Blog Post # 32: My Mom: Miriam Elizabeth Hall Gateley, 1 – Early Life

Mom’s Early Life

Regular readers of this blog know my Mom comes up fairly often. As she played such a key role in so much of my life, I thought it fitting to include more about hers. Some of this information comes from my memory, and some from her own writings. (Note to family members: Please let me know if you remember something differently or something more and I’ll add to her story.)

Mom was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the home of her Auntie Jewel.  She had a brother, Parker, 7 years older than her.

Grandpa Hall, Parker, Grandma Hall
Grandma Hall holding Mom

Her Mother and Dad divorced when she was 3 years old.  Her mother, my Grandma Hall, worked first as a coloring artist. Back when they only had black and white photos, people would pay coloring artists to add color to their pictures.  I didn’t realize it, but Mom’s writing below states that her mother also worked as a telephone operator.  Later her mother studied and got her Licensed Practical Nurse Certificate (LPN), and worked as a nurse to support mom and Parker. Her mother’s brother Wallace also sent some money to help.

Mom, two years old?
Mom, three years old?

Written by Miriam Elizabeth Hall Gateley 

When mother and father were divorced in 1933 we moved from Colorado Springs to Denver. I don’t remember seeing my father at all then. I do remember one night when mother was cooking dinner and I was hungry and she told me we had to wait until my father came home to eat. I also remember her taking me with her to somewhere my father was living and looking for something. (I think she was looking for signs of another woman) I was just over three and Parker would have been ten. 

One afternoon Parker took me to a movie about deers. Don’t remember the name, but in it the fawn died and I cried. To prove to me that the fawn was really OK we stayed and watched the beginning again. That would have been fine, but we also stayed through the fawn dying again and yes, I cried again. 

I was in kindergarten in Denver and also had to take speech correction class or as I called it peach correction class. 

When I was ready for the first grade we moved to Niederland, which was up high up in the mountains. We rode up with friends and all that they talked about that day was Will Rogers and Wily Post dying in an air plane accident in Alaska. 

We lived in a small house with running water until it turned cold and all the pipes froze up. Yes, in all that cold we used the out door toilet. Mother was a phone operator there.  Parker would break a path going to school so I could walk behind him. We would take the short cut up the mountain to school instead of going by the roads. 

When we lived there Parker would go hunting and get squirrels and it was my job to help him clean them. I well remember holding them by their legs while he skinned them. Then Mother would cook them for our dinner. 

I had a brand new snow suit that I was very proud of and when I took it off and laid it down one of the kids at school threw it in the creek that ran through the town and I went chasing it down to try and catch it. Not sure but think I did catch it. 

The heating unit of the school died in the middle of the Winter so we missed over a month of school. Since Uncle Wallace was helping support both Grandmother Haswell and Mother he asked us to move to Tulsa to live with Grandmother Haswell. She did not want to leave her friends there in Tulsa. Mother didn’t want to move, but we moved to Tulsa in time for me to repeat the first grade there.

NOTE: I did a search for a town named “Niederland, Colorado”, but couldn’t find it. Perhaps she meant “Nederland?”

Next Friday I’ll give more of Mom’s life. Have a great week!

LESSON LEARNED: Although it should be obvious, it’s amazing how often children forget their parents were young once, too.

LESSON LEARNED: Learning from history is valuable; learning it from the person who lived it is priceless.

LESSON LEARNED:  Squirrels must be good to eat (I hope).

LESSON LEARNED:  Don’t go see a movie where the fawn dies!


Paula Amrhein: would have to be astonishingly famished to eat squirrel

Emily Crutchfield: squirrels are good to eat

Sarah Swenson Smith: remembers morse code machine at Vero Beach house from when Grandma Hall was a telephone operator, says squirrel stew is pretty good

Peggy Hite: said Uncle Wallace sent Jewell & Frankie checks every month, remembers Uncle Wallace sending her a new typewriter when she graduated high school, said Jewell’s real name was Julia.

Deborah Gateley: said Frankie (Grandma Hall) got $50 a month (a decent amount back then) from her brother Wallace, which was an annuity that continued until she died.

General Discussion: wondering which deer movie Mom saw … Bambi? The Yearling?

Games and YouTube Videos

Here are the links to my signing and cueing YouTube “Word Of The Day” channels. I post a new word every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check it out and I would love to know what you think of them!

YouTube ASL Word Of The Day

YouTube Cued Speech Word Of The Day

Also, Check out my Adventure Games in the App Stores

Please join me for my new blog posts each Friday.  Have fun with your ASL and/or Cued Speech Adventures!

Published by Donna Gateley

Developer of SignCueQuest and CueQuest

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