Town Mouse and Country Mouse

“I never saw a pig until I met your father.” She used the line often. It always got a laugh.

Art by Christina Kretchmer

Art by Christina Kretchmer

We all knew what she meant. She was born and raised a city girl. She married the son of a dairy farmer.

“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” is a famous fable created in 600 BC and attributed to the Greek slave Aesop.

It could be used to describe my parents.

She was the consummate city girl, born and raised in Philadelphia, where her family settled in 1800. Educated in urban Catholic schools, she was an avid equestrian, trained in British riding skills. This was the only horsepower she knew. Public transportation was standard, she never needed a car.

She was bright, energetic, bored with traditional schooling, dropping out after 10th grade to find work. She was a beautiful, rebellious teen, spoiled by a doting father and disciplined by a strict mother. She had an active social life, quite a few suitors, only one serious relationship; in her words, the one that got away.

She met my father through friends when she was 20 years old. He was a 22 year old WW II veteran, steelworker in a town 30 miles west of the city, son of eastern European immigrants.

He was tall, handsome, charming. He won her over. They eloped to Maryland against all advice. He moved her to the country, to a rental he shared with his mother and younger sister.

Less than 2 months later, she had a job she loved, and was pregnant with my oldest sister.

My aunt married and moved out. I came along 2 years later. Grandma tended to the children as my mother worked for “Ma Bell”. Their dual income allowed them to purchase their first and only home.

Four more children arrived. My mother was now at home full time. She still did not drive.

At first, she learned to adapt to country life. Now, she was trapped in it. I can only imagine.

We often took train trips into Philadelphia. If she truly missed the city life, she didn’t talk about it much, at least not out loud.

The Town Mouse & the Country Mouse –


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23 Responses to Town Mouse and Country Mouse

  1. Marta Frant says:

    All English books for kids from 3-4 grade in Russia contain the fairy tale “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”.

  2. That theme plays through many lives I think. It did with my parents too. I’m intrigued by the idea that each of us is story-worthy as our choices unfold through the years. We are all so complex.

  3. You’re a great storyteller – I feel like I know your mom a bit now. ❤
    Diana xo

  4. LaVagabonde says:

    There is adaptation in every relationship. Sometimes our spirits survive. Other times they don’t.

  5. cindy knoke says:

    Poignant history and so well written~

  6. lbeth1950 says:

    Oh my god! I feel like I’ve peeked in your family’s window.

  7. markbialczak says:

    Wonderful story of your parents’ beginnings, Van. Well told, your way.

    I remember my mother learning to drive after we moved to Long Island to Brooklyn when I was in the first grade. My father got our first car and had learned before her in the city to get ready for the occasion. My Uncle Chet, married to mom’s sister, Aunt Marion, and he were the first two drivers on either side. Aunt Marion and my mom were the next two. I wonder why your mom chose not to learn and stay more anchored to your country home.

  8. Love how you write, Van. Glad your parents eloped and made you. No doubt the transition from city city to country mother was tough, but I’m glad she did it, for you are the result.

  9. megdekorne says:

    So cute , I can see you blushing Van ….p.s. I love how you wrote this especially the sentence , ” four more children ….she still did not drive .” …hugs , megxxx

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