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SC Rewind: Happy Mother's Day

Published: May 13, 2017 9:55 am ET

Last Comment: May 13, 2017 11:30 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

​In this week's edition of Rewind Robert Smith sends out a special greeting to all Mothers in the reading audience as we prepare to celebrate their special day. He recalls the many tasks that the yesteryear mother performed and also displays a few old photos that depict the times and further tell his story.

The above photo was taken at the Historic Track in Goshen, New York in 1948. The ladies in the photo were nearly all wives of drivers who were among the tops in the sport at that time even though their names may not be all that familiar now. They were gathered for a buffet luncheon given by officials to the horse fraternity. From left to right: Mrs. Harry Pownall, Mrs. Chas. Fleming, Mrs. Wm. Maybury, Mrs. Bill Fleming, Mrs. Townsend Ackerman (and daughter Rhonda), Mrs. Frank Ervin, Mrs. Harry Whitney, Mrs. Ben White, Mrs. Saunders Russell and Mrs. Harry Short. Their clothing and demeanor tell a lot. (Harness Horse)

Today I would like to send out a very special greeting to all of the wonderful mothers in the Rewind audience. Also included in this group are those special people who have served in motherly roles by providing care and comfort to people in their lives even though they were not their biological mother. We all owe such a debt of gratitude to our mothers; they are people we depend upon forever, even years and decades after they have departed this life. I so often think of the wisdom and good judgment my own mother worked so diligently tried to impress upon me and my siblings throughout her lifetime. The lessons our mothers taught us never grow old.

In my many years of pursuing a rather unusual hobby of writing stories about horsepeople, I have been fortunate to meet up with a lot of phenomenal folks. Each person and each family has a unique story to tell. How they started and why they pursued the life they did is never the same as anyone else. Often almost buried in the family tales are the roles played by the wonderful mothers and their skills in shaping each family. Their dedication and devotion to the meaningful things in life have too often gone overlooked and unrecorded. While the men traveled about plying their trade, the strength and dedication of the wives and mothers kept the 'home fires burning'. I am so often reminded of the very old and meaningful saying that certainly applied in my day: "A man's work is from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done."

The list of tasks that the great women of the past performed was endless; they cared for the children often serving as both mother and father and did just about every other imaginable chore. They ran the house, tended the garden, managed the farm, milked the cows and probably many even trained a few horses if they were so inclined. Long before we lived in a "throw-away" society, mothers were expected to stretch, save, repair, reuse and pretty much perform magic to make the proverbial ends meet. Just how they did it may forever remain a mystery.

They lengthened, shortened, dyed and reworked clothing to meet every size and need then convinced the person on the receiving end that it was as good as new! In the preparation of food for the table that too was a daily display of magic; one day's leftovers bore no resemblance to the next day's feast.

One of the very interesting tasks that the wives of horsemen once played in days gone by was the sewing of driving silks. I have encountered many instances where the fine skills of needlework were used in fashioning silks which in those days also included the old soft caps. When a man needed a new set of silks they were often fashioned right at home. While their work was done in less than professional surroundings (like on the kitchen table), the results were most often magnificent.

Eileen Waples is shown seated at her sewing machine as she fashions a set of racing silks for her husband Keith. He is shown holding their young one year old son Gordon who seems quite interested in his Dad's silk driving cap. (Huronia Museum photo)


A very young six-year-old John Campbell proudly sports his first set of racing silks hand sewn by his mother Florence who made many sets for her husband John Sr. better known as Jack. I am sure John has had a lot more since, but none as special as these.

My Own Mother

I can certainly credit my mother with some of my early education as a racing fan. She taught me how to read every detail of a racing program and also how to identify horses by their saddle pad colours during the early warm up miles. She also showed me how to read a toteboard and despite the help I remain to this day the world's worst bettor. Although I can scarcely remember it, she also packed a pretty good picnic lunch in the days of race meets at the little towns of Southwestern Ontario.

During the depression years when times were really hard my grandfather did whatever it took to make ends meet. One winter he boarded a couple of running horses at his farm for a Detroit-based Thoroughbred owner. Somehow despite it being around 1930 someone had a camera and took a picture of my then very young mother with the two horses. Back in 1987 while she was still with us, I surprised her by displaying this same picture in Trot Magazine.

​It is difficult to believe that despite the importance of a mother's job that it remains probably the world's poorest paying job. It is a task that has no starting or quitting times, no days off, a pretty skimpy benefits package and all too often not even a "Thanks". Despite all of these obvious negatives, the world continues to have a multitude of wonderful mothers. I have been fortunate in my lifetime to see the absolute best of the skills of mothering through my own mother, in my wife (the best of all) and through our daughters. It has been an ongoing blessing.

I would suggest that if your mother is still living that you do something special for her and tell her how much she means to you and above all that you love her. If she has passed on, then at least pause for a short time and remember what a great influence she has bestowed upon your life. ​

Happy Mother's Day!

May 13, 2017 - 11:30 amHappy Mother's Day to all.

Happy Mother's Day to all. You are so correct that "Mothers" play such an important role in their Son's and Husband's life.
Great job Robert.
Just love the picture of John Campbell at 6 and cute little Gordie Waples.

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