Considered to be extremely desirable by both vintage textile and military memorabilia collectors, “Mother” and “Sweetheart” pillow covers were first introduced during World War I. Sold at military bases and sent back home, they were frequently framed and hung by the recipients or simply folded and put into drawers for safekeeping when not used as throw pillow coverings. This World War II U.S. Navy case from our collection is printed on silk with the well-known words from the song “Mother,” spelled out letter by letter, with literary embellishment, echoes the sentiments of those far away from Mom as well as other family members and loved ones. The ground color of the front of the case is a dirty beige fringed in dark green. Since it is dark gold on the other side, it is logical to assume that the front has faded over time through wear and exposure to sunlight. In addition to the pink rosebuds and blossoms and the illustrations of water, anchors, and decorative rope borders, the various ships depicted around the printed lyrics include renderings of a U.S. Navy Heavy Cruiser, Aircraft Carrier, Battleship, Submarine, and Destroyer. Although now considered to be quite kitsch, I’m sure the mother who received this was thrilled to get such a loving tribute!
According to Wikipedia, the modern American holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. The state officially recognized the celebration of Mother’s Day in 1910, and other states quickly joined the movement. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, designating the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor mothers. By the early 1920s, Hallmark and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards, and other countries and cultures adopted it as a holiday also, changing the date to fit already existing secular and religious celebrations honoring motherhood. As Jarvis so aptly put it, the day is meant to acknowledge “…the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” We mothers would agree!