FEMINIST FRIDAY

MOTHER’S ROCK!

I seem to be stuck on writing about mothers this month.  I started to wonder about mothers of more offbeat people and stumbled upon this list.  I love the story about poor Mrs. Capone and Minnie Schoenberg sounds like someone you would like to have a drink with and listen to her stories.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Ludwig van Beethoven

As a girl, Maria Magdalena Keverich worked as a chambermaid in the homes of the wealthy. Johann van Beethoven was her second husband. She was described as “rather tall, longish face, a nose somewhat bent, spare, earnest eyes and kind. A little colorless perhaps — raised to a passion only for the occasional quarrel with the neighbors.”

Alexander Graham Bell

Eliza Grace Symonds Bell was the daughter of a surgeon in the British Royal Navy and was a talented portrait painter. Although somewhat deaf, she played the piano well. Her deafness inspired her son’s research into hearing, although it was said she did not have a lot of faith in his work.

Dwight David Eisenhower

Though poor, Ida Stover was determined to go to college. She scraped together enough money to attend Lane College in Lecompton, Kan., where she met fellow student David Eisenhower. She was known as a firm but gentle disciplinarian and was deeply religious. It is said she once won a prize for memorizing 1,365 Bible verses. As a pacifist, she was not in favor of her son attending West Point but decided to let him go.

Henry Ford

Mary Litogot grew up on a farm, and met her future husband, William Ford, when she was 12 and he was 26 and came to work on the farm. They married nine years later. Mary was self-sufficient and a diligent worker. Henry later attributed his clean factories to her belief in cleanliness. She encouraged his interest in machines early on. He later said, “I have tried to live my life as my mother would have wished. I believe I have done, as far as I could, just what she hoped for me.”

Napoleon

Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte grew up during the Corsican struggle for independence from Genoa and imparted to her children an early interest in politics. When Napoleon was crowned emperor in 1804, she was feted everywhere as “Madame Mere.” At one time, she had three sons who were kings and one daughter as a queen, but she continued to obsess over accumulating wealth. “I may one day have to find bread for all these kings I have borne,” she said. Letizia outlived most of her famous children.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Alberta Williams King was both the daughter and the wife of Baptist preachers. She taught her children to “always remember you are as good as anyone.” Violence and tragedy became a part of her life. In 1968, Martin Luther Jr. was shot; in 1974, her son Alfred drowned; and in 1974, she herself was killed by a deranged gunman while she was playing the organ in church.

Louisa May Alcott

Abigail May became the patient and long-suffering wife of Bronson Alcott and supported him in all his radical views on education and utopian living. She served as the model for Marmee in “Little Women,” but Louisa always claimed that “Marmee, good though she was, was still not half good enough to do justice to the real woman who inspired her.”

Al Capone

When her son, Alphonse, was found guilty of tax evasion, Teresa Capone came to see him in jail with a big dish of macaroni, tomatoes and cheese. Teresa, who came from Italy as a young woman, could not speak much English, and when her son was transferred to the Atlanta Penitentiary, she could only look at him and mutter a few words; foreign languages were not permitted. She always maintained that Al was “a good boy.”

George Washington

Mary Ball Washington was a strict, authoritarian figure. George always addressed his letters to her with “Honored Madam.” When he wanted to join the British Navy, Mary refused her permission. Shortly after that, George left to live with his brother at Mount Vernon. When news came that he was elected president, he stopped on his way to the capital to give his mother the news — it was the last time he ever saw her.

The Marx Brothers

Minnie Schoenberg was the daughter of a magician and a harpist in Germany. She left that country as a teen to come to New York, where she married a somewhat successful tailor. She encouraged her sons to go into vaudeville. In 1923, although Groucho did not agree with her, she figured they were ready for Broadway — and they were. While being fitted for a dress for opening night, Minnie fell and broke her leg. She was carried to the theater on a stretcher for the opening night show.

Source: “Mothers: 100 Mothers of the Famous and Infamous,” edited by Richard Ehrlich; Paddington Press Ltd.

I invite you to share a story about an inspiring woman in the comments section. Just leave us a link to your post. We can never read too many stories about inspiring women. 

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The quotes in this article came from: “Mothers: 100 Mothers of the Famous and Infamous,” edited by Richard Ehrlich; Paddington Press Ltd.

About Bernadette

I live in the small town of Haddonfield, NJ. I am at an age in my life when I seem to spend time thinking and musing about life. These musings are usually stimulated by my walks through Haddonfield, my reading of books and fellow bloggers, and my interaction with my group of fabulous family and friends.

18 Responses

  1. Interesting idea, Bernadette – both for a post and for a book.

    Even tho’ her bios rarely mention it, during the years when I was an actor in NYC, the late Maxine Marx (Chico’s daughter) was a casting director who liked my work and called me in for a couple of projects. My apartment was right down 106th Street from the nursing home where her mother resided during a nurses strike, so I volunteered to help her out – changing bed linen, etc. Maxine’s book, Growing up with Chico, has been on my TBR list for far too long.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I have indeed – in the Chinese curse version of that term for parts of it. 🙂

        The challenge for the Boomer set, I believe, is to keep it “interesting” as we age and our energy reserve tanks get smaller. There’s a lot to be said for living life in fast-forward mode.

        Sometimes I wonder if all the really good times are memories for my ‘drooling in a rocking chair’ days. lol I do find I am redefining “good times,” however.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing array of mothers …. a fascinating read and one I am inspired to take further by reading the entire book. Thank you Bernadette …. I like being inspired to read new things

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great mini collection here, Bernadette. It’s interesting to see the women behind these famous people! Oh, what a tragic life for Alberta King. Then I had to smile at Henry Ford attributing his clean factories to his wife’s sense of cleanliness!!

    Liked by 2 people

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