Who Says 80 Year Old Women of Nebraska Don’t Have Stories?
22 Oct, 2012
Editor’s note: Hey friends, please give a warm welcome to Muffy. I know you will find her humorous and endearing. ~Heather
I am an 80-year-old married woman living in Lincoln, Nebraska.
I have lived in Nebraska all my life.
Sound dull? Just let me tell you.
I was born in the Booth Memorial Protestant-Episcopal Hospital in Omaha. I was delivered by Dr. John F. Hyde (father of Omaha’s famous architect of the same name). My Mother named me Maulfrey–a terrible name growing up–you know, Maul Free–it made for a lot of extra unwanted teasing, I can tell you. And a lot of teasing.
We ran a couple miles every day to school, my brothers and I. And even further to High School. Somehow we didn’t mind nor complain. . . It was what it was.
We were not wealthy. In fact, we were probably very poor. But everyone was–it was the drought and depression of the ’30s. We wore white tee shirts and jeans–exactly what the kids today wear, but then, if you were anybody, you were wearing cashmere sweaters and matching skirts. We couldn’t afford that and besides, you couldn’t wash cashmere and wool, and washing was what it was all about. (I had a cashmere sweater and wool skirt in college–for VERY special occasions and dates!!)
I had extraordinary teachers–women (mostly) who saw something extraordinary in me, and saw to it that I got everything I needed to become the woman I am today. And I had an extraordinary Mother who didn’t want me to grow up poor and poorly educated.
When I was in 8th grade, I wanted to be either an over-the-road truck driver or a dress designer. I spent hours drawing a red dress with HUGE black flowers with yellow centers and green leaves . . . my only one design!! And I could hardly wait till I was sixteen and could drive . . . driving had to wait till I went to college as we were a one-car family (most families were!!) and my Dad drove it.
In college, reality set in. In those days–the last of the 40s and early 50s, a woman could be a teacher, a secretary, work at Mutual of Omaha, a telephone operator, take care of her brother’s children if a spinster, or an airline stewardess. That latter was out of the question for me because I was taller than the height of an airplane interior!!
So I opted for teacher. After all, my Grandmother and my Mother were both teachers, so it couldn’t be too hard, could it?
I taught in “the better schools” in Omaha, after graduation with various honors. And it was my plan to go to Europe and teach.
But Mr. Right came along and changed my plans. He really WAS Mr. Right. That marriage was charmed from the words “I Do” till he died 19 years later, leaving me with 3 great kids in high school and college. In those days Social Security paid my kids’ monthly checks while they were in college, until they were 19, it sure helped us get through college!
I was basically a stay-at-home-mom, but I spent many a night reading textbook proofs at my dining room table, for McGraw-Hill and other textbook publishers.
A couple years after Laird died, I met and married Ted, a judge from Lincoln, and, having done everything I wanted and needed to do, and having kids out of high school and away at college, I packed up bags and baggage and moved to Lincoln.
I found and moved into the dearest little house (a twin to my Aunt’s over on Calvert Street), designed and built by the University of Nebraska School of Architecture under the guidance of Dale Gibbs. And we are still there today. It is STUFFED with everything that is dear to me–and a lot of stuff that ISN’T–I gotta start “editing” my house!!
20 years ago I bought a wonderful car, which I still drive today. . . My car wants are not uppermost in my mind. I commented one day “I plan to be buried in that car” and a 9-year-old boy said “Yeah, you oughta see the size of her burial plot!!” (I hope that boy is now a stand-up comedian in some very successful comedy club!)
I currently am office assistant to my husband’s home-based law practice and wedding business, have many friends I keep up with–including a lot of BOOMER friends. I depend on my daughter for all repairs and additions to our computers. I have Sirius radio, Dragon, Garmin, a smart phone and a microwave oven (which we only use to make popcorn and reheat coffee–I’m an old-fashioned cook and love to work with food!)
I serve on 8 boards locally and nationally, having cut back from last year’s 13 boards. I keep up on EVERYTHING, as you will see in future columns. I was on the Governor’s committee on tourism, and the Mayor’s committee on international visitors, and I have been an etiquette and protocol consultant and teacher since 1978. I’m a writer and am currently working on a book on aging (with a friend). I have a life coach and I am a life coach. And I have a crazy, off-the-wall outlook on this wonderful life I lead. I can’t tell you how lucky I am to be here! Life in Nebraska, whereas it didn’t turn out like I thought it would, has been anything but dull!!
And I’m full of advice on EVERYTHING . . . That’s what old people are FOR, don’tcha know. So I look forward to writing this column about living and mothering and grandmothering in Nebraska.
I promise you it will be a fun ride . . .
Photo Source: blog.nebraskahistory.org (Bette (left) and Lois Rathburn of Lincoln in dresses typical of the 1940s celebrate the end of World War II. NSHS R234-173).