We Remember Mom Ė Margaret Rose
a lovely flower with four thorns for kids
These are memories of a great Mom written by her four children Linda, James Dennis, Robert and Nancy.
It was on a Tuesday in the winter of 1913 that Frank and Clara Lyons, living in the small storybook city of Bradford in northern Pennsylvania, gave birth on Mar 11 to a beautiful baby girl and named her Margaret Rose. Margaret Rose grew up in that beautiful city in a house on Bishop St with ceramic-tiled sidewalks next to the shore of scenic Tunungwant creek, a branch of the mighty Allegheny river, along with her sister, Laura, and three brothers, Lester, Lawrence and Francis. Along the creek bank was an interesting stone wall that was an attraction for Margaret, her siblings and friends to climb and sometimes climb over to get to the creek. Downtown Bradford with all of its quaint stores was a short distance to walk.
Margaret attended St Bernard Catholic school, which was in the parish that her family went to church. She had some wonderful experiences, but some of her classmates would jokingly tease her about her name by reciting this jingle: "Margaret Rose sat on a tack; Margaret Rose!". After St Bernard school she attended and graduated from Bradford high school. She didnít realise it at the time, but enrolled in a class after hers was a future well-known Buffalo-area TV host named Virgil Booth. We would later kid her about Virgil Booth being her boyfriend, especially when we drove through the town where he lived Ebenezer on our way to Southgate plaze. For some depraved reason we thought that was hillarious, but she didnít.
Several houses down the street from Margaret, lived her cousin and dear friend Eileen Grogan. They had many adventures together while growing up in that small town. When they were young adults, these two pretty dainty small-town girls got all dressed up one night and attended a dance held in nearby Allegany State Park. As it turned out, two gruff trailblazing outdoor woodsmen from the big city, working for the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) on a project in Allegany State Park, also showed up at that dance. One was a civil engineer, Robert (Rob) Roesser, and the other an architect, Clarence (Curly) Robertson. When the four met, Rob was smitten with Margaret (or Marg as he called her) and Curley with Eileen. Both couples eventually were married. If this depiction of events is less than accurate because of our incomplete memories, it nevertheless suggests the spirit of what did occur.
After they got married, Rob and Marg Roesser lived in Conneaut, Ohio for a short time and then moved into an apartment on Mumford Street in South Buffalo. In that apartment, their first child, Linda Louise was born on Feb 25, 1939. Apparently, they were into alliteration. A short time later, they bought a 2-story, 4-bedroom, A-frame house in South Buffalo at 66 Choate Ave, Buffalo NY 14220. The first thing Linda did the day they moved into the house was to ride her tailor tot down the cellar stairs.
Almost two years later, on Nov 9, 1940, their second child and first son, James Dennis (Denny) was born. There was a debate between Mom and Dad on whether their son should be named after Dad. As a compromise, he was named after Dadís middle name, but, perhaps to avoid confusion, he was called Denny after his middle name. Almost another two years after that, on Aug 1, 1942, their third child and second son, Robert Patrick (Bobby) was born, while Mom was visiting her Mom in Bradford. This time who ever wanted to name the boy after Dad won. Bobby was proud to be named after Dad, but it was often a source of consternation. For example, when either of them would respond to a call to the phone that was actually for the other or especially when Dad would inadvertently open love letters addressed to Bob from his future wife.
Two more years passed when they gave birth to their fourth child and second daughter, Nancy Lorraine on Sep 24, 1944. Apparently they had a French theme in mind. Parlez-vous français? Being the youngest child, she was often thought of as the "baby" of the family. Bobby recalls her frequently asking for a "horsey" bar and everyone wondering what she meant by that. Finally, we realized she was asking for a Hershey chocolate bar, which we all loved.
Mom was a good mother to us and raised us well. She was attractive and had the look that a mother should have. She encouraged our schoolwork, read stories to us and helped us with subjects like spelling, which some of us needed more than others. More importantly she helped us with our religious formation, including regular church attendance and making the sacraments. She had a pleasant disposition and made life enjoyable for us with her presence, even though she was suffering with somewhat debilitating diabetes. We remember mom as being the best mother for which a person could ever ask.
Our family belonged to Holy Family parish and we kids all attended Holy Family School, which we walked to and from daily. Rather than eat lunch there we would walk home shortly before noon. Mom always prepared lunch for us, very often consisting of bologna sandwiches and fruit. The sandwiches were carefully made with butter and lettuce, which made them especially appetizing. We recommend this to anyone today rather than just dry meat between bread.
On most days after school we would find my Mom in the playroom ironing. It was a good time to just have a snack and tell her how our day went. She was a captive audience. It seemed like it was everyday to Nancy, but she doubts it. The playroom really was a room off the kitchen where we ate all our meals, but when we were young it was a playroom and the name stuck.
Mom had a good friend down the street from us, Mrs. MacEachern, who happened to be the mother of three boys, Billy, Neil and John, who were good friend of us kids. They first became acquainted through our Aunt Marie and Uncle Jack OíMara and their children Mary, Kathy, Eddie and Johnny who knew the MacEacherns when they lived on Woodside Ave before they moved to our street Choate. One of the favorite activities of the parents of the three families was playing poker. They would often play in our dining room with the doors closed to avoid us kids, but we would try to listen in to determine if they were talking about us. From what we heard they often played a poker variant called baseball, in which 3s and 9s are wild. A player dealt a 3 must match the pot or fold and a 4 earns an extra card. Other times they would call all sorts of cards wild like deuces, one-eyed jacks and the man with the axe. Mom always seemed to enjoy these gatherings immensely as we would often hear her breaking out in laughter.
The MacEachern family were such good friends with our family they we shared vacations several times in cottages at Lake Nipissing in Ontario CA. Even after their family moved away to Detroit, they came back to visit us and the OíMaras a number of times.
Mom belonged to the Motherís club at our parish, Holy Family, who helped with fund raisers and supported school activities such as the annual Christmas party on the last day before Christmas break. One activity of the Motherís club that she really enjoyed was the bowling league. The school happened to have its own bowling alley on which the Motherís played in teams. She and Mrs. MacEachern were teammates and they won the league championship a number of times. This activity was witnessed by the both boys who each stuck pins for them, earning 25 cents a game. There were two alleys one of which had a pinsticking machine that you placed each pin into, then pulled like heck to bring it down to set the pins on their spots. The other alley was strictly manual, you had to set each pin on its spot by hand. Denny remembers that after a night of doing this, he would continue to do it all night long in his dreams.
Denny stopped sticking pins when he got a job at Donovanís five and ten store at the corner of our street, which paid $.35 per hour. His first assignment there was to scrape gum wads off the wooden floor with a putty knife. Kids would routinely spit their gum out right on the floor, so this was a perpetual part of his job.
Mom cooked 4 course meals plus dessert every day. It seemed like there was salad every night. Iceberg lettuce, as other greens were not available off season in those days. The dressing was almost always oil and vinegar mixed by hand. It was delicious. In fact it tasted amazingly like Olive Garden salad without so many goodies. Although occasionally there was Russian dressing made from mayo, ketchup and a little pickle relish. If she needed a break from the cooking she would make bacon and eggs for dinner and or pancakes. No pizza or McDonalds. Not even frozen entrees. We remember great meatloaves, pork chops, stew and roast beef. She cooked steak in a frying pan. Desserts were almost every night. Lemon Meringue pie was a regular along with jello and whipped cream. Sometimes she would mix whipped cream into jello; no cool whip, real whipped cream. Apple, peach and berry pies were her specialty also. She sometimes mixed meringue with lemon pudding to make a chiffon pie. Gingerbread with whipped cream was another favorite.
We were a one-car family so her excursions during the day consisted of walks to the grocery store. She would take a wagon for heavier loads and in the winter wear her mink coat that she inherited from her sister Laura. When our "new strip plazas" began she would take the car in the evening to do some shopping. One slippery winter night she slid into the curb with a brand new Ford. Needless to say my Dad was a little crabby.
She didnít lecture or nag, but what she said was wise and helpful. When Nancy was in fourth grade her teacher slapped her and she was afraid to go back to school. Mom didnít helicopter or ream the teacher out, but she played board games with Nancy until she calmed down and assured her that she would be okay.
Our house had a somewhat open-door policy. The front door was seldom ever locked and we would come and go all hours of the day and many times night. After supper, Mom wouldnít quiz us where we would go or do, only that we should come home when the street lights went on. Friends and service people would often enter our house unannounced, which was acceptable to us. An insurance salesman, for one, who sold Mom life insurance for each of us, would walk in monthly, greeting who ever was there, to collect a couple of dollars and change. One such time we kids were attempting to make cinnamon toast for breakfast, something we liked and often made, but since we had no ground cinnamon, we were trying to use cinnamon sticks. The insurance man upon seeing us remarked "Thatís not how you make cinnamon toast!". Duh! we sort of knew that. Later when we were older, Mom let us each keep those insurance policies, which we cashed in for a hundred dollars or so. Another example, was a salesman that came by weekly to collect a dollar or so as an installment on a floor lamp that Mom bought. The milkman would come by every two or three days and place our order in the refrigerator.
Our first TV was a Wilcox Gay combination TV with a 12" screen, fm radio and record player using a common audio amplifier driving a huge 12" speaker. It became the center of our entertainment and when it occasionally broke down it was devastating. The fault was most often a large multi-pole switch that selected the input to the audio amplifier and powered the desired unit. One such time, the service man came to look at it while Denny and Bobby were playing chess. He noticed us and rather than diagnose the TV he started to kibitz and teach us things about the game. After more than a half-hour we started to wonder if he was still on the "clock". Well he eventually decided that the set needed to be taken to the shop, which meant it would be gone for several days. That was almost unbearable.
In those days, one especially welcomed guest was Dr Joe, are family doctor who would make house calls. We remember once Mom was extremely dizzy and had to lie on the couch. Dr Joe came shortly to see and diagnose her. We appreciated that dearly. Our dog Daisy realized something was wrong with Mom and would stay by her licking her arm.
Our appliances and work devices in the early years were rather rudimentary. At first Mom would wash our clothes in one of three laundry tubs using a corrugated scrub board and lots of Tide detergent. She hung the clothes to dry on lines strung either outside in summer or in the basement in winter or rain. Curtains would be stretched on frames with nails to dry. Later a major laborsaving device was a wringer washing machine. The machine would agitate the clothes, eliminating the scrub board, but the clothes had to be wrung dry by squeezing them though manually rotated rollers. That part was sufficiently fun so that some of us kids often relieved Mom in doing it. Still later, Mom obtained a modern day automatic washer and gas dryer. This eliminated the rows of drying clothes in our backyard or cellar.
Our original furnace was a coal-burning gravity-fed, water-dampener controlled behemoth that occupied a major part of the cellar. Dad would fire it up early each morning before work by shoveling coal into it from the coal bin. But Mom would have to maintain the fire during the day, sometimes by delegating the task to one of us kids. The coal bin was a rather large area, about 6-foot by 12-foot, bounded by wooden walls on the side of the cellar across from the furnace opening. It was filled monthly with a ton or so of coal though a window from a truck driven by a local coal man whom we knew. We often received a lump of coal in our Christmas stocking or so threatened for misbehaving. The furnace would become rather hot on its outside surface. This provided us a place for Mom to have us dry our snow clothes and mittens after playing in the snow during winter. When we eventually replaced that furnace with a much smaller forced-air gas model and removed the coal bin, we had so much new space in the cellar that we were able to put in a ping-pong table, which we all enjoyed immensely, including Mom.
We cut our grass with a manual reel-type lawn mower. It certainly did a much better job than todayís gasoline-powered rotary mowers because of the scissor action of the blades and as we remember was easier to push because of its much lighter weight. Also, since it didnít need gasoline, it was simpler and cheaper to operate. We also had the advantage that our next-door neighbor Jim Donovan, who sharpened mowers as a business, would sharpen ours for free. As an extra bonus, he would often test newly sharpened mowers on our lawn thereby saving us some of the labor. Mom would usually try to coax or coerce one of us to do the mowing, sometimes by paying us ten cents. Once one of Lindaís admiring boy friends cut the entire lawn to impress her. We donít know about Linda, but the rest of us were impressed.
Mom had some favorite things. Her favorite singer was Perry Como and her favorite song was Adeste Fideles. Father Menge was her very favorite parish priest. She loved the way he would preach and relate to his parishioners. She liked the Arthur Godfrey show but despised Jackie Gleason, especially in the Honeymooners. She liked to watch the Kukla, Fran and Ollie show (Get the best, get the best, get Sealtest) and various game shows such as "Whatís My Line". Regardless, she was very tolerant of what everyone liked or not.
Mom was a good listener. We kids would often go to the movie show, usually the Capital theater (for 14 cents) on Saturday afternoons. Not only did we enjoy the movie when it was shown but also when we came home and got to relate it to Mom. She would hang on each word as we would retell the story. "the monster came out of the water and one of the good guys fell in. Ö no wait the girl screamed, Ö the monster was scary Ö they all got back in the boat and took off Ö". She would be eager for more.
Mom and Dad wrote letters to each other when they were courting, Sometimes when other entertainment wasnít available, for example when our TV was on the fritz, we would sneak into their room and retrieve from the vanity the love letters they saved. Not only were they entertaining but a source of vocabulary enrichment. We learned new words something like "kitchiecoo" or "honeybunch".
Our mom was a vacation addict, which some of us inherited, and every year there was a plan. For many years it was a cottage at Lake Nipissing where we fished and swam. We looked forward to it all year. She would get ready weeks before buying food to take and packing it up. One easy meal was always LaChoyís chicken chow mein. The first meal would be Fish and Chips as we arrived. She didnít take the week off from cooking though because if we found blueberries there would be pie. One year the plan was 1 week at Bay de door on Georgian Bay and 1 week in Nipissing. On the way she suffered a severe attack of sciatica and had to spend the first week in bed. She started to do better near the end of the first week. Dad asked her if they should just go home and skip the 2nd week. She cried and said that she didnít get a vacation yet. So he talked to her and they decided to go ahead and do the week in Nipissing. She had her vacation after all. There were vacations at Chautauqua and at Sunset after they bought a boat. The day the boat came was the same day that Daisy the Springer spaniel came into our lives. Nancy asked if we could keep her and Mom acted like probably not but the dog could stay the night. By morning Mom was the one who could not bear to part with her.
When Linda got a driverís license, the first of us kids to do so, she begged Dad to let her drive his car. He said no, but would let her take Mom shopping with it. She loved driving to LB Smith Plaza to shop and spend quality time with Mom, who might buy her a new item of clothing.
Later, Linda reciprocated by letting Mom drive her second car, a 1952 Chevy, while she took the bus to work. Mom was thrilled. One winter day Linda came home from work looking forward to driving her car that evening. However, she found it parked diagonally in the garage, such that the front and back almost touched the side walls, because it slipped on ice when Mom tried to park it. There was no way the car could be driven out. Our smart father, came to the rescue by repetitively jacking up the car and pushing it off the jack until it was straight enough to be driven out.
We remember the big wooden wagon with wooden wheels that Dad had made for Linda. Mom would pull it to one of the nearby grocery stores, including Red and White, Nu-way, A&P or Loblaws. Of course, we kids would all pile in for the ride. Poor Mom!
Mom, as mentioned before, suffered from diabetes and would need a source of sugar to take in case her blood sugar level became too low. For this purpose, she would always keep candy bars on hand, including a secret stash of extra candy that she would break out for us kids every so often.
Mom did her best to keep her blood sugar at the right level, by injecting insulin into her thigh every day and eating and drinking just the right amount of things. She and Dad liked to have a beer in the evening, usually after we were chased up to bed. Mom would often drink beer in units of a half-bottle, which meant that many times there was a half of a bottle of beer in the refrigerator the next morning. Denny admits that on a number of occasions, he polished the half-bottle off when he found one. When Grandma used to visit, she and Mom would often drink some port wine, and once again, there would sometimes be half-glasses left over the next day. Denny polished one of them off during lunch break from Holy Family school one day and could not go back to school that afternoon because the wine made him dizzy and somewhat confused. When Mom figured out what happened, she found it quite amusing and concluded Denny would learn a lesson from that little experiment. Sad to say, he had to relearn that lesson from time to time.
Mom also loved to smoke, and there was always an open pack of Raleigh cigarettes sitting around the house. She chose that brand because they included a coupon on each pack redeemable for merchandise. Once again, Denny confesses that he swiped quite a few of her cigarettes from those packs.
She shopped at the Nu-way grocery store whenever she could because they issued something called dollar doublers every time you bought something. Mom would save those dollar doublers up until she had enough to cash in for one of the many items in the dollar-doubler catalog, which we all poured through frequently looking for something that we could talk Mom into getting for us with her coupons. She was very generous about that and most of the time she cashed them in for something we wanted, for example a fishing reel rather than something for herself. Later, she collected green stamps for the same purpose, which she obtained from certain stores, such as Hens & Kelly, and various gas stations.
Mom usually handled the various offenses that we committed during the day herself, but occasionally, if she thought it was a serious offense, the punishment would be delayed until Dad got home from work. We each can still recall the distinct feel of a hairbrush striking our backside bristle first.
Denny recalls an incident about Dad's disciplinary action that makes him chuckle, probably because it happened to his brother and not him. Bobby and he were fighting and arguing when they were supposed to be in bed sleeping. After 3 or 4 verbal warnings from Dad, he decided to put an end to it. He brought a yardstick into the bedroom and since Bobby's bed was close to the door, he let him have it with the yardstick, which broke on the first whack. That got Dad even madder so he went and got another yardstick and broke that on Bob's backside also. Since he had run out of yardsticks, and had cooled off a little, Denny managed to escape any punishment for his part in the fracas, even though he probably deserved it as well.
Mom and Dad would go for a ride in the country every Sunday afternoon and some of us would go along for the ride. She was always talking about buying a farmhouse, so we looked at many, but we never did buy one. Many times Dad would get lost and Mom would say "Letís stop and get directions" to which Dad would retort "I know where we are. I am just taking a short cut!"
Mom, Dad and we kids did a lot of fishing up in Lake Nipissing Ontario. We had to consult the Lunar tables to see when the fish would be the hungriest. Mom had a unique way of catching a fish. Every time she would start to eat a sandwich, a fish would bite (usually a BIG one) and there would be Mom with the sandwich clenched in her teeth while reeling the big one in.
We had an uncle Nick, Grandma Lyonís brother, living on a dairy farm in Great Valley. On the way to Bradford to see Grandma we would often stop to visit uncle Nickís family. One Easter Sunday we stopped there wearing our brand new Easter clothes. It was during this visit that Ma demonstrated her crisis management skills. We played "follow the leader" out behind the barn with our cousin Johnny. It was muddy and there were a lot of cow pies to avoid. Linda spotted a little hill of what looked like dry mud and said to Denny "Hey Denny, I will beat you to the pile of dry mud." With that they both started running as fast as they could, but Linda stopped short when she realized that it was wet cow manure that had been shoveled out of the gutters in the cow barn. Before Linda could warn Denny he was waist deep in cow manure. Linda started laughing. Denny recalls this story differently Ė Linda did not realize it was manure and did not stop, rather she had simply lost the race to Denny. He claims she wouldnít know manure (he used a different word) if she stepped in it. Linda insists she knows manure from all species and did stop. Anyway, our older cousin Lester pulled him out, but his new shoes stayed in the bottom until Lester pulled them out. Mom made Denny go wading in the little nearby icy cold creek wearing his newly cow-manured suit with short pants. We all laugh when we think about this episode, except Denny. The suit got sent to the cleaners, but even they could not get the stains out.
Mom was always protective of us kids against outside aggressors whether we were at fault or not. One day several of us were annoying our next door neighbor, Mrs Donovan, by climbing on the side of her porch and jumping down. She came storming out yelling for us to get off her porch or she would call precinct 15 (referring to the local police station). Upon hearing this Mom retorted back, go ahead call 15, the kids were doing nothing wrong and that she was a most cranky neighbor who complained too much about us kids. We all enjoyed mom taking our side. The older girl Linda would take on this trait and protect us boys from the neighborhood bullies, especially the Benzinger kids, by chasing them down the street when they threatened us. She was somewhat of a tomboy and liked to do things that her two brothers did.
Mom and Dad both gave us an allowance. Each payday (every two weeks) Dad would give us a dime and Mom would give us a nickel. With that we generally bought all our own treats and small toys. A Pepsi at the corner store, for example, cost 6 cents, which we drank there because otherwise it cost another two cents for bottle deposit. If we wanted to buy a toy or something more expensive, such as a model airplane for 35 cents, we would need to save our allowance for several weeks. Once in a while, ma would break down and gives us an extra 3 cents for a bag of popcorn when the popcorn man came by with his cart.
As mentioned before Mom was a good cook and provided us with many nutritious and tasteful meals, but several dishes caused her trouble. After we discovered pizza sometime in the early 50ís Mom would try it make it from scratch. She would start with bread dough, cover it with sauce, cheese and pepperoni, but instead of mozzarella cheese she would substitute cheddar cheese because it was on hand. Well the cheddar cheese wouldnít melt like mozzarella but would rather sort of burn and obtain a somewhat putrid taste. We would all pretend to enjoy eating the pizza, but would retain a nauseous taste in our mouths for the rest of the night. Boiled potatoes were another stumbling block for Mom. Very often, the pot would run out of water and the potatoes would subsequently burn and produce a rather noxious aroma throughout the house. She would then cutoff the burned surface and serve them to us.
Mom worked as a secretary before marrying Dad so she was a good typist. When Aunt Mildred, Dadís sister-in-law, was writing her doctorate thesis she hired Mom to do the typing. She spent many weeks typing with an old Underwood mechanical typewriter. As part of the deal to type the thesis Aunt Mildred gave Mom the typewriter when she finished. That typewriter was put to a lot of subsequent use by us doing our high-school and college homework, as well as abuse when we used it as a toy. Nancy now has possession of that memory-filled typewriter.
Paint-by-number pictures appealed to Mom. She spent many hours painting one picture after another. A number of these adorned various rooms in our house. This might have been an inspiration to Linda who developed a very impressive talent for painting art.
Mom was so easy for which to find presents for her birthday or Christmas. We always seemed to find just the right thing, which she greatly appreciated and wanted, like toilet water at the local five and ten, a homemade pot holder or sewing thread. It was amazing!
Canning fruit and vegetables was a particularly beneficial talent of Momís. She would start by boiling quart-sized mason jars in a deep kettle to sterilize them. She would cook the fruit or vegetables, such as strawberries, peaches, tomatoes or mustard pickles and then pour them into the hot sterilized bottles. To make jelly or jam, she would add pectin to the fruit. She would top off the vegetables with hot water and then seal the jars with rubberized lids screwed down with rings. The fruit was usually sealed by pouring melted paraffin wax on top, which hardened when cooled. She stored these jars in our fruit cellar and we enjoyed the contents throughout the year. Only sometimes would we discover mold growing under the sealing wax of strawberry jam, but we would scraped it off and enjoy the jam anyway.
In the early days, Mom had a user-powered sewing machine, which she used to mend our clothes and make special garments. It had a foot-treadle, which would be rocked back and forth with one foot. The treadle was connected by a crank rod to a spoked flywheel, which was connected by a leather belt to the crank wheel. Mom used this to sew patches in our often-torn pants, to let-out or take-in pants, to re-sew seams and re-hem clothes. She made cassocks and surpluses for her two sons when they were altar boys. Mom didnít yell at us for many things, but she sure did when we touched her sewing machine and especially when we played with it. But its mechanism was too tempting for us to keep our hands and feet off of it.
She later obtained a Kenmore electric sewing machine to replace the treadle machine. With this new machine she was better able to exercise her talent of sewing. She made some of our clothes when we were young. For Easter everyone thought they needed a new outfit. For Nancy, she would make beautiful spring coats. One Christmas she was rather secretive about her sewing and Nancy was curious. Mom somehow managed to hide it from her. Her doll had a complete set of clothes that year for Christmas. Nancy has never tried sewing doll clothes and canít imagine sewing anything that tiny. Mom sewed the prettiest little school dresses for her two daughters. However, after school, Linda couldnít wait to change from her school dress into her jeans.
One time during summer Dad was studying to take his Professional Engineering (PE) licensee exam, which was critically important for his job as a public health engineer. We didnít realize it at the time, but us four kids with are antics were a big distraction to his attempts at concentrating on the rather voluminous books and other study materials. So Mom packed us up in the old 1954 Ford and we went traveling for a week. We first went to uncle Nickís farm and stayed there until we wore out our welcome. One notable experience we had there was drinking unpasteurized milk straight from their cows served to us by aunt Mable. Mom was a little leery about this and we wondered what Dad would think, but most of us drank it anyway. We then proceeded to Northeast PA, a suburb of Erie PA to visit our Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Frank (Momís brother) and two cousins Judy and Ronnie at their country store and home. Itís amazing that they were willing to put up with us for about four days. During that time we raised havoc in their store eating candy and playing with the cash register. Some of us went picking cherries for 15 cents a basket at a nearby orchard that was hiring temporary workers. We made a little bit of money but received a horrible sunburn. Finally the week was up and we returned home to find Dad grateful to see us back. Apparently, the trip worked because he did pass the PE exam and subsequently was a very successful public health engineer.
In later years when we kids were more grown and involved in our own pursuits, Mom and Dad seemed to have more time for each other and pursued several notable activities together. They had a motor boat docked at the small-boat harbor in Buffalo. They would often go fishing together on that boat at night. She seemed to enjoy that. They also played scrabble extensively. She would often accuse Dad of being overly creative with words. We tended to look upon the game as boring but they appeared to be deeply engaged in it.
One Saturday morning during the Summer of 1963, sadly, Mom passed away. She was having breakfast with Dad and Denny and got up to get something. Suddenly she gasped and collapsed to the floor. Dad tried to resuscitate her but to no avail. She died very quickly from heart failure probably brought on by poor circulation due to her long-term diabetes. Paramedics were called but arrived after the fact. Father Menge, her favorite priest came and gave her Last Rites. It is regrettable that she never got to see any of her twelve grandchildren nor any of her forty-three great grandchildren and only two of her children-in-law. At the wake and funeral everyone, of course, was very sad. Her younger brother Francis was especially affected and broke down in tears over the death of his sister. This display of brotherly love was very touching to us and actually helped us to reconcile the death of our dear mother. Mom was dead physically but not in our hearts.