Mama's work ethic made lasting impression | The Enterprise
SearchHelpSubscribe / renew
Login

COMMENTARY

Mama's work ethic made lasting impression

Posted on May 2, 2021

Local newsOpinionColumns
“My family members tell me that I grow more like Mama every day,” Jan Mills writes. “I can think of no greater compliment.”

Contributed photo

“My family members tell me that I grow more like Mama every day,” Jan Mills writes. “I can think of no greater compliment.”

jmills.enterprise@wilsontimes.com | 252-478-3651

Jan Mills

Jan Mills

With Mother’s Day approaching, I wanted to dedicate this column to Mama, one of the hardest working women that I ever knew.

As I’ve said before, she worked on the farm side by side with Daddy until I was 14 years old, at which time she went to work at Devil Dog Manufacturing in what was then a new sewing plant. She didn’t drive, and how on earth she found Gladys Strickland and David Wood who also worked there and who stopped to take her to work, I’ll never know.

She went to work just as we were getting ready to begin barning tobacco and doing the one job I hated above all others when working in tobacco — suckering it each week. We had a little over 7 acres — imagine a family of four making it on that today, but somehow, we made it.

Keith was 9 at the time and carried a row by himself, but Daddy was next to him and helped him stay caught up. Hot, oh, dear Lord, it was hot.

Mama always cooked supper when she got home and would try to have enough left over for us to have for lunch the next day. This after working at a button sewing machine trying to make production all day in a building that wasn’t air-conditioned at the time.

She got up each morning before going to work and made those wonderfully light biscuits that simply melted in your mouth.

Washing clothes still had to be done with that old wringer machine, tubs and black cast iron pots. She would do that on Saturdays and assign Keith and me other household chores (take out the trash, sweep, dust, rake around the back and front steps, etc.). Of course, Daddy was always in the fields or under a barn shelter cleaning equipment  — or, more than likely, repairing it.

Mama never really asked for a lot, but I remember one fall when she needed a new coat and she and my sister-in-law decided to tie up the trash tobacco that was normally thrown out and burned and send it to market. They did and it brought a whole $74 for their lot.

I also remember that the landowner for whom we tenant farmed took his share of that money. Daddy gave her the extra money she needed to buy her a coat, but I never forgot it, and years later, I reminded the landowner’s son of that inhumane treatment of those two women.

Mama could make anyone laugh when she was truly tickled, but if you ever mistreated her or one of her children or grandchildren, heaven help you. When she was through with you, she was through, and no amount of working to get back into her good graces made it happen.

She was an avid Goodwill shopper and introduced me to the finer methods of shopping there. She and I sang together as we did the dishes every night until I got married. I learned to harmonize with her. We sang together in the field and at the tobacco scaffold until she left for that “public job.”

Everyone loves their mother, mom or mama and has special memories of their time with her. My family members tell me that I grow more like Mama every day. I can think of no greater compliment.

Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven, Mama. I’m sure your laughter is ringing all over up there.

Jan Mills is The Enterprise’s customer service representative. Reach her at 252-478-3651 and jmills.enterprise@wilsontimes.com.   

Related content

Drug ring boss sentenced to federal prison

Authorities say an Elm City gang member who led a tri-county drug trafficking ring will spend more t...

Rain chances to follow sunny weekend

The Wilson Times area should be able to enjoy a sun-filled, dry weekend before more shower and thund...

Shannon Sutton receives American Banker honor

ROCKY MOUNT — Shannon Sutton, managing director of human resources for First Carolina Bank, has been...


Local News

A Tar River Regional Drug Task Force poster announces federal arrests in Operation Carr Stop, a regional drug trafficking probe named for alleged ringleader Marquavious Harold Carr.

Drug ring boss sentenced to federal prison

From staff reports
| May 8, 2021

Authorities say an Elm City gang member who led a tri-county drug trafficking ring will spend more t...

Albert Thomas Jr.

WEATHERCAST

Rain chances to follow sunny weekend

By Al Thomas
| May 8, 2021

The Wilson Times area should be able to enjoy a sun-filled, dry weekend before more shower and thund...

Sutton

Shannon Sutton receives American Banker honor

For The Enterprise
| May 8, 2021

ROCKY MOUNT — Shannon Sutton, managing director of human resources for First Carolina Bank, has been...

Trending recipes