She Was a Good Mommy

by Arnold Nelson


We are celebrating what would have been My Mom's 100th Birthday on April 16 2018. I wrote this story to remember her.

She was born 18 years after the beginning of the 20th century on April 18 1918 and died 18 years before the end of the 20th century Feb 3 1982.

She was the first child of Mabel and Wyllis Ollendorf. Her name was Mildred May Ollendorf.

She had 1 sister 4 years younger. Her name was LaVerne Ruth. LaVerne married Wilford Zimmerschield. He was a Dr of Chemistry and worked his whole life for Standard Oil finding new ways to use petroleum. They had 1 daughter Cherie. Cherie is about the same age as my sister Arlene.

She was always jealous of Arlene because Arlene had brothers and sisters and she had none. Arlene was jealous of Cherie because she was an only child and had lots of privacy. I guess the saying is true "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." Mildred changed the spelling of her middle name when she got older from May to Mae because of an aunt she loved and that was the way the aunt spelled it.

Friedrick and Karoline Ollendorf were born in Germany in the 1850s. They had a Hardware store in Chicago. All of their 5 children worked in it while they were growing up. Their oldest son was Albert. He married Annabelle Shiess( Anna), He was an Eye Doctor. They had 2 Children Wyllis and John Albert(Bert). Wyllis worked in a bank all his life. First as a teller then a loan officer.

Mildred's other Grandfather was a man named Robert Jorgensen. He came over from Denmark with his family when he was 2 years old. Shortly after they got to Chicago his father died in a cholera epidemic. His mothers washed clothes and sewed dresses to keep the family fed. When Robert was 8 he got a job filling glue pots before school to help his mother out. At 14 he quite school and got a job at a print shop. he worked there for 50 years . A couple by the name of Thomas and Phoebe Jones lived in Wales. he was a fire stoker in a steel mill. They had 6 children while in Wales. 3 died an early death because of bad conditions there. They decided to come to America to give their children a better chance. They moved near Pittsburgh Pa. In Pittsburgh they had 2 more children, They both died as toddler's. They heard about the homestead act. So they went to Chicago. They had 3 more children in Chicago. then they got a homestead in Wisconsin. They held it for about 3 years. They gave it up because they didn't have the knowledge or money to farm. their last child was born on the farm, he died shortly after his birth. he was number 13. Back in Chicago the older children started to get married and moved away. Elizabeth(Lizzie) married a man that live down the street. His name was Robert Jorgensen. The had 6 children, they never had any money but Lizzie always new where she could get help for her children. They lost the youngest boy just before his 2nd birthday because of Pneumonia. Mabel being one of the oldest always helped with her siblings.

When Mildred graduated from High School she started to study nursing. One day at a gathering of young people at a local Baptist Church she met a boy named Arnold Nelson. They were married on July 19 1941. They moved in with her parents in Chicago at first. Arnold wanted a wife and a mother for his kids, nothing more. So Mildred gave up her studies That was where her first child Sandy was born. Arnold bought a farm in Benton Harbor, Michigan. It was there that the 2nd girl was born, Arlene. WWII was raging and Arnold's father told him to go to work in a defense factory so he wouldn't get drafted. Much as he hated factory work he did it. He took it as long as he could, then he quit. He was drafted in the Army. He spent 18 months in the army, most of it in the Philippines. While he was gone Mildred took her daughters and moved back in with her parents. When Arnold got back they moved back to the farm. They had a 3rd girl Cathy, Then a 4th girl Linda. In 1950 Arnold's father had a heart attack. Arnold sold everything and moved his family back to Chicago to be near his father.

Arnold bought a lot in a new area of Arlington Heights. His Father bought the lot across the street. Arnold built a home for his family. His father built a home for him and his wife. It was there they had their first son, Arnold Jr. Shortly after Arnold Jr. was born Arnold's mother died.

Arnold decided he had enough of the cold Chicago winters and being sick so much. He decide he would drive south and when he got warm that was where he would live. His father went with because Arnold was not strong enough to go alone.

They went to Florida first, it was warm enough but too humid and he didn't want his girls growing up around all those black people(He was very prejudice.) So then he went west. At that time his In laws would spend their winters in Palm Springs Ca. He met up with them and asked his Father-in-law to drive him around. Wyllis did, and as soon as he saw the small city of Redlands he decided that was where he would live. He put his father on a train back to Chicago, found a place to stay and got a job. Then he started working on getting his health back. About this time another boy was born, Gary. In late 1953 he bought an old house and sent for his family. We were suppose to take the train but at the last moment we flew instead. It was a rough plane ride. A lot of people got sick.

We moved into the house Arnold bought. Arnold decide to go in business for himself. He put in lawn sprinklers. he could have had a good business but he had way to much pride. he refused to go out and get work. He was satisfied with letting work come to him. Arnold never learned how to handle money. during the summer there was lots of money but in the winter there was very little. He spent money as fast as he made it. He always figured he could make more when he needed it, but that was not always the case. Arnold's father used to spend winters with us and summers in Chicago with his other son. In that house Mildred's 3rd son was born, Mark. The house was not very big so in 1956 Arnold bought a new house in a new area with a new Jr. High on one side and a new Elementary school on the other. Mildred's last child was born in that house. Her name was Karen. One winter Arnold's father met another lady, they got married and he moved in with her.

Mom was usually a calm person but I remember 2 time when she got upset. The first time is when I took her grocery shopping. (That was one of things that came with your drivers license in our family.) I waited in the car for her. When she came out she was upset. I asked her what happened. She said she picked out some potatoes because of the low price. ( she was always watching her pennies, She had to, she had a lot of mouths to feed and not much money.) She got her other stuff... then went to check out. They tried to charge her a higher price for the potatoes. She said no this was the price when I got them. The took her back and showed her the price. The price had been changed while she was shopping. They apologized, the sign should have been taken off earlier it was yesterday's price. Mom shopped in the store for over 10 years you would thing they could let her have the potatoes at the lower price but noooo. They refused to budge.

The 2nd time. My Dad had a stoke in July 1980 I think and he was in the hospital for a while. When I heard about it I was more concerned for my mother then my Dad. She didn't drive she had few friends and the closest relatives were about 35 miles away. So I quit my job and drove 1000 miles and stayed with her for 6 months until my Dad was on his feet again. They released him in Aug and he went to his girlfriends to recover. His blood got too thin and he was bleeding internally. The rushed him back to the hospital and put him in ICU. I had taken Mom to my brother Marks wedding and when we got back we found out what happened. I took Mom to the hospital. When we walked in the ICU his girlfriend was sitting on one side of the bed Mom went and sat at the other side. He was in a coma. I was standing near the end of the bed. A nurse came up to me and told me I had to leave because there were too many people there. So I walked to the hallway and waited there. A little while later Mom cam out and asked me what the nurse said. So I told her. Mom got mad, she went back in there and found the head nurse and told her 'How dare you kicked my son out and let her stay she in not even a relative she is just her girlfriend." As mom was walking out she saw the nurse talk to the girlfriend and tell her she had to leave. She was not happy. Mom felt better after that.

In Jan 1981 Dad finally came home so I left and went back to Oregon. If I had only known the future I would have never left. Mom died a year later of Pancreatic Cancer. What is strange is Mom's only sister died of Pancreatic Cancer about 20 years later.

I decided to do one more post before I ended this. This is my favorite family story. Grandma Mabel Ollendorf was visiting us one day. She brought gifts like she always did. We all loved her very much. We enjoyed the gifts too. My Dad caught Grandma in the Kitchen and he told her "Don't bring anymore gifts to my children. If they need anything I will buy it for them. (Dad had way too much pride and all of us were hurt because of it.) Grandma didn't get mad often but she got mad that day. She looked him in the eyes and said "Who are you to deny me the pleasure I get out of giving gifts to my Grandchildren?" Dad said he looked at things different after that. Grandma was one of the few people to ever put Dad in his place.

Grandma was the most wonderful woman I have ever known. When I was in the the Air Force she was always writing letters to me. She was lucky if she got 1 letter for every 5 or 6 she wrote me. Every once in a while she would put a little book in the envelope. The books usually had Bible verses in them and I loved them. She wrote in the front of each one. That is what really made them special. I still have all of those books. One time I found some more and added them to my collection. Grandma told me she would live long enough to get out of the Air Force. She made it. She went home about one month after I got my final discharge papers. She died on Oct 12th 1976 at the age of 85.

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