SHHHHH !!!! It's a SURPRISE!
My Mom is an amazing woman. She is 88 years young, healthy, active, and loves adventure.
I get my wonderlust from her. If you say "Go" she will be packed and waiting at her front door without bothering to ask "Where?"
This year, my slightly delayed Mother's Day gift to her is a trip down Memory Lane. In a few weeks, I'm taking her back to the place we lived from the time I was three until I was 14.
When I was a kid (1953 - 1964), my dad was a teacher at College of the Ozarks.
Back then, it was called School of the Ozarks and was a four year boarding high school and junior college, founded in 1906 by the Presbyterian Church to give an education beyond 8th grade to kids from the Ozark backwoods.
S of O, as we insiders called it,
Teachers all lived in free housing on campus. Each teacher's spouse (who wasn't also a teacher) held a support job on campus. In the 1950's there weren't any Barbara-Billingsley-stay-at-home-moms at S of O. My mom was in charge of the Student Bank, & Commissary/Snack Shop.
Faculty kids called their friends mothers "Mama". My next door neighbor was Mama Good. My best friend's mother was Mama Clark. The fathers, however, were still all called "Mr." or "Dr."
Staff families were encouraged to eat their meals in the campus dining room if they wanted to. Mom always fixed a hot breakfast at home but we often had dinner with the students.
Speaking of students, they weren't allowed to pay to go to school at S of O. Instead they worked for their education, their room and board, and even their spending money.
The campus was amost totally self-sustaining. Students made their own furniture. Produced their own electricity. Raised all their own produce and livestock. They had a fire department, telephone company, printing plant, post office (Point Lookout, MO 65726), hospital, canning factory, dairy, flour mill, bakery, and weaving studio. They didn't have any police, however, not even a Barney Fife.
When we needed eggs, my mom sent me to the poultry farm with an empty egg carton. I signed a 'chit' and came back with a dozen fresh warm and still unwashed eggs that were laid that morning.
When we needed milk, she sent me with our wire basket full of empty glass bottles to the dairy. I signed another chit and came home with replacement bottles full of milk pasturized that morning.
Students held jobs in areas of campus life that gave them experiences toward their future career goals. Our family had a houskeeper who planned to be a high school home-economics teacher and a gardener who was studying horticulture. When our house needing painting, or a new roof, or a screen door fixed, one of the students who was studying construction sciences was assigned the task.
When school was out for the summer, we went barefoot six days a week and spent every one of those days in the schools olympic size swimming pool where students watched over us - kind of. If we were able to climb the ladder to the high-dive, nobody cared how young we were.
Sometimes we climbed down the bluff behind our house to the river to fish for blue gill. Or because there weren't any horses, we would go out to the fields with rope, and coax the cows over to the fence so we could climb up on them for a 'ride'. On rainy days we played inside the Museum (which was unlocked 24 hours a day). There was a fully furnished one room log cabin inside the museum that we used as our own personal playhouse.
My favorite holiday was Halloween. The "Campus Brats" as faculty kids were called, went trick-or-treating to the dorms --- with bushel baskets.
That life seemed so normal to me. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized how truly charmed it really was.
Now it is time to take Mom back to see how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same, and let her know how thankful I am for her part in giving me that childhood.