Friday, May 31, 2013

Dad's Memories, Part III

(Intro and Parts I and II in preceding posts.)
    (Jr again: A day or so after I received the foregoing,
    I received a phone call from you know who. "It occurred
    to me that I forget to tell you about my marvelous
    musical ability, so I am sending you a little more.")
Addendum (Latin for "dumb addition?")
29 Nye Avenue was the last of "in a row" three deckers, probably sixty feet apart. On the top floor was a Mrs. Worsencroft (called Worsey). She was a fairly good pianist.

We had a nice Mason-Hamlin piano which was Aunt Ruth's pride and joy. Our church organist, Grace James (a 50 year old maiden lady with high black shoes) walked around Brockton giving piano lessons in the home, etc.

I had four lessons and that was it, so at least I faced the piano properly (1928 or 1929, I think).

Worsey often played a real bouncy and busy piece, which years down the road I learned was "The Rustic Dance." Before the summer was over, I could copy her playing note for note (no talent, but a good "ear").

"The Rustic Dance" happened to be in the key of E flat, which is three flats, using many black notes (which most try to avoid). In E flat, when you are looking for your pretty chords, they are in the "naturals," so anything I knew, I could play in E flat (not the best key for singing).

So, I have to thank Worsey for all the money I made playing out for fifteen years, and for my eight great years at the One Ten House in Amesbury, playing by ear (in E flat).

When we went to Portsmouth to live, Barbee had a nice piano, which was also a "player" piano. One afternoon when I was knocking off a tune or two, she asked me for a song which she described as, "You know, Kenny, the one where you get up in the morning and find something." It took me a couple days to figure out that one. What she wanted to hear was "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise."
    (Jr again: I believe he is very proud of this, as I have
    heard about it at least two hundred times.)
George Lay paid me the best semi-musical compliment when he said, "Kenny, you aren't the best organist I ever heard, but you sure can handle a lounge."


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dad's Memories, Part II

(Intro and Part I in preceding two posts.)

I did my junior year at Portsmouth High School (1932-1933). My aunt, Florence G. Cummings (she was always called Barbee), wanted my mother to stay with her for a year, so I went along. My dad stayed in Brockton and worked, etc. Violet, Pop's mother, had been living with Barbee for years, as she had had a mild angina attack years before and wouldn't be alone.

Violet wanted to go to Oregon for a year to be with her family, so my mother and I were the subs. She had money left to her when her husband died (he was an M.D., with a practice in Brewster, on Cape Cod). She outlived him by thirty nine years. So my junior year passed, and the depression was still only in the newspapers and the movies.

Vi came back and we went back to Brockton, and I graduated from high school in 1934. Pop wanted Vi (his mother) to come and live with him, as he needed someone to care for his children so he and Rena could work.

So this time the three of us went back to Portsmouth. My father's brother (Uncle Charlie to me) died, so I had his room.

My father worked part time for a tailor in Portsmouth, as did my mother from time to time.

I got a job in Portsmouth at Rowe & Voudy's Restaurant and Cafeteria at 25 cents an hour for a 60 hour week as a counter man. I think I was there close to two years. They went out of business and the next day I went to work at Bert's Diner by the Olympia Theater on Vaughn Street.

I think I was there a year or so. I bought a 1931 Chevrolet 4 door sedan for $60 from Tacetta, and it took me four months to pay for it.

I quit the diner (owned by a local cop) and the next day I took a ride down the road and wound up at Mickey's diner in Saugus, where I stayed for three years or so. Met your mother, got married, got you, and got a call from Civil Service to show up for a job, all in that three year (or so) span.
    (Jr here: The beginning of this paragraph begged
    for explanation, so I asked Dad why he quit Bert's
    Diner. He was annoyed by something, but he no
    longer remembers what. This did trigger some other
    thoughts, however. Mickey (Helen Riewinski's step-
    father sold the diner in Saugus to a Russian. The
    whole next week was spent by all in improving the
    appearance of the diner - scrubbing floors, varnishing
    the ceiling with rags, etc.On payday, when the employees wanted their pay,
    they were told, "Oh, no. You did that to keep
    your jobs." Dad went to work Monday. At the end
    of the day he took his pay from the register and
    never went back. Driving home, he thought of various
    ways to tell Mom that he had quit, although he was
    sure he could get a job at another diner the next
    day. When he got home, the Civil Service letter
    was on the table.)
November 1941 was the date of the Civil Service job call, and I had a choice of locations, so opted for the Naval Station in Portland, Maine, and after 30 years I retired, aged 55.

Bobby showed up in Portland, and I think it was 1948 when I was transferred to the Yard in Portsmouth. During the above time period I was drafted for about a year (boy, did I hate that shit). I have met guys in the service that knew the dates of all that had happened to them, and I never could understand why they cared. I don't think I could put an exact date on anything written here. It was never of any importance to me at the time.

In much of the above the depression was with us for sure. It was of minor concern to me, I suppose, because once I started to work, I was never a single day without a job, although the pay wasn't good until I got into Civil Service.

I usually worked part time at something else, from diners to the One Ten House. World War II ended the depression I guess, but I didn't care because I had never joined it . . . Ha . . . .

Dateless Dad


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dad's Memories, Part I

(Intro in preceding post.)


You asked me for my memory of the depression. It is pretty dim, as I didn't know it was going on, and if it affected me I didn't know it at the time.

October, 1929 seems to be the date it hit this country. I only knew about it through the movies; the first thing would always be "Pathe News." We saw men splattered on the sidewalks of New York after losing their shirts on the stock market and taking off from their office windows etc. in a high dive

 It was big for the newspapers and since I always read the papers, I was aware, but not concerned to any degree. Our local paper, "The Brockton Enterprise," cost two cents, twelve cents for the six days it printed, and the paper boy was always given fifteen cents. First class postage was also two cents, and haircuts were twenty five cents.

In 1929 my folks bought me my first bike. It was a "Miami," made by Columbia, and I was never more thrilled. I think it cost $29.00, a lot of money at the time. No depression yet.

My bike and my hormones kicked in at the same time. My first "kissy face" was just down the street and her name was Eleanor Gorman. My bike was often parked by her back steps. Her father was never home and her mother didn't pay much attention to what was going on on the back steps.

Most shirts were white at the time, and were long sleeved. When the cuffs got a bit frayed, the sleeves were cut off at about the elbow. Then you had a shirt for summer.
    (Jr here: Dad has also told me that when boys got suits in
    those days they got two pair of pants, one of them knickers.
    They didn't get to wear the long pants until the knickers were
    worn out. During the winter they wore long underwear, tucked
    into their stockings. Going to school in the knickers, the
    bulges in the stockings showed, and were very embarrassing.)
One night when I got home about dark, my mother was in the kitchen and noticed lipstick on the collar of my white shirt. Trauma in a second. The problem was that the girl was an Irish Catholic, and to a diehard Methodist family that was of great concern. I imagine there was relief when my bike showed up from a different direction.

We lived at 29 Nye Avenue from the time I was born until I was about sixteen. It was a "three decker" with large rooms. My grandmother and Bertha shared one bedroom; Irving, Ruth, and later Strafford had another bedroom; and my mother and father had another. When they went to bed, I was on a couch on a living room for the rest of the night
    (Jr again: Dad said that when he was very young, they would
    put him to bed in a bedroom, and he would wake up in the
    morning on the couch.)
When we moved to 23 Newton Street, Strafford and I had our own rooms on the third floor, and the others had the whole second floor. It was a nice rent, and was owned by a Brockton school teacher.

I can imagine that so many living together was the result of the depression, but I didn't know it. Bertha, Irving, and my father were still working, although I know nothing of their wages.

Do you remember the watch that Gramp wanted Bobby to have (probably because he sat on his lap, listened to his stories, and stole cigarettes and matches)? In the watch case was a pawn ticket from a Brockton pawn shop. At some point (1931 or 1932) he had pawned it for $15.00, possibly for reasons depression related, but I just don't know. Why he saved the pawn ticket for so many years I can't imagine. It was redeemed less than a year later.


Monday, May 27, 2013

What Changing PC's Can Do for You

I just swapped out an old PC for a new one. Before doing that I backed up everything important by sending it to the cloud. This reminded me that I had *years* (eleven, it turned out) of backup CD's and DVD's. I decided to go through them, keeping only the latest version of everything, "just in case." In fact, although I'll have cloud backup for everything, I have now resolved to make a DVD backup of everything important once a year, again just in case. Uneverno.

Without segue, I must tell you that before my father died I had a conversation with him in which I hoped aloud that he would document whatever he knew about the family, because "When you go, nobody is going to know anything."

This got him interested in genealogy. He was retired, and wound up spending many a day in public libraries and in cemeteries in various parts of New England. I do think it made his declining years more interesting.

This also led to conversations about his childhood and I asked him to write down whatever he remembered about his life during the depression. He sent me a number of typewritten pages (typed on an old Underwood typewriter which had only capital letters), and asked me to make copies or transcribe the material and send a copy to each of my three siblings. This I did, sending him a copy as well. The material he sent covered more than the depression period, beginning prior to that and ending nearly fifty years after it.

I found a copy of my transcription in my old PC backup files (Aha! The missing segue appears.)

The material is a treasure to me, and while it won't be that to you, you might find some of it interesting. Beginning with my next post here, sometime in the next several days, I will post what I transcribed and sent to him, my brothers, and my sister.

That material included some parenthetic comments from me, generally identified as being from "Jr," which I will break out from the main body of the text so that those of you not familiar with the family (aka "everybody") will be able to keep track of the main thread. I'll leave all names intact. I'll not provide information about names that pop in and out of the story as they are simply tangential references he thought I might be interested in.

I thnk this is going to appear in three parts, which is how he broke it down for me.