MISSION – If there is one thing you could say about Edna Moss it is that she is one gutsy broad! That is only said in the highest regard for this women who never let anything slow her down. Starting life as an only child to older parents, Edna was born, raised and still lives in the same little town of Moville, Iowa.
"My dad was a truck driver and ran a truck line as well as being a farmer. I was raised in town and today there are 1,200 people there. It's a town where you can turn your kids loose and let them play. The people don't lock their doors very often," she said with a grin. "You don't find towns like that anymore!
"I remember having a marvelous childhood and was spoiled rotten. In school I was in everything - music, art, drama, cheerleading and was a horseback rider. My dad even bought me a horse!"
Edna never had to do anything at home but consequently, her mother never taught her how to do anything around the house either. She was about to get a slap in the face!
"I got married at 17 when I fell in love. At that time you could either get married or go to college. I had a free ride to college but I chose to get married and entered the real life."
She had met Jim before he left for the Navy but it was at their county fair after he returned the relationship sort of started.
"He gave me a nickel and said, ‘Call me when you grow up," she said, laughing at the memory. "That's what a phone call cost then. The next year I ran into him again and that was the big romance. He was three years older and good looking."
Jim was a farmer, a construction worker working dirt and an over the road truck driver.
"At one time we were farming 600 acres and he was making a round trip every week to New Orleans. He knew how to work," Edna said, her eyes taking her back in time. "I had to learn how to work. I didn't know. Work was a dirty four letter word when I was a kid."
Jim was gone on the road much of the time. Still they had seven children, with three miscarriages, in 10 years. Her mom had passed on after Edna was married and her dad died after the first grandson was born so she did it alone.
"I never got out of maternity clothes! Some of my babies were so close together I had three in diapers at one time and there wasn't such a thing as disposables. Good thing there wasn't because I would have been so mad that I couldn't afford them. I'd really have been furious," she said, chuckling.
"I loved being a mom. With that many it was hard work. I was ill-equipped to raise children. I'd never seen a baby until I had one. I'd never changed a baby until I had a baby. I never baby sat. I didn't know a thing about kids."
She managed to make it through and learned to be a hard worker. Her fried chicken recipe started out - "First you go catch four chickens and ring their necks."
Jim worried about Edna and old age.
"When he was driving he'd see these old ladies with a scarf over their heads and a little bucket in their hands walking along the railroad tracks picking up the coal that had fallen off the coal cars. He was so worried that when I got old I would have to do that and he didn't want me to live like that," she said.
They never should have worried. Jim was a workaholic and Edna followed in his footsteps. On the farm they had 200 head of beef cows they raised as a hobby, and Edna raised the kids, did the gardening, raised the chickens and helped with the farm chores including milking cows.
After the kids were raised she decided to make candy. It was so good she made her basement into a licensed candy kitchen and sold her candy at craft shows at Sioux City, Omaha and Lincoln.
"They were huge convention center shows. I would take 250 pounds of homemade fudge in different flavors and around 150 pounds of hand dipped turtles and truffles along with 30 cases of my jams," said Edna. "Nobody knew my name buy I made money out the ears." [Writer's note: those jams are scrumptious!]
When she moved into town and sold her house to her daughter her kitchen was gone and she retired.
"I hate retired. I don't like it at all," she said, as if anyone would believe Edna would EVER retire!
"I got into flowers and raised irises. At one time I had 1,000 iris roots of all the very latest iris. I did the same with day lilies. I shipped the roots all over the world - England, Australia, Germany. I had a nationally advertised catalog business," Edna said, pride in her voice.
When Jim came home to stay she didn't have time for the flowers anymore and sold them all off, hard to do for a Master Gardener.
All of that still doesn't complete her resume.
Edna so loved to cook she took it to the office - restaurant that is - and made a living out of it, cooking in the kitchens, baking thousands of donuts and dinner rolls. At one point she even had two restaurants cooking home-made food. There were a number of years she and her daughter ran a successful catering business.
"Been there, done that," Edna said about the variety in her career. "I've done a lot of things in my life but I've had an interesting life. I was a stringer for the Sioux City Journal for years writing human interest. I loved it."
When she could she traveled with Jim and logged in over 100,000 miles with him on his rig.
"I was learning so much I didn't know I was learning - like how to stay safe. You always walk as though you are going somewhere and you act as if you know what you're doing even if you don't. Don't walk like a victim. Be careful where you put you. Rest areas are generally quite safe depending what state you're in and where you are. I wouldn't stay in a rest area in Massachusetts, for example."
Traveling with Jim gave her a unique insight into him, helping her understand why he was the way he was.
"When a truck driver comes home all they want is their own bed laying still, not moving down the road. They don't want to take you out to dinner because they've eaten out for a week or two. I understood why he was respected so much, that it was because his work was good. Strawberries are really hard to haul because they are so touchy - they need a certain temperature. They trusted Jim to haul strawberries," she said, glorying in her husband's work ethics.
That's why when he told her he missed it Edna understood. He had come home to "park" full time which caused some surprises.
"All those years with him being gone and me raising those kids and managing the farm and the trucking business, he turned me into a strong independent woman. When he came home to live full time, he decided he didn't want one of those. We had a lot of trouble getting straightened out who did what and who told who what to do," she said. "But, we worked it out."
Jim also didn't want to travel once he was home so Edna went out on her own, taking her first airplane flight to Hawaii, went to the Netherlands by herself and to Louisiana with her sister-in-law. She bought a little pop-up camper and started out.
"I loved it. I love to travel and I love to drive."
Losing Jim six years ago, Edna has kept up a busy life with their seven children and their families. Through the years, at times, it has been difficult.
"I have a condition which is depression caused by lack of light - SAD," she said. "I'd be the last person in the good Lord's world who you would suspect would have depression. My husband couldn't understand it at all. It's been a battle. I try to stay positive. Here in Texas at the Bluebonnet RV Park, I can get out in the sunshine and I'm healthier here."
As you might imagine there's so much more but for now we'll close. Gratitude fills her heart.
"I've had such a good life. I'm happy with my lot in life," Edna said, contentedly. "I only wish everybody could have as good a life as I've had and as satisfied with their life as I am now."
If you have a story idea, please email Roda Grubb at firstname.lastname@example.org.