Moms: Gotta love ’em!
I was born in Batesville, Indiana, the home of Batesville Casket Co. If that sounds familiar it’s because we have a satellite company just north of our Batesville on Interstate 55. My parents lived in Versailles, Indiana, which is about 20 miles south of Batesville.
My Dad owned a hotel and restaurant on the town square. No, in 1939 it did not look anything like Oxford, not that I would remember. When I was around 5 or 6 we lived in Indianapolis and my dad owned a small grocery store. I do remember that I was free to pocket all the candy my front pockets would hold, normally at the urging of my friends. From all the pictures I’ve seen, and my limited memory, my mom was really good looking. I really wasn’t judging women and girls by their looks at the time, but that didn’t last very long.
There was a Catholic church and school just behind the grocery store and at some age I was sent to kindergarten at the school. The first day our teacher, a nun, with a hood around her face hiding any hair she may have, asked each student to stand and give their first name. My turn came and I said “Jimmy Honey.”
The class laughed, but I couldn’t understand why, I didn’t laugh at anyone else’s name. The nun said: “What’s your real name, not your nickname?”
I really didn’t understand why she was asking so I repeated: “Jimmy Honey.”
The nun just said “See me after class.”
After class she told me that she knew my name was not Jimmy Honey and for me to bring a note from my mother with my name in the note. No problem, however my mom wrote “James” in her note and I was surprised because it didn’t sound anything like Jimmy Honey. My mom later talked to the nun and reported that I had an Aunt Ruth (mom’s sister) that was one year older than my mom and never had children. Did I mention that I was an only child? I think you get the picture that I might have been a little spoiled. Everyone only called me “Jimmy Honey” and I never realized that I actually had another name.
Yes, I got over it, but it wasn’t easy. I still have family members who call me “Jimmy Honey,” including my 99-year-old mother and my 100-year-old Aunt Ruth, who both live here in Oxford. My father passed away from cancer at age 44 when I was a freshman at Indiana University.
My mom later married a man from our town who was a nice guy. He and my wife’s dad died around the same time and our mothers became close lifetime friends who traveled together several times a year until her death a few years ago.
I kid my mom about some of the things that came out of her mouth. When I was in college I came home for a vacation and my mom and I were sitting in a local restaurant having lunch, watching television. It was the day that John Glenn was orbiting the earth for the first time. The reporter said, “We are going to the space capsule and talk to Commander Glenn.” At that time the picture showed Glenn sitting in the capsule and reported that the view was amazing, “I can even see the Canaries from here,” he said. With that my Mom turned to me and said, “I didn’t know those little things could fly that high!”
Those words have come back to haunt her for many years, especially the night that my wife and I had a corporate dinner with John and his wife and I told him the story of my mom. I think he’s still laughing.
My mom called me one day and said; “I want to buy some firewood for my fireplace, how much do you buy for yours?”
I replied, “I buy a cord which is about 12 feet long, 2 feet deep and 2 feet high.”
There was a long pause and she said: “What! That won’t even fit into my fireplace!”
I better stop here, I have to go see her and sure enough she’ll say: “You just had to say that, didn’t you?”
Yes, I did Mom, and I love ya.
Jim McCauley is an Oxford resident and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.