Minnie II

 Before Women’s Suffrage

My Mother, Minnie Alice Sea, was born on June 19, 1917. She was named after “Miss Minnie Murphy” a school teacher who was admired by my Grandmother, Lillie Alice Thompson Sea. When my mother was born, women were not yet allowed to vote. That came about while she was a toddler and even then, many women were denied that right, because they had no way to get to the polls unless their husbands, or some other male, allowed them to ride along to the voting place. According to stories from that time, men were concerned a wife, for instance, might vote differently from them and thereby “cancel out” the man’s vote. So, unless a man could be certain the woman he was transporting would vote the same as he, that woman was not likely to have the opportunity to vote at all.

My Mom, as most women of that era, lived in a patriarchal society. She revered her father who was Postmaster, a deacon in the Baptist church and a small business owner. He ran the Gee General Store where the US Post Office for Gee, KY was located and he sold gas as well as groceries, farming supplies and even medicinals like paregoric, camphor and Carter’s Liver Pills. In that store located on a gravel, rural road my grandfather, E. M. Sea, was sought after by people of the community who respected his opinion on such topics as religion, politics, war and the economy. It is no wonder Minnie and his other seven children never questioned his authority nor his wisdom.

Marriage

As was the custom in those days, my Mom finished school after the eight grade. She worked with her father in the store and post office and, surprisingly, she learned to drive before many women were allowed that privilege. She married Richard Baugh, my Dad, when she was sixteen and he was twenty-five. She gave birth to their first of four children a few years later. The baby boy was born at home with the help of a doctor who my Dad fetched from Lawrenceburg, KY in his old Model T Ford in the middle of the night. He loved telling about how the doctor’s medical bag was in the window behind his head and while my Dad was driving way too fast, downhill, to their house in the “holler” the bag bounced out and hit the Doc in the back of his head. He thought it was a funny story judging by how many times I heard it retold.

For a woman who began life under circumstances that might have made her dependent and timid, Minnie surprised many, including herself, I’m sure. Beside her roles as wife and mother she learned many others in her eighty-one years, leaving her mark on this world in small, but lasting ways.

Work History

For several years she raised turkeys and chickens and grew a summer garden and canned its yield to cook for the family throughout the winter. After moving from the farm, she worked in a large factory on an assembly line for several years. Having experience in the family store while growing up made jobs at a small grocery and a dry cleaning store easy for her. She was good with people, always smiling and usually laughing.

The highlight of her long work history came when she was hired by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the Revenue Department where she remained until she was sixty-seven years old. I will always remember a day when I visited her at the Capital Annex in Frankfort, KY. She beamed as she introduced her friends around the big office. Then she proudly showed off her desk complete with an adding machine and file drawers and even pointed out her very own stapler! My Mom, from Gee, KY had arrived in her dream job. And, to make the situation nearly perfect, the Governor of KY was a woman named Martha Layne Collins.

My Mom (Minnie)

Transition

Gee to Spot

As shared in an earlier post, I was born in 1943, in a four room house, on Crooked Creek Rd. in Anderson County, KY.  It was before zip codes were introduced and the mailing address was simply “Gee, KY”. My maternal Grandfather ran a general store in Gee, not far from our house. In addition to selling groceries, chicken feed, nails and gas from the one pump out front, he was also the Post Master of the Gee Post Office located in one corner of the store. Later, when he retired, the Post Office was moved down the road a few miles to Spot. Yes, that is right, “Spot, KY” was the new address for folks living on Crooked Creek Rd.

Our house had no plumbing or electricity, but before I was one year old, electricity was installed. This feature lead me to believe that I had super powers, because for the first few months my Dad would hold me up to the dark, bare bulb hanging in the middle of the ceiling. I was too young to understand that it was my father pulling a string that made the bright light appear, rather than the touch of my hand.

War

As I grew, however, I soon learned that mine was not a magical life, after all. I heard a lot about the “war going on over there” and I thought that meant the enemies were right over the hill in front of our house. As I sat on our front porch swing I kept waiting for Japanese helmets to appear on the horizon. Gas and sugar were rationed, but there was enough love to go around. I received a doll for one of my first Christmases. She didn’t hold up well. Her hair fell off and her “skin” deteriorated and I was told it was because all the good materials had to be used in the war. I kept Mary Rose with me throughout many decades, but finally let her go in 2013 and I still regret that decision. 

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Mary Rose

Family

In addition to my parents I was fortunate that my grandparents lived nearby and they were very influential in my early life. My older brother fulfilled his role by doing all the tormenting things that big brothers do so well, such as on occasion hanging me by my feet from a tree in the front yard. My baby brother was born with an intestinal malformation that would have been easily corrected today, but which proved fatal before his second birthday. A few years later, I had a second cherished younger brother who I protected fiercely.

Town

When I was in second grade we moved from Gee, leaving my beloved grandparents behind. It felt like a different world living in town, the big city of Taylorsville, KY.  The transition from a two room school holding grades one through eight to a large school system which included a High School and cafeteria did not start off pleasantly. My first day was in February and it was cold and the wind was whipping my carefully brushed hair every which way. Mom was guiding me through a short-cut to the school when suddenly our feet were plunged into ice cold water. Our short-cut had been concealed thin ice.  This awaking was just the beginning of my new school experience.

Our new house was big with two stories and a bathroom. It took some time getting accustomed to using the toilet inside that nice house. I still see my Dad mowing the big yard with pride and can smell the fresh mown grass which seemed to make his smile wider.  That was a good thing, because my father suffered from what was then called “involutional melancholia,” now known as chronic depression. Electric shock treatments took away much of his personality along with his smiles for many years.