The new exhibit at the Westchester Township History Museum may be the mother
of them all, at least for exhibits built around the second highest
gift-giving holiday in the United States.
“Mother O’ Mine: A Celebration of Mother’s Day,” which opened on May 5, will
raise your maternal IQ with lessons on the very earliest Mother’s Day
celebrations in Greece and how the holiday has evolved in the U.S since the
Civil War. The display also celebrates motherhood in art, games and trivia.
May 12 and 13
An exclusive gift will be handed out to every mom who visits the “Mother O’
Mine” exhibit this Mother’s Day weekend, May 12 and 13. They will each get a
free carnation to take with them, museum registrar Joan Costello said. A
pink or red carnation honors a living mother while white carnations are
traditionally worn to honor a mother who has passed away, Costello
A Group Effort
“Mother O’ Mine” is the first ever Mother’s Day-themed exhibit for the
museum and has a few mothers of its own. Museum curator Serena Sutliff
developed the ideas and spearheaded the games and trivia portions. Costello
was in charge of collecting photographs of township mothers and
grandmothers. Researcher Eva Hopkins scanned the photographs while educator
Ben Blohm selected the art pieces.
“Everybody does their own piece with the project. I made a lot of phone
calls,” said Costello.
Museum staff collected 18 photographs of moms, grandmas, daughters, sons, or
any combination. A computer slideshow includes photos of Max, Karyn, and
Mason Witt; Lynn Welsh and Ann Hokanson; Avis Lukach; Germaine Brockington;
John and Phyllis Canright; Connie Wells; Connie Wells and Verna Largent
Snider; Ellena Haslett and Marjorie Hubbard; Marjorie Hubbard and Oral
Haslett Smith; Helen Wagner; Marjorie Hokanson with daughters Nancy and
Eleanor; Frances Bowen Wells; Ralph and Pauline Sabinske; Adele “Grammy”
Doler; Barbara J. Whisler Doler; Claire Williams; Charlotte Read and Tekla
Johnson; Jenny and Hugh Hopkins.
Another batch of photos are found on the museum walls of mothers of museum
and Thomas Library staff such as Evelyn Bruhn – mother to Eva Hopkins,
Elvina Plourde – mother to library reference manager Rudy Plourde, and Alice
Marvene Naylor – mother to circulation manager Claire Williams.
Shedding light on the history of the holiday, museum goers can follow the
timeline of when the ancient Romans set aside a day to celebrate Juno Lucina,
the “goddess of childbirth, motherhood and women” on March 1. Christians in
the Middle Ages declared the fourth Sunday of Lent to be “Mothering Sunday.”
Women’s peace groups after the Civil War held events to bring together
mothers who had sons that fought on either side. One of the mothers’
daughters, Anna Jarvis, began honoring her mother in church and later sought
help to lobby congress to create a national day to honor mothers. Congress
did so in 1914.
Interestingly, Jarvis tried to have the holiday abolished once it became
increasingly commercialized in the 1920s and was arrested in 1930 for
protesting a carnation sale. Her protest proved futile and today 140 million
Mother’s Day cards are purchased per year. The public will spend $14.6
billion this year for Mother’s Day, according to Sutliff’s fun facts.
Fun and Games
Pop culture fans can challenge themselves to two games in the exhibit. One
game asks visitors to match the literary mothers with the books they are in.
The titles range from classics Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”
and John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” to more recent titles like “Harry
Potter” and “The Hunger Games.”
The other activity quizzes visitors on recognize famous TV and Movie moms
(and Mr. Moms) on a range from easy to difficult. You’ll probably recognize
June Cleaver but do you know Jill Taylor from “Home Improvement”?
When asked if there is a Father’s Day exhibit in the works, Costello said
there is not but “there’s always next year.”
“Mother O’ Mine” will sunset on May 27 to make way for the museum’s next
exhibit “The Lives and Legacies of William and Flora Richardson” which will
run June 2 to Sept. 2 in conjunction with the Brauer Museum of Art’s “The
Photographs of William D. Richardson” scheduled for May 18 to Aug. 5 at
Valparaiso University Center for the Arts.
The Westchester Township History Museum located at 700 West Porter Ave. is
open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.