladybug Creek

susan said...

Lori-I loved reading this story. I lost my mother in my early adult life also. Your mom sounds like a very resourceful woman! I still travel by train every now and then and LOVE it--it's very peaceful and relaxing to me. I'd have been in trouble--I don't eat pea soup :) Have a wonderful weekend!

Joanne said...

Lori - aside from upchucking your beautful meal it was a heart warming story. Nice memory for you of your mom.

I did the train from Regina to Vancouver during an airline strike -- gawd I don't think we got over 40kph and there was NO food whatsoever - it was agony.

@eloh said...

When did you last eat pea soup?

When we (USA) did away with our train system...my father said: we, as a nation, would never win another war...and we haven't.

Michelle said...

OH Lori...so sorry you were so sick! I get motion sickness very bad, in fact I can't go to the cinemax theater any more because of it. I was fine up until we had a long cruise in the Gulf and I've not been the same since!

mbkatc230 said...

I really love this story Lori. It says so much about your mother and her ability to care for her chick in any way possible. It sounds like a wonderful meal (until it came back anyway) and what a heart warming memory. I'm with Susan though, I can't stand pea soup so I would have been in trouble. Kathy

Kammy said...

Isn't it funny the things we remember ? I grew up real poor too - I think it does make you a better adult but, it was not fun as a kid. I remember helping ourselves to the neighboors vegtable garden (they were on vacation) so my mom could make a meal. My mom was/is super creative and could make a meal out of anything. My stepfather had a pheasant hit the windshield of his car once - hmmmm guess what we ate that night....or those pet pigeons in the barn ..guessed it - dinner , oh and my pet rabbit - yes, a dinner one night too. I did not eat pets - yuck. I don't even know if I can eat Satin yet...last steer we had - I cooked it and feed it to everyone else - I am a wierdo - maybe I should check back into the place I checked (ran) out of.....LOL !
I think that your mom knew you had enough of that pea soup - I think it was neat how the train guy let you guys stay....
Kammy

Mary said...

It's amazing what we can pull from the recesses of memory. You mother sounds like quite a gal.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lori, reading this has brought up some wonderful memories of your Mom that I would like to share with you. The first is the time your sister and I walked to your house after school one day, to find that your Mom had just finished making a huge pot of her homemade pea soup, and she insisted that we sit down at the kitchen table and have a bowl of it. Now, I had never in my life tasted pea soup, and honestly the thought of it was gross to me, so I politely told her no thanks, I really didn't like pea soup. Well, let me tell you, she was having none of that. She told me that her homemade soup was nothing like I had ever tasted before and that I would sit and eat it, and like it. So....I sat down and tried it. Well, I have since tried pea soup several times and have never again found any that was that delicious. Yes Lori, your mom sure could cook.
The other story I would like to share with you is the time I came over to show your sister the new 2 piece bathing suit, with a matching cover up top I had just bought. It was so cute and your sister fell in love with it. So your mom looked at it and told your sister how much fabric she would need. Off we went to the fabric store, where we picked out some pretty fabric, I think it was turquoise blue with flowers. We took it back to your mom and within a couple of days your sister had a bathing suit and top identical to mine. Your mother whipped it up without even a pattern. I was so amazed. Yes, life was not easy for your Mom, but I will always remember her as someone who could turn nothing into something special. A very special and talented lady. Norma

Lori E said...

Oh Norma, I love you girl. Thanks. I remember those bathing suits so well. Dot has pictures of them, hers anyways. I will get her to scan them and I will post them. Great memories. Thanks for sharing them.

Jann Olson said...

Hurray for your spunky mother. I don't blame her for being sick of pea soup. So sorry that the train made you sick. I got car sick so easily as a child, I'm sure the train would've done a # on me. Blessings to your mama up in heaven.
Hugs,
Jann

MiMi said...

What a fantastic memory. Even the barf. :)

A rootdigger said...

My daughters dream is tor take a little journey in one of those trains. I guess you didn't know how lucky you were. Nor did you know what to expect. It is wierd that they had the same kind of soup every day. I think I'd have been happy with a peanut butter sandwich. And they can get a bit tiring too. Thanks for sharing one of your great memories with your mother.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Woohoo for your Mama!!! I'm sorry you didn't get to enjoy the meal as you should of sweetie.

I have fond memories ridin' the train from my Missouri home to Albuquerque to visit my Grandma every summer. I had no ideal everyone couldn't enjoy the Dinin' car. That' just not right!

I hope you had a beautiful Mother's Day and a wonderful Wednesday!!! :o)

Sarah Kate said...

You're right - this is a somewhat sad story, but I also see the nostalgia in it. You had one brave momma. She knew what she was doing. That took moxie. I would treasure this as a happy memory.

My husband also lost his mom in his mid-20's. I do not know what this is like from experience, but I can "see" what it's like and Iim sorry your mom never got to meet your children and watch them grow. You can only hope she is watching contentedly from heaven, approving or disapproving every single decision. :O)

Lynn said...

Hello Darlin' You tell a good story! I could see it all unfold. My mama and brother and I used to ride the rain from Wewoka, Oklahoma to Jackson, Mississippi to se my grandmother every few months when I was a youngster. Mom told a story of me locking all the stalls in the bathroom in the train station, and then crawling out under the doors. Trouble maker extraordinaire.

Fran Ellsworth said...

I love Sarah Kate's comment, "your mom had some moxie" Good for your mom. Loved the story.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Lori, I loved reading this story...your Mom was very adventurous, and pragmatic.

My only wish is that you could have had her longer with you.

Jen

Vicki said...

What a lovely story, except for the upchucking part :). I think your Mom was very loving and resourceful to give you that experience. I love travel by train and have fond memories of a more elegant dining car experience than currently available on Amtrak. I took my kids (15 and 12 years old) and my mother on a cross country trip from San Diego to Washington DC back in 1995. It was an eye-opener for my children to see their country that way and engage in so many conversations with the different people they met.

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