7th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

A NEW DEAL?
A NEW DEAL?

After Father left  things actually got better for us.  We started receiving Welfare and had access to commodities which is now referred to as Food Stamps.  So we were eating on a regular basis and thanks to our Pastor at the Catholic Church we had milk delivered daily.  And we certainly did not miss all the arguing and fighting.  Our closest neighbor Mrs. D. became good friends with my Mother and because of her we had fresh vegetables most every day from her garden.  So between that and getting a lunch provided by the Catholic school for low income students, we were growing up healthy.

Mother and Mrs. D. started going to the movies once a week and to bingo on some other nights.  It was good for both of them to get out and have a few laughs once in awhile.  Mrs. D. had a husband but in addition to having a mistress, he also used to beat Mrs. D. up on occasion.  Good Catholic man that he was, never missing a Sunday Mass.

Mr. and Mrs. D. had three boys and a girl.  The girl at  thirteen being the oldest, she was also big and stocky, taking after her father.  Mrs. D. was a little slip of a thing weighing about a hundred and five pounds.  The girl was older than Anna so we didn’t have much in common with her but she was friendly with my Mother.  She used to hang around our house a lot during the Summer when school was out.  She liked to  eat the freshly baked sweet treats my Mother always had on hand.   The older boys who were eleven and twelve were always getting into trouble.  They would steal a bike and bring it home and Mrs. D. would have them paint the bike another color.  After doing this several times, they were caught and sent to a home for delinquents.  Mrs. D. claimed her hair had turned gray overnight because of the boys.

So things for us were going along relatively well.  At least we had a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.  It seemed no time before both Anna and I were in school.  Catholic school of course.  Father insisted we go to Catholic school even though he wasn’t living with us or contributing to our support.  He had gone there and he insisted that one got a better education in Catholic school.  I guess he should know having been a teacher in the Public school.

Even though we were receiving Welfare, it still didn’t cover things like clothes and pay all of the bills like coal for the fire to heat the house and cook, etc, even to warm the water.  We only had cold running water and a toilet in a porch off the kitchen, no bathroom to speak of.  So Mother tried to get a few odd jobs cleaning homes and cooking for people, to help us survive.  So things were running smoothly.  Paddy put an end to that though!

To be continued.

 

6th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

000_0065Over the next few years my Father managed to lose his job as a teacher.  He always blamed the Republicans for that.  He told everyone that he had refused to vote Republican and since the  School Administration officials were all Republican and Pennsylvania was a Republican state in those days from the Governor on down the line, they only wanted teachers who towed the party line.  He would not work in the coal mines and since that was where the jobs were in the small coal mining town where we lived, he was pretty much out of luck as far as jobs were concerned.

Paddy’s father had been killed in a coal mining accident a few years after the Christening for Joan and he went down hill after that.  Between losing his teaching job and then his father in a few years, he was never the same after.  He even threatened suicide one time and my Mother had to call his Mother to come and try to talk to him.  I suppose he was in a depression for awhile then although no one ever heard about that then or at least no one talked about it.

So while there were reasons for his not working it still did not pay the bills and put food on the table, especially if you have several kids to feed.  My Mother did go out and find a few jobs cleaning houses and cooking for wealthy people.  Sometimes she had to stay overnight because her employer was having a party.  She made extra money then.  He was happy to stay home and watch the kids.  He would sit on his rocker and hold the latest baby on his lap and sing all the songs he knew.  He could cook but mostly he would make a big pitcher of lemonade and a package of cookies for us to eat.  But Mother’s pay was not enough to take care of all the bills even after we moved into the shack and the rent was less.

So the fighting and arguing was beginning to be a constant thing until one day Paddy came up behind my Mother and tried to strangle her!  She was pretty feisty and managed to get out of his grip and picked up the nearest thing and threw it at him, which happened to be a clock.  He ducked and started to come after her again.  Then she started to scream and I think he got scared that the neighbors would hear.  By this time all of us kids were crying and wailing and we ran outside.  She yelled at him to get out and never come back.  And fortunately he did just that!

To be continued.

5th Day of November/NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

President Franklin D.The party was off to a slow start and guests were arriving in small groups.  My Mother was rested and had the food set out and everything looked delicious.  The baby was cooperating by sleeping and only waking for her bottle, then going back to sleep.

Anna and I were really enjoying ourselves by eating as much as we could especially of the desserts.  And we also enjoyed all the compliments we were getting like, “Oh your girls are so cute with the beautiful blond hair and blue eyes!”  And of course we enjoyed being bounced around by our Grandfather.

Only Grandfather Glennon, my Father’s father was there, Grandfather Harkins, my Mother’s Father was killed in a coal mine accident some years before.  Both Grandmothers had elected not to attend for whatever reason.  So it was mostly the aunts and uncles and some of Father’s friends from work.  Other teachers and their boyfriends or husbands.

As it was getting later and the booze was flowing the party got louder and louder.  By this time Anna and myself had been tucked into bed, sleeping soundly.  And the baby was still being good by only waking when she was either wet or wanted a bottle.

I found out much later that Paddy and some of his teacher friends had a bit too much to drink and had gotten on the table and were doing the Charleston.  Which was very much in vogue at that time.  Fortunately, there was only one cop in the small town and no one ever called the cop on you for making a little too much noise in those days.

Of course Himself and Mother did get into a heated argument after everyone had left because of the way he and his friends had acted.   When they were dancing on the table they decided to sing also and this finally did wake the baby, who promptly started screaming causing my Mother to go to her and spend time rocking her to calm her down.  Mother told Himself that his friends would have to leave and in fact the party was over.

So of course the next day no one was speaking to each other.

To be continued.

 

 

4th DAY OF NABLOPOMO/GROWING UP

000_0065In better times we had a nice house with a big back yard and lots of fruit trees which in addition to giving us fruit, also provided shade.  My Father was working as a teacher then and Mother stayed home with the kids.

It was right after my sister Joan was born and plans were underway for the Christening.  The air was charged with the excitement of the coming party.  My Mother did a lot of cooking and baking and of course Himself was in charge of the alcohol.  Although a lot of people carried flasks in those days and were usually well supplied.

The family on both sides were coming and of course his friends from work.  The other teachers and whoever they wanted to bring.

On the day of the Christening there was a big punchbowl in the middle of the dining room table surrounded by the best china.   The aroma from the cooking and baking filled the air.

The Christening had taken place earlier at the church, with the God Parents doing the honors.  My Mother was not feeling well and had stayed home to rest and attend to getting things in order.  Now the baby was sleeping peacefully in her crib unaware of all the hubbub going on.

My older sister Anna and I were allowed to stay up later than usual to enjoy the party.  I remember being bounced on my Grandfather’s knee  and then nibbling on the goodies.

To be continued.

Nov. 3, 2014/3rd day of NaBloPoMo/GROWING UP

mother and anna circa 1929First I want to thank all my Followers!  I really do appreciate your following me and I will try to keep it interesting.

Second let me say that I came down with chills and aches plus a sore throat today and frankly forgot to get my blog out.  I will be up and running tomorrow.

I will leave you with a short story to keep things interesting.

 

MOTHER

My Mother was a character!  In addition to cooking and baking and telling us stories she could be pretty fierce sometimes.  Maybe because she had to  be both Mother and Father to us all.  And of course I would get in trouble from time to time being the second oldest and wanting my own way.  So when I did something that made her angry, she would tell me to go out to the yard and get a branch off one of the smaller trees.  More like a bush.  These made the best switches and it would hurt like the dickens when you got hit with one of them.

So being the good little girl that I was, I would go out to the yard and pretend I was going to get a switch.  Now my sisters would do it, bring her a switch.  But I thought if I didn’t come back I wouldn’t get switched.  So I would take off and go and play with some of my friends and not come back until she had cooled off and usually that worked.  And sometimes it didn’t.  Did I mention she didn’t have a very good memory.

Nov. 2/Day 2 of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and MarionWhen my Father lost his teaching job and was either embarrassed or too lazy to do any manual labor, he would usually  run home to his Mother to take care of him.  He would leave my Mother and us kids alone to get along as best we could.  Since my Mother left school in eighth grade to help support her family and since she did not have a good enough education to get a job that paid well, all the work she could get was cleaning houses or cooking for rich people.  That is if there were even any jobs at all for women in those days education or not.

President Roosevelt at this time also instituted the Civilian Conservation Corps, (CCC) to get men and boys working again earning a living.  My Father was above all that though, he refused to get his hands dirty.  My Mother used to say, “he is too good to work like the other poor stiffs who would take anything to feed and house their families.”  Paddy wasn’t concerned with his family as long as he had a roof over his head and three squares.

Paddy’s mother was always there to take him in.  She, my grandmother, was a force in shaping him especially since he was the youngest boy in the family.  He was her “Golden Boy.”  She made him think he was better than anyone else even to the exclusion of his own family.  This was especially so after he got his teacher’s credentials and started working as a teacher.  She would later deny any part in his deserting his family.

It was around this time when things had gotten so bad for us that we had to move from our nice house to a ‘shack’ that a strong wind would have blown  down.  The roof leaked, the wind whistled through the cracks and I don’t remember ever being warm there even in the Summer.  There were four girls at this time.  Five of us including my Mother.  Anna was the oldest at 10, I was next at 8, and Joan and Kay at 5 and 3 years old.  It was the late 1930’s, and thank God that Franklin Roosevelt was president!

Between Roosevelt and our Pastor at the Catholic Church, we always had food on the table.  A few of our neighbors were also generous and gave us fresh vegetables from their gardens.  And so we managed to survive.   We even got a good education for free from the Catholic School.

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.

26th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Return

THE RETURN

When Jenny came home that day the family was all a twitter about something.  Mom, who was usually in an old house dress, was wearing her Sunday best.  It was a black rayon dress with big pink flowers splashed all over it.  It was one of Jenny’s favorites.  It was one of the two dresses that Mom had for special occasions like going to church or to weddings.  Her Mother was a good looking woman and she had just started dating recently.

“Jenny, go upstairs and make the beds, we are having company.”  Her Mother’s voice was shrill.

“What’s all the commotion about Mom,” she asked?

“It’s a surprise, will you please do what I asked?”

“Okay, okay, but I don’t know what the big deal is?  We have had company before and the beds did not have to be made.  And what’s with the mystery?  Is the Pope coming or what?”

With that Jenny ran upstairs before her Mother would get mad and give her a slap.  Her two younger sisters were in the bathroom giggling.  She hoped maybe they could shed a little light on what was going on.  But when she asked them, they just ignored her and kept giggling.  ‘What can you expect from kids,’ she thought?  Jenny was all of fourteen and as second oldest in the family was very much in control of things.  She was blonde and blue eyed and rather scrawny looking yet the boys were beginning to notice her.  Her Mother encouraged her in her independence because she needed Jenny to help at home while she was working.  Since Dad left, she needed every penny she could get to raise her four girls.  He never willingly sent any money home from his allotment while in the Army.  But the Army took money out of his allotment and sent it to us in spite of him.  He was a real winner!

Jenny finished making the beds and as she entered her own room, the smells of Summer drifted in through the open window.  The watering of lawns and the wet grass smell, coupled with the aroma of the lilac bushes outside made Jenny feel lazy and she flopped on the bed and soon was snoozing.  Only a few moments later, the noise of the front door slamming jolted her awake.

She still daydreamed not wanting to leave the bed, which was happening more and more lately.  It was a way to close out the real world.  Her Dad had deserted them when she was seven and Mom said that fate had caught up with him when he was drafted into the Army.  It was 1943 and they were taking anybody and everybody.  As long as you were a warm body and male of course.  He never expected that to happen and he finally had to get off his duff and do something.  At least that’s what Mom said.

Whenever Mom spoke of him,  her voice was bitter so Jenny learned to despise his memory even though she didn’t remember all that much about him.  Mom filled in the blanks of her memory with all the rotten things he had done.  As if just refusing to send money home to his family wasn’t enough.

Jenny often wondered if her father would come back and how she would feel if he ever did.  She knew however, with her Mom’s attitude there was slim chance of that happening.  As she stubbed out the cigarette she had stolen from Mom’s purse, a train whistle blew in the distance and she wondered what it would be like to be on that train going to New York and maybe studying to be an artist or a dancer.

She was drawn out of her daydream by her Mother’s voice, “Are you finished yet, if so I want you to come down here.”

“I am all done and I will be right down.”  She wondered what all the fuss was about.

To be continued.

THE RETURN – FINIS –

Meanwhile, Jane was planning a sweet sixteen party for herself. With Mom’s approval of course. She was popular being a Gemini, and had lots of friends both male and female. Even her teachers liked her and they were nuns for crying out loud.

There had been a business in the remodeled cellar underneath the house but the shoemaker had decided to move out, so the space was now empty. And it would make a perfect place to hold the party. There was wood floors, good for dancing and Jane thought she could borrow a record player to play all the neat forty five records a few of her girl friends donated, including Tommy Dorsey and Harry James.

Jane had enough money to buy the food for the party herself too, including cokes and balloons and even crepe paper to decorate. Mom of course would make a cake.

So all was in readiness with about twenty teens invited and expected to show. Jenny had to work that night but thought she would be able to get off early and get home before the party was over. She was really looking forward to it.

Jenny helped Jane decorate the basement room, hanging the crepepaper streamers and blowing up the balloons and setting up a few chairs. Then she went off to work.

She got off early as planned and as she neared the house, the sound of boogie woogie penetrated the night air. Tommy Dorsey was in rare form with his rendition of “String of Pearls.” She loved Dorsey and his music and was anticipating a few dances before the party was over.

She went in and the party was still crowded at 11p.m. She had a ground bologna with mayo and pickle relish sandwich (the usual party fare) and a coke. Then Ed one of Jane’s friends, came over and asked her to dance. She really got into the swing which included doing a jitterbug. Ed was a good dancer but most of the guys Jane hung out with were good dancers.

The party continued for a few more hours and Mom shouted down that it was time to wrap it up before the neighbors started complaining.

The party broke up around one am. After everyone left, Jenny and Jane cleaned up the remains. They knew they were going to be tired and sleep late the next day. Went Jenny went upstairs into the kitchen, she didn’t see mom or dad around and assumed they were in bed. Although how they could sleep through the music and noise was beyond her. She went upstairs to bed and slept soundly until about 10 a.m. the next day.

When Jenny came downstairs the next morning, she fixed herself a cup of coffee that mom had percolating on the coal stove. Mom was busying herself around the kitchen and asked her if wanted some scrambled eggs.

“I would love some,” she said.

“Well sit and relax I am sure you are still tired after working and then the party last night. Did you enjoy yourself?”

“I sure did,” Jenny replied. “But where is dad? I didn’t see him last night and he doesn’t seem to be around anywhere today?”

“Well, all I can tell you is he is gone,” her mother said.

“Gone? Where?”

“Who knows? Probably back to his mother,” mom said sarcastically.

“You father did not want Jane having the party and he told me that if she had the party he was leaving. So I told him he could leave then. I told Jane she could have the party and he had nothing to say about it.”

“So he left?”

Jenny couldn’t believe what she was hearing. He left? Without saying a word to her? She was just beginning to know him again and even maybe liking him. Which was not an easy feat after all the time he had been away. And he left?

“Is he ever coming back,” she asked.

“I certainly hope not. That man can go straight to hell if he thinks I am going to take orders from him. Who does he think he is? Coming back and thinking he is going to start throwing his weight around, giving me orders, wanting steak every night and only the best brand of coffee.” she shouted.

“But he wasn’t here that long,” Jenny said in a small voice. Not wanting to irritate her Mother any further.

“He was here too long if you ask me,” Mom ranted.

“He never was any good anyway. Why are you so concerned? You didn’t want him here to begin with anyway.”

“I know, I know but he seemed to be getting along with us except Jane of course,” she said.

“Well you know how men are. If you don’t, it is not my fault, Lord knows.”

Jenny well knew Mom never had a good word to say about Dad and certainly with good reason. He left and never sent any money or even contacted the family to see how they were doing in a long time. But why did she take him back then? Jenny knew she could not ask Mom that question unless she wanted to get back handed.

Jenny fought the tear that was trying to escape as she turned and ran out of the house.

-Finis-

THE RETURN (continued)

Jenny finally decided she may as well come downsairs and see to whom the voices belonged. She slowly came down the stairs and when she walked into the living room,  standing in front of her was this man in a soldier’s uniform. There was also another man talking to Mom. She recognized him as Uncle Mike. It dawned on her that the man in uniform was her father. The uniform smiled and bent down to kiss her cheek. She had not seen him in a long while but he did look familiar with his reddish blond hair and square jaw.  His beard scratched her face and she did not like it.

Her Mother said, “This is your father. Aren’t you going to say hello?”

The emotions welling up in her were about to explode and she gave way to the most compelling one. Anger. She wiped away the kiss with a haughty gesture, hoping to pay him back for some of the pain he had caused her.

He noticed the gesture but kept smiling. Mom pretended not to notice as Jenny ran back up the steps. She sat on her bed and brooded as the festivities continued downstairs. Mom had prepared lunch for the guests and the laughter coming from the kitchen made her angrier. She wondered what was going on and what made him come back? Was it just for a visit or God forbid to stay. Mom seemed pretty happy for some reason and that made Jenny even angrier if that were even possible. All Mom had done was call him names and run him down over the years, so they all hated him with a passion. And here she was smiling and serving him lunch.  Jenny didn’t want him back.  And if he came back he better not try to tell her what to do ever!

Later that evening after Dad and Uncle Mike had left, Mom announced that Dad would be coming back to live with them now that he was out of the Army.  He and Mom would take one of the bedrooms and the girls would have to double up in the other room.  Well, that does it, Jenny thought, I certainly don’t want him here with all of us kids sleeping in the same room, no privacy, a man telling us what to do. Why is she doing this?

Jenny slept fitfully that night and when awakening felt no better. She went downstairs, fixed a cup of coffee and proceeded to ask her Mom why?  She managed to sneak another cigarette out of Mom’s purse for later.  When she asked Mom why he was coming back, she just smiled and said things would be just fine. “He has changed,” she said. “And besides, he has a job and will be bringing in money which we certainly can use.”

This did not pacify Jenny. She and Jane went to their bedroom and began to grumble to each other.  Jenny smoked her stolen cigarette as they continued to find reasons why Dad should not come back.  They were both working now and thought they could get along nicely without him.  They had for all these years so why now should he come back and ruin it?  But they went about their daily routines and hoped for the best.

A week later Dad moved in. He and Mom took the room Jenny and Jane had shared.  It was strained at first but he tried to win Jenny over. He seemed to realize it was useless to try with Jane. She was sixteen and working full time and came and went as she pleased.  She let it be known that she planned to continue on the same way no matter who lived with them.

After a few weeks the routine changed drastically. Mom cooked big meals for dinner and she had to have the best steak and the best brand of coffee for him.  He started his job and was gone in the afternoons and evenings.  He worked the night shift at the small defense plant in town.

On weekends he would have some of his buddies over and they would play cards and drink beer. A lot of joke telling and war related stories went on till the wee hours. He let Jenny sit in with him and the boys and even let her sip some beer which she was getting to like.  And the stories were pretty interesting.  About the time he was in Italy and he and his buddies would drink wine and have a fine time with the Italians. He was in his forties and he said the old guys didn’t have to go to the front, so they carried up the rear and got to enjoy themselves quite a bit. He certainly seemed to enjoy his time in the Army.

Jenny found herself beginning to like him in spite of herself.  He was quite the story teller. Whether the stories were true or not she wasn’t sure. The younger girls were intrigued by him.  Jane however was having none of it.  She had her own friends and her own life. Nobody was going to tell her what time to come home or who she could go out with. She and Dad clashed frequently. And angry words were exchanged on several occasions.

On one such occasion, Jane who was on the late shift at one of the local mills, came home and was standing outside the house laughing and talking with her friends.  It was about ten pm.  Dad, who had not gone to work that day,  was not happy and sent Jenny out to tell her to come in the house.  Jenny went out and told Jane what he said.  Jane became angry and said, “Tell him I don’t have to listen to anything he says and I will do what I want.”  With that she and her friends left and started walking away.  She did not come home until after midnight.  And of course Dad was furious but he did not confront her.
As the weeks went by things did not go smoothly with Mom either. She complained about having to cook big meals every night. She didn’t like all the beer drinking or the war stories. His buddies seemed to get on her nerves as well.  She didn’t see her girlfriends as often.  Dad seemed happy enough though.  He would go off with his lunch pail singing.  He did like to sing.  He seemed unaware of the tension that was building.