My Mom, the Census Bureau


In honor of my own mom on Mother's Day, I thought I'd tell you about one of the things for which she's best known. For more about my mom, read this.

I grew up in a very small town in Iowa (pop. about 1200). My mom was the City Clerk and also served on the school board for several years. Talk about public scrutiny...she got it.

When I say City Clerk, that means she was the one and only person sitting in City Hall when a person walked in the door. So, if they wanted to pay their water bill, complain about a wayward dog, look up an ordinance or buy a cemetery plot, they dealt with my mom. And she dealt with them. For over 35 years. Whew!

It's an understatement to say she got to know about the people, their property, their families and their whereabouts pretty well over the years.

A conversation with her, even today, could go something like this (*names changed because it would take me forever to think of real people to use as examples since I haven't lived there for 20 years):

Loraine Smith is spelled with one "n". Lorraine Jones is two "n's". Loraine is the sister to that guy that married Mary Brown. They live up there in that old brown house on 2nd Street next to the high school. Before they moved there Bill and Sandy Black owned it. Remember, they had that old beat up car and every morning they'd come down to the cafe for coffee, rain or shine. She always wore a headscarf and he smoked a pipe.

Or this:

I see that kid of Sandy and Tom Rinken got married. He was something else. A wild little s**t if you ask me. Always in trouble up at school. I can think of several times they'd come to the school board meetings complaining about how he got treated and I'd just tell them how it was. I think he joined the Army and when he got out spent time down in Independence in the pen and now I see he's marrying that Chitty girl. Her mother was s sister to Delores Hopkins who used to work for Mike at the telephone office.

A virtual walking information booth, my mom. I can't tell you the number of times, especially as I got older, that someone would tell me they'd ask my mom if they needed to know something. "She's almost always right," they'd add.

Even she admits she has an opinion about almost everyone and everything.

One time I remember her telling about the census taker coming to City Hall to talk about their procedures for taking the census. My mom told her she could save her time and a lot of footwork by just asking her. She knew the house numbers, the street names, who owned the house, who lived there and which houses were vacant.

And really, when it comes right down to it, wouldn't you rather spend an afternoon listening to my mom's version of Greene, Iowa than hoofing it up 2nd Street?


Momma Roar :

What a beautiful picture! Happy Mother's Day!

Dianne :

That's funny! My dad grew up in a small town too and he and all his siblings (15 in all) can tell stories from way back when about the families's funny to sit around and hear them talk about those times. Great post...thanks!

Karen :

Hi Jill, I found your blog through Lynne's Little Corner of the World. I loved this post about your mom. She sounds like a great lady!

justabeachkat :

Loved the photo. Good one of all three of you. Funny post. I'd love to hear your Mom tell stories even though I wouldn't know a soul. It would just be entertaining to hear how she told them. I bet you had to keep "in line" though when you were growing up, since it sounds like nothing got past her. Hehehe!

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