Christmas 1960 – Email From Mom

Authorship unknown – Another Christmas Story 

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.  Their father was gone..

The boys ranged from three months to seven years ; their sister was two.

Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared.  Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds.  He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.

Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.  If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. 

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town.  No luck.

The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything.   I had to have a job.

Still no luck.  The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop.  It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids.   She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning.   She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night.   She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep.   This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job.. And so I started at the Big Wheel..

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money– fully half of what I averaged every night.  As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage.

The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat.   New tires!  There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires.  Had angels taken up residence in Indiana ?    I wondered.

undefinedI made a deal with the local service station.  In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office.  I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn ‘t enough.

Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids .

I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe.

A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine.  The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o ‘clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes.

I quickly opened the driver ‘s side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat..

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box.

Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!

I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans.

Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes.  There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items.

And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude.

And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.  Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

THE POWER OF PRAYER. I believe that God only gives three answers to prayer:

1. ‘Yes! ‘

2. ‘Not yet. ‘

3. ‘I have something better in mind. ‘

God still sits on the throne, and the devil is a liar.

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15 Responses to Christmas 1960 – Email From Mom

  1. Sharon says:

    dusty keyboard

    the story reminds me that there’s not much room in today’s world for genuine despair, genuine humility, genuine courage or genuine gratitude

    is there

    instead it’s all paperwork that promises to prevent despair, makes it possible to avoid humbling circumstances, makes genuine courage unnecessary and genuine gratitude passe

    sd you should have just posted that for mbob tomorrow

    only half kidding

    while i’m bawling


  2. caruhsel says:

    May God Bless You, and keep you, Sundance.
    You have no idea how just simple words in a simple story can touch and heal a heavy heart at just the right moment.
    Saying THANKS, may not be much, but right now, it is the best I can give… for the best Christmas gift I have ever gotten.
    Maybe one day I can give you a proper return gift.
    Now, where is that Kleenex box – shoot, the toilet paper is more convenient.
    Regards and Merry Christmas to all at the Treehouse.


  3. ZurichMike says:

    I love Christmas.


  4. oriana88 says:

    What a truly beautiful story as, Sharon, is your wise commentary on the poverty of plenty that seems to engulf us.

    Bless this fine mother, all those who met her needs, and everyone here.


  5. justfactsplz says:

    If more people were willing to work so hard as this young mother, there would be no need for welfare. Also more fortunate people could get in the giving spirit to those less fortunate. Thank you Sundance for sharing such a beautiful story. It makes me grateful that at least this Christmas I still have a roof over my head and food to eat , if nothing more, I am blessed.


  6. Overveen says:

    What a beautiful story and thanks to the author for telling it. Merry Christmas. God loves us all.


  7. nameofthepen says:

    I can just see all those crusty old customers sitting around, acting like nothing unusual happened, but if someone claims it did, then they had nothing to do with it. 😀


  8. cajunkelly says:

    Yes, angels do exist, and not all of them are beautiful creatures ith feathered wings. 🙂 Some of them are crusty old curmudgeons with hearts as big as Texas.

    A beautiful story indeed! I do wonder, though, where the picture of the truck stop originated. It is a absolute double of the little country truck stop close to where DH and I got married. 🙂

    So, not only did I get to read a heart warming story, I got to walk back down memory lane.

    Thanks SD!


  9. LoudaJew says:

    wishing George receives a nice Christmas gift that will help him in the long run, so he can continue his life being good natured and caring about his neighbors. If you’re out there, have a Merry Christmas.


  10. Sha says:

    That is a beautiful story. I have always loved when peope do for each other from the heart .


  11. elvischupacabra says:

    Man, my allergies must be actin’ up…


  12. recoverydotgod says:

    What a beautiful moment of life and story.

    1 Corinthians 2:6-10
    The Message (MSG)

    6-10 We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text:

    No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
    Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
    What God has arranged for those who love him.
    But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.


  13. Angel says:

    “God helps those who help themselves.” A lesson that this story reaffirms.


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