I remember mama. Yes, my mother is gone long ago; but I remember her so. She was a delightful soul–good, kind, decent, loving. I remember mama. When I was two-years old, I had the German Measles and mommy took me into the attic, set up a cot bed and I was quarantined from the rest of the family brood of dad, brothers and sister. She took good care, watching over me, interchanged with the doctor calls, and saw to it that there was no light from the window next to my bed. All this while attending to the needs of dad, my two brothers and sister. She brought me chicken soup–her often called home remedy for just about every ill.
In those days long ago, the doctor came to the house, and most remedies were from the kitchen supplies mama would get from the apothecary shop where medicines were made up and dispensed as needed. Some of it tasted yuk. But between the chicken soup and the yuk, I soon recovered and was allowed to return downstairs and sit on the stone porch that was lined with brick. My brothers and sister hugged me and treated me so well after such adventure; I actually wonder what new ill could fall on me so to see the joyful faces shown upon recovery.
Mama was blessed. She told me when I was six or seven how she met daddy when I asked her. When she was little and in the winter snowy days, he would throw snowballs during kid wars and accidentally hit her in the face. She chased him home but couldn’t catch him. She was given a good education, attending Rochester Business School after graduating highschool and landed a job with a bank having many German speaking clients and customers. Mama spoke German fluently and was the private secretary to the President. After a couple of years, she asked him if she could learn some new and diversified jobs and being well thought of, she was made the head of the Foreign Department which dealt with both US and foreign duties. It was during this time that she attended some dances with co-workers and while dancing, met this handsome drummer from the band. She liked him and he asked her to dance while on break and soon she accepted being kind of steady and then accepted his proposal for marriage. But there was a major problem to overcome.
In those days, a lad would have to approach the father to see the lay of the land and if he was a decent chap with prospects for a financial future to be able to care for his daughter. He was of course German and his occupation was a house painter and also a paper hanger having his own business. Well, dad’s report of being a professional musician did not set well. Dad told him he made a good salary and the band was made up of fine gentlemen and he made a salary that would care for them both and eventual family. But her papa said no marriage unless my dad agreed to learn a trade first. He said he would and was able to join the photoengraver apprenticeship program set up by the union. Dad was artistic that way.
Well, that was one hurdle out-of-the-way but there was a major one coming for mama. When she told the officers in the bank of her marriage plans, the President tried to talk her out of it and even hired a private investigator to check out my dad. Thankfully his findings were of a very decent and dependable man with high integrity and character. But Mr. Gregory, her boss and bank president said she knew when she was hired that if she got married, it was bank policy that she would have to resign. Dad was drafted in World War I and so I don’t have much information about his service except that he won a number of medals from France and America. Apparently he volunteered to cross no-man’s land with a squad to bring back needed rations for the company. And, in so doing, happened to see a church clock hands moving and soon heavy bombardment of his company’s position. His report netted a group of spies who had taken up a position in the church tower. But dad was wounded by machine gun fire and hospitalized. When he recovered and started back to find his unit, a bunch came along and enlisted him in their outfit because the war was over. His battalion was among the first home with the 310th marching down New York’s main street but dad was not with them. In fact, he spent another year or two helping rebuild France.
I remember how beautiful mama was–bright red-auburn hair and blue-eyed, shapely, smart, kind and gentle, she was a willing listener to our problems that she sometimes carried on her shoulders. Most of the time my sis or brother would babysit me when dad and mama attended social company sponsored events or with the masonic which my dad belonged to. My mama was a member of the Ladies auxiliary both in the American Legion and Masonic. Dad and mama made a handsome pair!
Our financial situation was unclear because dad was out of work due to labor union strikes a lot. But with his music which he taught and band play they were able to never let us kids know how they had to scrimp and save, often having the market put things on credit until dad got back to work. That was a common happening in those days for lots of folks.
We moved to Ithaca where my brothers and sister attended school. Ramie, as I called him, worked on a dairy farm owned by a Cornell professor and soon got a job at a department store where he designed window displays. He taught himself to play chess, reading the encyclopedia and joined the Ithaca chess club. He taught my sis and brother to play and me the moves although I was too young at the time. He also took guitar lessons.
December 7th 1941. Ramie had graduated that spring and got his draft notice almost immediately. He was in the service as a tech training sgt. first at Ft. Landing, Fla. and later at Fort Benning, Ga. After the war, Ramie taught me to play and noticed I took to it like a duck takes to water. In fact, I was just about even with my sis and brother Georgie.
All these years my mama was a homemaker–baking bread, pies, cakes, and experimenting with various dishes she learned while attending a course at Cornell. We never starved during the war because mama knew how to make things last and used her expertise to create a number of delicious meals which were my dad’s favorite menus. I think she could have opened a restaurant and been very successful but always obeyed my dad’s wishes that she stay at home and be a good mom. That–she excelled at!
My dad I remember well, too. Mama told me he was asked to entertain a movie actress who came to Ithaca to make a movie and the head wanted her kept safe but shown a good time. Dad agreed and took her to Silver Lake boating, dancing, and sightseeing during her movie work. Mama told me years later that she had come for dinner just before she left to return to California and said how lucky mama was to have such a fine husband and hoped she would find such a man someday herself.
We had moved back to Rochester and then to Ontario to dad’s father’s farm and grandma joined our family. Grandpa had died of a heartattack.
Mama and papa (I never called him that) were truly happily married and both lived long lives, mama outliving him due to a heart condition he had probably got in the service. This just hits the highlights of their life together. Maybe they would be mad that I share it here with my readers; I think, though, they would be at peace in the cemetery where they are buried next to each other in knowledge that our own lives have been blessed as was theirs.