Monday, May 25, 2009

Mary: Childhood Memories


Three years before she died, my mom emailed Her family some childhood memories, particularly about her dad.

As the oldest of my parent’s children I should share a few memories. My dad was very special for me. He took me everywhere with him since he liked to go for drives in the car, and not everyone wanted to go. I always asked if we would stop for food along the way, and he almost always obliged. However we did go on family trips. Once I remember going to Montreal. We always went out on Long Island in the summer, renting a bungalow usually for a month. In fact he wanted to buy a place, but my mom was reluctant. Remember, there were very few amenities then, just old fashioned ice boxes and poor stoves. He would commute to the city often and come out on weekends.

One summer he when I was 12, I want to camp out there. I remember getting a letter telling me that he bought a book that even I couldn’t finish in one night - Gone with the Wind. -He knew that I sneaked into the bathroom at night to read after I was supposed to be in bed for the night. His law office in N.Y. was just across from City Hall and he often took me there when there was going to be a parade to welcome a celebrity to City Hall. I vaguely remember when I was a young kid going to see Lindberg’s celebration in 1927.

My dad was a lawyer who took pity on poor people. During the depression he had many clients who couldn’t pay him. When he died ,my mom found a file cabinet filled with unpaid bills from people he had helped. Fortunately, he did have people who paid so we were not too destitute during the 30’s. He was a Democrat and was a Roosevelt man, but I remember his coming home one day proclaiming , “He closed the banks.” As a family we talked politics. My parents supported FDR and his New Deal. That is probably the reason why I became an FDR supporter , casting my first vote for Roosevelt.

Unfortunately, long before doctors had the modern medicines that control high blood pressure , my dad had very high blood pressure thatcaused him many health problems During the last years of his life he was in the hospital many times. My mom was 12 years younger than my dad and still in her child bearing years. Around the time each of my youngest brothers was born she also had a sick husband to care for. Since I was in my teens I used to take care of them when she would be at the hospital

My dad died in January 1939 at age 52, leaving my mom a widow with 7 children at age 40, the youngest less than 2. Because my dad was an independent lawyer he had no pension; due to his health conditions he had been unable to get much insurance. My mom was left with limited income except for the low rent from some old houses my dad owned in Brooklyn. My older half-brother Jim was in law school at this point, and I was entering my senior year at high school, expecting to go to college when I graduated. I remember well my father’s brother Bill saying to my mom: “Well you’re lucky, Mary is a girl so she doesn’t need to go to college." I remember thinkin , maybe not now, but certainly some day.

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