Beloved community member to turn 90-years-old soon
On March 17, 1928 (in case your math has gotten a little rusty…that’s 90 years ago), the 8th and final “bundle of joy” arrived in a small Louisiana town at the Hudson household! That “bundle of joy” was my sweet Mama, Hazel Hudson Dillon! As I just mentioned, my Mama was the youngest of 8 children born into her family. She had two older sisters and five older brothers who adored her from day one…well, mostly, anyway! My Aunt Polly had married shortly before my Mama’s birth, and her husband, Allen, was given the privilege of naming his new sister-in-law. Legend has it that he chose both her first and middle names (Hazel LaVern) after two old girlfriends…sounds just like something that rascal would do!
Mama says that her Mother often told her she was worn completely out by the time she (Mama) came along…this has never been verified…J…but I don’t doubt it’s voracity…I’m quite certain raising 8 children in those days (or in any day, for that matter) was no easy task. While my Grandmother, Mama Lucy, and my Granddaddy, Papa Reese, may have, indeed, been tired when she arrived, my Mother had 7 siblings who adored and doted on her from the very beginning. With one exception, I was blessed to know and love all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for many years….few people get to claim that blessing! My Mother had one brother, Charlie, who died early in childhood from complications of pneumonia.
For any of you who knew Mama in earlier years, you’ll remember that she had beautiful red hair…and from what I’ve heard over the years, the mischief to go along with it. As a youngster, she received one of her worst “spankings” from bathing a bunch of baby kittens on the porch in freezing weather…of course; she thought they needed a bath! My Papa Reese used to tell Mama she should bathe often…he said it was just entirely too much dust and dirt to wash off all at one time if she only took a bath once a week. We’ve shared many laughs over that throughout the years.
As the years move on, I continue to find out little known facts about my Mother. For instance, just last week, she told me she had played on her school basketball team (she was a guard). I asked her if they played other teams (I wasn’t certain since that was so long ago). She got just a little “huffy” and said they not only played other teams, but also played in regular tournaments. I guess some things really haven’t changed all that much. Mama also played the snare drums in her high school band. She recalls that they had starched uniforms. On one occasion, she had been out in the sun with no sunblock (not recommended for a red head), gotten badly sunburned, then had to don that stiff uniform for a band function. Though she wanted to bail, her Mother made her dress and go because her fellow band members were depending on her. Mama remembers that being quite a painful learning experience!
My Mother left the big town (NOT) of Haughton, Louisiana, after graduation and moved to Shreveport. She resided in a boarding house there and worked as a telephone operator for some time. One of her clearest memories of that job was the day the Texas City Explosion occurred (April 16, 1947). She said the switchboard lit up like fireworks in a dark sky. Ironically, she later married someone who had been badly injured in that explosion. At some point that I’ve determined to be perhaps late 1948 (neither she nor my Daddy has ever been able to give me a definite timeframe…go figure), she met my Father, Joe Dillon, on a blind date. She recalls looking out the window to see him walking up the sidewalk and thinking he was the biggest man she’d ever seen. Now at that time, my Daddy was about 6’1” on a short day, had on a Stetson cowboy hat (that’s probably redundant…I’m not sure), and weighed in at over 200 pounds. All that to say, Mama could have been right…he might have been the biggest man she’d ever seen! Daddy traveled from Texas City to Shreveport for the privilege of dating Miss Hudson, and I guess at some point, he tired of that because he eventually proposed! JUST KIDDING, MAMA!
My parents were married in 1950 and began their life together in Texas City where Daddy worked and where my brother, Larry, and I were raised. I have so many fond memories of my precious Mother…staying up till all hours sewing something new for me, splitting a piece of Wrigley’s spearmint gum between my brother and me (we were adults before we realized you could actually chew an entire stick of gum by yourself), putting perms in my hair, cooking wonderful meals day-after-day, baking Lizzies with Aunt Peggy, taking us to eat at Whataburger when Daddy was on a hunting trip, shelling peas till our fingers hurt, going to bat for us when she thought my Daddy was too strict, accompanying us on school field trips, doing without so Larry and I could have something we didn’t need, but wanted, dressing us up for special occasions, teaching us to love and respect all people, and most importantly, making certain we were in church and Sunday school every week of our lives. I thank God daily for the devotion of both my Mama and Daddy in this particular area…as it gave me the opportunity to have the wonderful relationship I now enjoy with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…indeed, the best gift they ever shared!
So…I guess you’ve figured out by now that I’m crazy about this lady I’ve called “Mama” for the past 65 years and that I feel eternally blessed to be her daughter. I remember the days that I thought my Mama was old when she was 30; today, I believe she is old in years, but still very young at heart. My Mother is the woman I endeavor to emulate each and every day of my life. Family has always been FIRST for her and she has taught me well its infinite value. This July, my parents will be married 68 years! If you happen to see Hazel, my sweet Mama, sometime close to March 17th, wish her a Happy 90th Birthday. Our entire family will honor her with our presence on her special day…the family she and my Daddy loved and raised so devotedly. I can’t wait!
I love you, Mama…more than you’ll ever know! BEC