A Tribute to my mother, Alice Beth Sims Frasier
Alice Beth Sims Frasier, as I remember my mother, was a very beautiful woman, naturally beautiful. She was very athletic, loved swimming, fishing, gardening, riding horses, was most talented in music, and exceptionally brilliant in being able to comprehend and master college-level courses, even though she had graduated from high school.
Recalling back to my younger childhood days, my Mom was always there for me and my sisters, Dianne and Jackie. She moved to the ranch with our father, Merle Frasier, at the age of eighteen. This was to be the only way-of-life she every would know. We lived in a modest ranch house that had been the homestead of Great Grandpa and Grandma Wm (Mart) and Cynthia Frasier.
Mom was a loving caregiver, definitely not a selfish person, and gave so much of herself to help her family to have a better life. I do not recollect she being a complainer--she made do with what we had. She was an excellent ranch cook, creating many wholesome meals and cakes and pies from a "cob" cooking stove in earlier years. We always had many "hired hands" to help out with the endless farm and ranch chores. It seemed that cooking and doing dishes, washing and ironing and caring for her family was a perpetual task for her. As I became a little older, I began helping her with the meals and other chores. She seemed to not mind the many "messes" I would make creating my "first-time recipes." I did learn from her on preparing meals, doing the "wash" and "hanging" out the clothes on the many "outside" clothes lines to "whip in the breeze". Mom and Grandma Frasier made their "perfect" lye soaps. It was an "art" and the texture of the soap was heavenly --like homemade divinity. Clothes always came out smelling so fresh and clean.
For years Mom would drudge up and down an unfinished basement's steps to hang the clothes out on the lines until she was able to have a washer and dryer.. Many times, she would bring the frozen clothes in during the winter months, and place them around the dining room oil heater to dry. I do not know where she found the time to starch and iron all our clothes.
Mom was most fastidious about cleanliness. She would make sure we girls had nice curls in our hair. She would be most creative with our "lunches" when we attended a one-room country school house. (Perhaps we would have french fries and pork chops put on an oil stove at morning recess time which then gave us a hot meal at noon).
Mom helped out when it was milking time as I recall during my younger years. There was a swing out south near the big concrete/stone reservoir and the milk house was next to it. She would separate the cream from the milk and we would later have homemade butter, etc. I can still hear that hand-cranked separator as I sat in that swing.
At first, there was the hand water pump in the kitchen which we used to get the water to drink, cook, and bathe. Our baths were in a wash tub sitting close to an oil heater to keep warm. I can't imagine how she had to heat all that water for our warm baths.
At night, during cold wintry weather, she would heat up flannel sheets and "run" ahead to place them in our beds. We would "dive" into the warm sheets and snuggle down for a good night's sleep. Because of my severe asthma that developed when I was six-months old, Mom would get up many nights and carry me into the kitchen by the "cob stove" and attempt to help me breathe easier. Often times she would hold me all night long. Later, my sister, Dianne developed asthma. There were more incidents than I want to recall, as Mom and Dad would have Dr. Smith or Dr. Hoffmeister from Imperial come down to administer medications to us. We had a "rough time."
Mom with her high school education graduated with an A average. She could master any school subject we girls had and "tutored" us through many grueling courses in grade, high school and college. She had such a natural talent and ability in grasping subject matter and solving mathematical problems--in algebra, geometry, and business math.
She enjoyed growing flowers and a huge vegetable garden. Being a beautiful seamstress was also a natural talent and her sewing was to perfection. Making western shirts (some 600) for her family and friends was a phenomenal feat. An electric 1945 Singer sewing machine, which I have restored, and have in my home, enabled her to sew the beautiful clothes. Mom also, in later years, knitted sweaters for her family and also "baby sweaters" for anyone that had a new born.
Playing the piano by "ear" was very relaxing to her. She could play nearly any song without sheet music. Of course, she encouraged us girls to play the piano. We did take lessons, but we couldn't make that piano sound like Mom could. I always was aware and could tell what "mood" Mom was in by the music she would play. She always encouraged us girls to sit beside her and sing along.
There was this "dreaded" Spring-time chore of cleaning and dressing the "frying chickens" that Grandma Alma Frasier raised for the various Frasier families. Mom had quite a system in the "assembly line". Poor Jackie had the job of helping Mom catch the feathery rascals and "behead" them, place the remainder of the chicken in a bucket of scalding water to "de-feather" it.
Dianne and I would then take over the assembly line. I, with several head scarves over my face and nose, would tackle the cutting up of the chickens. This was most unbearable for me. Dianne, I felt, had the easy job of taking a pair of tweezers and picking the fine pin feathers from the chicken pieces. Many times, it was most difficult to identify the pieces of chicken that I would "manage" to create during the "surgical" procedure.
It got to the "point" many times I would time it to be on a horse checking cattle in the pastures. To this day, I find it difficult to "eat" any chicken unless it has been prepared in camouflage.
Mom and her sister, Belle, who married Wilbur, Merle's older brother...were very close. They always had such a wonderful time doing things for their children and grandchildren. Mom and Belle loved fishing and having "fun times" with family and friends.. Many times they would take off in Belle's pickup with camper and fish all night.
Mom was astounded by astrology, and often at night, would gaze at the many stars and galaxies in the expansive sky. She used a telescope to bring in various planets or stars for closer viewing and was quite an expert in this area.
Mom was a gentle, but firm disciplinarian. We girls didn't get "by" with a lot of "folly". A dreaded sound was when she would "whack" a wooden butter paddle on the cupboard counter top for a warning. This usually corrected the unruly problems, but if it didn't--many times that wooden butter paddle was used on "our" little bottoms, and it was something that we didn't forget. Often the butter paddle would mysteriously disappear. There were other ways, such as designating the mischievous party/parties to go to the big elm tree near the kitchen door and pick our own little twig/branch to "warm" our posteriors. I figured it out. The freshly picked twigs were too "green" and they stung and hurt when administered. I would pick off the ground a dried twig which would easily snap on the first "whack". All joking aside, I am glad our Mother raised us in the manner she did. She always displayed so much strong love for her family and was a guiding light of encouragement and confidence.
Dad, after being in a tornado with his parents, brothers and sisters, had great respect for bad summer thunder storms. He would always "watch" the storm clouds and if it appeared there would be tornadic activity, the "signal" was given, "O.K., Kids, run for the cellar." We all dashed to the storm cellar, hearts pounding, usually through pouring rain. Yelling all the way, we girls tried to get the dog, Snapper, and many cats to come along for the cellar's protection. Mom was usually in the midst of getting "supper", and we had to wait until the storm blew over to come back to the house to eat.
Mom taught me to pursue our dreams and goals, to believe in ourselves, and to not be afraid to fail. She made life, as I remember, a beautiful time. From her gentle teachings, I have learned to enjoy life without needing a lot of material things. I still can take my daily walks or get on a horse and enjoy the beauty around me. I have retained my sensitivity of loving animals (horses, dogs, cats). She also encouraged me to be myself--not be someone that I am not. Mom was a strong person, but kept most of any unhappiness within. (She had more than her share of sad, hard, and unhappy times in her life).
I am so grateful to have had the life I had as a child growing up on the ranch. No one can ever erase all the wonderful memories, especially memories of Mom. Being twenty-two miles from the nearest town, Benkelman, we girls didn't "run" the roads like a lot of kids did in those days. I learned to love the ranch life and enjoy God's natural creations.
Mom instilled so much of herself, her beliefs and feelings in me. I am so proud to have had such an inspirational woman for my Mother. She could not and did not tolerate greed, "back stabbing", and squabbling amongst families and friends. I feel I am probably the only one that really understood Mom on how she felt about "Our Maker" and how she would turn to the Lord for guidance if problems in her life were too much for her to bear.
Mom departed this life, on December 8 1987, at an early age of 66 years after suffering from pancreatic cancer. We miss her so much, but know she is "with us" every minute of each day. I still "am aware" and feel her guidance in so many of my decisions and actions in my life. She is deeply missed by family and her many friends. She left an everlasting impression on numerous lives.