Nancy Hawkins Meyer


Cartoon by Darvid MeyerMoo

Ever wonder where that nickname of “Moo” came from?

Nancy delighted her children by reciting poems and often seemed to have an entire library stored in her head.  One that she offered – “Moo Cow Moo,” by Edmund Vance Cooke – proved momentous.  It began:

            Papa held me up to the Moo Cow Moo
            So close I could almost touch,
            And I fed him a couple of times or so,
            And I wasn’t a-fraid cat, much.

Something about the poem’s reference to a cow throughout as the Moo Cow Moo so tickled and impressed David that he began (somewhat inexplicably) referring to Mom by the same name.  In time, Moo Cow Moo proved too cumbersome for daily use, and was shortened to the more familiar “Moo.”  And thus began many years of astonished and baffled observers who heard children refer to their mother by the sound a cow makes.

The Jersey MotherYears later, when Beth and David were teenagers, they were shopping in an antique store with Nancy and found a large framed print entitled “The Jersey Mother.” They decided to buy the picture and hide it until Mother's Day, still months away. The purchase itself was a little tricky, since they had to borrow the money from Nancy and sneak the frame into the trunk when she was distracted. Once home, they hid the picture in the basement, then went about establishing a conversion of Nancy's nickname. By the time Mother's Day rolled around, Nancy readily answered to "Jersey."

"How did you ever find such a thing?" Nancy exclaimed when she ripped off the comic paper wrapping. For years the picture hung over their mantel, and Nancy always wondered at her kids' luck on encountering such a fine print that reflected their nickname for her.

Moo cowOver the years, Nancy has accumulated a plethora of moo-appropriate gifts: Cow potholders, cow statues, cow coffee cups, cow tea towels, cow stationery, cow earrings... There's apparently no no end to the number of items a person can find with cows on them.

Chris was even able to find a cow costume in Boise, but what's even more incredible is that he was able to get Moo into it. (She always was a good sport.)