My mother’s 100th birthday will be this November (Martha Evelyn Mount, born November 28, 1916, in Morrow, Ohio and passed away on July 31, 1991). When she was 72 in 1989, she made a taped recording of family stories for both sides of the family. In her honor, and still incredulous that she sat and dictated all of this into a tape recorder by herself, I’m going to post what she wrote along with pictures whenever possible. She had a rather rambling, random method and said whatever came to her mind at that moment, punctuated by hearty laughing. I’ll post the stories in the order she told them and will only edit the posts to keep out anything that might be offensive or embarrassing to other members of the family.
8/89 – Family Stories Tape by Martha Applegate
Transcribed 5/19/01 by Lillian – notes in blue and in parenthesis by Lillian
My mother’s family was pretty ordinary when compared to the overly exciting Applegates.
My family wasn’t very exciting. My mother was only 4 years old when her mother died and left quite a lot of children.
My mother’s mother married real well – married a rich farmer (Emily E. Creager and William Henry Conover) and they always had black people working for them – had ex-slaves working for them. But she died when my mother was only 4 years old and there was quite a lot of them in the family. She was very proud, my mother’s mother was. When she was a young lady she would ride the fox hunts side-saddle, a very proud lady. (Although Grandma and all of her sisters told this story, we have not found anything to prove this prosperity in her family.)
How she come to die so young was one of the girls was taking piano lessons and she wanted to go through the room and she wouldn’t go through the room because she was pregnant. She went through a window – jumped out of a little window – and caused her to lose the baby and she died in childbirth.
All of Mom’s brothers and sisters were well to do but Mom didn’t have very good luck – she had lost her husband so young and always had to work, but she was a very proud lady, too, and she was very strict in her way but very good to us children. She never spanked us – I never got a spanking in my life. But you knew when she said to do something, you done it – you knew you had to do it. She was a little Dutch lady to begin with – her real name was Wilhelmina. When she went to work the conductor on the railroad train when he took her ticket asked her what her name was and she said Wilhelmina Conover and he said, “Oh, go to hell and meet me Conover” and it made her so mad she changed her name to Helen. Every time he’d see her, he’d say, “Go to hell and meet me Conover”.
Mom was very strict – she talked a lot of that Pennsylvania Dutch kind of talk but you didn’t dare make fun of her, she’d say, “You know what I mean” and you didn’t dare laugh at her. I remember when Johnny, my husband, and I just got married she’d say to people, “Martha’s husband wants to make a race horse out of himself”. What she meant was he wanted to make a race horse driver, but she’d say he wanted to make a race horse out of himself. We always thought it was funny but we didn’t dare laugh.
Her husband, my father (George Dale Mount), died when he was only 28 – I was only 2 – I don’t have any memory of him at all but my sister (Alice Mae Mount) always said he liked her the best so I guess it’s good I don’t have any memory of him except he give me my name and I was always proud of that. On Thanksgiving Day he come downstairs and he told my mother, he said, “I dreamed we had a little girl and we named her Martha” and she said, “Well, you better go get the doctor because I think your dream’s going to come true” and he went for the doctor and I was born before the doctor got there. He went running down and said, “Hurry up, hurry up, doctor, the baby’s already here” and old Doc said, “There’s no use hurrying if your baby’s already here”.
My father (George Dale Mount) died of the flu during World War I and I always wondered where I got my love of dancing and Aunt Mabel (Mabel Conover) said I got it from him. He loved to dance and he would dance as long as anybody would play music and he was quite a singer, too. He died young.
My mother told me when I was little I always woke up and cried – I would cry for an hour. Nothing they would do would stop me from crying so they just let me cry until I cried it out. One day her and her sister, my Aunt Mabel (Conover), were sitting in the kitchen and I woke up from my nap and, of course, I sat at the top of the stairs and I cried. They said, “Come on, Martha” and usually I would just come down one step at a time crying all the way down. But this time I just kept crying and crying. They said, “Come on, Martha – come on, Martha” and I’d just keep crying. So, finally they come to look and see what I was doing and here I was, I was hanging by my heel on the carpeted steps that they had in those days and I was hanging upside-down and to this day I’m afraid to take that first step – I’m scared to death to go down stairs.
I remember my first little boy friend – we called them “beaux” in those days – his name was Homer Bailey. He was the prettiest little thing – he had blonde curly hair and blue eyes – the prettiest blue eyes. There was only one thing – every day in school he’d wet his pants – we were just in the first grade. And he used to walk me home from school every night and his house was beyond mine. One day he wanted to stop and play and Mom said, “No, no!” and I never could figure out why she didn’t want me to play with that pretty little boy.
Martha Mount, 2nd row, 3rd from right
Alice Mae Mount, 2nd row, 3rd from left
In the next installment, Mother describes the joys of playing in and around small-town Morrow, Ohio, with her young sister, Mabel, in tow.