Throwback Thursday – Happy Mother’s Day

Group of [Fishing Village] Mothers and Children | Emily Cullum Collection, Montauk Library Archives
Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official holiday in 1914, “as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” But seeds had already been sown – even by ancient Greeks and Romans, who honored the mother goddesses with festivals. In the 19th century, Anna Reeves Jarvis helped organize “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to teach good child care and “Mothers’ Friendship Day” to reunite estranged Union and Confederate soldiers. The abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe rallied for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to promote world peace – another laudable, often feminine cause.

After the death of her mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis, in 1905, Anna Jarvis, who was childless herself, lobbied to honor mothers and the sacrifices they made for their children. She succeeded when Mother’s Day became official, but later was upset that it came to be so commercialized. What she had envisioned, according to, was “a day of personal celebration between mothers and families.”

That is exactly what this photo seems to celebrate. Dell Cullum said it was taken on the front porch of the home of his grandmother Evangeline (Vangy) Burke on Second House Road, which still stands. Vangy, bottom left, is holding Margaret Burke Lachman and Dell’s other grandmother, Florence Cullum, center, is holding Marilyn Cullum Lopez, Dell’s sister. Proceeding clockwise from Vangy and Margaret are Velda Cullum Flower; Ralph George and his dog Whitie; Mabel Pitts Wilson, Vangy’s sister; Emily Burke Cullum, Dell’s mother; Celina McDonald Seitz; Marie Pitts McMahon; Frances McDonald Ecker; Edna Parsons and her daughter Nancy; unidentified; Betty Roselle Pitts, holding Betty Lou Pitts; Nancy Wilson King, holding Mabel Wilson’s daughter; and Florence and Marilyn.

Dell said it was rare for his two grandmothers to be photographed together. Given the absence of fathers and husbands, his guess was that this special occasion was Mother’s Day, most likely in 1945. It appears to have been a very happy day.

One Comment

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    Robert Reply

    Unbelievable treasure found. My father’s sister Betty Roselle Pitts holding my cousin Betty Lou, the daughter of my uncle Captain Clancy Pitts who sailed his 26’ fishing boat from Gosman’s dock to support his family during the Depression. His sisters Mabel and Marie survived as well, testifying to the incredible toughness of East Ender families.

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