Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lena Alice Hochstetler Moore Smothermon

Ma was born in 1894 in Zincite, Missouri..  Her father Elias Hochstetler was born in 1857 in Clay City Indiana. Her mother was Paulina Jane (Aunt Pine) Gould Franklin Hochstetler,  and she was born in New Version, Pennsylvania in 1857.
Ma was one of 5 children, two of whom survived to adulthood: her brother Bert (Albert Varley Hochstetler) was born in 1901 in Zincite.
Piney had previously been married to Hewett Baker Franklin, who was a doctor in Pennsylvania. They had 5 children of whom 2 survived, John Mortimer Franklin and Celia Willimina Franklin. Uncle John ran an antique shop in Miami, Oklahoma, until his death in 1965.  I don’t remember Celia.
Piney and Elias moved to the newly formed state of Oklahoma in 1911 and settled in Zelma (Oklahoma) where Piney ran the post office out of her home.

The first Ma story I ever heard was that after the death of her father, she dropped out of school in the second grade.  However the woman never stopped learning.  She eventually began taking college courses in her 70s and was an excellent student. 
In 1910, at the age of 13, she married Lloyd Moore and had a child, Robert Eli Moore, in 1911. I don’t know what happened to Lloyd Moore, but she remarried in 1913 to The Boss, Charles Lewis Smothermon.

I don’t know how she did it, but the woman was a magician.  I always knew I was her favorite grandchild, everything she did told me so.  I felt sorry for the other kids, but I relished my position as the baby of my generation, and as Ma’s favorite.  Yet years later, I discovered that all the other kids felt as if THEY were the favorites! How could this be?!? The woman was a magician.

Growing up, I was the bookish kid.  I was sort of an only child, my half brother arrived and departed at the whim of his mother who wanted him around only at her convenience. We lived first in a converted boxcar across the road from the gas station where my grandparents lived and worked, then moved to the family farm nine miles out of town. Once we moved to the farm, I was often alone, as both my parents worked in town (Liberal Kansas) 55 miles away, and arrived home two or three hours after I got home following an hour-long school bus ride.  I read.  I played with my toys, I read. I did my chores.  I read.

Ma was a reader as well.  She always wanted to know what I was reading.  She had suggestions.  She saved special books for me from the little library in the main room of the station where people donated books they had finished and took ones they wanted to read. 

And when I spent the night with her, we did forbidden things.  We crept into the darkened sales room, took ice cold Cokes from the icy water of the cooler, and returned to her bedroom clutching bags of potato chips.  We would crawl into bed, rip open the chip bags and EAT POTATO CHIPS IN BED! Then we would pretend to read, but instead we talked and giggled until we began to get sleepy. Only then would we begin to read until we each fell asleep.

When I was a teenager, we left Knowles and moved to a town near Wichita Kansas.  One of my treats then was to return home for the weekend and have a chips and read session.  There was never any chance that I would stay with my other grandmother and my parents.  I had to stay with Ma.  And she insisted that I do so.  Because I was her favorite.

That was when she began to encourage me to write.  I don’t know that she envisioned me becoming a recorder of my life, perhaps she had a more Agatha Christie vision of my writing, but when I was in college and writing articles for the school paper, she collected the articles in a scrapbook.  Because I was her favorite.

My cousin Marian was musically and artistically talented.  She had a beautiful voice.  She and Ma spent hours playing the piano in Ma’s bedroom.  They talked about painting, and Ma showed her special techniques she had used in her County fair award winning paintings of ships and landscapes. They had a very special bond.  She thought SHE was her favorite.

Victor, as the only boy grandchild, held a kind of special position.  He loved sports and Ma loved the Kansas City Athletics. We all listened to the games as she watched the business at the station, but sometimes she would take Victor to Wichita to watch the minor league team that played there.  She encouraged him to follow his dream of being a sports announcer and followed him as he progressed through college and announced games on the local station.  Of course she couldn’t listen to him because that was 200 miles away. But he thought that HE was her favorite. 

The other five cousins each had their own special niche in her life.  Eileen was also a musician and the first to produce great grand children.  Connie was an ice skater of some renown.  Loretta was a beauty queen.  Peggy was the rebel that you could count on to make any meeting interesting.  I haven’t had that discussion with them

The last time we three met, Victor, Marian and I, five years ago, 44 years after Ma died, we discovered the terrible truth.  We weren’t her only favorites, but we were her favorites. Everyone one of us.  I don’t know how she did it, but the woman was a magician. 

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