Memories: Hazel Hill Lindgren by Jon Gilmore Lindgren December, 2020
Hazel Hill Lindgren was my mother, married to Gilmore Lindgren, son of Frank and Amy Johnson Lindgren. I was the youngest. My three older brothers were Richard, Ted and Carleton.
My mother’s obit has her official record of life so this is to fill in a few recollections about her long life. As an overview, her life was like I suppose the majority of married women of her time. She ended up living her adult life in her husband’s community instead of her own. This, of course, happens today to both men and women but then it was mostly women.
She grew up a Methodist and spent most of her life in the Covenant Church of my father’s community. She told me late in her life it wasn’t quite as comfortable for her but she enjoyed it nevertheless.
Mother Hazel had a strong curiosity of the art and intellectual life. She combed over the two or three newspapers my parents subscribed to as well as several magazines looking for poetry. She clipped out poetry she liked and carefully preserved it in note books. At church and community events she was asked often to read a poem she thought fit the occasion. I know she enjoyed doing that.
When I was in High School there were various student evaluations and achievement tests to fill out. I remember on a couple of occasions the question, “Does your family subscribe to any of these?” One listed was The New Yorker. I would guesss there were few farm children within many miles who marked yes. It did not occur to me that was probably unusual. It was the kind of reading our mother enjoyed.
While some conveniences came along during her decades as a wife, mother and farm partner the physical and mental demands of farm life had to be tough ones. Until I was maybe six years old mother used a wringer washing machine and a clothes line. There were six in the family so the volume was daunting. She cooked those years on a cookstove that burned corn cobs. I remember how my brothers and I would hang around that cook stove and talk in the winter because it was the warmest place in the house. She, on the other hand, would be asking us constantly to move out of her way so she could tend to things on the stove.
I have the impression she was a steady hand and safe ear for other women in the neighborhood. Over time I learned of things they confided in her but were matters not to be shared with others.
In her youth she was a track athelete. I believe she ran the hurdles. She seldom talked of this–I recall seeing a picture of her in her track outfit. Since I was the youngest by a few years I spent time around the farm house with her when my other brothers were in the fields working. I recall once at maybe five or six years old running as fast as I could and being quite amazed at myself. Mother, being the only other person around, had to hear me brag about how fast I could run. I said I was sure I could run faster than her. So, we had a race. She dashed past me easily. I felt rather sorry for myself thinking others had no right to tarnish my ego–I complained to her about beating me. She replied with a smile, “I’m really competitive in running, I don’t like to get beaten either.”
While for years she often did not feel well, she ended up being the caretaker of our dad. She kept his spirits up during his several years of illness. After he died the entire family wished she would not stay in the farmhouse. But, we could not come up with an alternative we thought she would like. Then, she figured out herself the right place was in Ames near Iowa State University. She was happy there for several years. It was a fitting reward for so many decades of spartan rural life.