THE SIMPLE LIFE
Living simply has been a family tradition since I was a little girl. Canning, freezing, quilting were just a few of the things I
learned early on. Share cropping sounds like a cliche but that’s how my mom, Pearly Sue’s family survived in her early
years in Mississippi. Mom never dwelled on coming from a poor family, instead she embraced those memories and
passed them on to us.
THE MOVE TO A BETTER LIFE
When I was two years old mom and dad moved us from Mississippi to Ohio where the automobile industry was booming
in the 1950’s. One of the things my dad told mom when they left Mississippi was that they would never go hungry
again. Dad spent the rest of his life making that a reality.
AND LIFE BEGINS IN OHIO
Dad got a job at the Ford Motor assembly plant in Cleveland (technically Brook Park) shortly after they moved to Ohio.
Through the years they weathered the lay offs and shut downs. When the plant allowed, dad worked 12 hours a day 7
days a week. He would soon earn the nickname “Beaver” that stuck with him through his retirement from Ford in 1989
and beyond. His co-workers and friends came to know him as “the Bev”. I don’t think half of his co-workers even knew
his real name.
Mom and dad raised 5 children on a blue colors pay and never owned a credit card. When dad passed away in 2000
he owned his home free and clear, and a new car with no car payment. He owed no one in this world a dime and he had
money in the bank. His philosophy on life was simple, live just below your means, take only what you need, and never
forget where you came from. Dad always seemed to have the right answers. I remember my dad saying “yes ma’am” to
his momma when she was nearly 90 years old. Dad passed on that same love and respect of all things to his 5 children.
MOM’S WORK WAS NEVER DONE
Mom had a very special job. A job which at times took tremendous emotional and physical strength. A job that brought
with it little pay and long hours. One that I know she must have wondered sometimes if it was worth all the effort, but
never said it. Her job required endless hours of dedication and she was on call 24/7. My mom was a stay at home
housewife and mother. And she did her job well! Raising children in the 60’s and 70’s was a challenge in it’s self and
required a full time employee, that was my mom.
Mom’s day started about 5am. She got up automatically everyday at the same time, no alarm clock needed. The
aroma of a full breakfast, including biscuits and gravy cooking is usually what got us out of bed. Once we were all out of
the house for the day, she made all the beds, picked up everything we had dropped on the floors while getting ready for
school, dust moped all the floors (no carpet at our house) and did a load of laundry. She stopped for just a few minutes
to have lunch then started the afternoon chores and if she had time would work on the quilt she had hanging from the
living room ceiling, sew a patch on a pair of my dads pants or mend a teddy bear. Then the evening started as we all
began to arrive home and overload her with our days events. Mom was the first person to get up in the morning and the
last one to go to bed at night, she seemed to never tire. Mom did her job well and never complained.
LOSING MY BEST FRIEND
My mom passed away on June 8th, 2014, and I am so honored to have had her for a mother and a friend. I am blessed
that she taught me all that she did about the ways of life of the past. We quilted countless quilts together. Picked
blackberries, tomatoes and green beans to can in the fall. And in the evenings when time allowed we played rummy and
scrabble (mom was an expert when it came to scrabble). There was never a dull moment in our home. Mom and I did
craft shows in the fall and had a little craft store in the 80’s call “Lacy J’s Bargain Boutique”.
When it came to her quilts mom was a perfectionist, she would consistently remind me to slow down, that my stitches
were too big. She always said you could tell what part of the quilt I did and what she had done. Just thinking about it
brings a smile. I didn’t know at that time how precious those quilts would become.
Mom made the best fried peach pies that filled the entire house with the aroma of peaches, and chicken and dumplings
that were out of this world. She had a special talent of making a meal last 3 days, giving it a different twist each day.
Nothing was ever wasted. We could have a chicken dinner on Sunday, chicken soup on Monday and chicken and
dumplings on Tuesday. Every dime counted, everything had a purpose and budgeting was a way of life. Did we feel
like we were deprived or had to do without? Not on your life, we were rich beyond compare.
MY FAVORITE GIFT, SIMPLE BUT PRICELESS
I remember my most favorite Christmas ever. Us girls had to wear the black and white saddle oxford shoes (you know
the ones) because they lasted till we outgrew them. So one pair of shoes, till we couldn’t wear them any more, and of
course a pair of tennis shoes for gym in school. All I wanted was a really shinny pair of black patent leather shoes with a
big bow of the toe, something dad didn’t think was practical (or so I thought). I patiently waited for Christmas to come
that year. I knew Santa must have known I wanted them, I think I asked him for them everyday. On Christmas morning
when I opened the box with my shinny black patent leather shoes with the big bow on the toe there wasn’t a happier girl
on earth! I wore those shoes till they literally fell off my feet!
A SPECIAL LADY’S TALENTS
Although mom passed her special talents on to us kids we just never seem to do it quite as good as she did. She had
a special touch to everything she did, whether it be sewing, cooking or even laundry. To this day I am still not quite sure
how she did it, but she had a knack of getting laundry so clean no matter what we handed her. I remember taking some
light colored cloths to her to see if she could remove some stains for me…… when I was 50 years old! Mom was
definitely gifted when it came to using her hands.
SO WHO AM I?
Ok, that is a little about my family roots, so who am I? I am Nellie, born in Mississippi in the 50’s to Fred and Pearly Sue
Allen. I have a remarkable husband of 35+ years, 4 wonderful children, lots of grandchildren and even a couple great
grand children. I have always been a free spirited person who believes, with a little work, any dream is achievable.
I am an animal lover, tree hugger, and lover of all things nature. My dad was always my hero. John Wayne is my all time
favorite actor. My favorite saying is still “waste not want not”, and you will never see me throw something away that
might have some simple use no mater how small. I recycle pretty much everything and I would rather make it than buy
it. I have lived on a farm for more than 20 years and my favorite job (besides being a mother and wife) was working
more than a decade for a veterinarian (and dear friend) as a surgical assistant and later as practice manager. I am a
follower of Dr Mercola, I believe in global warming and I am a firm believer that you can do anything you put your mind
to. I believe that people are generally good, and I still cry at a good love story with a happy ending.
Oh yeah, and I do have to have my coffee first thing in the morning or I am completely unmanageable.
Lorain County Community College
Certified EMT Training, White Bear Lake, MN
Certified Nutritional Consultant
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