My Mother, Who Is Grand   9 comments

Cruzn To The Street FairMy mother was selected to be the 2015 Grand Marshall of our hometown parade at the Graham Street Fair. It seems only fitting, as you will learn, since she helped plan the first Street Fair 64 years ago.

Here is her story, as told by her in the “Cruz’n To The Fair” program book for the 2015 Graham Street Fair:

Letha Maria Mowry, preschool RTLetha (Shull) Mowry was born southeast of Graham on the 2 March 1930 to Lee Edison & Ruth Mary (Decker) Shull. Dad was a renter so we moved from my birthplace to northeast of Graham, then moved west of Maryville and then southwest of Maitland. It was from there I started school, in a rural school at the ripe old age of 5 years.

I later went to Maitland Elementary School for a couple of years, and then moved to the farm the folks bought northwest of Graham. I attended Elkhorn rural school until it closed and we went to Graham for my eighth grade year.

James Woods Decker. Graham High School teacher, principal and Grandfather.

James Woods Decker. Graham High School teacher, principal and Grandfather.

It was quite an experience to have science taught by my Grandpa Decker – and to be scolded by a Senior girl for not paying respect to Mr. Decker! He then announced in each class that I was his granddaughter and could call him Grandpa!

The Pipeline Booster Station was being built near our house northwest of Graham, and a better road was needed. In the fall of 1943, the hedge on either side of the road was bulldozed out into the road in preparation … October came and it rained and rained and rained. No school bus could go up that road, and we were 3.5 miles from the blacktop. My third grade little sister, Mary Nelle and I couldn’t make that walk twice a day, so it was determined Mom, Mary Nelle, James Leroy and I would go to Maryville to live with Grandma (Cora Baugher) Shull. I enrolled in Horace Mann High School, and Leroy was enrolled in Kindergarten there. Mary Nelle couldn’t go there (they had limited enrollment and the third grade was full), so she had to go to Eugene Field Elementary School.

The Shull Kids, 1940

The Shull Kids, 1940

Mom and the kids went home for the summer, but I had to work, so I stayed on with Grandma. I baby-sat and cleaned houses for the hefty sum of a quarter an hour! I chose to stay on to graduate from HMHS as there was work available – and I thought the opportunity for college was here, too.

Letha Shull, Senior Picture, 1947 Horace Mann High School, Maryville, MO

Letha Shull, Senior Picture, 1947 Horace Mann High School, Maryville, MO

My senior year in High School I went to college in the morning and high school in the afternoon. I went to college that summer and ended with 29.5 college credits. That fall (1947), I taught at Lincoln rural school north of Oregon, MO.

I was offered a contract for the next year, but declined as Bob Mowry and I were married 16 June 1948 in the Methodist parsonage at Maitland, MO and I became a farm wife.

I was active in the Good Luck Club and joined Decker Rebekah Lodge # 843 in 1952.

In 1951, when the Graham Street Fair was started, I helped with that also. I was the Good Luck Club representative. The Lyle Club was responsible for the planning. We met at Cora Lyle’s home to begin the planning for that first fair.

Robert & Letha Mowry, 1948

Robert & Letha Mowry, 1948

Bob and I remained living southeast of Graham where our children Mary Elizabeth (16 Oct 1951) and Henry Lee (15 July 1956) were born and grew up. Both are graduates of Nodaway Holt R-VII. In 1971, Bob and I bought a home in Graham and lived there until Bob’s death 28 Oct 1985. By then, both kids were gone from home and married.

While living in Graham, I became active in the Graham Historical Society. In fact, when the first history On The Banks Of The Elkhorn was put together, it was assembled around our dining room table by Earnest & Ardith Kneale and Bob and I. It was about that time that both Earnest and Bob threatened us with divorce if we did another book.

The next volume came out a year later but no divorces – nor was it assembled around a dining room table.

After Bob’s death, I needed to go to work so I was determined that I needed more education. I enrolled in the NWMO Technical School in Maryville, MO under the Displaced Housewives program. I was enrolled in the secretarial education class to learn computers. My education cycle had come full circle – my teacher was Elizabeth! I DID earn my grades!

1 Jan 1987 I began work as Deputy Recorder of Deeds working under Donna Carmichael, Recorder. Commuting from Graham to Maryville each day was not easy for a widow woman, so in the spring I purchased a home in Maryville and moved there in April.

Graham is still “down home” in my heart and will remain so!

Letha, with Henry & Elizabeth. 2006.

Letha, with Henry & Elizabeth. 2006. This is the photo that will forever be known as Mom’s attitude photo! It was Sis’ fault, honest.


Things I Learned At The Street Fair

9 responses to “My Mother, Who Is Grand

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  1. 😋

    • Yep, your mom IS grand – and was before she became Grand Marshal of 2015 Street Fair!!! So glad you guys will be able to be here – she’ll enjoy showing you off!! Sorry we won’t be there – enjoy the fair!!

  2. Amazing that I ran across your blog. I always loved your Mom. She would save 100’s of stamps for me when I was a kid, always an amazing lady with amazing stories.

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  6. One of the grandest ladies I know!! What a delight to see her honored, as she should be!!

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