Remembering Mom: June Solomon Booth (1923-2003)

Mom and I shortly after my birth.
Mom and I shortly after my birth.

June 9, 1923 was a very special day for me. This was the day that Annie Solomon gave birth to the last of the many children that she and Charles brought into the world. They would call this last child June Leona Solomon. June spent the first eighteen years of her life in the small coal-mining town of Patton, Pennsylvania. However, there weren’t many opportunities in Patton; so June followed her married sister, Frances, to Detroit.

Mom as a young child in Patton, PA.  She is the one in the middle.
Mom as a young child in Patton, PA. She is the one in the middle.

The big city was a contrast to the small laid back life back in Patton. She often spoke about working in the Guardian Building and living on Grand Blvd. In time, June would meet Arthur Booth and in 1950 they would become husband and wife. I would be the last child born to my parents in August of 1955.

Dad and Mom before I came on the scene.
Dad and Mom before I came on the scene.

In life, we can choose whom we marry, we can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our mothers. I am very grateful for the mother that God gave to me. She wasn’t a perfect person, but she was the perfect mother for me.

My mother was able to stay home with the three of us because my Dad sacrificed by working two jobs. Mom took her role as mother quite seriously. She took care of all of our basic needs. She always fixed our meals without complaints. She packed my sack lunch with loving care  She took care of our clothes. I still remember her ironing in the dining room as she would spray water on the clothes before she would pass the iron over them.  She also took us to all the places that we needed to go.

Mom did much more than take care of our basic needs. She loved us. She showed her love in how she sacrificed her time for us. She made it a point to give each of us special attention. Often, we would gather around the table with Mom and play Scrabble, Password or Jeopardy. The highlight of my day was bedtime, because Mom would tuck me into my bed and then read a story to me. She started with stories from Uncle Remus or Dr. Seuss.  When I was older she would read biographies and historical novels. She taught me to have a love for reading and history.

My Mom also enjoyed being involved in different community organizations. She was involved in the Midland Elementary School PTA.  She also was a den mother for the Cub Scouts for a couple of years. I still remember her working on the craft projects that her pack would do that day.  Mom also taught Sunday School for a couple of years at the Highland Park Congregational Church.  I was proud to be in her Junior High class.

Holidays and birthdays were always special to Mom. She would decorate our house special on each holiday. She enjoyed hiding the Easter baskets for Easter. She also was right there cleaning out the pumpkin for Halloween. Thanksgiving dinner was always a special treat. To this day, I can still taste her stuffing that would come right out of the turkey.

As for birthdays, she always prepared a big party. One year when Batman was popular on television, she gave me a Batman party with Batman hats, plates, and cups. She always invited our rather large extended family to the party as well as my friends. She made each birthday like one gigantic celebration.

Mom enjoying hosting one of my birthday parties.
Mom enjoying hosting one of my birthday parties.

Mom also had a real gift of hospitality. She always seemed to have some family member at our house. She always welcomed my friends into the house. I never heard her complain about the noise that we made while we were playing. She never said, “I wish you and your friends would go somewhere else.”

Mom was not always comfortable driving. She didn’t mind Woodward Avenue or Oakland Avenue, but the Davison and the Lodge expressways were off-limits in her mind. One day, Mom made a wrong turn and somehow she was driving on the Davison Expressway entering the Lodge. I was standing in my usual position in the back seat (Remember no seat belts or car seats in those days). I felt the panic of Mom as she asked me what to do?  As a seven-year old, I sure didn’t have the answer. Somehow, we made it off the Lodge Expressway.  I never again remember Mom driving on one of the expressways. If she did, I was glad that I wasn’t with her.

The greatest contribution that Mom made in my life was that she taught me about God.  She didn’t read the Bible to me, but she did take me to church and gave me a prayer to repeat when I went to bed. She always told me not to put anything on top of the Bible because it was God’s Word. Because of Mom’s influence, when I was in high school, I started to read my Bible in search of God and how I could be right with Him. By the time, I was a student in college, I had placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior.

After accepting Christ, I took Mom to Coltman Memorial Baptist Church which was a small Baptist church on Hamilton near Puritan. The people in the church really loved Mom and she loved them. She would soon accept the Lord as her Savior and she was also baptized. Being younger than most of the people in the church, Mom would have a ministry of helps to many of the older women in the church. She would learn much from the Word of God as result of the good teaching she would receive.

Mom with the ladies of Coltman Memorial Baptist Church
Mom with the women of Coltman Memorial Baptist Church

When we left to minister in South Africa in 1983, Mom found it difficult to adjust. She would miss us, especially as the children would grow up in another land. Mom would send us cassette tapes of her thoughts and memories. This helped the children to relate to family back in the States. We would visit every couple of years and this would be a special time for our children to bond with their grandparents.

In 1996, we would return to the States. Mom was finding it difficult to get out, but she still found a certain joy when we would come and visit her. She loved our three children.  With sadness, we would say goodbye to Mom in July of 2003. It has been ten years since I have been able to kiss Mom and say: “I love you.” I probably didn’t do this enough in this life.  However, I thank God that I could call June Booth, “Mom”.

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Easter Memories of Growing Up in Highland Park

Easter 1959

Easter 1959

My mom enjoyed every holiday on the calendar. She wanted to make each holiday special for her family by decorating for each holiday and help us get excited about the upcoming occasion. Easter was no exception. Mom made this holiday very special to us.

My Easter celebration started sometime before Easter with a trip to Robert Hall clothing store on Woodward and Candler. Normally, my clothes were purchased at Sears and Roebuck, or the Hudson’s Budget Store, but for Easter Mom would go all out. A trip to Robert Hall meant a new suit to wear for Easter. I never liked suits (I still don’t) but to Mom it was important that we looked our best on Easter. Mom would pick out a “perfect suit” for me and then get a clip-on tie to go with it.  I don’t know what Dad thought about the cost, but I was now ready for Easter!

The old Robert Hall building on Woodward and Candler

The old Robert Hall building on Woodward and Candler

Before Easter was Palm Sunday. I never learned until later the meaning of Palm Sunday, but it was a special occasion at the Highland Park Congregational Church where we attended.  Normally, the children didn’t enter the church sanctuary, but on Palm Sunday we had our chance to have a small part in the worship service.  We would be given a palm leaf. Then we would line up and march down the long aisle of the church. This seemed to make the older people happy.  For me, it just seemed neat to see people smile.

The center aisle of the sanctuary of the Highland Park Congregational Church

The center aisle of the sanctuary of the Highland Park Congregational Church

During the week before Easter, Mom would get everything ready to color our Easter Eggs.  She would buy special egg coloring and then boil the eggs that we were going to color.  Mom would prepare several bowls with different colors. Mom would give me an egg dipper for my egg. I would place the egg tenderly in the dipper then place it inside the bowl.  I would marvel as the egg would change colors before my eyes. Though I enjoyed coloring the eggs, I never ate them because I didn’t like eggs in any form or fashion.

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When Easter morning arrived, our job was to find our Easter baskets. Mom would take great pleasure in hiding the baskets from us.  I remember one year she had hidden my basket in the clothes dryer. Once the basket was found, the eating began. The baskets generally had jelly beans, small chocolate eggs (my favorite) marshmallow eggs (not my favorite), a few small chocolate bunnies and one large chocolate bunny.  The treats in the basket would last awhile. It wasn’t often that we would have so much chocolate to enjoy.

After we had a start on the baskets, then I would go with Mom to church. I don’t remember much about Easter in church because the children had their own church time. I am sure we heard something about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but at that time in my life, the death and resurrection of Christ were very vague to me.

As I look back upon my Easter celebrations, I know that I didn’t really understand the true meaning of Easter, but I am thankful for my mother making it a special occasion in my life.  I know that she went out of her way to make us happy to this special time of year.  When I was young, I just took all of this for granted.  I am thankful for my Mom who cared enough to do the extra little things in the life of her family.

Looking good in our Robert Hall suits.

Looking good in our Robert Hall suits.