Table of Contents
- John Henry Crouch and Eliza Ann View
- John Cook and Mary Frances McDermott
- Joseph Quigg and Mary Frances Cook
- Agnes, Edward, Marion and Butsy Quigg
- Harry Crouch
- Rose Esther Quigg Crouch
- Burt House
- River Road
- Crown Avenue
- Girl Scouts
- Misc. Childhood Memories
- 1937 – 1940
- Kay’s Beauty Salon
- 1941 Homer
- 1942 – 1945 Homer
- 1945 Fayetteville
- Pulaski Memories
- 1st House on Port Street
- 2nd House on Port Street
Over the course of several audio tapes, spanning over a year, Kay Wheeler recorded details about her ancestors, her childhood and her family. I’ve converted these recordings to mp3 files, transcribed them into text and compiled them into a story format I’m about to release. Due to the length of this piece, I’ve decided to break the story up into three segments for publication. The first segment, below, is based around Kay’s ancestors. The second segment will focus on her childhood and the final segment will encompass her relationship with her husband and children. Of course any memories reference various times in her life and I’ve kept these together when it led to continuity of the subject. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I’ve enjoyed compiling it.
John Henry Crouch and Eliza Ann View
Grandma Crouch was a little old French lady when I knew her. She was real old and kinda light as I first remember her. She weighed 100 pounds, maybe. She was quite a walker. She loved to walk. She would walk down to our house from her house, which was probably a mile and a half, maybe, and she would say to me, “who be you?” I’d say, “I’m Harry’s kid.” She’d say, “Oh.” And that made it alright. My dad would give her a ride home and by the time he got back to the house, sh’d be back in a few minutes for another ride home. She liked to ride in the car, of course. But, she frequently walked from Minetto to Oswego, which is five miles. That’s a long way to walk. Plus you gotta walk back then.
I used to go to their house fairly often. It was a long way back from the road. If there was a driveway, it was a long one … more like a lane I think. It had no cellar under it and after my grandmother died, my dad inherited the house. He paid the daughters and sisters to take care of his mother in exchange for it. After my dad had it, he dug the cellar out by hand and wheelbarrow. No one ever went in the front door. They always went in the door that went into the kitchen.
The kitchen was a big room with a coal stove and what they called a dry well sink. The table was always set up. As soon as the dishes were washed, they were set back on the table and covered by a sheet. There was a pantry off the kitchen to the left. That’s where all the food was kept and when the door was shut it was kept cold. The kitchen floor was bare and that was scrubbed with a scrubbing brush after the washing was done. The water used to do the washing was reused to scrub the floor, which was done on your hands and knees. We have it much easier these days don’t we. There was one bedroom off the kitchen. You went into the living room and there were three bedrooms off that, all to the left.
Immaculate. Everything needed to be scrubbed down and covered up. The boys had to take turns once a week, staying home from school, to turn the ringer for her when she did the washing. She had, what was then, quite a modern washing machine. It wasn’t a scrub board. There was some way you washed them in the machine and rung them with the ringer. I remember my dad telling about when it was his turn to stay home and run the ringer for his mother.
The house was laid out so there were two or three bedrooms on the first floor and two bedrooms upstairs. It was always confusing to me when I’d go upstairs in the house because I’d be turned around. Everything was always so neat and clean. The house was set back way away from the road.
The outhouse was out back with lilac bushes all around it. I think grandma Crouch used to paper the outhouse with newspapers. After she died, I don’t think she ever threw a newspaper away. They were all stored upstairs somewhere.
She loved to go, what she called “a berryin’” She would go picking and bring them back, probably making jams, preserves, or whatever. They were not a family of fat people. They were all very slim.
I think there were four boys in the family. There was Tom, Dick and Harry. Harry was my dad, and then there was John. There was Lottie, Cora, Rhoda and Delia, so there must have been eight of them all together. Rhoda died in her twenties with breast cancer. Nellie and Cora were both married and had children, but lived right around the mill.
Delia lived with us quite often, off and on. She worked in the mill, the same mill my dad worked in. She never married but always had a boyfriend. Oh, I liked him. He would always bring her candy and goodies. I always hung around so I got in on them. I think his name was Tom. She was very good to me. She shared her candy and any goods she had and let me play her records on a windup phonograph. She shared with me and I shared my head lice with her. So we got along fine.
I don’t remember that grandfather. I don’t think I ever saw him because he had a stroke. They kept him in a bedroom and he probably didn’t want kids coming to look at him. I don’t really remember a great deal about my dad’s family.
John Cook and Mary Frances McDermott
Your great great great grandfather, John Cook, whose picture you have, was adopted by a Daly brother and sister who came over from Ireland. I only knew them by Uncle or Aunt Daly. They came to America from Ireland as young people and bought a farm in Cleveland, New York. I don’t know just what date. They then sent for John Cook, who was a nephew of theirs. I think he was their sister’s boy. I don’t know what age they brought him here, but they brought him up.
They raised him on the farm, but he really didn’t like farming and when the civil war started, he enlisted. He fought in the war, but I don’t know where. He was wounded in the leg and was mustered out. Instead of going back to the farm, which he didn’t like, he settled in White Plains, New York. The wound he had was in his knee I believe. Each year he got money from a special stock. I think the amount was $50, but that could be wrong.
He settled there and married Mary McDermott. He became a brick layer in a brick yard. He was quite well off for those times.
John met Mary’s mother, who had come over with her mother. Mary’s father sent for her grandmother and her mother to come over. He sent money for them to come by ship. When they got to New York, they found that the husband and the father had been dead for a month and had been buried. The mother spoke no English, only Gaelic. Her daughter was old enough to have gone to school for a year or two and had been taught English and she interpreted.
The people, the landlord, where her husband had been staying at the address she had been given for him, managed to get her a job cooking for some very wealthy people in New York. They stayed there and when the mother got ill, the daughter stayed and took care of her. I think it was cancer but I’m not sure. Anyway, that was nanny’s mother, the daughter. I don’t know how she met John Cook. I never heard that story. If Agnes was here, she could fill in all the details.
Anyway, John Cook married the daughter and they lived in White Plains. As I said, he worked for the brickyard and they had three children that I know of: Nanny, her sister Lucy, and a brother Neeley. Neeley died early with TB. Lucy married an Usher, but they had no children.
In later years, John Cook inherited the farm from the Dalys when they died. They died in the middle of the winter and were not found until sometime later. They both took sick, it was possibly the food, I don’t know. Neither of them was well enough to tend the fire and the fire went out. Somebody finally noticed that there was no smoke coming out of the Chimney anymore and they were found frozen to death. It was investigated and found that they had some sickness, maybe the flu it was then, and died. No heat in the house, of course. That was a sad tale.
Nanny, my grandmother, was the youngest one of the family so when her mother took sick with cancer, she was the one who stayed home and took care of her until her death. That summer, John Cook took Mary to Cleveland, up to the farm where he had grown up.
Joseph Quigg and Mary Frances Cook
The farm, which was in the Reed Tract District of Cleveland, is where nanny came one summer with her father and met Joe Quigg. They fell in love and where married. They had the five children: Edward, Rose, Marion, Joseph, and Agnes. Rose is my mother.
Nanny’s husband was Joe Quigg. He was the youngest of a family of twelve, I believe. His mother and father had both come over from Ireland.
Nanny was raised a city girl and had no idea of how to take care of a farm. This must have been especially hard for nanny. She was brought up in New York, near White Plains, and they most likely had a woman come in to do the laundry as her dad was fairly well off. I know they had a maid, so they probably had a woman come in to do the laundry. So, nanny was not brought up to do hard work, like she had to do, but she did it, rather than break her vows.
She was dumped on the farm with two little kids and her father. Her father knew that Joe wasn’t husband material and that nanny was going to have a very hard life. After Edward and Rose where born, he wanted to take her back to New York. Apparently, he still had the house in New York, in White Plains. Nanny didn’t want to leave her husband. She wouldn’t break her marriage vows. So her father went out into the barn and hung himself. That was a great tragedy which must have been a traumatic time for nanny. She had the priest come and bless the barn and the house, but it was still rough. But she stuck it out on the farm and tried to raise her brood of kids. She had one right after the other, five of them. It was Edward, my mother, Agnes, Joseph and Marion.
Nanny had a very hard life in Cleveland bringing up five children. Her husband, Joseph, although still around, was a hard drinker and poor provider. He was not there when he was needed. Nanny knew nothing about farming and had to muggle through bringing the children up on the farm. But her mother-in-law, Nancy McNaulty, was a very capable person. She was sort of the midwife in Cleveland. She took care of women as they had their babies. The story went that she was working in the field and went into the house to have her own baby and was then back out in the field. I believe that was added by somebody at one time or another, but she had her baby by herself and took care of him. She was also midwife for nanny to all the kids except Butsy (Joseph). They had to have a doctor come for Joe. He was too big a baby and she couldn’t get him thru.
She finally got a job in the hotel there, maybe as a cook, I’m not sure. She’d leave early in the morning so the little kids would get themselves off to school on their own. I remember my mother saying that they would set the bread before they went to school so when they got home they could bake the bread. They would send the chickens, one at a time over to the mother-in-law’s. Instead of chopping the head off, she’d just ring its neck and give it to the kids to take home and dress down. Nanny had no idea how to go about a chicken. There was a cow and they’d have to get her to come over to milk the cow, she had no idea.
Edward said, when they were big enough to go to school, the three oldest ones, they brought the books home to nanny and she read to them every night. She read them every book in the school library, which probably wasn’t very big. This made readers of them all too. When your parents read to you, it makes you want to read. That was a very fond memory that Edward had of his mother.
I can remember by mother telling me that she had two blouses and a surged skirt. She would wash her blouse every night and get up the next morning to iron it. My mother was always very particular about clothes. Aunt Lucy, nanny’s sister, used to send them clothes. At Christmas time, she would send a huge box with oranges and apples and goodies like that, plus presents for all. Nanny said they always had a nice Christmas because of her sister Lucy. It was most appreciated and it was a big occasion when the Christmas box came from nanny’s sister.
Agnes and Rose had lots of tales to tell about their childhood. They lived in what they called the Reed Track part of the Village of Cleveland and that’s where they went to school. A one room school house. They used to go to bed as soon as it got dark because they didn’t have the kerosene for the lamps. Agnes and my mother would write all of this poetry stuff at night. Kids think they have a happy childhood. Money and things don’t mean that much to children. It’s the love that they’re surrounded with that makes for a happy childhood.
My grandmother, Mary Quigg, didn’t leave too many descendants. She had her five children. Joseph married Adrian but never had any children. Edward never married. Agnes had one daughter, Rosemary. Rosemary married and has four children. They’re all Jones. My mother had just me and Marion had two, Pat and Marilyn. So that only left her with the four grandchildren, which is not very many. Her kids were very good to her because they knew how good she was to them.
Now, her children have all gone. They have all died. Of course, I made up for it. I left her six grandchildren. My children have done pretty well too. Of the six, Colleen has two, Jim has five, John has two, Marcia has two, Mary three and Paul four. So, that’s a goodly number of greats. Now there are two in the next generation. Colleen’s son has a little girl, Kaitlyn and Jim’s son has a little boy, Christopher. So the family goes on.
Agnes, Edward, Marion and Butsy Quigg
My mother first came to Minetto at 15. That’s where she went to work. She went to stay with Aunt Rose, the sister to her father. When Agnes came to Minetto, she also worked in the mill. She stayed with a family named Potters. That made it a little easier for nanny. Edward, at the time, was in school. A priest had taken a liking to him and was putting him through college. That left nanny with Marion and Butsy.
Nanny, Uncle Edward, Aunt Marion, Uncle Butsy and Aunt Agnes … they were my family. They thought I could do no wrong. They were all very good to me. After the family separated, so there was just mommy, daddy and I living in the house in Minetto, nanny was living in Oswego for a while with Marion and Butsy. They both went to high school in Oswego. So I used to go visit, lots of weekends or when there wasn’t school. I’d stay with nanny, Marion and Butsy. Uncle Edward was there too some of the time.
Agnes saved up enough money working at the mill to go to secretarial school in Syracuse. When she got a job in Syracuse, she moved nanny, Butsy and Marion. By this time, Marion had graduated high school and Butsy was just monkeying around so she figured she’d take them both to get them work. She got Marion a job in an office and Butsy a job as a motorman on a trolley car, on the city trolley cars.
Aunt Marion and Aunt Agnes were so good to me. When I was in high school, they would let me wear their clothes. Marian even shared her husband with me for a prom date. That’s going pretty far.
Marion was with Nanny and Uncle Edward in an apartment in Syracuse when they had Pat. I didn’t think very much of that because I had been the only grandchild in the family until Pat. I was a wee bit jealous of her, especially with my mother. My mother thought she was the cutest thing … after she got over being a baby. I was just enough older than Pat to have her be a nuisance. But she sure was a cute little thing.
Agnes’ daughter Rosemary was a sweetheart. She had curls and was just the cutest little thing. She’d come to stay with us sometimes and mom and I would be making finger curls … which was how she wore her hair. It was long. My mom would start on one side and I would start on another and we never managed to make them all go in the same direction. Therefore she had a part down the back.
A train ran by the house and you could almost reach out and touch it as it was going by. Rosemary was a baby then and of course all the engineers took a shine to her. She’d be out in the back yard as they’d go by and they’d throw goodies off to her. That was quite a thing too.
Agnes’ husband, Red Senecal, built a playhouse for Rosemary. He was a brick layer and this was a brick playhouse. After Rosemary married, she had that playhouse moved to the house she now lives in. It must have been quite a maneuver.
My Uncle Francis built a lot of schools around the neighborhood of Pulaski. He worked on the Pulaski School and the Sandy Creek School, and the Minetto School. He would stay with us when he was working on schools within driving distance at the time; he lived in Oriskany Falls. We were kind of in the center of the school building affair then.
I can remember Red, Francis Red Senecal, used to go gather mushrooms and I used to go gathering with him. I had fried mushrooms there many and times. And turtle soup. He used to get a turtle. I don’t know if he made the soup or Agnes, but as long as you didn’t know what you were eating, it was pretty good.
I remember Agnes’ house so well. You went in the kitchen and there was this coal stove and huge table. But they always ate in the dining room, which is off the kitchen. The room had a huge table and then there was a double parlor off of that, a hallway to the upstairs and six bedrooms up there. Then there was another stairway up to the cupola and that was a great fascination to me, the cupola. There was also a bedroom downstairs. It was a big house.
Agnes’ meals were something. Always on Saturday she would bake bread and pies. She always had three or four pies out on the back porch, an enclosed porch like. She baked beans always on Saturdays. It was just great. I think back now and wonder if I appreciated that much; all of what she went through. And I was not the only one who came on the weekends. People dropped in and out all of the time. I think at that time she also had boarders.
I remember one time, she had a huge pot of chili sauce on this coal stove going and she had to go to town. She left a note on the table saying anyone who comes in, please stir the chili sauce. When she came back, there were four or five names added to the note. The postman and several other people had stirred the sauce for her. That’s what living in a small town is.
I don’t remember any of my father’s brothers so those uncles I never knew. But of course, on my mother’s side, there was Uncle Edward and Uncle Buffy and they were the greatest. Uncle Edward was in college and something went wrong. Then he had a job at Holcomb Steel in Syracuse.
You can remember Uncle Edward well. I think he was the greatest. He was always very good to me as a child. Then he was good to my children. He’d go out and buy things for them that we couldn’t afford. Food mostly. But he always knew the girls’ sizes. He would go downtown and buy them pretty dresses. That’s not like a bachelor man to do that but he delighted them. He would buy Jim hats. That was Jim’s glory, hats … all different kinds of hats. Occasionally, he would bring Jim to Syracuse to nanny’s house and keep him over a weekend. How Jim loved that. Nanny would mother him. She’d feed him cookies and milk before he went to bed, which was forbidden in our house. Nobody dirtied a dish after the dishes were done for the night. If you had a snack before bed, it had better be something that didn’t dirty a dish.
Nanny and Edward lived in apartment on Brighten Avenue at that time, upstairs. He would go around the corner there and do her grocery shopping. Nanny was safe. Times were different. People were not violent toward one another. It was a good era to be growing up in. There was no violence in the schools. Drugs were not even heard of. Alcohol was very rare. I never had a problem with alcohol with any of my children and that was the big trouble maker at that time, drinking. There had been years of prohibition, which didn’t work. Then it was legal to have drinks. I guess that wasn’t good either. I don’t know what the solution to that was.
I remember when nanny lived in the valley there in Syracuse. She had a very big house there, quite similar to our house in Pulaski. It had a reception hall, a big living room and dining room, huge kitchen and open stairway. I think it had four bedrooms upstairs and a huge attic. I loved to play in that attic. Everything was stored up there, Marion and Agnes’ clothes. Oh, I’d have so much fun dressing up. Each time nanny would say, “You’re not going to rummage in that attic again. It’s too much work for me straightening it out after you leave.”
I used to bounce a ball up those stairs. They went up one flight and turned at a right angle. It was a great place to bounce a ball. How nanny stood it, I don’t know. Every night she would walk me up a couple of blocks and we would get ice cream cones. That sticks in my mind.
Butsy was jolly. He liked his booze. He never lost any work because of this drinking, but he’d get soused and go to the priest where he’d take a pledge to not drink anything for six months. He wouldn’t drink a drop for six months but, oh boy, when the six months was up, he was off on a bender. But that was the only thing that kept him sober, if he took a pledge and he was forever taking a pledge.
Agnes got Butsy a job as a trolley conductor. I can’t image what age I was, but I’d go on the trolley car by myself, with Butsy as the motorman, and he would take me to Burnett Park. That was part of the route, and he’d let me off. I’d go swim in the pool, by myself. Of course there were lifeguards and all. I’d come back on the trolley and then I’d have to walk down Salina Street, several blocks.
One time in Syracuse, coming back from swimming at Burnett Park, I was walking back to nanny’s house, which was in the valley, and there was a little monkey on a leash. There was a ring of kids around him. I don’t know if they were teasing him or what, but anyway he ran over and bit me in the leg. I don’t know if they ever took me to the doctor or not, but it was quite the conversation piece that I had a monkey bite. Nobody else did. Nanny was all upset that the monkey had bitten me. I thought it was great! I had a scar from it so I could prove a monkey bit me.
My father, I believe, was born in Minetto as all his family where, as far as I know. He came from a large family. His father’s name was John. I never knew what he did originally because the first I knew of him, he had a stroke and was not … well, he was bed ridden. His sisters took care of this father because his mother, she was a little old French lady named Eliza, when she could no longer understand him, she didn’t want any part in taking care of him.
It was a very large family. I think he had five sisters. There was Cora, Delia, Nellie and Rhoda. There were four boys, John, Tom, Dick and Harry. Harry was my dad. There may have been more, but those are the only ones I knew. Most of them worked in the mill.
Columbia Mills was Minetto. The whole town was built around Columbia Mills. It was a prosperous little village. They had their own post office. It was a pretty little town, lots of trees and right on the bank of the Oswego River.
In those days, I don’t think people celebrated birthdays a great deal. I don’t ever remember my dad mentioning Christmas at all, but I think they were a happy family.
My dad went to school at the Minetto Union School and, I think, in the top drawer of the buffet is one of his report cards. He was very good in math. He was a good student. He had to lose a day out every so often to help his mother with the washing. There sure must have been a lot of washing for a family that size! By the time I knew his mother; most of them were all grown up and gone. I never did know his dad. I don’t know that I ever saw him even.
There might have been a one room schoolhouse there also. I went to the Minetto Union School so I just assumed my dad did. The school was on a hill. As I remember it, it was quite a nice school but that was in later years and I think the school was built around the time they built quite a few schools similar, like in Pulaski. They were all sort of built on the same pattern.
He walked to school, like I walked to school, like everybody walked to school. There was no such thing as school buses. That’s why there was a great many one room rural school houses. I didn’t go to a one room, but I’m sure he did. Schools were not closed because of snow [laughing] or anything else. You went to school. In fact, the principle of Minetto School, when I was going there, lived in Fulton, which is about 7 miles south of Minetto. I remember it snowed so badly and she came in walking on snow shoes. She was there and the pupils better be there.
We had a one hour recess at noon. We’d go home and eat our lunch and be back within the hour. A lot of kids took their lunches in a bag. That was quite a thing because in the nice weather you could eat outside with your teacher and it was kind of a privilege to take your lunch. But I walked home for lunch and burst into the house with all sorts of news from school, which I’m sure my parents could have cared less. Little girls get quite enthusiastic about things. I’m sure I did because I was a non-stop talker. By time I was old enough to ride a bicycle, it became great fun. It didn’t take me any time to get home, spread the news, get back to school, and eat, incidentally.
Food was the least important thing on my agenda. Just enough to keep going I guess. I wasn’t enthusiastic about food. I remember one thing I did like as a kid and it was nanny’s stew. She made good stew and custard. She felt custard was necessary for me to get a little egg and a little bit of milk down me. Those two things I liked as a child to eat.
My dad didn’t weigh 135 at his best. He was a little guy. He was a wonderful guy also. Maybe he did weigh more than that as I come to think of it. He had too. I think he was 5 foot 4 inches, it said on his license.
I think my dad was about ten years older than my mother. He was working at the mill at the time and I think she was only … she was about 16 at the time she first came to Minetto to work and was about 18 when they got married, so … no, she was 18 when I was born so she must have been 17 when they got married.
And at that time, it was World War I and he was drafted and shipped to France. He rode a motorcycle before we went into the Army, so that was his job after getting into the service; driving a motorcycle with side car and driving an officer around. By the time he got into the Army, the war was just about over but it was cleanup time. He was in France and saw, apparently, awful things because he was very reluctant to talk about it all. That was not a favorite memory at all.
Nothing about the war was right as far as he was concerned. He was over there quite a while. I remember him saying that going over on the ship, all the guys got so sick. There were apples there, so he grabbed a bunch and got down inside a coiled rope. He said he didn’t get sick. Maybe it was what they were feeding the soldiers or maybe it was contact with one another, but he stayed by himself, lived in that coil of rope and ate his apples. That’s about all he ever told me about his trip overseas.
His opinion of the “Great War” was … not very good. I don’t think he had much of anything good to say about it. I wonder if he knew that that was not the war to end all wars, as we were taught in school. My whole generation was taught to believe that the 1st World War was the war to end all wars. We would never have to go anywhere to fight. That was the time of the Monroe Doctrine where we were supposed to leave all of the other countries to themselves. We were not to mix in with their politics. I suppose that it was inevitable that we had too. But that’s why it came as such a shock, the 2nd World War, we all saw it coming and there was nothing we could do but get involved. But it was rough when you had been taught all your life that there would never be another war and … boom … there sure was.
It was very rough for my dad when he came back from the war. There was no work and he had this ready-made family: my mother, me, my grandmother, Marion and Joseph. So he had quite a family on his hands that he had to support. So, I was born in Cicero, New York. He moved us from there to Minetto, hoping to get into the mill again. It was quite a while. That first winter he worked at gathering and storing ice. Then he would take his meager paycheck and go to Oswego, over the weekend, play poker and bring home enough money so he could support us for another week.
In the mean time, Agnes got a job in Syracuse. She took nanny, Marion and Joe and moved them to Oswego. So that left my dad with just the three of us, which eased up things.
But he hunted and trapped. Unfortunately, he trapped a skunk at one time. I remember him telling about it. It was icy and slippery out and when he went to release the trap, he slid down the bank. He said he was looking the skunk right in the face. [chuckling] … he was quite smelly for a while. He would shoot rabbits and, of course, he hunted deer. He loved doing that. He fished. One time, he raised chickens. He had an [incubator] and brewter. He would turn the eggs every day and those chickens were the cutest things. Of course I was only five years old, probably, and the first thing I did was hug a chicken and that was the end of the baby chick. And I didn’t get to touch any more of the chickens, I know.
He really did grub out a living for us. You could never fault him for that. He managed to get us a little house, nestled almost around the mill. We lived in two houses that I can remember. One was right on the river bank and was a huge house. It had fruit trees, a chicken yard and it went right down to the river … uh oh, how I loved that!
The Columbia Mills, where my dad worked, was really a big mill. They made window shades that pull up and down, you know. Then they made Venetian blinds after that and paint after that. The whole village grew up around that mill. They had their own little restaurant and grocery store … two grocery stores… and a post office. We had one doctor there, Dr. Wallace, and after he died there was Dr. Fata, I think the name was. The school was there and only one gas station. But it’s so sad that mill, they closed it down and it dissolved village really. It was very traumatic to go there and find the windows all broken and the foreman houses bulldozed into the basements. The streets were kind of abandoned. It made me very unhappy. I took you kids to show you where I grew up and it was gone.
I have found memories of daddy coming home from work. At six o’clock there was a whistle that blew and again at noon. They had probably an hour because I remember him coming home at noon and eating his lunch. He told us you better have the lunch on the table. Then he’d go into the living room, hang his tie on a lamp and sitting in the chair with a cigarette he would listen to E.R. Vadabon Curr (sp?), the news at noon. Then he’d go back to work returning before the whistle blew. He was a person of routine, pretty much.
On days that I wasn’t in school, I’d meet him on his lunch hour. He would come from the mill and pump the pale of water and carry it home. His work was real close to home. He was a foreman at Columbia Mills in Minetto. He came up a little alley like and there was a restaurant for the mill people. Quite often, if mom was busy working, or for some reason there was to be no dinner, he would stop at that little restaurant and they would have a basket all ready for him. It would have our dinner in it. I remember the pies were just elegant. They were cream pies. Both my dad and I were dessert eaters. Oh boy where they good.
My dad would much rather be fishing. He thought dinners were fine, but have them at home so you could go fishing. He never liked picnicking either. He said “no sane person takes their good food outdoors where it’s uncomfortable and eats. Eat at home … no picnics” But we had lots of picnics. I remember going to the state fair when you could drive right in on the grounds and used to park along the fence. Mom would always take a big picnic lunch. At that time we had an electric cooker. It looked like a … it was round and high and looked more like a … Anyway, dad would say “Whatcha cooking now?” She would fry chicken and put it in there. She’d bring potato salads and drinks. We’d go to the fair and see things and go back to the car and have our picnic on a blanket. It was really a great occasion.
The clock in the dining room was my father’s father’s clock. I can remember my dad winding that and taking care of it. I can still picture him checking it to his watch. It was a cherished thing for him because it had been his father’s.
Both mom and dad loved to play golf. I think they both belonged to the golf club that is between Minetto and Fulton. They used to play golf there very often. They’d drag me along sometimes. That’s why I don’t like golf. I think it’s a very boring past time. They also bowled together on the alleys that the mill had. I think there were only two alleys, but only the foreman went there so you didn’t have to wait. I don’t know if you had to sign up for a time, but they both liked to bowl and they were pretty good sportsmen, both of them.
He loved to play cards. Poker was great. When he had no one else to play cards with, he, mom and I would play three handed bridge.
He had a lot of hobbies they were mostly outdoor things. I liked the outdoors. Of course, most of all, my dad loved to deer hunt. He talked about it all winter and probably all summer. Then the season came and he thoroughly enjoyed it. I should have listened more carefully, but I knew the stories would come around again, so I didn’t pay that much attention.
He hunted for many years before he ever got a deer. So the first deer he shot he got mounted. He had the head mounted and one of the feet mounted with a thermometer on the foot. The next year that he hunted up there, he got a black deer, which I guess is kind of rare. Any way he had that head mounted also. Then mom said “Enough is enough! No more heads!” He also had a trout mounted, a speckled trout, that was apparently quite a prize because he had that mounted with a glass frame. I don’t know whatever became of that, but it got moved from place to place.
His hunting trips were up to Beaver River Flow. I think there were 4 or 6 of them that would go up there and stay a camp that was back in the woods on the other side of Beaver River Falls. They had to hire a plane to drop them over there and they’d be in the woods for over a week. If they wanted to bring deer back, they had to get it out and onto the plane. Now I hear things on the television about Beaver River Flow and it brings the whole thing back to me.
After my dad died, we inherited the deer heads and [Bill] was livid. He did not cherish the deer heads at all because every time we moved, it took one trip just for the deer heads because those horns would poke through things. There was also the deer hide, that I’m sure Jim still remembers, we carried it around from place to place. When we lived in Pulaski, it hung over the upstairs railing and the kids would always give it a swat whenever they went by. I was forever cleaning up deer hair.
I can remember my father going camping with us, but I don’t think he ever took me camping, hunting, fishing or to any of his sports. Those were strictly guy things. If I’d gotten to like them it would have been different, but I didn’t. I wanted to do my thing and they did their thing.
One summer we spent a week’s vacation up to Beaver River Flow. There was a hotel right up at the end of the road. We had a cabin, but he had our meals from the hotel. I liked that. I don’t remember what we did to amuse ourselves, probably walking back into the woods … enjoying the outdoors. My dad was so proud of his sleeping bag. I think it’s still in the family somewhere or another. It’s been recovered and it sure has lasted a long time. I think it was bought around the time I was 15 or 16, along in there.
My dad always had beagles because he hunted for rabbits and things in the fall. We would get a little beagle and he would train it and have it all ready to hunt in the fall and somebody would steal it. This was a common occurrence. I don’t think he ever got to hunt with one of his beagles. They were cute puppies. They would get lost in the dining room with all those legs on the dining room furniture. One of them would get in there and sit down and cry and I’d have to go rescue ’em.
We had ferrets at one time. I remember them getting on the davenport and burrowing in among the pillows. He used the ferrets to hunt with too. I don’t really understand how that worked.
We had a metal barrel in the backyard where we burned our papers and trash, probably garbage too. That was a great target practice thing. There would be rats that came around of course because we were right in a section of the mill practically. You’d sit on the back porch and shoot at the barrow. They say it made for great target practice. Mom was pretty good shot with a gun and loved to fish as much as my dad did. They did quite a few things together.
The river was just a short ways from the house. When I was little, they’d tie a rope around me and tie me to the pickets and fish in the river. I could see them and they could see me. They were happy with it; I don’t think that I was. I was a miserable child. No, I don’t think I was any joy to my parents, but they put up with me. They were very good to me.
I think the only discipline I ever had was when my father got back from France and I was a toddler. The family was more or less living together. He told me to stop doing something I was doing and of course I ignored him like I did everybody else in the family and he gave me a swat on the behind which astonished me and everyone else in the family. To think he spanked the baby. But I never disobeyed him after that. He made himself boss early. He was a great father. He never touched me again. He didn’t have too. Once was enough. I learned he was boss.
When my dad died, he was very sick with lung cancer, I was carrying Marcia, so I was no help to my mother. She was in Minetto and I was in Fayetteville, which isn’t too much distance between us, but I wouldn’t be much help if I brought the kids. Although, I did a couple of times just to give her a chance to get out. She kept him home the whole of his sickness.
The doctor taught her how to give him the drugs. I can remember one time when I stayed with him while she went to Oswego. She showed me just how to administer the morphine. He was really bad then and I just prayed that she’d be home before it was time to give him the morphine because that looked very complicated to me. You had to sterilize all the things and put the stuff on the spoon and then inject it. I thought, I’m never going to be able to do that.Â A nurse I am not.
Things were quite different then. When my dad died, the funeral was right at the house. I don’t know if people used funeral homes very much back then. I was no help to my mother then either. You know how teary eyed you get when you’re pregnant; this made me even more so.
Rose Esther Quigg Crouch
My mother was a very beautiful woman. She was … spectacular. I would bring the kids home from school just to look at her. I thought she was the most beautiful person I ever saw. I still, even being grown up, think she was a very very beautiful woman. And she had such a wonderful style with clothes.
She was not really extravagant because she didn’t have a big wardrobe. But what she bought was expensive and fit her perfectly. She had a beautiful form. I think the most she ever weighed was 125. She was taller than I, so she must have been 5 feet 3 inches maybe. Dark hair. Very dark hair and it was naturally curly. At one time it was real long, down to her waist. In the 20s everyone cut their hair so she cut hers, had it cut at the barber shop, and we all kind of mourned her long hair. My grandmother had her hair long and wore it in a bun on top of her head for many years and it wasn’t until I had the beauty shop, I think, that nanny had her hair cut.
My mother went to Minetto to work in the mill when she was 15. She went to live with one of Joe’s sisters, Rose, who kept her and made her clothes for her. She worked in the mill until she met my dad.
Then there was the war. She was expecting me when he was taken to serve the Army in France.
My mother seemed to have quite a few jobs before she had the beauty shop. I know she modeled for McDonald’s Clothing Store in Oswego. It was a real exclusive store. They would have fashion shows and she would be a model and sometimes she would clerk in the store because she could get her clothes at a discount. She didn’t have many clothes. She didn’t want many clothes. She wanted only expensive quality clothes. She would just change the accessories. She liked hats. She had a number of hats.
Then she worked at another clothing store in Oswego doing sales. She worked more for the clothes than for the money part of it … I think. But how can you know? You can’t be in somebody else’s head.
She learned and took lessons in marcelling, which was what women did to their hair after they cut it. And it was the rage when everybody had short hair, and going from real long hair, you had to do something with it. Anyway, she took lessons in Syracuse, and she would come home and say, “Now, I can do it.” And that meant I had to sit still while she practiced marcelling on my hair and I was not a very good model. I hated it.
Anyway, she learned to marcel. Then she opened her beauty shop and learned the rest of hairdressing through the supply people that she bought from. She opened the shop in our house in this little tiny room off the dining room. Well she outgrew that very shortly and that became my bedroom and she and Daddy took my bedroom and the beauty shop was in their bedroom which was a big room and it opened off the front porch. The supply people came and designed it for her so that it had two booths and a waiting room. The waiting room had a booth to do fingernails in. That was my job and I think I was fourteen at the time. I bought my own supplies for doing manicures under my own name. I was the youngest customer that Kaiser [sp?] ever had at the time. I had my own account number and all that. That was how I picked up odd change. I remember selling little banks and things like that to the customers. Mom worked for years at home and was there through all my growing up years.
Mom worked in Romulus during World War II at a munitions plant. She thought she should be doing her duty. At that time I think she sold the beauty shop. Yeah, she sold it to a girl along with all of her equipment.
At one point, she also had a beauty shop in Liverpool behind a barber’s shop. I was never in it, but I knew where it was. I was busy raising kids at the time. I think that was the main reason she went to work, so she didn’t have to get involved with babysitting. O.K., that’s not nice. She probably had much more reason than that.
My mother was a great fisherman. She always, not always, but often went with my dad when he went fishing. They had a little rowboat with motor on it on the Oswego River, above the dam in Minetto. That gave them lots of pleasure. After I was married, Bill and I took that boat up the river. That river was a great part of my life, I really enjoyed the Oswego River … swimming in it, boating in it, whatever.
Mom grew poppies in the back yard [on Crown Street]. I think that was long before they knew that a poppy was a good drug. I can remember those.
She used to love to come to our house. She was always good to you little kids. After we had dinner, she wanted to wash the dishes. She would always do that. So, she was quite disappointed when I got a dishwasher. Mine was a choice between … I don’t where we came up with the money to buy it. Probably when we sold the other house. No, I think we had the dishwasher at the other house. Anyway, she did not like the dishwasher. She thought that was a useless thing. Besides, it put her out of a job. She had nothing to do when they came up for the weekends.
She taught me how to can pears. I remember, those where the hard things to can. She’d come up during canning season and we’d can together.
Mom, after my dad’s funeral, came to stay with us for a little while but she still had the house in Minetto. The mill was very good about letting her take her time to move out. Which she did and she moved to Hamilton. Bill was instrumental in getting her a liquor license, which he worked with a senator to secure. There was no liquor store there and she decided that would be an easy way, easier than doing hair dressing, so moved her furniture to Hamilton and did very well with the store. But it was not a good move because the temptation to drink was too great with all that liquor right there.
She got married to Tommy Vair. He was much younger than my mother. Really not an ideal partner. He was no help at all. It was not a very good deal, I think. He .. you can’t blame someone else, but she really got into drinking at that time, when she owned the store. They separated and she sold the liquor store.
My mother … she was a most remarkable woman. She taught herself. She bought herself a typewriter and a book, a shorthand book, and just sat down and learned how to do shorthand and typing. And she used that later in life when she worked at the Will and Baumer Candle Factory in Syracuse as a secretary.
She had a little apartment in Syracuse. It wasn’t long after that, that she died. She had a hemorrhage in the brain. She was gone instantly. Uncle Edward and she had been out to our house that weekend and she’d been down to Colleen’s. Colleen was then married. When they went to go back home, Uncle Edward took to back to her apartment. She just got out of the car and dropped to the ground. That was the end. She was gone before the ambulance even got there. It was a short life. She was only 60 when she died and she had a lot of living yet to be enjoyed. But, this is how alcohol can destroy you. It’s a bad thing. I hope I never see it in any of my children or grandchildren.
She was really good to her grandchildren. Not as babies. She didn’t like taking care of babies, but she sure liked kids. I think she taught all of you to play pitch and she took you around with her quite often. It was a great loss.
The funny thing is that in the Quigg family, Agnes was the only one to live long enough to collect social security. My dad died at 52 and that was the year that social security had just started. I’ve collected it for a great many years. Since I was 62 I took social security. Now I’m 79 so that’s a lot of years of collection on social security and I certainly got out more than I put in.
Tina wanted to know what good advice my mother gave me. I don’t remember her giving me any advice. She and I were very close. She was only 18 when I was born so we were more like sisters and nanny was more like my mother. I can’t remember nanny giving me any advice either. They should have. Maybe I’d have been a better person. Since we were so close, we’d always talk things over and she was always ready to listen to anything I had to say. I must have been a very boring child, but I was talkative I know.