A mother remembered
My mother would have been 100 on April 1. No one ever forgot her birthday — the only benefit of being born on April Fools’ Day.
She was no fool though. At least I never thought so. Her own mother did at times. As a young girl she would ride her pony, which she kept in a garage behind her West Broad Street hilltop home in Columbus, over to the 5th Avenue quarry, hitch him to a tree and swim all day in that deep, dark pit that horrified my grandmother. Sometimes she even took her pony in with her!
She also rode Bill down Broad Street to the viaduct where the draft horses that pulled for Murray City Coal and Ice were hosed down, just next door to the original Spaghetti Warehouse.
Because her stepfather was a hunter, she agreed to peddle his kill — squirrel, pheasant, rabbit and quail. In the winter, off her pony-pulled sled she sold firewood.
To my grandmother that kind of behavior — quarry diving, mixing it up with drovers and huckstering was foolish and unlady-like.
Oh, my mother was a lady, just a very adventurous one. Upon graduating from Officers Training School, she landed a secretarial job with John Hancock Life Insurance beating out 100 applicants. Then in the middle of the Depression, she quit her job and with a friend boarded a Greyhound bus for California. During an early morning swim off Catalina Island, she met a poet who later dedicated a book of poetry to her.
She and her friend went to a dance that evening where a young man asked her to dance. He was handsome and they both could foxtrot. He walked them back to their boarding house where he asked my mother if she would join him for the weekend at some mountain retreat. She said no; he wrote his name on a slip of paper, “This won’t mean anything to you now, but it will some day.” She threw it away. He was John Glenn, the actor.
On her return to Columbus, she got her job back, met my father who could not dance but rode horses, and helped him build a successful business, accompanying him on long and arduous trips in a camper on the Al-Can Highway before it was surfaced. She arranged flower-winning displays at the Ohio State Fair, played the guitar and rode her bike to the swimming pool — a display in those days no other mother did! In her purse she kept the address of a job opening at a dude ranch somewhere in Wyoming for a cook in case of a real set back.
My mother had all the talent in the family and she used it well, leaving in her 96 years to my brother and me great tastes for adventure and a fearless trust that life is very good.
Sylvia Zimmerman is the owner of Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese in Richwood. She holds two graduate degrees and, when not working on her farm or pursuing her interest in sustainable agriculture, writes her own blog.