Mother goes on strike to prove her point

In 1936, my family moved from Columbus, Ohio, to Niles, Mich. During the years we lived in Niles, we all found friends and many kindnesses. But we never stopped yearning for our extended family in Columbus. It was during the Depression and the union had found an 8-to-5 job for Daddy at the Simplicity Pattern Company. He was a stereotyper - the cuffs of his work pants were flaked with lead. In his shop they made lead plates from which the sewing-pattern covers and directions were printed.

Mother was a housewife and took care of my brother Jim and me. She sent us off to school dressed so warmly, sometimes we could hardly walk. She was always there when we came home from school.

Her house was shining clean, laundry done weekly, and meals nutritious and always ready. Some years she'd need to fix three hot meals a day for the four of us, in addition to her other duties, which was no small chore. Saying the meals were always ready meant that we would walk in the door at noon and go straight to our place at the table. There never was a day when the meal was late or when it wasn't ready. Likewise for supper: Daddy came in the door at 5:10 p.m.; we stopped what we were doing and all of us went directly to our chairs at the table.

She was a super homemaker.

And yet, Mother had no money of her own. As a single woman she had sold fine costume jewelry and knew the joys of earning and spending her own money.

A married woman's situation was quite different then; households varied in their handling of the husband's wages. At our house the husband gave the wife money to pay bills and buy groceries.

Mother worked for nothing.

However, this was a new era with a steady unfolding of new inventions and ideas. Although the country was in a depressed state economically, the newness of life, with one major invention following another, kept right on going. In this sense, there was a lot of life.

At the table, twice, dear Mother asked for a salary. She related details of her faithful substantial contributions to the support of our home. She asked in a pleasant voice with an expectancy of fair treatment, and she addressed her dear husband with a little more regard than usual.

"No," he said.

The next week:


So Mother went on strike.

The noon meals were not quite as satisfying as previously. Laundry was done for the three of us: Daddy's didn't get done. Mother, Jim, and I would eat supper early and not be there at 5:10. She would have taken us shopping or visiting or something - we were not there. Nothing on the stove. Refrigerator empty.

During the time this was going on, Daddy didn't seem to have much to say. When dear Mother spoke to him, she continued with a pleasant attitude and just a breath more regard than was usual.

After two to three weeks, one fine day I realized things were going along as before - everyone had clean laundry; lunch was as it had been; supper was for four. Mother had won her salary! And Daddy had won a fresh view of his spirited, up-to-date, fine wife. And in 1945 we moved back home to our extended family, back to Columbus.

It's good to maintain a sincere, strong regard for the other party, when pressing for what seems right.

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