Gertrude Ortencia Smith Rawlins - I Remember My Mother
One of the sad things about living so long 18 that Mother's grandchildren can only remember her as being 'old"--and, of course, don't know first hand the many, many special things about her- what a really good cook she was (the luscious things she could put before us on a very, very small budget!) what a meticulous and fine seamstress she was and how she could take the "missionary barrel" that arrived from her older sisters' families during the depression and turn out clothes for us kids that we were glad and proud to wear.
And, oh how she could conjugate verbs! And she could spell down anyone in a crowd& sing songs, silly and sweet, on and on (she was still singing those same songs when Frances and I took her to Lewiston a couple of weeks ago).
All of Mother's dear friends who knew a lively, cute, full-of-fun Gertie (who was a real cut-up) are gone now and her grandchildren remember only a sweet, intelligent, not very healthy, elderly lady. That was not mother. My mother had great strengths and abilities, plenty of vinegar and a peppery tongue when something dissatisfied her, and a marvelous sense of humor. he and my husband saved up jokes and stories for each other. Sometimes they just couldn't wait and would get on the phone with their stories. Frances and Dixie and I found a lot of funny little clippings in her desk yesterday, such as,
"By the time a man is able to buy nice clothes for his beautiful wife-- she isn't."
One thing we always knew for sure was that Mother loved us and was proud of us when we deserved it--and even when we didn't. I recalled at Dad's funeral four months ago that my dad never scolded me or spanked me--true--he always let Mother discipline us. But she was fair and we never felt she didn't love us. France was always running away when she was a little girl and she remembers how Mother would send her out for a switch to "switch those bad little legs that took my baby away."
We didn't know it then, of course, but We always used to hold "Family Home Evenings" with games, stories, refreshments and plays. Our big round dining room table (especially in the winter) was constantly used for "Old Maid," "Steal the Pile," "Donkey," Checkers, Scrabble, Hang, Tic Tac-Toe, and she always played with us, while we munched on taffy, penouche, fudge or popcorn balls. But the instant there was any quarreling-the game was over! We had wonderful creative dramatics. I remember, especially after our regular Friday nite movie serial at the old Lewiston Opera House, we would reproduce the episode just performed. Oh, how many times I lay on the piano bench, about to be sacrificed--only to be rescued by Tarzan and Cheetah.
It was not easy to raise a young family during the depression--but I am grateful that she never gave us false values at that time. She never let us feel inferior or second class citizens because we had no money.
Mother loved animals and we kids never could eat until our pets were fed and she took very great care to see that Dad didn't eat until his animals were fed, either.
Mother was neat and took pride in her appearance. I never remember, as a kid growing up, ever seeing my mother in the morning before her face was washed, her hair combed and she was wearing a clean housedress. I've always loved the way she looked, It was "really neat" to have her mistaken for my sister. She had exquisite taste--she made the most of what she had. She was careful with her things and I remember Ida Rogers, the banker's wife, telling her once, "Gertie, I don't see how you manage to make so little look so much!"
I've taken great pride in her keen intellect. Nobody ever had a smarter other. She instilled in me a love and respect for learning, and accuracy, and the desire to try to use the gifts God gave me. She never used slang and stimulated good grammar by her fine example.
In 1940 my brother, Sid, had rheumatic fever and was so ill she took him and Dixie to Mesa for the winter. They had many difficulties which she surmounted with exceptional courage, But Dixie said she was always fun One day they bet Mother she couldn't remember how to ride a bike. Of course she had to take the bet. But her high heel got caught in the wheel and she got a broken ankle. Undaunted, she went on crutches, several blocks a day, to her part-time job at J.C. Penney's. My son Brad has always sent cards to the folks on special days--and for her he always picked the silliest, most ridiculous ones he could find--we ran on to a bundle of tied together in her desk yesterday.
She had great pride in her heritage and kept our ancestors alive for us. If I should be blessed to meet them later--I would surely know them. She worked very hard on family histories and diligently organized a fine Family Organization in honor of Amanda Barnes Smith, her grandmother.
Mother loved Lewiston and her wonderful neighbors. To many of them, that corner on Main and 2nd South will always be Clem and Gertie's Corner--as it has been RAWLINS' CORNER since Grandpa Rawlins homesteaded it in l870--l07 years ago.
W feel so very blessed to have had our parents with us for over 65 years. But they were together so long that she just couldn't make it without him. When I called Sid in Illinois he said, "They were a 'matched set' like cup and saucer and couldn't be separated.
How wonderful that she just "went to sleep" on Valentine's morning. What a beautiful day for sweethearts to get together again!
Berness Feb. 16, 1977
Gertrude Ortencia Smith Rawlins Sept. 2, 1888--Feb, 14, 1977
Editor's note: One thing that I remember Gertie is the simple fact that she WON a car on a radio show. (TV wasn't quite what it would become yet). I am not exactly certain but it seems to have been a late 1950's Buick.- Any better details would be appreciated. -Lyle Rawlins-