Infant Boy Rice

I call my mom every monday and we speak about the happenings of the previous week. I talk about what I have been looking up or ask a question to try to trigger a memory and hear a story about the past. This past Monday I had something specific I wanted to ask her. Growing up, I knew there was a baby boy she had early in my parents marriage that at about 8 months was stillborn. I wanted to know where he was buried and if there was a marker for his grave. I knew the approximate year this occurred but had no idea what month.
Mom told me that it happened in January or February in 1948. She remembers cleaning the house and feeling him moving. The next thing she remembers is that in the following week she felt no movement. It was another week before he came out to the world stillborn. They took the baby out of the room and my dad made all of the arrangements. He got to see the baby but my mom did not. To this day, she is still upset that they never let her see or touch the baby. She told me that no matter how much dad tried to describe him, it wasn’t enough. Dad told her that the baby had a lot of straight black hair and his hands were big. Dad took her to the gravesite but she can’t remember where it is now. She said she thinks it is under a tree but doesn’t think there is a marker. They never named the baby because if it was a boy, he was going to be named after my dad.
I told my mom I would find him this week and would be able to tell her where he is. I contacted the administrator at Calvary cemetery in Fond du Lac, WI and within an hour I had some answers. Is this a coincidence that I asked about the baby this week? Maybe, but when the answer came to me I just needed to write about it today. The following is the information I was given:

Infant Rice, son of Harry Rice who died or was buried on 2/20/1948. He is listed as Harry Rice Jr. This infant was buried in Section 6, Block 91B, Lot 18, Grave 108.

The administrator and groundskeeper went out to see if there was a marker but the area is blanketed in snow and is too deep to search for one. When the snow clears, they will go out again and get back to me.
My mom had more children but I could hear the pain in her voice when she talked about not being able to see the baby. While I was growing up, she worked the night shift as a nursing assistant in a newborn nursery. She continued to tell me that whenever a baby wasn’t expected to live and the father or doctor wanted to keep the baby away from the mom, even though the mom wanted to see him/her, my mom would advocate for the women. My mom would insist that the mother be able to see her child and say goodbye. I hope that her interventions helped other mothers in their grief.
I am glad I was able to hear my older brother’s story again. Considering that I happened to ask about him this week and found out this was the date, I felt the need to write a remembrance for him on this day 68 years later.


4 thoughts on “Infant Boy Rice

  1. My mom had a live birth at 7 months pregnant in the early 1950’s. His lungs were too weak, and he lived for just a few hours. I think my dad saw him, but I’m not sure. I know my mom didn’t. The doctors believed it would be harder for the woman to move on if she saw the baby. My mom, like yours, always regretted not seeing him. My parents didn’t name him, something else my mom regretted. No idea where he’s buried, though. I don’t think my mom even knew. He was just taken away.

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  2. How very sad. Your mother still mourns this child, as we all would. But even today people generally don’t talk about the babies that were stillborn or about miscarriages.

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