My mother Julitta Anns Schaefers was born 95 years ago today. Two brothers, Cletus and Nicholas, would soon follow. I think they were all born within a 35 month span. What a busy household that had to have been!
My mother was named after her father’s sister who had become a nun and taken the name Julitta. Throughout life she was called Julie, and I doubt very many people knew her full name.
The highlight of my mom’s life growing up was a visit to Mexico to visit another aunt, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Naescher. At the age of 15, she rode the train by herself to Mexico. She told us of a man who kept asking her repeatedly if she was on the right train and he could “help” her find the right one. Fortunately, my mother had enough sense to be wary of him and reported him to the conductor. After that, she never saw him again.
When we were helping with housework as we were growing up, we would often ask my mother to “tell us about your trip to Mexico.” She often replied of the royal treatment she had from her aunt and how she was the guest at many parties and had a wonderful social life. Great-aunt Lizzie was a nurse for a mining company and apparently enjoyed a good salary.
The one thing missing from my mom’s life was the joy of having a sister. I think she never quite understood how close my two sisters and I are and the bond we share.
My sisters and I cannot remember my mother ever being interested in gossip or repeating it. And swearing and cuss words were things that did not please her. She would tell us that having to use profanity was a sign of a limited vocabulary!
My mother married my dad, A. W. (Tom) Schwans in 1939. Theirs was referred to as a “mixed marriage” as my mom was Catholic and my dad Presbyterian. (My dad later converted to Catholicism after my birth. I always joked I’d been a Catholic longer than he had been.) Since my mom was working in a W.P.A. office then, they did not announce their marriage (nor live together) for their first year of married life. Eventually word did get out about the marriage and it was announced in the newspapers as “Coming as a surprise, was the announcement of the marriage of Julitta Schaefers and Tom Schwans. The bride was honored at a wedding shower …”
Some years later when my husband and I were engaged, another great-aunt advised me about not getting any ideas for a secret wedding! She was somewhat relieved when I told her Jim and I had no plans to do so.
My mother was meticulous in her appearance and looked stunning in a purple dress at our wedding. When she went shopping for the dress, she did not tell the sales associates she was looking for a mother of the bride dress. She said, “They’ll insist I buy something not at all suitable for me. I don’t want that stereotype of dress.”
If my mother had one bad habit, it was that she was a cigarette smoker. She tried many times to quit and perhaps if some of the more modern aides had been available then, she may have been successful. But the years of smoking had taken e a toll on her health and she developed severe emphysema which contributed to her death just three weeks shy of her 73rd birthday.
We still miss her, but are so grateful for all the years she was with us and what she taught us.