I don’t remember my Grandma Moore. She died when I was 2 years old. The only thing I have that connects me directly to her is a book titled “The Real Mother Goose” that she gave to me for Christmas in 1976. On the inside front cover, she wrote “To: Nicole, From: Grandma Moore, Christmas 1976.” The book was well used and now sits on Noodle’s bookshelf.
Mildred Isabell Jones was born on August 10, 1912 to Charley and Verna Jones in Minnesota. She was Charley and Verna’s only daughter and first child to live past infancy. She was named after Verna’s mother, Isabell (Belle) LeMaitre. Mildred was born two months premature. After having lost her first child in infancy, Verna was determined to help Mildred survive. Mildred was placed in a large vegetable bowl from Verna’s wedding china set … Mildred was so tiny that she fit easily. The bowl was then used as an incubator. You can read more about the history of the Flow Blue Wedding China on my mom’s blog. It’s an incredible testament to just how strong these women were.
In 1915, Charley and Verna moved to Cairo, Illinois where their 2nd child (Donald) would be born. Mildred was 3 years old at the time. While the family traveled to and from Minnesota frequently, they made their home in Cairo. Mildred graduated from Cairo High School in 1930.
It would be another 10 years before Mildred would marry Joab Moore. They were united on March 23rd, 1940, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Many couples from Illinois traveled to Missouri to be married then … there was no wait in Missouri and you could obtain the license and be wed on the same day.
Much like her mother and grandmother before her, Mildred lost her first son in infancy … at birth, in fact. That was 1942. My dad, Joe, was born on November 25, 1944 in Harrisburg, Illinois. By 1945, the family had moved to Evansville, Indiana for jobs. Four years later, Joab left … with another woman … and left Mildred to raise Daddy on her own.
School in the 1920s
Mildred was a good student, even excellent in many subjects. I have several of her elementary and high school report cards. I love this report card from the 5th grade (1923). Things were certainly different then! I love that Illinois History is on the report card, even if they didn’t teach it in the 5th grade. Local history is something my generation didn’t get going through school, and kids certainly aren’t getting it today. The arts were just as important as the sciences … and the 3Rs. She was even graded on her study habits! Why, exactly, did we change things? Unfortunately, I actually know the answer to that.
The Candy Elevator Incident
Mildred was diagnosed with Bronchial Asthma when she was 22 years old. She had visited the doctor for symptoms related to work accident the year prior. She worked for S.H. Kress & Co., a 5&10 store of the era. In December 1934, Mildred’s head was caught in a candy elevator, with contact made above the ears on each side. Now, I have no idea what a candy elevator looked like in 1934, but, from the medical records, it wasn’t something you wanted your head caught in. Luckily, no damage was done short of superficial scratches, but Mildred began experiencing severe neck pain in the months to come. Her physical frame was small to begin with, but she went from 119 pounds to 103 in 6 months’ time and suffered from severe anxiety.
Grandma Moore’s life wasn’t easy, candy elevator notwithstanding. She was raised in an area of heavy mob activity, married a man … a reverend … who left her for another woman, lost a first-born son, and raised my dad, who, as a result of a car accident at age 12, was a paraplegic. Verna stepped in to help raise my dad and, for all of the things he said was wrong with her, ended up being a lifeline of sorts.
Mildred died in February of 1977, just 3 years after her own mother. She was buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Harrisburg, Illinois, alongside her mother.