MURDER IN A SMALL TOWN

Continuing Chapter I

There was a young man in Marie’s class, his name was Joe Kaminsky.  He was a nice looking boy and had no problem attracting girls.  He was quite aware of this and lost no opportunity in doing so.  Attracting girls that is.  Marie knew him because the Catholic school was small and everybody knew everybody and their families  but she was not interested in getting to know him better.  Marie herself was pretty popular with both the girls and the boys in her class.  She knew that Joe was a big flirt and he was always in trouble.

Marie was sixteen at the time and I was fourteen.  We had our separate friends that we hung out with but usually got along with each other’s friends.  Joe was in Marie’s class so she knew him better than I did and when she heard that he was expelled, she wasn’t too surprised.  He had been held back by the nuns, so he was older than most of the other kids.  He was seventeen where most of the other students were sixteen.  So when Joe got expelled, the class was buzzing with the news and everyone wanted to know what was the reason.  Marie knew that he was usually late for school and was a distraction in class, usually talking to girls sitting next to him but she knew that wasn’t enough to expel him.  One day he wasn’t in class and no one saw him after that.

It didn’t come out until much later that he had gotten a girl pregnant.   It was not a girl from his class or even from the school, so the nuns were relieved but not happy about having him in their school and that’s why they expelled him.  He managed to get into public school though and graduated by the skin of his teeth.  His parents did not seem overly concerned about him.  They had the attitude that ‘boys will be boys’.  They really wanted him working and turning over his paycheck to them, which he did as soon as he graduated from high school.

He continued seeing Janet, the girl he had gotten pregnant and there was even talk of them getting married.  Her parents were not happy about her being pregnant and had spoken to Joe’s parents about the possibility of their daughter marrying Joe.  In those days no one even thought of abortion, besides it was against the law.  So it looked like there was going to be a shotgun wedding.

After much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth by the parents, they were married, in a small civil ceremony  with only their immediate families present.  Neither set of parents were very happy about the situation but with a baby on the way it was the only solution they could come up with.  The parents chipped in and gave them enough money to have a weekend in New York City for their honeymoon.

The wedding news was in the local paper and a few friends of the bride and groom gave each other knowing glances.  Of course, they were insulted that they were not invited to the wedding.

Growing Up continues…….

mameFather or Paddy as I thought of him, because that’s what my Mother called him, when she was in a good mood, was devouring his burger and fries, although  he was not drinking the stale coffee I served him.  I had to laugh to myself over that because he thought he was an expert on coffee.  He had to have the best brand and it had to be ground just so and brewed so many minutes.  I wondered  how he liked the lukewarm coffee I served him that had been sitting there for a few hours?  I thought he wouldn’t be coming here anymore, which was of course my purpose in being so obnoxious to him.  That and I was really angry at him for leaving us again with out so much as a goodby.

I was angry and at the same time I was relieved that he was gone, because he was making Mother miserable and they were always arguing.  Also Anna and I had a lot more freedom when he wasn’t there.  Not that we got into trouble but we did like to be able to go wherever and whenever we wanted.

We were Catholic school girls for crying out loud and we had so many guilt trips laid on us, mostly by the priests and nuns, that we wouldn’t know how to be “wild,” which was the phrase of the day for young people, even if we wanted to.  Our idea of a good time was to go to the library, the movies or to a school dance.  At this time we really hadn’t started dating, so we just got together with our friends at school or at the school dances and those times we were in with our friends whose company we enjoyed.

As I was waiting on people, I saw that Paddy was trying to get my attention but I pretended not to notice and kept my back turned.  A few minutes later  Trudy went over to see if he wanted anything else and they spoke for a few minutes before he got up and headed for the door.  I happened to be waiting on several people at the soda fountain so my attention was diverted and I did not see him leave.

I don’t know what he expected of me, he is the one who left us so many times that I couldn’t remember.  And the last time was the last time!  Mother had it with him and she swore she would never take him back.  Don’t know what he thought I could do about the situation, if anything.  Sure I sat with him and his buddies while they played poker and told stories about the war.  Most of them were too old to be in the war anyway but it didn’t stop them from telling the stories.  The only reason he was drafted at forty- two was because he had deserted his family!  Then he didn’t want his allotment sent to us until he had to, because the Army took that decision out of his hands.

If it were up to him we would be still living in the shack with the rain coming through the holes in the roof.  Why Mother had taken him back at all, I didn’t know, he was never a help to us.  I suppose he thought now that Anna and I were getting older, we would be working and bringing in money to the family and he wouldn’t have to work much, if at all.

After he left, Trudy came over and said, “He left this for you,” as she handed me two dollars.

I took the money and put it in my uniform pocket and noticing the look on her face said, “What’s with you?”

“How could you treat your Father like that?”  she said.

“Don’t question me unless you know what you are talking about!”   I snapped back.

She let it drop then and we went back to our respective duties.

I did not know it then but that was the last time I saw my Father.  I was fourteen.

 The End

 

“The Time Mother was in the Hospital” continues…

mother and anna circa 1929
Mother with Anna

We were starting to settle in at the Aunts house even though it was a bit strange not being in our regular beds at night.  The days were going smoothly as we were used to getting up for school, eating breakfast and rushing off.  Anna and I usually walked together with the younger ones trailing behind.  We had a hot lunch at school consisting of a sandwich and soup, most days it was vegetable soup.  Our lunches were paid for by one of the charitable organizations from the Church.

We usually got home about 3:30pm and were told what to have for a snack beforehand, by Aunt Alice of course.  She had the snacks on a shelf in the pantry.  Since Anna was the oldest, she doled out the snacks.  Then we would go out in the backyard and play for while, usually until the Aunts got home from work.

Aunt Wynne and Aunt Anna got home first since they worked in the Silk Mill and started early.   They always had a funny smell about them when they came home from work.  The smell lingered on them even after they bathed and changed clothes.  The smell was from the raw silk that they worked with, Mother told us.  Aunt Alice came home a bit later but still early enough to make sure we did our homework and cleaned out room.  She was constantly correcting us.  Aunt Anna and Wynne were pretty easygoing and they would let us do pretty much what we liked to do.  Of course they insisted on us getting the homework done also but at least they weren’t always correcting everything we did.

Aunt Wynne was funny and always seemed to be in a good mood.  She would play games with us and tell us funny stories, sometimes the stories were not what children should be hearing.  So of course, she was our favorite Aunt.  One story I remember her telling us was around Christmas and as usual, we didn’t have much or any money for toys or gifts.  Aunt Wynne was visiting and in an effort to help Mother, she told us that Santa had been arrested and that we wouldn’t be getting any gifts or toys that year.  Now Anna was twelve years old and didn’t believe in Santa and I at ten years old was still wavering and could go one way or the other.  But the younger ones immediately burst into tears and would not be consoled.  Mother had to take Aunt Wynne aside and tell her not to say things like that to the children.  Of course that didn’t stop Aunt Wynne except maybe for a little while.  She remained her fun-loving, irreverent, over the top person she had always been.

Aunt Anna was a different sort of person.  She was a quiet, keep to herself woman of few words.  When she did have something to say, it was blurted out with no care of what anyone thought.  This did not always sit well with whoever she was addressing, although she did manage to keep her job and was a good employee.  We kids liked her but with reservations because we never knew what she was going to say.

So it was into this environment that we were thrust for a period of time that was uncertain.

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!

19th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and MarionIt seemed no time since the infamous dinner with Henry the chicken as the entrée, that Kay had turned two years old and Joan was four, Anna and I had turned nine and seven years old respectively.

Anna was in fourth grade and I was in second grade.  We were in Catholic school of course and it was all nuns in those days.  The nuns were nice to us for the most part.  But of course there was always the strict, you will follow all the rules to the letter, nun.  She was the one who cracked your knuckles with a ruler.  I, personally, never had my knuckles cracked and I was always grateful for that!

The nuns in the lower grades all thought that I was a timid soul who would burst out crying if I got yelled at or got my knuckles cracked.  So I let them go on thinking that way, because it worked for me.  It was in second grade that I decided I was on the road to hell for what I had done.

Now the sisters were always trying to drum up ways to make money for different causes.  It could be for something they needed for the convent, or for the Missions and the poor children in other countries, or any number of things.  Sister name in second grade was Sister Innocent.  She was very sweet if a bit old.  Well Sister Innocent started a lollipop business or suckers as we called them then.  They were all flavors and were really good as I recall.  I know I loved them!  One of the Parish women made them in her kitchen and also sold them from her house.  She always donated some to the school.

First thing in the morning Sister Innocent would ask who was going to buy a sucker?  She wanted those who were getting one to pay first and collect the sucker at lunch time.  Never having any money I knew I couldn’t have one.  So one day when lunch time rolled around, Sister announced that the boys and girls who had paid for the suckers, come up to her desk and pick one out.

Thinking she would never know whether I paid or not, since she didn’t keep a record and her memory wasn’t that good, I marched up with the other kids and picked out a sucker.  My heart was pounding and I was really nervous but I really wanted that sucker!  I relaxed after I realized Sister was none the wiser.  I went on with my life of crime for some time without being caught.  I never knew whether Sister was just letting me get away with it, or didn’t even notice, assuming we were all honest.  Each time I did it I was nervous but it didn’t stop me from getting that sucker!  I don’t remember how long that continued.

Things at home were going along well until Paddy showed up one day asking to come back again.  He wasn’t working and his mother had thrown him out telling him to get a job and go back to his family.  He was very pathetic and Mother caved in and let him come back.  I think she thought he would be a help to her and she was so tired of being alone with only the kids for company.

So he behaved himself for a while but soon enough he was having his friends and his brother over for poker and beer.  Which was alright Mother said if he was working.  He could not seem to find a job though and I think he actually was looking for work.  But the effects of the Depression were still plaguing the country and even though Roosevelt was doing many good things to get the economy going, it was going to take some time before there was a significant turn around.

After Father was home a few months, Mother found out that she was pregnant again!  Needless to say no one was happy about this.

To be continued.

 

10th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up/Growing Up

mother and girls
This is Mother and girls circa. 1951. I am in the middle.

Anna and I continued to yell at Buster to get out of the street as the cars were flying by.  Buster had no leash on so we couldn’t just grab it and drag him to safety.  Most of the drivers were slowing down hoping that the dog would run out of the street without getting hurt.   Buster had always liked to bark at cars and he certainly was not afraid of them.  Then he decided to sit down in the middle of the road and keep barking!  Each time we tried to run out to get him another car would come too fast for us to take a chance.

Then all of a sudden a car going much too fast and not seeing Buster, ran right over him!  He lay there quietly and we didn’t know if he was dead or just injured.  The car that had run over him just kept going unaware of what he had done or just did not care.  A few drivers slowed when they saw Anna and I in the middle of the street trying to pick Buster up.  The cars stopped long enough so that we could get to the sidewalk with the dog.  Buster was limp and heavy even though he was a small dog.  He had blood oozing from a few places and as Anna carried him, we were pretty certain he was dead.  He certainly wasn’t moving.  We both started crying as we started for home.  I told Anna that we were going to be late for school but she said that we had to get him home and have Mother check him out.  She was still holding out hope that he would recover.

So on we trudged and fortunately there was no snow yet, even though it was November, so we didn’t have to worry about that as we slowly walked up the hill towards home.  When we arrived at home with Buster in tow, my Mother screamed, “What happened?”  Through our tears we explained what had happened.  She took Buster and lay him on a blanket in the kitchen while she examined him and then pronounced him dead!  By this time we were all wailing!  Fortunately, the baby was asleep.  Mother cleaned us up a bit and gave us a note for the nuns at school explaining what had happened.  Then after a cup of tea, she shooed us off to school.  We knew we wouldn’t be learning much that day.

When we came home after a miserable day at school, we saw that Mother had wrapped Buster in the blanket she had used at first and put him in our little wagon on the covered porch where we kept tools and such.  And that’s where he stayed for the Winter, frozen stiff!  We couldn’t bury him because the ground was so hard from being frozen.  So every time we went to the toilet which was also on the porch with a door of course, we saw Buster.  He was covered with the blanket but it still brought tears to our eyes.  Needless to say, there was a lot of crying going on in our house that Winter.

To be continued.

GROWING UP

I was 11 years old when World War II started on December 7, 1941.  The Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor!  President Roosevelt in a talk to the people declared that a “state of war now existed between the United Stated and the Empire of Japan.”  Or words to that effect.  I was appalled even though I didn’t know where Japan was at the time.  What I also did not know at that time was how dire it was going to be for this country and the world.  The things that would affect me most were going to be the shortages of things like butter, sugar and gasoline.  And the rationing that was in store for the American people not to mention the loss of life that touched almost every family.

President Roosevelt was my hero in those days not the least of which was that he had instituted Welfare.  It literally saved me and my family from starving both during the Depression and after as I am sure it did for a significant amount of people in this country.

My family had been listening to the President’s ‘Fireside Chats” over the years he was in office.  And of course he was the only president I knew since he was the only president elected for four terms.

It was just my Mother and us four girls as my loser Father had left us once again and had gone to live with his Mother.

To be continued.

Day 9 of NaBloPoMo

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

What if I had a different name.  I have thought about that from time to time.  But I always decided I liked the name I had, Marion.  It is kind of old fashioned I guess.  One doesn’t see many Marions around anymore.  You still see Marian and that is kinda cute and girly.  But Marion, not so much.  It gives off a masculine connotation or a ‘take charge person’ .  Which of course, I am.  But you do not realize that upon just meeting me. Or even after a few times in my presence.  But after awhile, it is pretty hard to miss. The take charge’ thing I mean.  My family will agree with that I am sure!

But there is a story that goes with the name when I was being christened.  In those days just the God parents took the baby to the church to be baptized.  Not like later, when the parents also accompanied the God parents and anyone else the family they wanted to invite.  And in either case there was a party at the house or the home of the parents of the baby being baptized.

Well when my God parents got to the church, they had forgotten what my name was supposed to be.  And phones were not as prevalent as they are now. So they were rattling off any name they could think of among themselves while the priest was cooling his heels and not too calmly I may add.  I had heard this story recounted many times in the years following.  In fact, it had become family lore and everyone got a big charge out of it.

The God parents pulled “Marion” out of the air, not being able to think of the right name and so Marion it was!  My Mother said she hit the roof when they got home and told her about the fiasco.  She told them the name was “Rita.”  And strangely enough the God mother’s name was Rita.  Double fiasco!  She was my Father’s sister and very young.  She didn’t turn out to be a very good God mother either.  I never got any presents and she never came to visit.  I never could have depended on her to make sure I took my Faith seriously.  Of course going to Catholic school, with the Nuns breathing down my neck constantly, should have been enough to keep me on the straight and narrow!

I can’t complain though, because I always liked my name.  I thought it was kind of unique, especially when I found out it also belonged to  John Marion Wayne, who was one of my favorite movie stars.