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My Mom

Margaret Virginia Hall Ott


Paula (Ott) Payne

My Mom, Margaret Virginia Hall Ott, was born near Milo,a tiny south central Iowa town, on October 14, 1917. Her dad was a farmer& her mom a homemaker. She had 2 older sisters, Mildred & Mary.Mary died of the flu in 1918.

In 1919, the family moved to a farm near Indianola, Iowawhere her sister Ruth was born. Two years later they moved into Indianolaand her Dad became a laborer.

Mom loved the farm. When she was in junior high they movedback to the Hall farmstead. She had a shetland pony named Nixie. She couldride without anything except a halter. She learned to love and value animals.She likes snakes, spiders, frogs, and almost all creatures. Mildred now had a teaching job in Indianola so my mom and Ruthstayed with her and went to school there. Mom went right on to Simpson Collegethere. At college she met Clifford Ott & married him 5 years later.Mom acquired an elementary teaching certificate & then had enough scholarshipsfor 2 more years of study. She could then teach high school English, speech,& social studies.

Her first teaching job was in a small Iowa town. The superintendenttold her to give 2 basketball players D's instead of F's. She quit after6 weeks and went to work for the Des Moines Public Library. She and Dadwere married on September 29, 1940. The next year they moved to Evanston,Illinois where Dad would attend Garrett Biblical Seminary to become a Methodistminister. Mom worked in the Evanston Public Library, first with the schoollibrarian & later as an assistant in the art & music department.

Dad & Mom moved to Libertyville, Iowa. Because of thewar, every teacher was needed to teach. Mom taught 3rd, 4th, & 5th gradesfor 2 years. Frances was born in 1945. They moved to Crawfordsville andPaula was born in 1947. Their next move was to Varina where Rae was bornin 1952. After Rae was born, Mom went back to teaching Engish in Fonda,Iowa. She taught there 8 years and cherished every one of them.

During these years she worked on a Master's degree in libraryscience at the University of Minnesota. Her Master's paper was on GrantWood, the Iowa artist. During this time, we also lived in Schaller for 5years.

Then Dad spent a year at Seabury-Western Seminary studyingto be an Episcopalian priest.

In 1962 we were asked to move to Hallock, Minnesota. Wedidn't know there was anything but timber north of the Cities, so we hadto study a map. We lived in Hallock for 8 years. All 3 of we girls graduatedfrom Hallock High School.

The only teaching jobs open when we moved to Hallock were3rd grade or PE. Since she didn't want to lose 20 lbs to look good in agym suit, she took 3rd grade. It was one of her best years of teaching becauseshe had to work so hard. She didn't even have any crafts or pictures onfile. She considered moving to Hallock an adventure, even learning to curl.

Three years later Hallock traded Mom to Humboldt becausethey needed a librarian. Mom also taught junior high English and coachedthe plays and debate. Those 3 years were something else! Blizzards, floods,and adopting 6 year old twin boys, Ted & Terence, from Canada.

Mom and Gloria Swanson began teaching an adult educationclass in creative writing calling the group the Scribe Tribe. Encouragedby Cliff Bouvette, they began to research and write a biography of FrederickMcKinley Jones, an inventor who had lived in Hallock many years.

In 1971 my parents and brothers moved to Jamestown, ND.The book, "Man with a Million Ideas," was published by Lerner's.Mom was the junior high librarian in Jamestown. She met Anne Carlson. directorof the Crippled Children's School. Gloria came down and they wrote anotherbiography, "Dr. Anne," published by Augsburg.

My folks final move was to Nebraska City, Nebraska. Dadwas the priest of St. Mary's Episcopal Church there for almost 13 yearsbefore he retired. Mom was the elementary librarian. Nebraska City is thehome of Arbor Day, a time celebrated everywhere to plant trees. Mom wrotea book about Caroline, the wife of J. Sterling Morton, who started ArborDay in 1872. It is celebrated the last Friday in April. Momis now retired. Dad died a few years ago. Mom still lives in the huge oldhouse they bought that was built in 1883 & was the Bone Dairy.

We kids laugh that Mom is on the go all the time. She belongsto Questers, Delta Kappa Gamma, Eastern Star, PEO, the local historicalsociety, and of course is active in her church. She has given many bookreviews and presentations as Emma Morton, the sister of J. Sterling.

Two years ago she took her daughters on a trip to England,Scotland, & Wales. This summer we are all going to Alaska. Mom was theNational Arbor Day honoree in 1997.

She took a course on Nebraska history and literature, followedby a bus trip around the state. Last summer she & I (Paula) went toKittson County to see friends and do some research on new projects. Momhas always been & still is an avid reader. She often judges state historyday contests.

She still loves animals. She has many bird & squirrelfeeders in her backyard. Every Spring she hopes the wood ducks will nestin her big tree, & sometimes they do.

She doesn't really live alone, there is Calliope, the catwho has no claws but a nasty hiss! The 10 grandchildren call her an attackcat, but Mom says she is just a one-person cat.

hiss! The 10 grandchildren call her an attackcat, but Mom says she is just a one-person cat.