The Tale of the Umbershoot

"Are you going out today? If you are, then don't forget to take your umbershoot."

If my mother said this to you, you would probably look at her with a great degree of puzzlement. If my mother said this to me, I would know that we were supposed to get rain that day.My mother can be dour and serious. She was the eldest of four children, and her unasked-for position of seniority required her to be the caretaker of her siblings while her parents ran a small store.

As a result of that caretaking, I can vouch for her excellence at it.

She graduated from high school in 1961, when in Arkansas, the propriety of the 1950s hadn't quite been overtaken by the gaiety and looseness of the 1960s. She was unmarried, and through casual comments she made, I gather that her family despaired that she would ever marry.