30th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

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A photorealistic drawing I did of Roosevelt several years ago.

I decided to carry out Paddy’s orders because he seemed very angry.  So I marched out to where Anna and her friends were standing and gave her the news.  She, of course, was not happy with the orders, especially in front of her friends.  She told me to tell him,”He knows what he can do!”  And she and her friends proceeded to take off, shouting back to me as they were leaving, that they were going to a coke place which was one of our hang outs.  In fact, I had just started working at this place a few weeks ago.

I went back into the house and told Himself what Anna had said, word for word.  I wasn’t very good at thinking things through in those days.  What the heck, I was still just a kid.

Well I thought Paddy would burst a blood vessel as his face got beet red and he couldn’t talk for a few minutes.  I thought it best to leave the scene, so I went upstairs and got ready for bed.  Soon I heard Mother and Himself arguing and it was getting louder and louder.  I heard Anna’s name mentioned several times.  I kept my ear pressed to the floor in case Mother needed me.  In fact, I was falling asleep in that position.  I figured it wasn’t going to  get violent or I think I would have heard the noise.  Paddy wasn’t really a violent man and I only remember one time that I had gotten a beating from him but with his belt.

I had just gotten into bed when Anna came crawling in with me asking me how things were going?  I told her I didn’t know but there had been a lot of loud arguing going on and it was best that she wasn’t there.  We managed to get to sleep and got a few hours in before getting up early for breakfast and facing the music.

The next morning Anna and I hurried and dressed, had some tea and toast, and were out the door before Himself was even up.  He usually got up late because he didn’t have to go to work until 3 pm.  Mother seemed a bit tense but said nothing about the night before so of course neither Anna or myself mentioned anything.

We had decided to meet a few friends early and go to one of our local hang out places for a few hours before we had to be at work.  Mother had no objections to this, in fact it seemed she was anxious to be rid of us.  So Anna and I took off for parts unknown and was glad to get out of the house.

Now Anna’s birthday was drawing near and Mother had promised Anna that she could have a big birthday bash in the cellar.  We called it the cellar even though it was just remodeled a bit so the landlord could rent it out for different business’s.  While we were there it was empty so we used it as a storage area and it was perfect as a party site.  Mother had promised Anna this before Paddy came back to live with us.

There was a lot of animosity between Anna and Patty lately, and he was trying to assert his authority in the house.  So a few days later when he found out about the party, he told Mother that he did not want Anna having the party, since she was behaving so badly towards him.  Mother tried to explain that she had promised Anna she could have the party before he had returned.  But he was adamant that his word would rule and they got into an argument about it.

He made it clear to Mother that if she let Anna have the party, he was leaving!  This was the moment Mother was waiting for because she had been getting pretty sick of him herself.  And after her taking him back, here he was bossing everyone around, including herself, just as though he was our lord and master!  She told him that Anna was having the party and if he didn’t like it, then he could leave!  He did just that, packed his bags and took off and no one but Mother was there to see him go!  I only saw him one time after that and it didn’t end well.

Meanwhile, Anna’s party took place and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely.  The food and soft drinks flowed and the dancing to the big bands was heavenly.

Finis

I want to thank all my followers, commenters and likers and especially the input I received.  It really helped to know that you were listening to my story and hopefully enjoying it!  There will be more to come in the future and I hope you will be around to read and listen!  So stay tuned!

 

29th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and MarionWe knew when Paddy was out of the Army because that’s when our allotment ended.  After the war was over and he was back home, his family, meaning his mother and sisters at least, wanted him to go back home to his wife and children.  In fact they were trying to come up with ideas to make this happen.  I guess they did not want to be supporting him anymore.

So one day not long after Paddy was home, Mother got a call from her brother-in-law, who was married to one of Paddy’s sisters.  The brother-in-law was one of the few in Paddy’s family that Mother actually liked.  He wanted to set up a meeting between Paddy and Mother and I guess he was pretty convincing because a meeting was set up for the following week.

Now Mother, for some reason, did not disclose anything about the meeting with us kids.  So we were completely in the dark.  On the scheduled meeting day, which happened to be a Sunday when we were all at home, Paddy and his brother-in-law arrived.  Paddy was in full regalia, his Army dress uniform no less.

I heard voices from downstairs drifting up to where I was doing my homework in my bedroom.  Not recognizing the voices except Mothers, I just continued with what I was doing.  Soon thereafter, I heard Mother come to the bottom of the staircase.  She asked me to come down, saying there was someone she wanted me to meet.  Now I had no idea it was Paddy, so I told her I was busy doing my homework.

But she kept insisting that I come down and I thought I’d better go down or else she would keep on insisting.  I walked slowly down the steps and lo and behold, there was Himself in his Army get-up with a big smile on his face.  My first inclination was to run back up the steps  But Mother was saying,  “It’s your Father, aren’t you going to say anything?”  He approached me and planted a big kiss on my cheek.  I put my hand to my face and wiped the kiss off and ran back up the steps.  I could hear Mother making excuses for my behavior but I was too angry at the time to care.  How could she do this to us?

A few weeks after Paddy had moved in with us, we kids were still not happy about it. At least we were warned beforehand but It was still really tense even though Mother tried to make everything seem normal.  She started cooking big meals and had fresh coffee whenever Paddy wanted it. He and Mother took the back bedroom and us kids had to make do with whatever was left.  He found a job at a defense plant on the night shift as a security guard.  It was so very strange having him there and working; it took quite a while to get used to it.

But after a few months, I at least and the younger kids got used to having him around.  In fact, he started having his buddies over on the weekends for poker and beer.  Mother did not seem too happy about this.  Soon I was joining Himself and his buddies, to listen to the war stories and maybe have a sip of beer once in a while.  Anna at sixteen and in the tenth grade, decided to quit school to work in a factory and was earning a pretty good salary.  She never became acclimated to having Himself there.  She could not accept the fact he could tell her what to do!

So there was tension in the air between Paddy and Anna on a regular basis.  Anna worked the late shift also, getting out at 10 pm.  Father was home early that night; he usually did not get home from work until 12 midnight.  When he noticed that Anna and her friends from work were standing outside the house talking and laughing, he sent me out to tell her to “get in the house right now!”

To be continued.

28TH Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and Marion

 

Mother found out about the details of the allotment from a reliable source and it only made her despise Paddy more than she already did.  First of all, Himself got drafted into the Army at his age because he had deserted his family and he had never made an attempt to contribute anything to their welfare.

There were records from when Mother had taken Paddy to court to try to get child support from him.  And the Army had access to these records.  He had not only refused to pay child support, but when the judge ordered him to get a job and pay his fair share; he said he would quit the job rather than pay child support.  The judge at that time told my Mother that he was just no good and that she would never get anything out of him.

That’s why when we started receiving the allotment, not only was Mother shocked but we were all surprised.  Although what she found out didn’t surprise her.  It seems when Paddy was drafted and the Army officials told him why they were drafting him at his age, he wasn’t happy about it.  He asked that his allotment be sent home to his mother who would put it in savings for him when he got out of the service.

The Army however had other ideas, they told Paddy that they were sending his allotment to his wife and children who desperately needed it.  He would get a small stipend to use for himself.  Unfortunately for us, Paddy wasn’t in the Army long enough.  We were hoping for at least two years.

The end of the war was rapidly approaching when he went into the Army and much to our chagrin, he was being discharged too soon.  That’s what it seemed like to us at least.  He was in the service about one year.

The war in Europe came to a close on May 8, 1945 and there was celebrating in the world.  Victory in Europe was called, V-E Day .  I was fourteen then and Anna was sixteen.  We were in high school and very independent then.  That night, Anna and I and several of our friends piled into a truck belonging to one of Anna’s boyfriends and drove to the next town where there was a town square and we joined with hundreds of other people who were singing and yelling and kissing and even dancing.  Music was coming from a band in the middle of the square.  We stayed there until the wee hours of the morning, and then had breakfast at an all night diner and went home.  It was a happy time, especially so for the families who had husbands and sons coming home.

In the time Paddy was in the service, we for the most part were enjoying life more than we ever had before.  We were receiving his allotment and Mother was working several days a week.  Even Anna had a part-time job and was contributing to the family.  Things were really looking up for us for the first time in a long time.

To be continued.

27th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and MarionLife was going along as usual except for the war of course and the war did not affect us that much, except when we heard about it on the radio and in the Newsreels at the movies.  Then of course there were a lot of movies with stories about the war.

At school, Sister came up with an idea for helping out our service men.  She asked who had a relative in the Armed Services and then with all the hands raised. she suggested we put their names in a hat and each one of us would pick out a name.  Whoever you picked out, you would write to that person with news from home.  That turned out to be a really good idea.

After we had been doing it for a while, Sister suggested that each day one or two letters from the service men would be read aloud to the class.  I had picked someone who was an uncle of one of my friends in class and he told me that his uncle was happy to be getting extra mail from home.  It cheered him up.  And I was happy to be getting an airmail letter from overseas, made me feel important and happy I was doing something.

The war had been going on for a while when we got a letter from the Army; the letter looked important!  We gathered around as Mother read it to us.  The Army was telling us that Paddy was being drafted into the Army and we would be receiving an allotment for the time he served.  Now Paddy was forty years old at this time and it was unusual to be drafting older men, although the Armed Services was getting desperate for men.

Since Paddy had never given us a penny since he left the last time, which had been several years ago, Mother didn’t think it was his idea to send us the allotment.  But we were more than happy to be receiving the money, in fact it was a godsend.  Mother had been sick with Pleurisy which is a pretty bad disease affecting the lungs and causing a lot of pain especially in the chest. It had been months now and she hadn’t been able to work at all for some time.  The doctor would come and visit her from time to time, telling her that she had to rest and take care of herself.  She wondered how she was supposed to do that with four kids to take care of.  But she couldn’t seem to get off the couch except for short periods of time.  She would lie there and direct us what to do and make sure we ate breakfast and got off to school.

But Mother wondered about the allotment and whose decision it was that we get it?  She kept asking around mostly of the in-laws, the one or two she was still friendly with and slowly the truth came out.

To be continued!

26th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and Marion
Anna and Marion

We were enjoying our new house and it was great except for facing Main St. with the traffic out there, and in the back of the house there were railroad tracks.  And since Anna and I had the back bedroom, we were awakened every night in the wee hours when the train came by with the blinding light on the front of the train.  It shined right in our eyes as it went by.  Of course they always blew the horn as they were passing.  We got to know the engineers on the train though and they waved whenever they passed in the daytime.

Time seemed to fly by after we moved into the new house.  It seemed no time before I was eleven years old and Anna was thirteen and Anna at least, began noticing boys.  They still weren’t that interesting to me.  But other things were going on in our lives and in the world.

We were getting the newspaper now and Mother always read the paper and listened to the news on the radio.  It was 1941 and we, in this country, were completely unaware that Japan was planning an attack on us!  So when the attack came, we were so unprepared it was tragic, with massive loss of lives, and ships and planes in and around Pearl Harbor.  All the young men in the country were anxious to join the Armed Services and go to fight for their country.

Our family’s lives were not interrupted that much if at all, mostly because there were no boys in the family.  The rationing however was another story; it affected us greatly and it was put in place for the duration of the war.  Gasoline was of course rationed but since we didn’t own a car, it didn’t bother us.  The thing that did bother us was the sugar and butter rationing.  We did a lot of candy making, fudge mostly, and we were good at it.  Paddy taught us how to make fudge, of all things; it was his favorite and he usually added peanut butter to it.  So good!  And Mother made cakes and cookies and pies and they were also very good, especially the huckleberry pies.  We would go into the woods near our house, with Mother leading the way and pick as many berries as we could without passing out from the sun.  And depending on how many berries were left when we got home, Mother would make one or two berry pies.

So of course we would run out of the ration stamps for sugar and butter very fast and then we would have to wait until the next month to get another book of ration stamps.  Well, we weren’t too happy about having to go without our goodies for that long a time.  So Mrs. D., our friend in need, came up with a plan to stretch those ration stamps.  And while it wasn’t exactly kosher, we didn’t think it was that bad.  After all, we had to have our sweets.  They actually made life worth living especially for us kids.

I am not sure exactly how we managed fixing the ration books but I know glue and scissors were involved and a “C’est la vie” attitude, which we certainly had.  At least Mrs. D. and I had that attitude.  My Mother washed her hands of us when she found out what we were doing.

There was another benefit about to come our way because of the war but it didn’t come about until a few years later.

To be continued.

 

25th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and MarionAfter looking at Anna’s head, Mother and Mrs. D. decided they needed to do something and quickly!  Anna was moaning softly when she actually felt like screaming!  I had slipped out of the house, hoping no one would notice that I was gone.

The women decided that Vasoline would be the thing for Anna’s head.  She had blisters all over her head and they were huge.  Vasoline was good for everything and every family kept a big jar of it on hand.  Mother knew it was good for burns so while Mrs. D. was comforting Anna; Mother was applying the Vasoline.  She was doing it very gingerly.  They were all hoping that the stuff would work miracles so that Anna would be able to perform in the play the next evening.

So with the Vasoline on her blisters and a big towel wrapped around her head, Anna tried to get some sleep that night.  I crept into the house just before dark and everything was quiet.  Mother was not happy with me, even though it was an accident, which I tried to explain, but she was having none of it.  She told me to be quiet so that Anna could sleep and that there was a plate in the oven for my dinner.  So after wolfing down the food, I decided my best plan would be to go to bed and hope for the best.

The next day was cold in our little shack and especially so since it was Winter and a new layer of snow was added during the night.  Mother had kept the fire going though and had hot tea and oatmeal for us before going to school.  Anna was staying home of course while Mother checked her head to see if she would be able to be in the play.  As Anna came downstairs, her eyes were red and swollen from crying, not because she was in pain, although there was some of that too.  She was crying because she was thinking she wouldn’t be able to be in the play.

Then, after checking Anna’s head, Mother announced that her blisters  had gone down and were smaller now and not as red as they had been.  Anna said they weren’t as painful either. Now they had to figure how they would get her hair in shape so that it would be glowing for the play.  Mrs. D. came over early to help come up with an idea to make sure Anna could be in the play.  She suggested they use dry shampoo on her hair and said that she would go to the store and buy some.

Against all odds, Anna appeared in the play that night, a lot of the credit going to Mrs. D., who insisted on going to the play with the family.  The play was a success and Anna’s hair looked very good considering what happened.   “She sang like an angel,” Mother overheard someone in the audience say.  Anna received many compliments that night and was very happy!

It was 1939 and a lot was happening with us, not only did we move to a nicer house, it was a two story duplex and we had an indoor toilet!  There was no actual bathroom with a tub or sink but the indoor toilet was a godsend for us.  We had two bedrooms upstairs with two of us kids in each room.  Mother had to sleep downstairs on the couch but she was used to that.  And the roof did not leak and also the wind did not whistle through the cracks in the walls.  We thought we were in Heaven!

Things were happening in the world also, none of it being good.  Hitler was on the march in Europe and the war drums were getting much louder!  It seemed that Roosevelt and Churchill were constantly in touch now!

 To be continued.

24th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

And so the years passed and of course we kids were growing like weeds.  Anna was  a good head over me and very healthy looking; where I on the other hand, was skinny and short at that time.  The doctor even wanted Mother to keep me out of school for a year.  My ribs were actually sticking out and the doc thought I might have the rickets.

He told Mother to keep me home and let me rest and fatten me up.  I did not want to stay home because it was much warmer at school and I got hot lunches there.  Besides, I would miss all my classmates; we had all gone to school together for quite awhile and they were like family.  So I begged Mother to let me go to school and of course she would rather have me in school because I was a handful at home.  So she decided to let me go with the doctor’s approval of course.

Now the Catholic schools were known for their plays and recitals on every different occasion.  And one of the big Holy Days was coming up.  It was the Annunciation. The school needed someone to play the angel Gabriel in the upcoming play.  Since Anna was tall and had a good voice and of course was good looking, she was picked for the part.  She had long blond hair and blue eyes, which did not hurt her chances either.  She, as the angel was to announce to Mary, the Blessed Virgin,  that she was to be the Mother of God.

The Magnificat, which was the announcement in Latin, had to be sung in Latin, and of course Catholic school children knew their Latin.  Especially the songs, as they were sung in church every Sunday.  Anna was studying diligently and Mother was making her costume, which included wings.  In fact, Anna was singing the song so much that we pretty much all knew it by time the play rolled around.

The evening before the big day arrived and Anna was washing her hair in preparation for the big night.  She had to look the part.  She did have beautiful blond wavy hair and everyone complimented her on it.  You could say it was her crowning glory.  Anna was very excited!

Now we didn’t have hot water in the shack, so we had to warm the water on the coal stove whenever we needed it.  Anna was bent over the sink with her head over the basin of water and her hair was all soapy; she  had put a pot of water on the stove to warm it for the rinse.  I happened to be in the kitchen at the time and she asked me to get the pot of water from the stove and pour it on her head to rinse the soap off.

Well, I did exactly what she told me to do!  But as soon as I poured the water over her head, she started screaming!  She scared the bejasus out of me and I yelled, “What’s the matter?”  “You scalded me,” she yelled back.  Mother heard all the noise and ran into the kitchen.  “What’s going on in here?”  she yelled.

By the time everyone was settled down and we both told our stories, Mother took over.  She sent me to go and get Mrs. D.   Mrs. D. was of course our ‘go to’ person.  Mother had just put a towel over Anna’s head and was trying to sooth her when  Mrs. D. came running in.  She asked what she could do to be of help?  Mother explained what had happened and they unwrapped Anna’s head to take a look.  The news was not good!

To be continued

 

23rd Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and MarionPaddy was gone for the longest time yet, it had been a few years now.  He and his brother John had found work in Philadelphia.  Paddy however did not last long at the job.  He told everyone it wasn’t his type of work but they all knew it was because the job involved physical labor.  Before long Paddy was back with his Mother because Margaret and her husband would not support him.  Grandma was thankful that John had not come back also.

Paddy wasn’t back very long when Mother heard rumors that he was living with a woman, not his Mother.  She had also heard that it was someone she knew but if the rumors were true, the woman was ‘homely as sin’ to use an expression in vogue at the time.  She felt a little better knowing that, although she didn’t know why.

Mother was certain now that she would never take Father back under any circumstances!  She told Mrs. D. that if she ever did, to just shoot her!  They both had a good laugh at that idea.

Now Mr. D. although a good church going Catholic, good husband and father, also had a mistress on the side.  He didn’t really seen to care if his wife knew about it or not.  Mrs. D. knew she could not confront him with this as he would probably deny it and if she really got in his face, he would probably beat her up.  He had beaten her on more than one occasion.  Mother knew about this because Mrs. D. had come to our house with a black eye on more than one occasion.

Mrs. D. said that she would not report him because nothing would be done by the police or else he might have to spend one night in jail.  And then he would be really mad at her and no telling what he would do.  He had a violent temper.  Besides, she needed him to support her and the kids.  She had no training for any kind of work and in fact, had been lucky to graduate from high school.

So she decided the only way to get even and also enjoy herself in the process, was to do the same thing.  She would get herself a boyfriend!  Mrs. D. was a nice looking woman with a good figure if a bit on the thin side.  She always seemed to look on the bright side of things and people liked her.

The next time Mrs. D. came to our house, she had a man in tow.  He was a nice looking man with gray hair and a good tan and he was dressed well if a bit casual.  He wasn’t too tall but that wasn’t a problem as Mrs. D. was on the short side, in addition to being slim.  She introduced him to all of us and before long she asked Mother to join them going to a “Beer Garden,” as they were called in those days.  They also served pizza there, which was all the rage then.  Mother said okay she would go for a little while since it was only a few blocks away.  Anna was eleven now and she had been babysitting the younger kids on occasion when Mother had to be gone.  Mother didn’t drink but she said she would just get a coke and stay for a little while.

It was 1939 now, and while we were concerned with our own problems, the news coming from Europe was not good!  The war drums were beating and getting louder by the minute.

To be continued.

22 Day of NaBloPoMo/The Growing Up

The day of the funeral dawned dark and rainy, befitting the occasion.  Most of the family had gathered at Grandma’s house early at her invitation.  She promised hot coffee and donuts for anyone who needed a lift before going to the cemetery.  Most were gathered in the kitchen around the coffee and food but a few were in the living room where Edward was laid out in the little white coffin.  I remember thinking how pale he was in his white suit against the white satin.  That memory will stay with me always.

As we were saying our final farewells, Mother came and told Anna and I which car we would be riding in.  And so we trooped out into the rain with Mother and the rest of the mourners.  The rest of the day was bleak as you might expect.

From then on things were very tense between Mother and Father, especially so since he still blamed Mother for Edward’s death.  And when Mother could finally stand it no longer, she told him to get out!  He was more than willing to go as he didn’t want to work or even pretend to be looking for work.

He went directly to his Mother’s house.  His brother John, who was also staying at his mother’s house, had been planning on going to Philadelphia to look for work.  John was also a loser, having married and had several children before leaving them all high and dry.  Grandma encouraged John to go and take Paddy with him.  She was sick of supporting one or both of them.

One of their married sisters had moved to Philadelphia and her husband found a good job there.  So Margaret asked if John would like to stay with her and her family while looking for work.  John then asked Paddy to go with him since evidently the jobs were plentiful there.  Paddy agreed to go and they shortly set out for Philadelphia, which was a about a three hour drive or about the same by train.  They went by train as neither of them had a car that would make it all that way.

Meanwhile, Mother and the girls were back on Welfare and struggling to get by.  She was becoming dependent on Mrs. D. to keep her from going mad.  In addition to giving us fresh vegetables from her garden, Mrs. D. was always quick with a joke or funny story, and she also got my Mother started on smoking.  Smoking seemed to be the in thing to do in those days and Mother had little time to do anything fun for herself. Although, Joan would be going to school soon and then she would only have Kay at home. That was something to look forward to.  Maybe she could get out a little more.

To be continued.

21Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Paddy was walking on clouds for a long time after Edward was born and the girls were happy to have a brother.  The Christening was held at Grandma’s house Paddy’s Mother of course.  Most everyone in the family was there except for Mother who was not feeling well since having the baby.

After getting baptized Edward made a brief appearance at the party and was taken home to sleep in his crib and also be close to Mother.  She had tried breast feeding and that didn’t work out but he seemed to take to the bottle well.  Mother gave him the bottle and tucked him into his crib. Right after this the children arrived home courtesy of Mother’s sister, Alice.  Alice said she was tired of the party and wanted to go home anyway as she had to get up early to go to work.

The months went by and things between Mother and Father seemed to be going well but Edward was not doing very well.  He wasn’t gaining weight like he was supposed to and at his last doctor’s visit, Mother was told that Edward had soft bones.  The doctor thought it was from Mother not getting enough calcium when she was pregnant.   When he was six months, she had to tie him around the middle with a diaper to keep him from slipping down in the highchair.  Edward was a happy baby but by the time he was a year, he still wasn’t able to stand.

Father blamed Mother for Edward’s health problems.  “It was because she did not eat right and did not drink milk while she was pregnant,” he said.  This of course didn’t help matters, only serving to make Mother more miserable.  She was really worried about Edward, and we kids, young as we were, would try to think of ways to cheer her up.  Nothing seemed to work though.

Then the unimaginable happened, Edward contacted pneumonia plunging us all into a state of shock!  After that, we took turns kneeling around his crib, listening to his raspy breadth, and praying.  Edward wasn’t strong enough to fight off the pneumonia though; it seemed that one day he was there and the next day, he was gone.  And even though I was only seven, I was bargaining with God.  Telling Him what I would do if only He spared Edward.  It was not to be!

To be continued.