Woman's Work is Never Done series
Mow Work for Mom
"Mow Work for Mom"
This is an action portrait of my maternal grandmother, Doris Elliott Garlock mowing the grass in front of the house they rented in Dumont, New Jersey. It was 1945, a time of economic turbulence as the nation retooled from wartime production to peacetime prosperity. During the war, my grandfather worked as Plant Engineer for the Ford Instrument Company on Long Island, who made bombsights for defense. He was forced to look elsewhere for work as defense jobs evaporated when the GI's returned and war production ceased. When he travelled to expand his job search, my grandmother was left to mind the homefront.
She had seven children at the time of this photo, including one still in diapers. The oldest was off playing professional baseball for the New York Giants; another off with his uncle in Tennessee working in a lumber business; another in Michigan working at a hunting/fishing lodge. So it was "Mom" who had to mow the lawn, so she wouldn't lose the toddlers in the long grass and the neighbors wouldn't complain about her "wheat field"!
In working on the painting, I wanted to keep the feeling of black-and-white photography while enlivening the monochrome colored pencil by using the full range of Prismacolor’s cool, warm, and French grays to warm up the foreground, push the grass, shrubs, and houses into the background, and add a hint of local color to her skin and clothing.
This is the third in the series "Woman's Work is Never Done."
Doris Elliott Garlock
My grandmother was born Doris Elliott in 1909 on her parent's farm in Hammondsville, a small town in southeastern Ohio. When they were 14 my grandfather, Emery Garlock and his twin brother hopped a train in Sebring, Ohio to find work. It didn't take long after he arrived in town and started work in the brickyard, for he and my grandmother to fall in love. They courted and "smooched" in the old covered bridge for four and a half years before they married in 1926 when she was seventeen and he was nineteen. They moved away to begin a new life, the first of many moves to follow his job as a self-made civil engineer. From Wisconsin, back to Ohio, to the Pittsburgh area in Pennsylvania, to New Jersey, back to the Pittsburgh area, to Illinois, to Oklahoma City in 1953 where they put down roots for the remainder of their lives.
Most of the packing and moving was taken care of by my grandmother because my grandfather had always gone ahead to find a job. To say nothing of time and energy spent producing eight children! The moving was done with her left hand, while her right hand tended babies, toddlers, and teens - often all at the same time. This was before dishwashers, disposable diapers, rug cleaners, floor scrubbers, automatic washers and dryers, etc. Even through the winter months she hung diapers, blue jeans, and white shirts outside on the clothesline and brought them in stiff as boards when they froze and stood them up around the kitchen to thaw and finish drying - and then set to ironing all the shirts, pillowcases, kid's clothes, etc.
Definitely "Mow Work for Mom!"