My Turn: Babe Ruth, Herbert Hoover and mom

For the Monitor
Published: 5/9/2021 1:00:04 PM

In 1930, Babe Ruth was asked about making more money than President Herbert Hoover. Ruth’s New York Yankee contract paid him $80,000 while Hoover earned only $75,000.

“I had a better year,” replied the Bambino, who batted .359 with 49 homers, while Hoover presided over America’s descent into the Great Depression.

My mom, Marguerite Morin, was born that year.

Better known later as “Sis” Moffett, mom grew up on a Lancaster, N.H., farm during the Great Depression. As desperately poor as her family was, at least they had food and a roof over their heads. Many others did not. That mom wore the same clothes to school every day was not a reason for shame. Many others were in similarly dire straits. Poverty abounded. But schools stayed open and teachers carried on, despite salaries of less than $2,000 a year.

When Sis was in high school, her own mother passed away. A teenager, mom suddenly needed to step up to help run the farm while also helping raise four younger siblings. Drop-out rates were very high in those days and it seemed unlikely that Sis could finish high school while concurrently running a farm and raising four kids. But heroic educators and a sympathetic headmaster stepped up and made some unique arrangements and Sis proudly graduated from Lancaster Academy.

Mom dreamed of being a nurse but had no money. So she worked part-time for two years in addition to running that farm and raising those kids. She saved enough to give her a shot at nursing school. She opted for the top-rated three-year program at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital. While there were days when she didn’t even have enough money to call home, she persevered to become a registered nurse.

Sis’s subsequent nursing career lasted for decades as she touched the lives of countless patients. She also married and raised four kids of her own. Eventually, having won the confidence and trust of numerous North Country doctors, she was asked to manage the multi-million dollar Regional Medical Professional Association (now Weeks Medical Center) while still performing some nursing duties. When she finally retired, RMPA had to hire two people to replace her. The outpouring of love and affection at her testimonial was amazing. This success story would not have occurred without those heroic educators and it serves as a reminder that poverty need not preclude academic achievement.

While those titans of 1930, Babe Ruth and Herbert Hoover, are long gone, Sis is still with us. At age 91, she lives independently in Concord and goes to Mass every day, while still going the extra mile to help out family, friends and neighbors.

The Sis Moffetts of the world should be honored and celebrated. Too many of us sometimes forget that half the members of the “greatest generation” were female. And unlike Ruth or Hoover, Sis never had a bad year — or even a slump.

(Mike Moffett is a state rep, retired professor and former Marine Corps officer. He lives in Loudon.)

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