THOSE WERE THE DAYS continuing story….

Grandmother/Mom
Grandmother/Mom

Mom, who was our grandmother, but insisted that her grandchildren call her mom, was a major force in my mother’s family and therefore in our family as well.  As a result of having to call her mom, we had to call my mother, mother.

When we were children, we often went to visit Mom with my mother.  She lived several blocks away and since we did not have a car, walking would have to do.  Three of mom’s daughters, she had eight, lived with her at the time.  And a few had married and had their own homes and families.  Two became teachers and the rest worked in the silk mills in the area and turned in their pay to mom as long as they were living at home.  Mom used some of the money to send two of the youngest girls to Teacher’s College.  Mom was very progressive especially being she was from the “Old Country”.

We, my sisters and I, were shy and would hide behind my mother if we were asked any questions when we visited.  Mom would comment on how bashful we were and my mother would scoff and say, “They are not that way at home!  Can’t keep them quiet there.”  Which of course, made us more bashful when we were out..

We kids enjoyed playing in mom’s large backyard where she kept chickens and had a vegetable garden.  We made up our own games and were usually pretty tired when mother would call us in for a snack of lemonade and cookies that mom had made.  Usually oatmeal and raisin cookies and the lemonade was so cool and refreshing that we guzzled it down.

After all the playing and then walking home we kids were pretty tired and usually took a nap, giving mother a brief respite and maybe a visit with her friend and neighbor, Mrs. Kelly.  Mrs. Kelly lived right next door to us and had a large yard in which were planted all manner of vegetables.  She used to give us vegetables on a regular basis, anywhere from carrots to tomatoes and onions.  My mother would make wonderful stews with chunks of meat and always potatoes added.  My mother had a small garden and even some chickens but with four children, was always grateful for donations of food especially around the holidays.

Mrs. Kelly, in addition to being very helpful to us, was also a bad influence on my mother, teaching her to smoke and sometimes drink alcohol.  But mother never became a big drinker and she never became a heavy smoker either, in spite of Mrs. Kelly.  But they did have a good time when they got together.  They both loved hearing and telling a good story.  There was always a lot of laughing when they got together.

To be continued.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS continued

Grandmother/Mom
Grandmother/Mom

My grandmother, even being from the old country, Ireland, quickly took on some new ideas from her adopted country.  Although she kept many of the customs of her past, like wearing long dresses to her ankles and these were mostly  dark colors in paisley prints.  Her shoes were always black with low heels, like nurses used to wear.

The one thing she insisted on was that we, her grandchildren call her “Mom” and not “Grandmother”.  She did not want to be considered old, so as a result, we had to call my mother, “Mother”, not realizing how different that was, especially in the United States, where most people call their mom, “mom”.

We, of course, thought nothing of it at the time but as we got older, it seemed a bit odd.  Not that we ever objected to it or even said anything about it.  Until we were adults and friends would sometimes remark about it being a little strange.

Mom’s husband, my grandfather, was called “Pop” by both his children and his grandchildren.  That always seemed odd to me, even as a child.  But I do not remember ever questioning anyone about it but I do not think he cared one way or the other what we called him.  Mom usually set down the rules about these things in her house and among her family.  You disagreed with her at your own peril.  My mother took it all with a grain of salt and I followed in her footsteps.

To Be Continued.

Growing Up continues…

Scan 2

I was fourteen years old when Father left for the last time, at least we hoped it was the last time. Life resumed its normal rhythm and we managed to get through that Summer in much the same way that we were used to. Although, Anna who was sixteen now and had quit school in tenth grade to work full-time, decided to go back to school and graduate. My Mother was glad even though there would be less money coming in now; she thought it was more important to graduate. I was a freshman now and considered myself quite grown up and should be able to do whatever I wanted to do. My Mother, as easygoing as she was, had other ideas about that. I was not a problem in my teens like some other of my peers who were and since I was responsible and helped out at home, my Mother trusted me.

I was still working at the coke and jukebox place for the rest of that Summer and paying for my expenses at school, so I was pretty independent. One day as I was working with the one other waitress who was also on duty, guess who walks into the place with a big smile on his face? My Father! I hadn’t seen him since the big blow up between himself and my Mother a few months ago, when he stormed out with my Mother’s encouragement. That was over Anna having her sixteenth birthday party in our basement, which he was adamantly against. We hadn’t heard from him since that time and he had never even said goodby when he left and here he was waltzing in here to see me, I supposed. Not sure what he was after but I was having none of it.

He sat down at the counter and I anxiously tried to get Trudy, the other waitress, to wait on him but she said she was too busy. So I got the honor. I went to the counter and without even saying hello, I asked what he wanted. He had a funny smile on his face as though he knew I wanted to slap him, now that I was big enough. He was only about five feet, six, with a slight build although he had a lot more muscle tone than I did. He was always exercising and lifting weights and I am sure even though I was five feet, five at the time, not much shorter than he, I was in no shape to be challenging him.

He said he would have a hamburger and french fries. “Oh crap” I thought, “he wants me to cook for him.” I really was angry at him and now I had to cook something and serve him. I went into the kitchen and started banging around and making a lot of noise. First of course I had to pour him a cup of coffee, which was stale and I knew how he liked it freshly made or he wouldn’t drink it. So I got some satisfaction from that. He didn’t say anything about it. He just sat there with that sickening smile. I continued banging around in the kitchen and finally I came out and slammed the plate down in front of him. I walked away and went over to Trudy and she was looking at me with a, “What’s the matter with you,” look on her face. I couldn’t explain who he was to her, not while he was still sitting there.

To be continued next Wednesday.

Best piece of advice I’ve ever received!

Mame self portrait
Self portrait in acrylic

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received came from my lawyer at the time.  I had the same lawyer for the many times I was going to leave and or divorce my husband.  I was married and had four children at the time and my husband had this habit of flying into rages with little or no provocation.  I never knew when one of these rages were going to happen, so there was no way to prepare for it.

He mostly had a knife in his hand when he was raging and it was always close to my chest or neck.  I of course knew enough to freeze and never say or do anything to provoke him.  Sometimes I was allowed to walk away without him touching me at all, as his rage subsided.

He was usually very contrite afterwards, always apologizing and saying he would never do anything like that again.  In the beginning I believed him but after a while, when these rages would happen again and again and he refused to go for help, I could not take it any longer.  Now through all the years this had been going on, my lawyer was always very consoling but never gave me his opinion.

But after a particularly violent incident when I thought I would be killed or one of the children injured or worse, I asked my lawyer for advice.  My family had given me advice constantly to leave him but there was no help at that time or place to go, except temporarily.  And even the police would not do anything.

I had started divorce proceedings and had him (through a Court Order) thrown out of the house.  I was talking to my lawyer on the phone and I was wavering about going through with the divorce.  These words my lawyer said to me struck a cord in me that I’ve have never forgotten.  And through the process, whenever I would weaken a bit about going through with the divorce, I would hear those words.  He said to me, “Marion, think of it as an operation, something you’ve got  to do!”  Well, I had decided that it was the last time I would let this happen and never again would I let him abuse or intimidate me again.

And as far as giving this advice to someone else, I don’t think it would be up to me to pass it along.  Most times no one would listen anyway.  Everyone has to come to their own conclusions at the right time.

17th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

After getting Mother pregnant for the fourth time, Paddy hung around for a while.  Of course no one knew for how long a time that would last.  He even managed to get a few substitute teaching jobs which helped tremendously.  The Church under the auspices of the Pastor was still having milk delivered to us on a daily basis.  We were still receiving commodities but no cash since Paddy was living with us and working.  If course the shack was still a shack with the rain coming in through the leaks in the roof.  Especially bad was when it would hit you in the face while you were sleeping and the pinging noise when it dripped into the pots we had put on the stairs.

All the while, Mother was growing larger and getting more uncomfortable.  As the time drew near to her due date, she became more anxious.  And unlike himself, Father was helping with the cleaning, going for groceries and even helping with the children.  Of course Paddy was hoping for a boy!  He thought surely they wouldn’t have another girl.  Mother knew he would be very disappointed if she had a girl.

A week later Paddy drove Mother to the hospital in his old truck and he was driving like a maniac!  The contractions had come on so suddenly there was barely enough time to get to the hospital.  And while he was waiting in the hospital waiting room he said a silent prayer for a boy.  Couldn’t hurt he thought.

So when the doctor came out and delivered the news that he had another girl, Paddy almost swooned.  It couldn’t be!  It just could not be possible for him to have a fourth girl!  And yet that’s what the doctor was saying.  He called his mother who consoled him and then she let him rant and rave and get it out of his system.  He had told her and all his siblings that he was sure that they were going to have a boy this time.  Of course they didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was always a fifty fifty chance.  Nevertheless, he was bitterly disappointed.

It was a good thing he had his teaching job to take his mind off things; his friends at work were sympathetic but coming home was another matter.  With Mother not feeling well yet and the baby crying a lot.  The baby was named Kay after Mother, at least she would have one of them named after herself.  Winifred was named after Paddy’s mother and Anna was named after Mom.  So there was no argument with naming Kay after Mother.

Paddy proved himself helpful for a time even rocking and singing to the new baby and lo and behold even changing her diapers.  Mother was still anxious though even if Himself was being very good, working and helping out at home.  Almost too good to be true.

The stress of just having a baby and with three other children to take care of became too much for Mother.  Soon she and Father were arguing on a daily basis.  He started staying out late after work and having drinks with his friends, some of these friends were women.  Most of whom were single and loved to party.  Drinking beer and dancing was common at the bars they frequented.

This did not sit well with Mother and she did have a temper after all.  So a few weeks after one of Father’s late night drinking and what not, Mother was waiting when he did come home and there was an argument which was worse than any they had ever had.

To be continued.

11th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

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.

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.

 

30th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Return

THE RETURN

As the weeks went by things did not go smoothly with Mom either.  She complained about having to cook big meals every night and she didn’t like all the beer drinking with the loud men taking up her kitchen several nights a week.  Dad seemed happy enough or maybe he was just unaware of the all the controversy swirling around him.  He went off to his job at the defense plant where he was on the night shift now and did not run into Kate very often.

Meanwhile Kate and Jenny were hatching a plan to sow a little more discord into his and Mom’s relationship.  Kate’s Sweet Sixteen birthday was coming up and they had cajoled and sweet talked Mom into letting them have a party and invite a bunch of their friends.  The party was to be downstairs in the now vacant shop, which was just big enough to fit a fairly large crowd of their mutual friends.  Kate and Jenny were only two years apart in high school and knew a lot of the same people or their brothers and sisters.  There was enough room for dancing and someone had promised to bring a record player with Tommy Dorsey and Harry James’ Records.  Everyone was supposed to bring a snack food and Kate and Jenny would provide the sandwiches and cokes.

And since Kate was popular and had a lot of friends, the party promised to be well attended.  Saturday at nine pm was the designated day and time for the party since it didn’t get dark until nine pm.    Mom was on board and was even going to make the sandwiches.  Dad would be at work so he wouldn’t be there to throw a wet blanket on everything.  Jenny had taken the night off from work to help with setting up everything for the party.

When nine o’clock rolled around, the party goers started arriving and everything was set up and waiting. The balloons and crepe paper decorations made the room look festive and the table was loaded with goodies to eat and drink.  Mom was the chaperone and managed to peek in every now and then but not enough to be intrusive.  The dancing had started and before long everyone was having a fun time.  Between the dancing and the eating, drinking and laughing, time flew by and it seemed no time before it was 11 pm.  With only an hour to go, everyone seemed to get louder.

All of a sudden Dad appeared at the top of the stairs and glared at all the happy teens, his face was red as a beet.  He looked at Jenny as though to say, “How could you?”  For some reason Jenny felt guilty about that look.  Then he turned on his heel and went back to the kitchen where soon there was the sound of loud voices raised in anger.  Kate said to everyone, “Oh that’s just my Dad, don’t worry about him, Mom will handle him.  Let’s continue with the party!”  She grabbed the nearest guy and started dancing again and soon everyone joined in.  Jenny still felt guilty but she didn’t want to miss out on any of the fun so she joined the dancers.  No more was heard from Dad that night.

The next morning when Jenny came down to breakfast she noticed Dad was missing from his usual chair.  He was always up early and never missed breakfast, especially his morning coffee.

“Mom where’s Dad, how come he’s not up yet,” she asked?

“Oh, he’s up alright.  Up and gone.”

“What do you mean, gone?”  Jenny was taken aback.

“I mean he’s left again, couldn’t get his own way, so he left!”

“You mean he’s not coming back?”  Jenny was really feeling guilty now.

“That’s what I mean alright.  He didn’t want your sister having a party and he thought I would call it off.  Imagine his surprise when he got home from work to find the party in full swing.”  Mom had a strange lilt in her voice.  “He said your sister was too snippy and didn’t show him the proper respect.  Well I told him if he didn’t like it, he could just leave.”

“And he left, just like that?  He didn’t even say goodby to us?”

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

Jenny didn’t know why she had expected anything more from Dad.  After all, Mom was right about men.  You certainly couldn’t trust any of them.”

-FINIS-

29th Day of NaBloPoMo/The Return

THE RETURN

At first when Dad moved in things were strained and this lasted for several weeks before the thaw began at least between Jenny and Dad.  He seemed to be making a real effort to win her over.  She still didn’t trust him by any stretch of the imagination but at least she was civil to him and even downright friendly sometimes.  Kate began noticing this and called Jenny on it.  They actually quarreled about it a few times.  Kate was very independent and did not want to quit her job and go back to school.  She had more independence this way working and bringing in money to help out.  If she went back to school she would have no leverage in the situation and Dad would be in charge.  Mom sure was being nice to him, letting him make all the decisions about pretty much everything.  It wasn’t like Mom.  She was pretty independent and no one told her what to do but with Dad here things changed dramatically.

Usually after dinner was over now and the dishes were cleared away, Dad would open a beer, and settle down to tell his war stories to anyone willing to listen.  Mom was not interested after the first few times so he would invite his brother Joe over with the promise of a few beers and regale him with the stories.  Jenny had taken to sitting with them and listening to the stories, some of which she found fascinating.  Once in a while Dad would even offer her a small glass of beer.  She of course never refused it and even began to like it.  And as time went on she became “one of the boys.”

Jenny found herself liking him in spite of herself but she could see that Kate was not happy about the situation.  She had her own friends and a boyfriend who didn’t come around so much now that Dad was here.  Dad started inviting a few more friends over and they even started playing cards.  This was one or two nights a week now and even Mom seemed to be bothered by having the “boys” over so much.  Jenny it seemed was the only one who liked sitting in and being considered one of the gang.

One night when Kate came home from work, she worked until 10 pm, she stayed out in front of the house and was talking and laughing with her friends.  She was out there about 30 minutes when Dad told Jenny to go out and tell Kate that it was time to come into the house now as it was late and to send her friends home.  So Jenny thinking nothing about it went out and said to Kate, “Dad said that you were to come in now as it is late and tell your friends to leave.”

“Well you can tell him I will do whatever I want and will come in whenever I want.  I don’t have to listen to him!” Kate turned and motioned to her friends to follow as they started walking away from the house.

Of course Jenny went back into the house and told Dad exactly what Kate had said.   As she was telling him she noticed the vein in his temple was pulsating.   He went to get Mom and she could hear them arguing in the other room.

To be continued