Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Memoirs of Uncle Joe

These first stories presented below were written by Uncle Joe regarding his father, Arthur Thomas Myers (Grandpa Myers).  I'm not sure what order they should be in, but here they are:

Hard Times
He went to all the saloons in Carbondale every evening selling newspapers after his Father died. It must have been a terrific shock for a 10 year old to lose his Father; I know it was for me and I was past 56. Grandma made him a little moneybag with a shoelace for a drawstring on top so he wouldn’t lose any change. When he came home at night they would count it together on the kitchen table and decide what they could afford to buy. There were so many young ones in the family to feed and care for; now he had become the provider.

The bars at that time were many and well occupied, mostly with black covered coal miners washing down the dust; no women were allowed. Saw dust covered the floors and cuspidors were placed here and there to catch finished tobacco chews. They served schooners of draft for a nickel, with huge trays of sandwiches spread around at various points to eat when desired.  He was not allowed to linger in any saloon too long, just one pass around the bar, after which the owner showed him out, shoving a handful of sandwiches inside his shirt. He would eat one or two and still had plenty to carry home.

Later, when he grew enough to lie about his age, he was able to find steady work in a silk mill. Whenever she could Grandma would send him to Uncle Henry’s farm to stay overnight, or perhaps a weekend. He told me, years later, he believed she did this because she felt he needed the companionship of a Father. As soon as he arrived he would begin asking his Uncle, “When are we going fishing?” His Uncle would say “As soon as the moon is right in the sky, we will go.” Whenever the fish question would arise, his Uncle would look at the sky and say “The moon is still not right.” Then one day while he was there, his Uncle said “Now the moon is right.” They caught so many; they were up most of the night cleaning fish. When Uncle Henry’s dog dropped her first litter, he was presented with one of the pups. This dog became not only his constant companion, but also a hard worker. The dog hauled all the coal he picked for the fires at home.

The Courtship
He said he worked for John Booth at that time between 1920 and 1922. He operated and maintained a large steam powered roller when the roads were being paved between Finch Hill and Clifford. He walked back and forth to the job every day, past the four corners toward Clifford. When he passed the Moran farm he could see this young girl working in the fields with her large sunbonnet and shiny black hair flowing in the wind. He looked for her every day as he passed the farm. He would see her driving the huge team of horses, walking the cows into the barn for milking, or working in the gardens. Then there were days, perhaps, when he did not see her at all and wondered if she were sick or had gone away.

He was determined to see this young lady close up, at least one time. One day, when he was sure she was in the house, he knocked on the door, introduced himself to his future father-in-law, and asked to borrow a tool he was in dire need of. After this incident, there began a constant borrowing and returning of tools (which he perhaps never used). Eventually, after a reasonable length of time and Grandpa's approval, he walked to the house in the evenings and sat in the parlor with Mother. She would play the piano for him and at times, Uncle John and Aunt Gert, the youngest of the Moran’s, would help entertain by singing. Dad always carried gum and candy with him on these visits; when he passed it to the young ones, they knew it was time to leave the parlor. At 10 p.m. every night Grandfather Moran would take the raker and shake down the fires, probably creating as much noise and hee-hawing as possible. Dad knew it was tine to leave the house.

Apparently after some time elapsed, Grandpa decided to take advantage of this strong, red headed light heavyweight. At the time, aside from farming, Grandpa was also a fight promoter and trainer. Whenever he needed a sparring partner for one of his fighters, he would take Dad into Carbondale with him and put him in the ring. Dad wasn't particularly interested in this sport, but he certainly wasn't about to disappoint his future Father-in-law. His game was baseball. On his tour of duty with the Army in the Panama Canal Zone, he was a very accurate fastball pitcher; he threw no fancy curves, just a quick fastball over the plate.

As time passed, and most likely after their engagement, they would walk together across the fields—a short cut, as Mother said, to the dances at Newton Lake. Mother liked to dance but Dad wasn't too interested. He would move away from her a little, at her request, so the other young men would ask her to dance. Sunday always seemed to be their special day together. Dad had a fast horse and a surrey he was very proud of (the story was he sold the car he had and bought the horse and carriage). They drove this surrey into Carbondale to Mass at St. Rose, sometimes racing other young drivers coming or going. Most of the time they would take the long way home around Crystal Lake. Dad always left the house an hour or so earlier for work so he could stop at the Moran's barn to help mother milk her cows. Each of the five elder Morans had their assigned cows to milk before school. He told me once I wouldn't believe the language and bickering he heard as he approached the barn, and Mother and Uncle Bill, the two oldest, trying in vain to keep peace.

In the Spring of 1922, Grandpa gave Mother a piece of land to use for herself. She put in potatoes and with the money she made in the Fall of that year was able to buy her complete outfit for her wedding. With her brother, Uncle Bill, and Dad's sister Loretta in attendance, they were married in St. Rose Church on November 22, 1922.
Many years later, as I drove our little Mother to Carbondale down Fallbrook Street, she would point and say, “Look Joe, there is the first house your Father and I lived in after our marriage. It is still there.”

The Dry Cow
He had an old cow in his dairy herd whose milking days were over. She still looked good for her age and moved with the quickness of a young calf. Somehow he heard of a man from Jermyn who was looking for a dairy cow. After the deal was made and before the buyer arrived to pay for his cow, Dad took a bicycle pump and pumped air into the cow's udder. When the man arrived Dad cautioned him to walk the cow home very slow, and again stressed this point as he was leaving. The next day the man claimed he couldn't get milk from the cow, only air.  Dad appeared very upset at this saying, "I told you to walk that cow slow – now you have ruined a good milking cow!”

The Churn Dog
He told me making butter from that top cream of the milk in a small churn took a lot of time and effort. One summer day, a salesman came along with a churn dog, and naturally, all the necessary equipment to make butter the modern and efficient way. He made the sale and unloaded the harness, treadmill and dog, with instructions to set it up. Grandma and Dad put the dog on the treadmill and when they elevated the treadmill the dog had no choice but to run and churn the butter. I suppose they would leave him on there for the one or two hours it would take, while they devoted their time to other chores. As she did with every chore, a certain day of the week was scheduled for this particular job. Everything went smoothly for several weeks. The old dog would hang around outside, following Dad around, perhaps in and out of the house, sometimes becoming a nuisance under foot. As time passed, however, the dog became harder to locate on churn day. Eventually he became lost for the whole day and churning had to be postponed until his return. This would upset Grandma's entire schedule. I can imagine that poor dog running continuously on that treadmill for perhaps two hours. Dad said it was uncanny how that dog knew when churning day was approaching. To solve this problem the dog had to be tied up the night before the scheduled day, and eventually, butter was churned on different days each week.

Measure of Wealth
He told me this was the measure of a man's wealth; I never understood why canning and preserving every Fall was so important. The cold cellar, built beneath the ground and house in a special way, maintained the same temperature all year.  Nothing froze during winter or spoiled in summer. The potato bins were full and the winter apples stored in the same manner. Quart and pint canning jars were neatly arranged on shelves with the date and contents.  Everything possible was cooked and carefully preserved, such as beans, beets, tomatoes, chili sauce, sauerkraut in crocks, pears, peaches, applesauce, berries, jellies and much more. Grandma was almost totally blind from cataracts. She would set up her jars on a worktable near the window in direct sunlight to pour. She would point with her finger to a line on the jar and tell me "When I reach here, tell me to stop." I was too young to pour the hot contents of the pots for her, during those early years, but pleased to be a part of the fall canning.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thanks Tom...

Here's a hug from Mom. Very nice post...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Clare Jones, A Life Story

Mom wrote this informal bio on January 18, 2005. I think it was prepared for Nikki as part of one her school classes. Judging by the way she organized her memories, it would appear that she was answering questions from a questionnaire. Since we don't have the questions, however, I rearranged the short dialogues in a chronological manner for better reading:

My first memory was being in a large crib in a room off the kitchen. My Mother and her sisters were sitting in the kitchen visiting and I was amused with their chatter. I was standing up in the crib with my hands on the rail looking and listening through an open door.

Another memory was at 5 years old when I had my first death experience. I spent a lot of time at my Grandma’s house in my young years, mainly because I was one of the children who resembled the Myers family. My sister Betty looked like the Irish Morans, so she wasn’t welcome in the English Grandmother’s house. The English and Irish did not get along well in those days. My Father’s sister, Aunt Loretta, gave me special attention when I was in the house. I remember standing on the kitchen chair while she fussed with my pretty dress and fixed my hair. One day when I was 5, I was in the kitchen of Grandma’s house with other people when the Doctor came down the steps and announced that Aunt Loretta died. Her casket was in the parlor in front of the windows. The men gathered on the front porch and the women were inside. The Funeral Director put a black wreath on the front door.

My Father’s Mother came from Gloustershire, England in 1889 when she was 15. I remember that she had a strange accent ‑ cockney it was called. She pronounced eggs, “heggs”, and hammer and house were “ammer and ouse.”

We lived in a small coal mining town when I was growing up. My Mother took me to Scranton on my first bus ride when I was about 10 or 12. On the way back home the bus driver had to stop a couple times to let me out to vomit. That was my first experience of car sickness. There were no black people in our town, and I was surprised to see so many on the streets of Scranton. Around those same years my Grandfather Moran took me on a special trip to Gettysburg. We went on the train to Wilkes Barre, and rode the bus to Gettysburg. We ate lunch in a cafĂ©. The battlefield was huge and it seemed we were the only ones visiting. I still don’t know why Grandpa chose me out of all the other grandchildren living in town, but it was a very special time. Those were the days of the steam engines, and by the time we arrived at our destination we were covered with soot.

I don’t remember having any fears while growing up, we lived a peaceful and happy life even though we didn’t have much. I’m sure my parents had fears because my Father did not have steady work and we had to move frequently because the landlords didn’t like noisy kids or they raised the rent, which my Father couldn’t afford. I hated washing the dishes after supper. When it was my turn I left the pots and pans soaking. My Mother never complained and in the morning everything was washed clean.

My Mother gave us chores according to our age and gender. The boys filled the coal pails, emptied ashes out of the coal stove and furnace. My sisters took the smaller kids out for carriage rides so Mother could get the supper ready. I used to sweep the porches and sidewalks and sometimes scrubbed the porches with a pail of soapy water and the broom. We had a parade for every holiday and I was always excited when I saw one. It wasn’t much, lots of fire engines and some horses and bands and special marchers like the VFW and American Legion members.

My Mother was probably the one who had the most influence in my life. I watched her as she struggled to raise my siblings and me. She never complained even though she had to bake bread 3 times a week, drag the washer out to wash clothes 3 times a week, can fruits and vegetables all summer. She was a wise person, knowing how to deal with each child and his/her needs.

We always had a table radio and sat around the dining room table listening to special programs, but only after the homework was done. Some of the programs were The Inner Sanctum (that was scary); Little Orphan Annie; Jack Armstrong; The Lone Ranger; and Fibber McGee and Molly. On Saturday night The Hit Parade was popular, playing the top ten songs of the week.

In fourth grade some times I would be the first one in the classroom and the Sister brought out a big bowl of hot oatmeal and milk that was left over in the kitchen.

I think the best gift I ever received was my first book; a 25 cent Christmas gift from my brother Joe when I was 12. It was Little Women. I must have read it three times. He gave me other books for other occasions: Black Beauty, Little Men and Jo’s Boys. That began my love for reading that has lasted all of my life.

When Franklin Roosevelt became President he began the WPA (Work Projects Association). That’s how I got some of my clothes that I wore to school in the early grades. I called the dresses my WPA dresses: red and white checked, brown and white checked and black and white checked.

I used to play the piano until I was in High School, but lost interest, as I got older. I really don’t know what my strongest asset is, maybe the gift of understanding and intuition.

When I was dating I remember going to a movie, swimming at a lake, and double dating with my sister and her date. One day we went to a fancy restaurant called O’Brien’s outside of Endicott, NY. We ordered fried chicken. When the plate arrived I was shocked, thinking to myself, how do I eat this? It was my first time eating fried chicken. I did my best to cut it off the bones and did a fair job. I think the most extravagant thing I ever did was buy clothes with my first paycheck. It was a wonderful feeling.

My family was Democratic. When I turned 21 my Father marched me down to City Hall to register to vote. The first President I voted for was Eisenhower. (even though he was Republican, he was remembered as a great General).

When I was in the Air Force my sister and I were stationed in Etain, France, with temporary duty in Bitburg, Germany and Madrid, Spain. It was the most memorable time of our lives. We met our husbands in the Air Force, and we were able to travel in many countries and enjoy different cultures. Over the years I have collected some interesting coins from countries other than the U.S. Someday the collection will go to a Grandchild.

I always loved to travel, and that bug is still with me. I want to go to the land of my ancestors, to Ireland, England, and now Wales.
On my Wedding Day, the Mass was scheduled for 10 a.m. My brothers insisted on driving me through town tooting the horn, consequently I was about 20 minutes late and the Priest and groom were up at the altar waiting.

In my early days of marriage I did some amusing things. Bob worked at Bethlehem Steel in Seattle, on the open hearth. One day I put jello in his lunch pail and he came home laughing and showed me the liquid jello. Another time we had a couple visit us for the first time in our apartment and I made a huge bowl of dip. I must have used a pound of cream cheese. Well, we all laughed about that and had dip forever.

Bob and I had 9 children (2 of which were adopted). There are 7 living scattered throughout the country. Being a young parent was difficult at times, but I credit my Nurse training and experiences to its success. We rocked the kids until they were too big for the laps. Most of the time, Bob had one on his lap and one on each handle of the rocker.

My profession was Nursing, and if I had to do it over again I would still choose that work. It was very satisfying and rewarding. As a young adult I remember meeting many more friends, especially after we married and moved to Seattle.

I am satisfied living here in Phoenix, and would never want to move again. Our living arrangements are satisfactory; I find it easier to live on one floor where everything is handy. My husband is still working so we feel we don’t have to adjust to another way of living right now. There is someone in my life with whom I have a warm relationship. She is the young lady who calls me just to chat and find out how I am doing. She’s the other daughter in my life who calls me “Mom”.

I try to stay healthy by eating well, taking vitamin supplements, and exercising at Slender Lady. We have 7 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Our children call us frequently, especially daughter Mary, who calls every day. The older grandchildren are not good about calling or visiting, but we see the younger ones more often. I’m the one who keeps in touch with other family members, getting and giving news. Maybe I do that because I’m the family historian. We aren’t alone much with the young grandchildren. When they visit with the parents, and the parents aren’t watching them and they get into mischief, all I do is lift them up and carry them to a safer place, or just snap my fingers and when they look at me I shake my finger, no, and they walk away. I have learned that Grandma doesn’t have to say a word.

I am very proud of all of my children and their successes, but most proud of the family history book that I put together three years ago. I feel that my grandchildren will know where they came from someday.

I love my main hobby, genealogy. It’s a never ending job. I have traced my English ancestors to 1709, and the Irish ancestors to 1809.

The most important rule I lived by was don’t offend God, don’t hurt my parents, and don’t hurt myself. With those three things in mind I was able to face all temptations in life, and I felt better mentally. It showed that a person doesn’t have to follow the crowd to be popular. My best advise for today’s youth is do good in school, enjoy your job, travel as much as you can, and remember that learning doesn’t end when you get that diploma.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our Family Roots

I believe that it's important that we all travel forward in our lives with at least a rear view mirror on the past. Understanding our family roots provides a the context by which we view ourselves and our role in this world. Knowing who our ancestors were--and the sacrifices they made to enrich the lives of their children and grandchildren--encourages all of us to lead enriching lives and extend the healthy growth of our family tree. The following quotes explain this much more eloquently than I can:   

A man rising in the world is not concerned with history; he is too busy making it. But a citizen with a fixed place in the community wants to acquire a glorious past just as he acquires antique furniture. By that past he is reassured of his present importance; in it he finds strength to face the dangers that lie in front of him.
Malcolm Cowley

History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.
Robert Penn Warren

After Mom passed away, I spent some on her computer, copying files and photos related to her extensive genealogical research. Over the next few weeks, I'll start putting stories and other items on the blog. Maybe we'll all learn something new about our past.   

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Aunt Catherine

The following day, Saturday May 29, we all visited Aunt Catherine at Marywood. She looked very alert and healthy, as the photos indicate. She was very glad to see us, even though she wasn't quite sure who we were. She told me in a conversation about her childhood growing up in Carbondale. She asked where we were; when I told her we were at Marywood, she was pleasantly surprised. Aunt Catherine has the best care one can possibly want. God bless her.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Carbondale Architecture

Carbondale, like so many all cities on the east coast, has a very long history. At one time, this small community was the center of coal production in northeastern PA. The fascinating architecture offers a glimpse of its former glory. I could show you lots of pictures of nifty buildings, but will instead entertain you with the timeless characters that continue to haunt the historic structures. Jim took the photos of the lions for Mary. I took a few shots of the really interesting faces.



Finch Hill

Naturally, we had to drive by Grandma and Grandpa's house on the way into Carbondale after the funeral. I managed to get a couple photos of the old house as well as Uncle Gerard's barn (photos below). I manged to get a glimpse of Grandpa's old barn in the tall grass, but I couldn't get a shot.


Monday, June 21, 2010

A View of Carbondale

It felt really good to be sitting at McDonnell's again. While I'm sure I've been here in recent years, I hearken back to my youth when we first tried the Peanut Butter Pie. Michael requested some of Aunt Gert's famous cheeseballs. I'm sure we harbor fond memories of eating at Aunt Gert's house and enjoying cheeseballs and pasta on an exquisitely prepared table. It was good to visit with our McDonnell cousins (okay, there was only one---young Robert).

Fortunately, all of our destinations were within walking distance. After lunch we journeyed over to Ben-Mar; a restaurant and bar just down the street from McDonnell's. Our cousins Pat and Marina Whittington operate the Ben-Mar; unfortunately, Pat was out of town that day. Marina was quite excited to see all of us and very delighted to receive the completed Whittington Family 2010 book. We had several drinks at the Ben-Mar as we visited and introduced ourselves. Marina recently emailed me to express her gratitude for the book and meeting her Moran cousins.

Danielle desired to visit one of Gerard's favorite haunts in Carbondale. Sisko's is a small, but quite the perfect small town bar with a wonderful owner and clientele who loved and adored Gerard. I can't remember her name (sorry Danielle), but she was very nice nonetheless. So who were we (at least Mary and I) to turn down the chance for another drink? We stumbled down the street to Sisko's to enjoy company with Gerard's friends.

By this time (late afternoon and several stiff drinks and beers), we had exhausted the downtown haunts and made our way to the haunt near Gerard's house---Orazzi's. The place was closed, but Art used his name and prestige to persuade the owner to open up for us (Art told him there were many, many thirsty Myers'). Even Bob McDonnell was able to stop in  for a drink and a visit. We shared much laughter and good drink at Orazzi's before retiring back to our hotel where we went swimming with the kids (Gracie and Michael). I wisely decided to drink Iced Tea the rest of the evening. Afterall, this was only Friday; I had at least two full days of gluttony before I went home.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Mass Service and Funeral Ceremony

We all attended a mass service at St Rose of Lima Church in Carbondale on Friday May 28.  There was quite a showing of our Moran Family in attendance, as shown in the first photograph (don't mind the laughing buffoons in the rear). After the mass, we gathered at Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery for the funeral ceremony. Dad led us in prayer as we laid Mom to rest with Grandma and Grandpa. It was a beautiful ceremony.

Earlier that morning, we met Uncle Art and the cousins to visit the graves of our family members that have also been buried at the cemetery. The Myers' traditionally come to the cemetery on Memorial Day to lay flowers and touch-up the plots.  I took many photos of various headstones and gravestones, but there are too many to insert here.  Shown below is Danielle touching up Gerard's gravestone, as well as a pretty flower pot painted by the Myers grandchildren for their Grandmother Patricia.

 From the cemetery, we gathered at McDonnell's Restaurant in Carbondale for a nice lunch and a chance to reconnoiter with distant relatives.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Granting Mom's Final Wish

As you all know, several members of our family traveled to Carbondale, PA to lay Mom's ashes at Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery with her parents. We all met in Carbondale over Memorial Day weekend, which was appropriate in my opinion. After a mass service at St Rose of Lima Church on Friday (May 28), we laid Mom to rest with Grandma and Grandpa Myers. It was a memorable trip with tears and much laughter with our distant relatives. We also had the pleasure of meeting new acquaintances like Marina Whittington, for whom one of the Whittington books was prepared for. There are too many stories and pictures to insert into one post. So for those of you who read this regularly, I will publish posts over the next couple of weeks.

For those who have publishing privileges (oh wait, that's every damn one of you!!!!), please feel free to publish your posts as well. A wonderful evening to all of you. I look forward to sharing the wonderful memories of our trip to all of you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

An Unusual Dedication for Mom

Whitney Grey is a good friend of mine; I've known him for almost 15 years. He lives on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation in the east valley (he's a Pima). Since I've known him, he's been a very sick man. He has so many ailments, I couldn't possibly describe them to you. I always joke with him that he'll never die.

Whitney is also a well-known artist, at least to those with an interest in Native American art. His works are in water color, with abstract themes using various symbols and designs of his people. The images he paints always come to him, he says, in dreams or spontaneously. I've wondered aloud if he gets his visions the same way Edgar Allen Poe got his story ideas; he just laughs. His work is in demand these days. He has been commissioned by Marriott to complete a series of paintings for the new casino hotel. He just finished three that will fetch about $3500.00. He may even get to work on a very large wall mural in the casino.

I called him the weekend after Mom died to let him know. He did what he could, saying prayers to his God. Some weeks later, he presented me with a painting he had done for the Jones Family as a memorial to Mom. It's presented below. I especially love how he used green on the painting. The painting is approximately 12in X 15in. When Mary gets time, I'll have her frame it. I know some of you are looking at this and thinking, what's the big deal?

But hey, in this day and age when someone can pee in a jar and stick in a crucifix, or insert an American flag in a toilet and get reviews from it, I would consider this to be a genuine work from a real artist. I thanked him profusely for his work.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hello from Mississippi

Hey all, I have a very weak signal where my trailer is, so I don't get to use my phone as often as I would like. But things are going well. I am being used like a mule at work. It is as if I never left. There are a few changes and procedures I will need to get more familiar with, but other than that. The weather today is terrible. Lots of rain, and the temp is dropping. It is part of that storm that hit TX, and OK. Corol says that it is icy up where she is in Hot Springs. I went to Wal-mart this morning, pulled into a gas station, and there was 5 ENTERGY linemans trucks fueling up. They were headed for Arkansas and Texas to help out. The trailer is doing fine...except, I think my power convertor went out. I came home one night and my lights were very dim. All the lights, pumps, and motors run off the batteries. The batteries are supposed to be charged by the power convertor, which in turn converts AC into DC. I borrowed Harrys' charger, so they are still being charged. Now my next project is to locate this convertor and take it into work so the electricians can rebuild it for me :)). I think about all of you often. I was in Hot Springs helping Corol move into her new house, and we managed to watch the AZ game and the Colts game. I was shocked that there were a few AZ fans amongst all of the Saints fans! But, we had a good time. We went to Buffalo Wild Wings. Well, about all for now. Will talk to ya later! Love, Joe

Monday, January 04, 2010

... and a Happy New Year!

Here's a few pics from the New Year's Eve bash. Tom, if you or Cheryl's Ma have more, may as well edit this post and add 'em.

I wanted to go as one of the signers of the Constitution, but most of the costumes from the period were a little "flamboyant". I ended up getting a soldiers outfit. Julie's Ma was a flapper.

Julie went as a disco chick, but as her sister pointed out, she looked more like Sharon Stone in Casino.

Some came dressed from the 2000 decade.

The Sipes were representin' too...

I sure wish I had a photo of Tom going ballistic when I told him is answer to the decade trivia was wrong. If anyone has that (or his angry march to the office computer to prove he was right) it would be great to post... By the way Tom, you were right... The Bill or Right's was "adopted" in... uhh... whatever decade you said.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Merry Christmas

It's hard to approach the festive Christmas Season and to revel in its Joyous Mystery knowing that Mom isn't here to celebrate with us. However, I'm sure I speak for all in the Family when I say we still have the company of one another and alot of love and happiness to share between us and the little ones. It was a wonderful time for our Family.