My grandmother on my mother’s side was an old-fashioned woman. I remember as a kid going to visit her and my aunts, who still lived at home. My aunts were Anna, Wynne and Alice, the youngest. They were working girls, staying at home to take care of my grandmother and going out to work. Anna and Wynne worked in the silk mill and hard work it was, so I’ve been told by my mother, who also worked there when she lived at home.
My grandfather, died as a result of the “Black Lung”, as it was called, from working in the coal mines. So Grandmother was left as a single mother at an early age with eight children. That was a time before there were any Unions in the mines or any union benefits. Grandmother had to struggle to keep the family together. So the older children were taken out of school when they graduated from eighth grade and sent out to work. Then they helped the younger children to finish school and some of them even went to college.
Aunt Cecelia and Aunt Alice being among the youngest, were sent to Teacher’s College to become teachers. The both got a good jobs teaching at a local Junior High School. They of course, made more money than the other children. Aunt Alice also had handsome boyfriends courting her on a continuing basis, as she was a good-looking woman with a sparkling personality. I think she was the tallest one in the family also, at least by my calculations. I think she was about five foot, nine inches in her bare feet.
Mother took us many times to visit my grandmother, especially in the Summer it seemed, and we usually enjoyed ourselves. We kids always got treats and were allowed to go out in the big backyard and run around with our cookies and lemonade. My grandmother always wore long dresses to her ankles and the colors were always dark. She wore her hair in a bun, so she always seemed older even when she was not that old.
She was from the Old Country, Ireland. She lived in County Mayo, southern Ireland and was a staunch Catholic. She came to the U.S. when she was fourteen with her mother and her sisters and brothers. Her father had come first and got a good job and settled into a nice house in Northeastern Pennsylvania, coal country, before sending for his family. The Coal Mines were to play a large part in both my grandparents and my parents lives.
TO BE CONTINUED.