First published May 10, 1984.
Glancing at the calendar for May, I notice that Sunday, the 13th is in red and designated as Mother's Day. I also notice that I have promised to attend three Mother and Daughter Dinners during the preceding week.
I guess the first Mother and Daughter Banquet in my memory is one of those sponsored by the YWCA and held in the old Grange Hall, served by the Grange Ladies who were such excellent cooks. Perhaps the reason I remember that particular dinner is that I had the honor and the scary task of giving the Toast to the Mothers.
Courtesy Patterson Library Sherman Collection
Mothers and daughters — Frances Swain and her daughters, Mary and Catherine. Mrs. Swain was for many years residence secretary for the Westfield YWCA.
The Westfield Republican reports that on May 4, 1927 the annual Mother and Daughter Banquet held at Grange Hall under the auspices of the YWCA was open to any girl 12 years of age or older. Mrs. Lucien Warren of Jamestown spoke on "The Spirit of Motherhood" and songs and stunts were to be included on the program. Tickets were 75 cents and were available at the YW or at the Gas Office. That was when the Gas Office was located in the Welch Block and if I remember correctly, Miss Bessie Peglar, for many years treasurer of the YWCA Board, was in charge of the sale of tickets.
It was May 9, 1914, when President Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May should be observed as Mother's Day "as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." Actually the idea had originated with Miss Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia in 1907.
I am not sure when Westfield first observed Mother's Day, but in 1919, Rev. John E. Roberts chose for his sermon topic on the second Sunday in May, "The Mother's Ministry."
In 1926, special guests at the Presbyterian Church evening service were the members of the Barcelona and Rogersville Mother's clubs. (Are those clubs still meeting? I know they were up until just a few years ago when many of the members were grandmothers and even great-grandmothers.) That same year the theme for the morning service at the Methodist Church was "the Kind of a Mother a Daughter Would Have," and the evening theme was "The Kind of a Daughter a Mother Would Have."
Remember the Business Girls Club that met at the YW for many, many years? It was traditional for that group to entertain their mothers in May. I found an old program from the year 1932. The toast to mothers was given by Hillevi Applequist and then there were musical selections by the sextet comprised of Helen Farr, Elisabeth Mason, Hillevi Applequist, Mildred Wheeler, Elizabeth Soderholm and Helen M. Selstrom, with Almena Pratt as accompanist. Helen Selstrom spoke on "What Every Mother Knows."
In 1946, Rev. James A Gaiser in his People's Column in The Westfield Republican had this to say, "Mother's Day like Easter and Christmas is something of a fraud if we take the attitude that the spirit of the day is to prevail only one time out of the year." That year, attendance at Mother's Day Service at the Methodist Church broke all records over past Mother's Days. One hundred and sixty-five red carnations were presented to the mothers in the congregation. The flowers were memorial gifts of two families, Mr. and Mrs. Harmon Farr and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Rumsey.
Also in 1946, the Mi-Y Club Banquet at the YWCA was attended by 50 mothers and daughters. Martha Spencer gave the welcoming speech. Ruth Schuette responded for the mothers and Ann Rosel played a flute solo. Not to be outdone by the girls, the YWCA Hi-Y club held a Mother and Son Banquet at Murray Hill.