Monday, May 11, 2015

When they Were Young

Wouldn't it have been fun 
to have known our mothers
Father and daughter at Turner Falls 1915
when they were young?

I'm fascinated with the lives of my family because they seemed so adventurous and willing to take huge risk, until the crash of the stock market.  As a child of a parent who lived through the depression I know how sadly those times impacted their young lives.  

I see my mother around the age of three with her father visiting Turner Falls, a view I've returned to many a times in my travels.  I go to enjoy the vistas, the spring flowers, the cactus, the water falls, but mostly I think I go there to stand where my mother might have stood as a child, and wondered.  What did she see?  What did she feel?

Helen, ...., brother Tom
I imagine she held tight to her daddy's hand.  She was his first born and they were a team.  She worshipped him, and rightly so.  How proud he must have been standing there on the edge of the old mountains or walking in the waters down below.  He loved his little Helen and missed her greatly when he was out working the oil fields making a living. He prospered greatly in the Ardmore area, then moved his oil exploration company to Wichita where he and Pearl raised three children through the depression years. The stock market crash sent his investments tumbling. He recovered enough to raise his family.  Times were tough and they closed off parts of their three story home to create apartments. Mother rarely talked about those years, and the reality is that I don't know much about her life from 1930--1940.  

My mother, Helen, and her brother and sister, attended Sunnyside school and East High School in Wichita.  One time when we visited grandmother Pearl in the home on Oakland, mother walked me through the neighborhood and told me names of all of the children who used to live in those homes on Chautauqua street, English st., and Waterman. She shared stories of playing with friends in the College Hill Park area, of going to movies, and to Dockam's Drug Store. She became an accomplished ice skater during her childhood and often drove her daddy's car up and down Douglas Avenue.  

Helen's father

Perhaps her most cherished memories grew in the garden where her dad raised the vegetables.  She'd sit on the steps out back while we played and tell about the times she would help her daddy in the garden; digging, planting, and pulling weeds, then picking the fresh vegetables.  

I think her heart was searching for her dad who died, a year before his first grandchild, Letty Stapp,  was born. Maybe, just maybe, I know more about how she felt on those trips to her old home in Wichita because today and for so many days since 1989 I search for my mother.

*This year on Mother's Day I spent the afternoon with my
daughter, Katy, laughing and creating memories of mother and daughter times.  During the afternoon while the two of us painted, my mother found me through our open hearts, and I smiled but tears flowed gently down my cheeks.   I love you Mother today and everyday.

My wish and my prayer for all of you who read this story, is that you find the love you are searching for.


  1. Beautiful sentiment…..I miss my mother every day, too. nv

  2. Letty--This brought many fond memories of my mother Esther from Escanaba, Michigan. I was blessed to have grown up with both sets of grandparents. Last week I attended a retreat with Joyce Rupp with a group of girlfriends in Dubuque, Iowa. Joyce is an author of many wonderful books. Her most recent is "Fly While You Still Have Wings" which is a tribute to her wonderful mother Hilda who passed away 15 years ago. Knowing your love of would enjoy Joyce reminiscing about growing up with her resilient mother who often quoted the lines for the title of her book. Thanks for sharing your family with us. Ann, Mike and Isaac will enjoy your story....and I would envision you writing a similar book about your "Helen". Jf

  3. Beautiful, Lovely Letty!! I loved reading this family story in the pre-dawn hours. mb

  4. Letty, that was just beautiful :)) What a wonderful gift you have in your writing !!! Thank You :) I am just so very thankful for my dear children. I had a wonderful Mother's Day as well. Don't know what I would do without them :) spc

  5. This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing this part of your heart. lbs