My mother, Erna Cram, was born February 18th 1905 in Provo, Utah. She was the first child of Mark W. Cram and Rose Mariah Stoney. I believe that she was born before my grandfather graduated from Brigham Young Academy (Now known as Brigham Young University.) She was a precocious child and could recite at two years old. She loved to sing and to entertain . She had four younger sisters: LaRue, Revo, Faye and Marva. She had no brothers. When she was very young they moved to Ogden where Grandpa got a teaching job. Ogden was home to her and she kept in touch with her childhood friend her whole life. Mother told me she had 100 first cousins!
When Mom was about 20 years old Grandpa got a new job for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. He moved the family to Sacramento, California. I understand that when mom was young she was a little rebellious. Shortly after the family settled in Sacramento Mom decided to move to San Francisco. I’m sure her parents were not happy about this decision. She hitch hiked to ‘the City’ and found an apartment and a job in a Five and Dime store.
While working in the Five and Dime she met my father. He worked with her. Dad was not a member of our church. Their song was, "A Million Dollar Baby from the Five and ten Cent Store" They were married in Sacramento and settled there. I’m sure that Grandma and Grandpa were happy to have her close again. I don’t know a lot about their first few years of marriage. I do know that it was the depression and dad had a hard time finding work. He finally got a job with the Southern Pacific Railroad. I’m sure Grandpa had something to do with that. Dad worked there his whole life until he retired.
I remember Mother telling me about a time when she was directing the Stake Roadshow. She was a good director, poet and artist. She was very supportive of my Dad’s interest in acting. He was in many community theater plays.During most of my growing up years my mother had to work. She had many different jobs, mostly part time. Once she worked demonstrating food in grocery stores. Once she worked for the Greyhound Bus Company. She would distribute pillows to the customers. She had a uniform and I remember being quite impressed with that. Whatever job she had she always made sure she was home whenever we were. She was there to cook most of the time and there to put us to bed and greet us from school. I don’t know how she did it but I never felt like I had a mom who was gone all the time. I am sure Joanne and Paula, my two older sisters were a great help to her.
Mom always had lots of friends. She was everyone’s confidant. She could keep a secret so well that people would tell her all their troubles. She never talked about what was told her in confidence. She also was a person who came to people’s aid. Mother was very wise and people sought her out for her advice. We had a neighbor who was her good friend. Her name was Dottie Smith. She was like an aunt to me.
Mom had a great sense of humor and when she laughed it was like music. She could remember so many of her recitations from when she was little and she taught some of them to her children. Some of you still recite “The Little Pie.” Mom taught that to me and I taught it to my kids. My mom could remember the words to every song of her day. She taught us all her songs and we have been singing them ever since. Dad would play the piano and Mom would sing. She had a lovely alto voice.My mother was a great mother. She taught all of us the Gospel and listened and counseled with us when we needed it. She sang to us and nurtured us and giggled with us. Whenever I was sick or had to stay home from school she would bring me a present…I remember the paperdolls the most. She loved to play games and we would often sit around the dining room table in the evening and play games with her and Dad. They would come out and sit on the front porch and watch us play in the evenings when it was hot. !
My mother struggled with depression. She also had a very hard time during her Menopause. She miscarried at that time and that was very hard for her. She had a friend who was going through a bad time with a new marriage and ask Mom to take her little girl to raise . It was fun for us to have a new little sister. She was ten when I was 15. After about a year the woman just showed up one day and took the child back. It was difficult for my Mom.
When I was in High School mom would help me with my lines for the school play. She also coached me on the speech I had to give for a State contest. I always knew I could ask her and she would help me with anything I needed. She always had good advice when it came to relationships. She taught me my love of reading. When we were children we had a large set of “Child Craft Books.” She would read to us from those books and later encourage us to read them ourselves.
We were all so loved. I think I had the happiest childhood of anyone I knew.