Last week, September 21st marked twelve years since Mommy left this world. But she has never left ME. She never will. In sorting through my memories of her, searching for one to share, I settled on this one. Do you recall marble cake?


As a child I went to what was called “day camp” at the YWCA in Moline, Illinois, my home town. We took sack lunches our moms sent with us. At one of those lunchtimes, I opened my sack to find a bologna sandwich spread with Miracle Whip on Wonder bread, a carton of Orange Ade, a straw, and a thick slice of marble cake.




When growing up (which doesn’t seem to have happened even yet), it was difficult to think of my mom as an actual person. Ya know what I mean? That she was human with a sense of humor, someone who could make a joke or come up with a sort of spoof. She was an adult and a mother and that was that. Daddy was different, he was funny and loved being funny to the point of repeating jokes then and there if he got a laugh! But that’s another story.

So the day when I commenced eating my piece of marble cake and came across a big bulls eye marble inside, it was earth-shattering. My mom had actually played a silly trick on me!


Unforgettable, obviously. As the years flew by, she seldom shared her girlish side. I think she saw her mother-role as a part to play responsibly, hoping to teach me how to act and behave as a lady. That sort of never came to pass. She loves me anyway!


  1. Wow, 12 years. So nice to think of Grammy today and your story. She is always with you as you said just like Nona is always with me, a part of us in a deep in the bones sort of way. I love your story of finding the marble– my mom would have never done that because she would have been afraid I would choke on it or swallow it or something. Pretty ballsy move for Grammy I would say. Made a life-long memory for you. Do you have her recipe for Marble Cake? Hope you bake some for me one day. Have a hankering to give it a try now that you mention it. One time when I was at your house and Grammy was there Steve drove us to Three Forks for ice cream. We all got giant portions if I recall, throwing caution to the wind. I was very sad in my heart at the time but that lifted my spirits immeasurably. Love you, Helen! Love you, Steve! Love you, Suzee Branch! Hope you enjoy a beautiful day basking in your very best memories of your amazing mom.

    • JAN!

      i knew you would enter wholeheartedly into this memory with me. you met grammy in her later years as i did your mom and they were such fine specimens! as dedicated and serious mothers as they come. i’m in my hometown of moline as i type. just tried to get into the building downtown the YWCA used to inhabit, but the doors were locked. i will try again, though. i want in there! (and you know me, heh heh)

      suzee B

  2. Suzee, I so love this memory of your silly mom. I never realized how truly silly she was until I grew up. Helen was still a mother but also a friend. I used to stop in to visit Kit and Helen as I passed by your house on my way home. It was then, after I’d grown up, that I realized she was as funny as your dad and that parents were people, too. Wouldn’t it be fun to know our parents when they were young and to see them as they really were and not just as we saw them then? I miss all of our wonderful parents. Our memories keep them here with us- like when you to me to come over and to enter by way of your bedroom window. Then you put me in your closet with a snack while you had a piano lesson. Your mom didn’t know I was there until I left.( i wonder where she thought I’d come from and I don’t know why I didn’t come out of the closet and leave the way I came in- I guess I thought we’d both be in trouble!)
    I loved this story. I’d never heard it before. No wonder you are so funny- you’re just like your mom and dad!
    Love you and them,

    • yes, janis, i remember many stories regarding your mommy! she was a very wise one. and you have followed in her footsteps. i can hear verdelle’s giggle right now. i was so pissed i couldn’t get in the Y today. i viewed the iron fire escape and had myself a fine chortle! we were daring. i even tried today to find doors in other connected buildings to the old Y. i have not given up. and i won’t!

      suzette dear

  3. I think your Mom probably did have a great sense of humour, but maybe enjoyed seeing your dad having his fun with you so much that she didn’t want to compete with him!

    I try not to cling too much to sad anniversaries because they drag you down, and, as the years go by, the number of sad ones increases for obvious reasons. That is not to say that I don’t remember them, but just, like you seem to do Suzee, try to find the happy memories while I ponder a photo or two.

    Tomorrow will be the thirtieth anniversary of when I lost my Mum, my best friend, and confidante. That day is etched for ever in my head, and the wrenching sadness and loss that I felt is still with me, if I let it. However, last week, on our little trip to the New Forest in Hampshire, I played over several wonderful memories of the childhood holiday that we had there – the moment we all piled put of the car, three children and two dogs, delighted to be free after a long journey, only to run towards a little stream, but straight through a bog! Mum was horrified, but in good humour washed us all down with the drinking water we had carried in the car. Then investigating the inside of the amazing Nelson’s warship, Victory. History brought to life. I enjoyed it just as much second time around.

    Mum got sooo anxious when we took a day trip to the Isle of Wight as it looked like we would miss the last ferry home through packing in so many places in one day. Mum and Dad were great at making sure we had as many experiences as possible.

    Finally, I took Russ to Burley, a tiny village deep in the forest, said to be home to witches and warlocks, and a very spooky place. Lo and behold, the wonderful shop called “The Coven of Witches” is still there, and I felt just as excited to see all the spooky bits for sale as I know that Vanessa and I did so many years ago.

    That was the best way to remember my Mum and Dad – the good times far outweigh the sad ones if you really let yourself think about it. May we all manage to find those memories in time.

    Good to hear from you Suzee

    Love Grauntie Marilyn (Kennel maid) xxx

    PS Glad you didnt swallow the marble!

    • great stories, kennel maid!

      i can picture your mom washing 3 muddy little bodies off with the bottled water. i bet she laughed and laughed.

      now i must go to burley! sounds fetchingly spooky especially this time of year.

      i miss the scary story contest, maybe i’ll do another one some year, yours were always awesome. first place a couple years ago! arachnid comes to mind. eeuuuwww!!!

      suzee B

  4. I had forgotten that it was the YWCA – but I do remember the kind of moldy, old brown wood, high ceilinged, cavernous and dim rooms we had camp in!! And I remember the sack lunches that I completely took for granted! It must have been a great relief for our moms to have some days off during the summer, knowing we were close by and safe. (My favorite lunches to come home to, from Jefferson, were grilled bologna or velveeta cheese sandwiches on wonder bread.)

    • right!!

      when you were talking about bologna sandwiches last night here at hannemans i meant to remind you to read todays blog and forgot. but you DID!

      we had dances upstairs at Y-teens when we grew up. i mean got older!

      suzee B

    • absolutely squeaky and i intend to walk on them before i leave here! i could SEE THEM through the glass door that was maddeningly LOCKED!

      me again

  5. Aaaaaaah. Funny, funny, austere Helen. Always with the doubtful eye. “Will you be taking my daughter down the beaten path? Will you lead her astray?? Can I trust you?” Aaaaah Helen shurely you jest. Shurely you knew it was the other way ’round. I knew you knew. Maybe just maybe she was trying to warn me. Heh heh. I haven’t made your Red Cake recipe (beware of red dye #4 my dear) in quite a while, but I drool when I think of it. And you dear Helen.

    • actually, sway, i think she was always counting on all of you to be the good influences you were. well to a certain extent anyway!

      suzee B

  6. Perfect recollection of our Helen aka Mrs Carson! Tall and austere and a little scary (only because we were usually in a situation we’d prefer she didn’t know about lol)…as we “grew up” (if we ever did)…we came to love the twinkles in her eyes and her love of silly us. You did good by your mommy, suz, she always knew how much you loved her and she never stopped believing in you. Xoxo

    • oh jillzy,

      jillzy of the salty poisonous cracker, HA HA!

      i’m so happy you remember my mommy just as i remember rowena. it’s important. and they are happy with us. whew!

      i love you
      suzee B

  7. We have wonderfully fond memories of the times we were with your mother and are thankful to have known her. So happy she was able to travel with you to our home in Wheaton many years ago. She was a lovely lady!!

    • hi mommypick!

      the “lady” word is key!!

      miss you pammy-the-peach . . .

      and i have the jean’s pocket penholder with a magnet on my fridge that YOUR mommy made for me 🙂

      suzee B

  8. I never got to meet your Mom, but that was a wonderful story. For some reason, the only time I was out there you left me on the Davenport side when you went across the river to visit her.

    I guess you thought you’d be “in trouble” if she knew you were traveling all that way, “with a man”. Well, that’s okay, I feel like I always knew her.

    My Mom (GramE) is still with us (at 93) and just as spry as ever. She still insists on driving herself to the store and the doctor appointments. We have some long lifers in our family so she may be around for awhile still.

    We lost my Dad (Ormly … his “stage” name) about seven years ago in his later eighties. I miss him all the time and still find reminders of his jokes and stories, and his crazy life. From Editor of the “Lab-Oratory” at JPL, to his long involvement as World Chili Ambassador for the ICS.

    But that’s another story, too.

    A toast to your folks, to all our folks, I loved what Janny said about being able to know them when they were younger, before we all came along.

    Russell T

    • rusty,

      so true, to have known “them” when they were young would have been a true wonder. to have been the same age as them then even better. BACK TO THE FUTURE comes to mind!

      yes, a toast to all our folks. hear hear!

      suzee B

  9. Sweet Sue, Lido from Davenport here.
    let me help.
    I tried to sneak into that YWCA once, on a bar-blitz in Moline with Keith Richerts, and I think I remember how. But first, I have to make sure you are who you SAY you are, so I’ll need you to verify you’re THE Suzee B from Mol-City.
    Just verify by telling me two things;
    1. The name of the big river that
    runs through there
    2. The name of the nearest Ketel
    store to you
    When I know it’s Y O U, I’ll tell you how to get in (WITHOUT a parachute, and going through the never-locked roof access stairway on the top of the building)
    Your Fiend,

    • SO, lido, you did gain access into said building. aha, then there IS a way and without a parachute!

      it is me.
      the big river is named The Great Big Enormous Huge River.

      i think that you have given me the clue i needed…the never-locked door! of COURSE!! out of the corner of my eye i believe i saw a door with a sign on it that said “NEVER LOCKED-DOOR”. i’m so excited now!

      i have changed my signature drink by the way. when i know it’s really you i’ll tell what it is now.

      verify by telling me one thing.

      1. what is the name of the large body of water nearest to you on the west.

      suzee B

  10. 12 years? Wow. I remember the day. But did not think it was so long ago. That’s when I moved to Libby. I still have this amazing bath robe that Grammy got for me, wear it most mornings of my life, wearing out but I’ll keep it forever. I miss Grammy. Remember the first time I met her and have fond and funny memories of the country club and quad cities. And her house on that curvy street. One outstanding, upstanding, classy lady.

    • thank you from the bottom of my heart dear dear david P.

      you got the full meaning of grammy for sure, starting day one.

      and i didn’t know about the bathrobe. that’s just wonderful.

      got home from short hills about 5 minutes ago! since i’m in moline and rusty and sonja belong to that country club now. sweet! especially for me and all those memories, a life time’s worth. literally.

      wish you were here.


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