Memoir Contest Winner: Carol L. Covin Remembers Labor

by Matilda Butler on March 29, 2012

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #177 – Women’s Memoirs, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

All Things Labor — Memoir Contest – Honorable Mention Story, Labor Day Pains Category

Today Women’s Memoirs is proud to publish Carol L. Covin’s Honorable Mention in our September 2011 Memoir Writing Contest, Labor Day Pains Category.

Carol, I know our readers will enjoy your award-winning story. It reminds many of us what life was like in the late 1960s.

We invite you to leave Carol L. Covin a note in the Comments section below her story.

Want to enter one of our contests? At the bottom of Carol’s story, you will find details on our new contest. We hope you’ll enter.

Are You in Labor?

By Carol L. Covin, AKA Granny-Guru

Labor Day. 1968.

“Why are you scrunching up your face like that?”

“Am I? I didn’t realize.”

“Are you in pain?”


My roommate’s mother had been watching me ever since I threw up the tacos I had for lunch. I’d only had morning sickness twice, early in my pregnancy, so didn’t relate this unusual occurrence to the fact that I was 8 1/2 months pregnant.

But, she, a mother several times over, knew what labor looked like. While I, barely a few months into my 21st year, and barred from checking out any library books on pregnancy before I got married, had no clue.

And, besides, I’d just had a checkup that morning and the doctor breezily said he’d see me next week. I wasn’t due for two more weeks.

At 4:00, my roommate’s mother asked when the hospital’s clinic closed.

“At 4:30, I think.”

“Then, you should go and get another check-up. You don’t want to go to the
emergency room when it’s time for this baby to be born.”


My roommate asked, “Do you want me to drive the slow, smooth way or the fast, bumpy way?” There was only about 10 minutes’ difference between the two routes, so I chose the slow, smooth way.

At the clinic, the check-in nurse asked me, “Are you in labor?” “I have no idea. That’s what I’m here for you to tell me.”

After a quick examination, they checked me in and contacted my husband, living on the post as an Officer Candidate. An hour later, he was allowed to sneak in, though visiting hours were over, because he hadn’t brought me in and a sympathetic nurse thought we should be able to see each other.

He was told they had no idea if I would deliver that night or the next morning. Having missed dinner with his fellow candidates, he went out for a quick meal, returning just in time for the 9:22 p.m. birth of our firstborn. He wouldn’t have been allowed in the delivery room anyway, but he got to see his new son before returning to his barracks.

Carol with David Covin, Jr.

Carol with David Covin, Jr.

Three days later, checking out, I asked the doctor when I could take my newborn outside. “You’re going to take him outside when you go home today, aren’t you?” “Yes.” “Then, you can take him outside anytime you want.”

We brought him home Labor Day weekend. Normally, a weekend pass consisted of coming home around noon on Saturday, after cleaning weapons, polishing boots and brass and straightening up bunk beds and trunks for inspection, then returning to the post after church on Sunday. Labor Day weekend was that rare treat when we had an extra day.

David Covin, Jr. and family cat

David Covin, Jr. and family cat

Two days to enjoy our newborn. Two whole days to soak in each other’s smells, sounds, touch as new parents, and those of the miracle lying at the foot of our bed. Two nights to listen for the gentle breath of new life in our room, waking to a sneeze, drifting back to sleep after a bottle of formula, started in the hospital, continued at home in those days when nursing was discouraged, not scientific, not sanitary, not wholesome.

Carol pins Lieutenant's Bars on David Covin, Sr., Nov 18, 1968

Carol pins Lieutenant's Bars on David Covin, Sr., Nov 18, 1968

The year apart for Vietnam was still a year away. In between would come the beginning of a family, new grandparents to dote, new marriage to navigate, new city to map, new home to decorate, new neighbors to meet. Learning to cook. Learning to grocery shop. Learning to manage a household. Learning to be an officer’s wife. Learning to train baby-sitters. Loving that precious newborn, infant, toddler.

Tacos for Lunch

My first cookbook was Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook, but it does not have the tacos recipe I made during much of my early married life. The tacos
I had for lunch the day our son was born were from a Mexican restaurant. I am including, instead, a variation closer to the way I used to cook them. The original recipe came from the 1967 Joy of Cooking, one of the first cookbooks I bought myself.

Tacos a La 1968

1. Sauteé in olive oil, tortilla shells until crisp. Remove from oil and fold while still warm, to hold filling.

2. Brown one pound of ground beef. Drain and remove from pan.

3. Sautee until golden brown, 1 finely chopped onion in 2 tablespoons butter.

4. Add and simmer for about 5 minutes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, one can tomatoes, 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, dash of cayenne pepper,
until tomatoes break down into chunks.

5. Stir in ground beef, simmer for 5 minutes.

6. Fill shells with ground beef mixture, shredded lettuce, chopped onion, and chopped fresh tomatoes. Serve immediately.

storytelling, memoir, memoir writing


Women’s Memoirs invites you to send us a 500-1000 word story about your favorite recipe — plus include the recipe.

Do you have a nostalgic dish that reminds you of your mother? Do you remember a romantic Valentine’s Day when you made a special recipe? Perhaps he proposed that evening or maybe each time you make that recipe you remind yourself again how much you love each other. Have you developed a recipe that you share with your friends? Whatever your story, whatever your recipe, we’d like to receive them for consideration in a new ebook from Women’s Memoirs.

ScrapMoir-Contest-ChartHere’s the motivation for this contest. We saw recently that more people are eating out than ever before. As you can see from the chart on the left, away-from-home food (this includes take out as well as restaurant meals) is almost half of all food consumed.

Let’s give everyone some great food to prepare and eat at home and let’s give them stories to share while they start creating their own special family stories around meals.

Let’s bring back kitchen table wisdom.

Your story and recipe is due by June 1, 2012. Just email a .doc file that includes both the story and the recipe to:
matilda (at) womensmemoirs (dot) com.

Food Memoir and Recipe Contest

(If you use a different subject line, your story might get lost in my email.)

storytelling, memoir, memoir writing

Leave a Comment

Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category News Category News Category News Category