A Memoriam to my Mom: Hazel Louise Morris « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Memoriam to my Mom: Hazel Louise Morris

What’s Up?

Friday afternoon at Gatorland was not good. Saturday morning was pretty darned good. After the client-less morning session, I went back to the hotel room to write this blog post. Though I am largely at peace with my Mom’s death, when I typed these words In Memoriam to my Mom: Hazel Louise Morris I began to cry and grieve. I had done the same thing the day before while older daughter Jennifer and I were going through a collection of old black and white family pictures. So things are as they should be.

ps: Saturday afternoon at Gatorland was killer good. It is now just after 9:00pm and I am at the airport waiting for my 10:15pm flight to Long Island. My Mom’s Memorial Service is tomorrow afternoon.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak: 23!

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 23 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great for a long time now–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

On our left, my Mom, Hazel Louse Morris. On our right, my Dad, Private First Class Robert Edward Morris, 1942.

During or after basic training at Fort Bragg, NC. Bobby as Hazel liked to call him, was awarded a Purple Heart for his service. Several decades later, after moving to San Diego, my Dad learning that he had in fact been awarded a Bronze Star. Photos of my Dad with two arms are rare.

In Memoriam to my Mom: Hazel Louise Morris

b: September 19, 1922. d: April 5, 2017

My Mom lived a long life. 94 years was a good run. She spent a good deal of it helping others. As many of you know, my Dad, Private First Class Robert E. Morris, was severely wounded on Okinawa in April of 1944. He was hit with 13 rounds of machine gun fire. He rolled out of the truck. Only he and the guy next to him were not killed instantly. That included the soldier he had traded seats with just minutes before because he had forgotten to return the guy’s canteen. My Dad’s best friend, a medic, ran over to help him. He took off my Dad’s coat and his right arm came off with it. His friend, the medic, ran away crying. Another soldier came over and did not know what to do. As I understand it my Dad said, “Take out my f—-ing shoelace and tie a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. His left arm was hanging by a thread.

A young Filipino doctor fought with the higher-ups to save my Dad’s left arm. He spent nineteen months all told in various hospitals, most of that time in Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. I am pretty sure that I was conceived there … Once he was fully recovered, he went back to work at Roebling, Luggage, 121 Liberty Street in Manhattan, on the site of what was the original World Trade Center. He wound up pulling luggage off shelves for the next 30 years. I remember taking more than a few hard backhand shots to the back of my head from him into my early twenties. He was a tough man and didn’t take any crap.

So, my Mom put his socks and belt on for most of the next 54 years (except for the years when the three kids, Arthur — thats me, older sister Ilene, and younger-by-a-lot sister Arna Lee took over those chores). My Mom was a great cook and a great baker. She was an expert seamstress. She had a very tough childhood. Her mother whom she loved dearly died when she was thirteen and her mean S-O-B gave her over to the authorities. Then Hazel went into a succession of foster care homes. All of them had one thing in common: they used the money that they got from social services to buy food and beer and clothing for themselves.

Her accounting teacher suggested that she move into the YWCA when she reached her 18th birthday. And that is just what she did. She met Bobby then and within two years they were married (on May 15, 1942). My Dad was drafted. A some point after he had left, my Mom gave birth to my sister Carla. Carla died at age 10 days from infantile diarrhea, a frequent killer in the early 40s.

My Mom showed love by providing the three kids with the two things she had been deprived of in her childhood: lots of great food prepared expertly: fried flounder and fried veal cutlets to die for, a perfect bag lunch every day — often a tuna sandwich with the tuna well chopped up into small pieces with lots of mayo (just like I liked it) and a pack of two Hostess filled chocolate cupcakes. She made My-T-Fine chocolate pudding from scratch every week along with a batch of 144 toll house cookies. I always had perfectly laundered clothes, immaculate Cub Scout uniforms — she was a den mother of course, and hand-sewn Halloween costumes every year. I can still remember the pink and black clown costume she sewed up for me for Halloween when I was about 13. My Mom did lots of charity work for the Ida Lief Chapter of Deborah Hospital. It is no shock that she was named their Mother of the Year in 1966. My Mom was an incredible baker. More than a few men have requested a Hazel Morris apple pie from their death beds.

She did all the shopping, all the laundry, and cooked every meal for the family until 1969 when my Mom and Dad and younger sister Arna (with older sister Ilene only briefly) moved to San Diego, CA. She did all those same things for my Dad until his death on September 25, 2001 at age 80. They were married for more than 59 years. My Mom and Dad loved to bicker, but only when they were awake and in the same room.

Hazel in Bob in hospital room, probably at the then Walter Reed General Hospital, 1945.

At some point when my Dad was in his mid-70s, I asked him, “How is it that with you guys arguing all the time you never got divorced.” He said, and I quote, “I laid in that hospital bed for 19 months. I saw dozens of young brides walk up to the door of that room, take one look at their husbands with no arms and no legs, turn around, walk away, and never came back.” That was my Dad’s way of saying to my Mom, “Hazel. I love you. Thanks for staying with me for all these years.” He was doing his best but “I love you” was never part of his vocabulary. And he too was a great provider.

Hazel Morris and son Arthur, circa 1947

Above all else Hazel was dependable and loyal and faithful. And a great Mom.

A while after they moved to San Diego they took a part time job with ALDA, the American Luggage Dealers association. Their job? Overseeing the production of their holiday catalog. Their seven-year run was so successful that they became the first non-store owners to be honored (as man and woman of the year) by that organization. In the early 1980s ALDA flew everyone in the family to New Orleans where there was a big dinner to honor my folks at the Superdome. Ordinary people, extraordinary lives.

Alice Lockwood on our left, My Mom on our right. Probably somewhere in Brooklyn while my Dad was away …

My Mom’s mother was Carla Smith. Alice Lockwood was her mother’s sister. So Alice was my Mom’s aunt and my great aunt. Alice was married to Frank H. Lockwood, my Uncle Frank. (Does everyone have an Uncle Frank?) Alice Lockwood did not go by Alice. She always brought lollipops for the kids so she was called Lolla or Lol for short. As I believe I have mentioned here before, Lol and Frank had an instrumental role in my life. When I was 12 or 13 they would drive down from the Bronx, pick me up in Brooklyn, and drive to Keyport on the Jersey shore to visit her Mom, Amanda Smith. The trip always entailed several hours on line waiting to get on the Staten Island Ferry.

It was in Keyport that I developed an appreciation for nature in the form of bugs, butterflies, insect, frogs, toads, and snakes. The funniest thing is that I had zero interest in birds back then. If you had asked me about them, I would have stated that bird watching was for sissies. That while I was running around in Marine Park in short pants with a butterfly net and a collecting jar. Go figure.

Please understand that I am very much at peace with my Mom’s passing. She had been on a walker for seven years and was simply tired of it all. I would like to offer my love and condolences to my younger sister Arna, my older sister Ilene and her family, My two daughters and their families, and to all the grandkids and great grandkids as well. Hazel Morris will be missed but she and all of her good deeds will always be alive in our hearts and minds. Love you Mom.

Your son, Arthur Edward Morris

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58 comments to A Memoriam to my Mom: Hazel Louise Morris

  • avatar Andy Gregory

    I have only just seen your posts here about your mother’s passing and i send my deepest condolences. I enjoyed reading your wonderful tribute to her. I send my thoughts and love to you and you family and my thanks for all the work you do for your fellow photographers.

  • avatar Arthur Leyenberger

    Great pictures of your parents. Especially the first one.
    I find even after 15/17 years after my parents passing, it’s the pictures that I enjoy so much.

    and btw, thank you for all I have learnt from you over the last many years.

  • avatar MBG

    Sincerest condolences Artie – the loss of a Mother is like no other!

  • Artie,
    That was a beautiful tribute to your mom.

  • I am so very sorry for your mothers passing, and can sympathize, since my own beloved father passed away December 5, just a few months ago. There will always be triggers, and for me the now 4 months that have passed, has brought me some relief. My father had Alzheimers and I was able to get there the day before he went into terminal restlessness. So, the vigil was several days, but they kept him comfortable. I am happy your mother was able to communicate with you for as long as she did. And the longer our parents live, the more memories we have to cherish when they finally leave this life. Tomorrow is my fathers 83 birthday. So, we celebrate the wonderful life he had, with the memories we now cherish.
    Your mother will continue to live in you, as we are so much a part of what our parents instill in us during our younger years. It sounds like you had the best of moms as well as your dad.
    Not all are as blessed as we are, with parents that bring sweet memories altho the tears still fall freely. Tonight, I made matzah for our Passover dinner with friends. He would have been impressed! I think he is, as I do believe he can still see what we are about as we live out our lives. And I am sure, that your mom, now released from the cares of this world, and the burdens that an aging body brings; I bet she is looking down, loving you with all of her heart.
    You inspire so many, and your love of your mother literally brings tears to my eyes.
    Live your life, knowing that you are leaving a legacy for many, just as your left you as her legacy…She has to be so proud of her son!
    Vicki Biltz, Buckley WA, 98321

  • avatar Michael Gotthelf


    So sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. My condolences to you and your family.

    Thanks for sharing your family’s incredible story. What challenges they both overcame! And I noticed in every picture your mom was smiling! Your mom certainly was extraordinary to respond to her “tough childhood” in the way she did. It was really generous of you to let us share in their story. Clearly your mom led a long and fulfilling life.
    Hopefully that knowledge along with the passage of time will diminish the pain


  • avatar Michael Goodman

    Condolences Artie. A wonderful tribute indeed & you were so blessed to have her in your life. She must have been so very proud of you in all dimensions.