When my parents first got married they did not have any children for six years after that. This was unusual because they were both Irish and Catholics in good standing. They actually eloped because they did not want their parents to know they were married. The reason being, at least on Mother’s side was that Mom had insisted that her older children would live at home and turn over their salaries to her until they were twenty five. This was so that she could pay for the younger children’s education. And this meant college and or teacher’s college. Mom was alone and had seven children! Since her husband, Grandpop, had been killed in a coal mining accident when he was relatively young, she had to take over the reins of the family. Mom was a feisty woman and usually got her way in most matters especially with her children.
So when Father and Mother got married they left town and went to a cousin of Mother’s who was a priest, later to become a bishop. Fr. Kelly assured them that he would not divulge the fact that they were married especially to their parents. They got married in the rectory with two young men who were studying to be priests as witnesses. Then they went to dinner and a movie and returned to their respective homes. Paddy was in teacher’s college at this time and he had the summer’s off. So during this time both he and Mother and a few of her sisters (who were in on the secret),went to the Delaware Water Gap to work as waiters and waitresses for the summer. The Water Gap was a beautiful summer resort for the rich and also provided meals and rooms for the wait staff. This way the honeymooners could be together at least in the summer. This went on for a few years before they decided it was too hard living separately and they told Mom and all of the family. They found an apartment in town and settled in to married life.
It seemed forever before Paddy got his teacher’s license but it finally happened and that’s when Mother got pregnant with their first child. So since he was working now and earning a good living teaching, Mother could finally quit her job in the Silk Mill, which was a hard and dirty job and concentrate on getting ready for the newborn. Their first child Winifred, was born and named after his Mother of course! Winifred was a blond, blue eyed beautiful little girl and they loved her and she was welcomed into the family by all. With all the sisters and brothers on each side the family was growing rapidly.
It took Mom a long time to forgive Mother for marrying without her permission and cutting off her paycheck. Mom also made it known that she did not like Paddy, no matter that he was a teacher and working and making a good living. By this time she had her two youngest girls in teacher’s college and it was hard paying for them to go to school and keep up with the other bills. She still had two daughters and a son at home who were working and turning over their paychecks. So it wasn’t as though she was left high and dry but Mom could be a hard woman.
So time passed and as the weeks turned into months, Mother became pregnant again. Winifred had just turned two and was walking and talking now and was such a delight to her parents. Anna was born on a beautiful June day and Mother had a long hospital stay as they did in those days. It was a good rest for the new mother especially if there were other kids at home. One of the Aunts came over and took care of Winifred while Mother was in the hospital.
Anna was a healthy baby but she did cry a lot. She was colicky and that meant gas, so the baby had pain and cried constantly. The crying was causing conflict between the parents and they seemed to be always arguing about something. Mother was frazzled between taking care of a two year old and a crying baby!
To be continued.