And So It Goes

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In Her Own Words – Kay Wheeler, pt.3

Kay, abt. 1939

The grocery man in Minetto, his last name was Rayness [sp?].  At one time, while I was still in high school, I was going with his son and we were engaged and there was an apartment up over the store.  That’s where we were going to live.  Then I met somebody else and liked him better.  So that was the end of that.  I had been engaged a number of times.  I was always so sure, oh boy, this is the guy.  Then I would meet somebody else and that wasn’t the guy at all.  So you can see why my mother was real laid back with my engagement to your dad.  She thought that this one would probably last a month or two…

When I first came to Pulaski, I boarded with a Mrs. Brownell on James Street and there were two other teachers that boarded there also.  Her meals were just out of this world.  She had a big coal stove in the kitchen and always made her own bread.  The bread would be toasted over that open coal … oh boy was that good.  I avoided eating with the school teachers as much as possible. At noon, I went over to the drug store and had a hot fudge sundae.  That was lunch, but supper I had to have with Mrs. Brownell and the two school teachers.

I was in great awe of school teachers.  I remember the teacher in Minetto that taught French, Ms. Carey, used to come to my mother to get her hair done.  At one point in time, she had said that I could call her by her first name.  I never could do it.  Teachers and doctors really scared me.  I had great respect for them both.

Then I had a two room apartment, what is now the fire hall in Pulaski.  It was a kitchen and a bedroom.  It had a daybed in it and to use the bathroom, I had to go through another room that was rented out to travelers.  So I always had to peek in to make sure there was nobody in the rented room before I went through.  I didn’t like that too well, but it was right around the corner from where the shop was, so I could go home at noon and listen to the radio.  Our Gal Sunday was on the radio at noon.  That’s the only radio station I remember listening to.

In the next place I lived, I had a room upstairs, and that house is still there.  It’s the house that Lesta Lightbolt [sp?] lives, or lived.  I guess she’s in a nursing home now.  It was just a room, but it was so sunny and bright.  The furniture was all light colored.  Lucy Plant had a room there and we became good friends.  I can’t think of what her maiden name was now.

On the first date I ever had with Bill, he had borrowed one of the camps down at Selkirk State Park.  From the electric company he borrowed an electric roaster.  Then he invited me to diner along with Estelle Mariam and her first husband and another couple.  He cooked a whole roasted chicken dinner and that was the first time we met.  I was quite impressed.  It must have been a Saturday because I waited all day Sunday for him to call me up, but he never did.  He must have called after that, but it was a disappointment because I was sure he would call me the very next day.

He quite often would have the use of a camp at Selkirk because he knew the manager at the time.  We would go down there in the middle of the winter that first year we were going together.  We’d go in on snow shoes, build a big fire, eat and tromp around down by the lake.

That was the kind of thing we did as dating couple, except going to the movies.  He had to inspect the numbers at the end of the movie so we could attend any movie we’d like.  We’d see all the new movies as they came out.  He didn’t care much for the musicals, but otherwise … So, I was a cheap date alright.

Once I married Papa, he changed my ideas of eating.  He wanted to eat lots, good stuff, and he was sure, in fact he did, teach me how to cook the good stuff.  We nearly came to a divorce the time he made a soup and put cabbage in it.  I can remember I had a cold or something and thought I was suffering and he made the soup and I called my Mother (we then lived in Pulaski and she in Minetto, of course) and I called her up and said “Come and get me, it’s horrible! He’s made soup and put cabbage in it!”  Well, she came, but she came to eat the soup.  I guess I probably recovered from my terrible illness, whatever it was I had, but not from eating that soup!

The next place I lived was an apartment on North Street.  It was an upstairs apartment and Mrs. Barrett lived downstairs.  That’s the time that I ran into the house.  I bought furniture and curtains and furnished the whole thing for $100, everything.  That was shortly before I was married to dad.  That had a big living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a back porch.  We were married and still lived there until he was stationed out of Homer.

I remember the kitchen stove was a combination oil and wood.  We had the oil tank on the back storage like on the porch.  Dad would fill it up and put it on the stove.

I still had the apartment on North Street when dad and I got married in 1939.  He was stationed in Auburn and I can remember driving down there with his dinner on one of the holidays.  That apartment was on the south side of North Street.  It was about three houses past Coxes [sp?].

Kay’s Beauty Salon

I graduated from Oswego High in ’36 and then in ’37 I opened a beauty shop here in Pulaski and it was a very nice beauty shop.  It was designed for my personality by a firm in Binghamton.  Prescott, I think, was the name of the firm, Prescott’s in Binghamton.  They came to Pulaski and designed my shop.  They put linoleum down that had a big “K” as you came in the door and another one in a circle thing.  I had three booths, and then a manicuring booth and a reception room.  I think that linoleum is still down up in over the Chinese takeout place on the main street in Pulaski.

The building at the time was owned by Harwett [sp?] who had a clothing store downstairs and an apartment upstairs.  That’s where I had the beauty shop was on the second floor.  There were four offices up there:  Dr. Loomis, a dentist, Dr. Bentley, an attorney, Mr. Lewis, I think he was the newspaper man, and my beauty shop.  You entered the stairway from Main Street.  Business was not too brisk.

I learned to do hair by osmosis.  My mother took marceling lessons and I took manicuring lessons.  It was a two week class in manicuring.  Nanny lived in Syracuse then and I stayed with her.  The school was Bosart [sp?], in downtown Syracuse.

When I went to do permanents, the people who sold me the machine taught me how to do them.  I think it was like a one day lesson.  You didn’t have to have a license at that point.  You just set up a shop, put a sign on it and you where a hairdresser.  I had worked with my mother in her shop since the time I was 14 when I first started doing manicuring.  Then I would help with the permanents.  At night, I taught myself from a book, how to do facials.  Hair cutting … well, you took a pair scissors and you cut hair.  I never cut men’s hair, except for the boys in my family.  So, I went to Unity Acres and said I was a barber and I barbered.  There are a lot of things that, if you’re determined and you set your mind to it, and you have a book, you can get instruction.  Of course when I had the shop I used to go to all the seminars they used to have for hairdressers and you always picked up two or three new things at a show.

When I first opened the shop, a permanent cost $2.50, shampoo and haircut was $0.50, shampoo and wave was $0.50.  I don’t remember haircuts, they must have been $0.50 too.  It took a lot of doing hair to get enough money to pay the rent.  The rent on the shop was $10 a month.  The telephone was $4.00.  The apartment, I’ve forgotten what the rent was there but it wasn’t very much.

Kay Wheeler, Pulaski, abt. 1938

I met a lot of people after opening the shop.  Katie Minnick was one of the first people I met.  Kay Minnick was a secretary in the lawyer’s office and Rosemary Martha was the dental assistant and we used to play bridge up there.  It was a fun place to be but every chance I got I would go back to Minetto because all my friends were there.  Every time the newspaper man, Mr. Davis, was coming through Pulaski on the way to Minetto, I would hitch a ride with him.  In the meantime Katy Minnick, she had a key to the shop, she would go in and answer the phone and book my appointments and do everything but curl the hair.

When I decided to have a shop of my own, we cased the villages around and it was a toss-up between Cazenovia and Pulaski.  So we decided that Pulaski because it had the least number of shops and would be more likely to support me.

My dad lent me the money, I think it was around $300, and I was to pay him back of course.  What I was supposed to pay him was $52.00 per month and I never had a chance to do it.  Every month I would say, “Daddy, I made enough money to pay my rent, and my telephone, and feed me, but I can’t pay anything on my debt this month.”  And this went along.  I had the shop there for four years and never did pay him.  When I sold the shop, I had paid him back for what he had loaned me and I think a month or so after that, he borrowed most of that back to buy a new car.  But, I didn’t reckon on all the bills your father had.  Then we paid all those off.  He had run up a lot of bills.  That didn’t leave much profit from the beauty shop.  I had the shop for four years and had enough to pay all my debts and had a little bit leftover … enough to buy a washing machine.  I don’t remember what else, but not very much.  But, I did have fun for the four years and I never, in my life, worked for anybody else.

Rosemary Murtha was very good to me.  She took me home to meet her mother, who fed me and semi-adopted me.  Katie would point out all my good features and bad features.  When I came, I registered as a Democrat and Katie said “Oh my gosh … you got to get back over there and tell them you made a mistake.  You’re a Republican. You don’t get any business in Pulaski unless you’re a Republican.”  So I did and then I never knew what I was, but I was a registered Republican.  Later in life, after I was married, dad ran for police justice as a Democrat.  So then I had to change back to Democrat because I was campaigning for him and we were very successful.

Justice Howard had been police justice in Pulaski for years and years and dad beat him as a Democrat.  And nobody dared to run as a Democrat in Pulaski.  But we put on a good campaign.  He was police justice there for eight years until he began on construction work.  Then he wasn’t home enough to take care of the cases and he gave it up.  But we lived at the first house on Port Street and he would hear his cases right there in the living room.

One time he married a couple. That was a traumatic time for our Jim because we kept talking about how dad was going to marry Mrs. Bogarden [sp?] and he thought what we were saying was true … dad was going to marry Mrs. Bogarden.  He didn’t understand dad was marrying Mrs. Bogarden to somebody else.  But that wedding was held right in our living room.  I did all the secretarial work for him.  I had to make out forms in triplicate for everything and keep track of the money for the fines and so forth.  That was my job.

Back to the beauty shop.  The year that I opened the beauty shop, 1937, was a February.  Mom and I loaded the car, the shop was already.  We loaded the car and when I stepped off the back porch, the first step, my feet went out from under me.  It was a sleet storm.  I had a gallon jug of “wave-set” in one hand that broke.  What a mess that made.  In those days, the wave-set was made from flax seed and was it slippery as could be.  Trying to clean it up was almost impossible.  We should have turned around right then and stayed home.  But that wasn’t the thing you did in those days.  You set out to do a thing and you kept going until you did it.  I know we were coming up the hill, that long hill in Scriba, and we where sideways.  There was car coming down the hill and that was also sideways.  I thought “ooohhh boy this is going to be a crash”.  And just as the two cars got almost together, both cars straightened up and avoided an accident.  It was a horrible day to open a beauty shop!  But we did.

In those days you didn’t have to have a license.  You just opened a shop and there you where.  Aaaahhh things were much simpler than.  Now I have to have what’s called a beauty enhancement shop.  It’s not even a beauty shop any more.  I have to have a personal license and a shop license and follow all these rules and regulations, which is probably not so bad.  They inspect the shop to make sure I’m following sanitary rules.  The only time I was ever cited for anything, I had the top off the wastebasket when the inspector came.  That was a violation … I never had that top off again.

1941 Homer

Kay, “Lady”, and the trailer, abt. 1941

So we were married in ’39 and I kept the shop until ’41. Living was cheap, but so were the wages.  Dad’s money came on the 1st and the 15th of the month.  Along with his wages he got an allowance, a living allowance, which was very small.  But it was enough so I could send a check for Billy and Janie to their mother for their up keep.

Dad was then stationed in North Syracuse.  I put the furniture in storage and we bought a little trailer and had it in North Syracuse at a trailer park on the north side of Route 11.  They had public showers and toilets and you had to use those because the trailer had none.

He was moved from North Syracuse to Homer and we had the trailer moved to Homer, right on the banks of the Tioughnioga River.  We were right at the foot of a very large hill.  We drilled our own well.  We stood on the back of a truck and drilled the well point down in the ground and put a pitcher pump on the top of it.  That was our water.  Then he built a little outhouse a distance away from there.  We lived there all one summer, and oh it was a hot summer.

It was so hot in Minetto that summer that mom used to visit quite often.  She’d say, “I’ve got to go home, your poor father!” And she’d go home and the next day she’d be right back down again, “It’s too hot up there … “

We had lots of picnics and lots of fun things.  She would clean the trailer and I remember one day she spent most of the day cleaning and how much is there to clean in a trailer?  You know, open the windows and it blows the dirt out.  But she was a cleaning person and she had it all cleaned.  She also had this kettle of something she was cooking on the old stove.  When she went outside to clean the windows, it slammed the window down and the thing that held the window hit the pan of stuff that was on the stove.  What a mess!  But she didn’t fuss about things.  She picked up and went on from there.

Kay relaxing …

Your father made a cover for a hammock out of cheese cloth so you could lay in there and see what was going on and the bugs couldn’t get you.  It was a great summer.

That same year, from Griswalds [sp?], he picked up a 20lb turkey.  It was big!  He had it roasted at the bakery in Cortland.  I think that was the time, it was, that he had them coat it with bread dough and bake it.  When it came out, it had a crust of bread dough all around it.  That was good.  Mommy and daddy came down and we had Thanksgiving dinner in the trailer.  I remember that turkey.

I was going home for some reason and I asked your father, “What am I going to do with it?”  He said “Now, make soup out of that, just put everything in the soup.”  And I did.  We’d had cranberry-orange relish and I put that in the soup too … that was a disaster.  Yuck.  What a soup.  That was terrible.  Anyway, that got rid of the turkey.  Funny the little things that stick in your mind, isn’t it?

I can remember, we had a little roaster pan-like thing and I remember her baking a pork roast in it outdoors and that sticks in my mind because it started to rain and you’d hear the rain, “sss,sss,sss” and it would hit that hot little oven outdoors.  That was a good roasted pork, but that’s when dad was getting the meat from the slaughter house so we had all kinds of meat, all you could eat.

Well Colleen was expected in December and we couldn’t live with a baby in the house trailer so we hauled it back to my mother’s, in her backyard, and I moved into her house with her.  I think she moved out [chuckling] maybe not.  She had just refurnished the house with beautiful rugs and nice furniture.  The house was really nice.

Your dad took the whole month of December off so we could have this baby.  Well, on Pearl Harbor Day he was called back to active duty.  No month of vacation.  Colleen was due on the 8th and got here on the 18th.  My mother said to dad, ” … you get her out of here.  I’m not going to be caught between Minetto and Syracuse in a snowstorm delivering a baby.”

So I moved down to Homer and stayed at a house that took in people, like a hotel.  I stayed there until the 18th.  It was a very bad winter.  The roads were pot holes.  The roads were bad and the winter was cold.  Colleen was born on the 18th and in those days you had to stay in the hospital 10 days.  So I was in the hospital over Christmas.  It was a sleet storm that day and nobody could get into the hospital and I just couldn’t believe that the world kept going without me.  Christmas!  I was always the big honcho on Christmas.  There I was with this baby I knew nothing about and we had a bad start.

Agnes, when she lived in Oriskany Falls, would have me down to stay with her frequently.  She also had my girls, Mary and Marsha, probably Colleen too, down for a visit time and again.  After Bill and I were married, we used to visit there.  I used to go there weekends from the shop because Bill was working in Hamilton, which was close to Oriskany Falls and Bill, of course, would come over for meals.  He would spend half the night with me in the downstairs bedroom with the windows open, the car pulled up to the house with the windows down and the radio on … I don’t know how it didn’t wear the battery down … so he could hear Oneida, if they called him.  If they caught him, they’d a killed him.

Kay Wheeler, abt. 1938

I loved to ride [on the motorcycle] behind your father.  Well, I went horseback riding with him once at a place where we rented the horses and the saddles.  He was horrified.  I think it was fifty cents an hour it cost.  And I got on the horse.  I had never had any instructions.  All I knew was that you got on, hung on and you rode.  Anyway, I started off with a gallop, as fast as the horse would go.  Well, your father really lectured me.  He said “You walk, trot and cantor before you gallop a horse.  That’s no way to treat a horse.”  Well what did I know?  That was the only time we went horseback riding.  Fifty cents, gee whiz, I wanted my money’s worth.  I wasn’t going to walk the horse for fifty cents!

As you know, dad’s first job in the troopers was rough riding.  They had a big corral, out behind the barracks in Oneida.  The trick riders stayed in the barracks.  I don’t think they went out on patrol.  I’m not sure about that.  They might have.  Anyway, he really enjoyed trick riding.  Tony was his horse.  He was sort of a maverick horse, which was just the kind for dad to have.  He’d been out west and he had two brands on him.  Dad said he would stripe, bite and crawl.  If dad went into his stall, he’d take a sharp stick with him because Tony would squish him right up against the side of the stall.  That was unless he had a pointed stick to put to Tony’s side before he got to dad.  Years after he finished trick riding, we’d go down to the stall.  Dad would whistle to him and he’d come right up.  They were good friends, but Tony let dad know who was boss too.  I never actually saw him trick ride, but I saw pictures of him trick riding.  They were very impressive.  He would do a hand stand, standing on his head in the saddle, galloping all around.  He would go under the belly of the horse, while the horse was galloping.

In the winter time, they had to exercise the horses of course, but they were on patrol.  He was in an open car, an open touring car.  You can image how cold that was in our cold country.  They had sheepskins coats and fur hats and white patrol cars.  When he was no longer riding the horses, they disbanded the horses, sold them and sold all of their tackle.  They would not sell the tackle or any of the stuff the guys had hand tooled to them.  The sold it all at an auction.  Of course, dad had no money to buy something at an auction.  So he never had any mementos except for pictures.

Then he would be on motorcycle patrol when the horses were disposed of. He always thought that was a sad thing because horses where a much better tool to patrol a crowd of people, in parades and all.  They were much better at keeping people under control than just a man.

Their work was a month on duty with one day off a week and one night off.  That was it.  He lived in the barracks.  In each town they were stationed at they lived with another family, sometimes they had a station of their own.  I remember he lived in the Abbott house.  They had two or three bedrooms and an office that was marked off with a bar in front of it.  People stood on the other side of the bar, obviously.

I think there were three troopers stationed together in Pulaski when he was stationed there.  When I first time I met him, he was stationed in Pulaski.  From there he went to North Syracuse, then Auburn, New Hartford, Homer and back to Pulaski.  They didn’t have much time to themselves.  I know he really wanted to learn how to play golf.  He got himself a set of golf clubs and one of the sergeants or lieutenants saw the clubs in the car and that was it.  It was the end of dad’s golf career.  They were supposed to not have family.  They frowned very much on them having a wife or children.  They were supposed to belong to the public and not have other commitments.  But then, dad never did anything that he was supposed to do.  He was the rebel.

I forget where he was stationed when he had to police the state fair after we were married, but I loved it.  I got mom to take me to the state fair grounds … I don’t know why I didn’t drive?  But it was a nightmare, traffic wise, getting in and out of the state fair.  You drove right through and the cars were parked on the grounds.  And, I don’t know how they managed that.  I’d want to go and all I’d see is maybe two minutes of him.  When you’re young and in love, two minutes is better than nothing.  We went every day to see Bill.  I saw all of the state fair that year.  He was on horse patrol, maybe they all were.  I wonder how they managed to do away with the horses and still have them for fair patrol, but … Dad could explain all that.

The next Thanksgiving we had in Pulaski.  We had borrowed tables and chairs from the Legion, or some place, and they were all across the living room.  There was all there was of family at the time:  Nanny, Uncle Edward, Rosemary, Agnes … I don’t remember if Red came or not, but we had all the relatives.  Dad, of course, cooked the turkey.  I must have done the rest of the stuff.

I can remember almost always having Thanksgiving at our house.  I can remember having it down at the brick house and all the family would come.  We’d take the kitchen table, or the drop down table, and put it up on four bricks to make it the height of the other table.  I also remember one time when Uncle Paul cut one of the plates in two.  He was carving the turkey and cut through one of mom’s good dishes.  That must have been after daddy died.

[Bill] tried to enlist when the second world war came around because he was too young to enlist during the first world war.  I was saying all sorts of novenas.  I guess they were answered because he didn’t get to go.  They decided they needed their troopers here, worse than abroad.  He used to escort the convoys from one spot to another.

1942 – 1945 Homer

Kay, Bill & Colleen, abt. 1942

After the hospital, I moved back to Minetto with all the baby stuff and a cranky baby.  Colleen did not sleep and did not eat.  It didn’t take too long to find an apartment in Homer.  We moved into Cayuga Street in Homer, into an upstairs apartment.  Cayuga Street is no longer even there.  I think it’s a part of 81 … I know it is.

I think we lived there three years all together.  That was wonderful time of life.  We had bought a house there, also on Cayuga Street, and had chickens and pigs, a huge garden, a barn and loads of flowers.  The house was just beautiful.  It had the nicest floors with tiny light colored wood.  Dad took care of all this while he was still working.  It’s no wonder he got moved to Fayetteville.  They took him away from all his toys.

Dad had made friends with some the guys from Cornell’s experimental station, so we had all of our potatoes from there.  From the Sheffield Milk Station, we had all our milk.  And there was a bakery, so we had all our sweat sweeping, like bread crumbs and cookies, those we fed to the pig.  They tested the milk, so it was cream.  He also knew the guys in the slaughter house so he would go to the slaughter house once a week and bring back one dollar’s worth of meat, which was steaks and all the best stuff to last last us a week.  Those guys let him kill one of the cows one time.  Of course, he had to get into everything and they said “Do you want to knock a cow down?”  Sure he wanted to and he did.  So we lived very well there and really cheap.

Jim was born while we lived in Homer.  Colleen would have been two in December and he was born in the first part of September.  We had a, what was once a farmhouse, and it had a big barn with it and a chicken …

So while we were living there, we raised a big garden.  We had a pig that was name Walt Dorsey after one of the bus drivers and in retaliation, Walt Dorsey bought a pig and named it Bill Wheeler.  His pig died.  We had a dozen chickens and a goat.  So, we had kind of a little farm there.

When Jim was born, I had all my canning done, except peaches, I think I still had peaches to do after he was born.  Nanny and my mother both came to stay with Colleen while I went to the hospital with Jim.

Between Bill bossing, Nanny and Mom and Colleen bossing them, they went home.  They didn’t think they were needed.  So, Bill was left with Colleen and he was still on duty so.  So, there was one of the judges’ wives that took Colleen.  When he went to work he would leave her there.  They all managed to live though it.

That was the coldest house that I ever saw.  There was a wood or coal furnace … it must have been a coal furnace, in the cellar.  On the first night that I stayed there, I almost burnt it down with the furnace.  So therefore, Billy used to come take care of the furnace.  He rigged up an automatic thing from an apartment sized washing machine that would open and close the doors on the furnace with a thermostat.  The first time people were there and heard the doors open and close, they were a little freaked out.  It banged and clanged but it did the job.

The house was bright and sunny.  It was a very beautiful house.  Big pine trees in the yard and lots of flowers.  It was very well taken care of.  The floors were all hardwood with very fine boards.  But it was cold.  We put the dining room table right over the register and that’s where we’d sit.

Jim, did you father ever take you on the motorcycle?  I knew he used to take Colleen on it.  But you were tiny.  I’m not sure if he did.  I know when we lived in Homer, he took Colleen on Halloween in the state car around to do trick-or-treating.  I hoped they never found out about that in Oneida, in the headquarters.  Or that would be one more reason to be moved.  You should have heard the barn side noise when he would get within ear shot on that motorcycle.  The goat would be blatting and the pigs and the chickens squacking.  Everybody knew when he was near home. 

1945 Fayetteville

Kay, Colleen & Jim, abt. 1945

Then they moved him to Fayetteville.  He was in Fayetteville and I was in Homer.  We also had a dog and a cat there.  Then the day came that I had to move two babies.  Jim was born then, and Colleen.  The dog bit someone in the neighborhood and I had to take it to the vet’s to have it destroyed.  It was not an easy move.  I had all their equipment that babies have.  I piled and tied and got it on the car somehow with the two babies and went home with it to Mom.

Mom must have been working in Romulus in a munitions factory.  Something to do with the war and we went home and stayed with my dad for a short time.  Bill couldn’t seem to find a house for us in Fayetteville.  I said “If we can’t find a house, I’m moving into a hotel.  I’m not living with my father and two babies.”  So we found a house and it was adequate.

So he scurried around and fond us a house.  We had bought the house in Homer for $3,500.  When I sold it, we got the same amount out of it, but it was enough to buy a house in Fayetteville at the same amount. He house was perched on a little piece of land with a gully on one side … two sides, the side and the back.  It was a deep gully.  But it was right in the village.  I forgot the name of the street, but we lived there just under a year and during that time, my dad was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs.  I was no help to mother at all.  I had two kids and we were expecting Marsha and daddy died in the spring.  That was when we were moving, or in the process of moving, from Fayetteville to Pulaski.

Pulaski Memories

1st House on Port Street

Then again we sold and bought the house in Fayetteville for the house in Pulaksi.  But in the mean time, we had lived rent free.  So it was a good deal.  It’s written in a notebook somewhere, the figures.

We moved to Pulaski in 1945, the year that Marsha was born, we were in that house since May.  My dad died in May.  Jim, I’m sure, remembers mowing the lawn and picking up worms to sell to the fishermen.  That was his college money.  He kept track of it in a book.  All of it went into the bank for college.  I think he was able to save about $1,200, I believe.  That sticks in my mind, although that might have been the insurance policy we had taken out for him when he was born, so he could have college money.  He managed to put himself through and help Marsha put herself through.

We moved there because dad was moved from Fayetteville to Pulaski with his job with the troopers.  This is where my children grew up.  They all went to school there and they all graduated from Pulaski High.  The house in Pulaski was bought from Herb and Sylvia Kinney [sp?], the house you were brought up in on 68 Port Street.

Mary Quigg, Rose Crouch, Kay Wheeler, Colleen & Jim – abt. 1946, Pulaski

When Jim was little, his job was to burn the trash and gather the eggs.  The egg gathering was not very successful.  The cellar door didn’t open easy and he would put the eggs in his pockets and bump the door to open it.  This is not a good idea with eggs in your pocket.  Anyway he loved it there.  There were plenty of trees and he used to climb trees and was forever building a tree fort.  It was the building that was the fun, I guess, because the next time we’d see him, he was tearing it down and building it somewhere else.  But he loved to climb.

He started kindergarten up there and after his first day he had come back said he was all done.  “You said I had to go and I done it.  I’m not going anymore.”  So from then on, I’d have to force him on the bus, usually with a very long face.  He was not happy with school or kindergarten.  That was not the place he wanted to be.  But he gave in, graduated from high school, Mohawk Valley and onto a good life.

Mr. Brooks’ store was on the corner and we bought our groceries there.  I would call up in the morning and Mr. Bonnie would deliver them.  When our refrigerator died, we went to the bank to borrow money to buy another refrigerator and they turned us down.  Well, Mr. Brooks had a fit about it.  He said “you can put it right on your grocery bill and pay for it as you can” so this is why our refrigerator came from Brooks grocery store.  I can remember one time, paying him with a bushel of cucumbers.  We had a nice big garden that was very prolific and I don’t recall using it any other time for grocery money.  But he was very lenient with us and we always had a running bill there and paid as we could.

Mr. Potts’ drug store was right next to that.  It was a big adventure when dad would take three of you little kids to church on Sunday and then take to Mr. Potts for ice cream, coke, or whatever.  When you went with him and you were in a store, you had to hang on to your hands behind your back.  You were not to touch anything.  Mr. Brooks’ store had all sorts of displays down low, like cookies and crackers, which was a great temptation for kids.  You kids didn’t take anything because your hands were behind your back.

There was a jewelry store across the street from Mr. Brooks and there was a band there.  There was also a hotel and a restaurant that burned one year and was never replaced.  When I was single with the beauty shop, there was about six of us that had our lunch at that hotel.  It was delicious and so cheap, I couldn’t believe it.  What was when the Log Cabin used to be the Randall Hotel.  They also served delicious meals very reasonably.  My mother used to love to eat at the Randall.  That was down under the hill.

Dr. Abbott was dentist and that is now the 1800s house on the corner of Jefferson and Salina Streets.  The troopers were stationed right next to Dr. Abbott’s.  I think that they were in the same building he was in.  That was his home and office, as well as the trooper’s office.  Mrs. Abbott was very fond of the troopers.  She kept a scrapbook, that might be at the historical society, that had all the doings of the troopers and anything that was of importance in Pulaski.

Across the street was the court house and at that time a jail.  Mr. Conner was the jail keeper.  Occasionally, but not very often, they’d have to lock up somebody for being drunk or whatever.  Of course, dad would be connected with that.

A little further on, past the trooper’s station, was a restaurant, Caulkins [sp?].  That’s where the troopers ate all of the time.  There were five or six of us that would go over there and all eat together with the troopers.  Your father was always borrowing money from Mr. Caulkins, the man that ran the restaurant.  I remember one time, somebody gave him a pheasant and he had Mr. Caulkins cook the pheasant and make a dinner.  The restaurant was closed at night.  They only served lunches at noon.  Well, he and I had this pheasant by candle light at Caulkins restaurant.  That was … he could always talk people into doing unusual things.  He always borrowed money.  Dad never had any money ahead.  He lived on borrowed money most of his life until I caught him.  He never thought of saving up some money to do something.  He did something and borrowed the money to do it.

I remember when Bill finally retired from the state police.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was so ecstatic to think that every single night he was coming home.  I had been home alone with you kids for such a long time.  He retired from Pulaski in … 1945 – 1946?  I’ve forgotten.  I just could not believe the good luck to have him home … all the time.  It was wonderful.

The fire chief in Minetto … the mill had their own fire department.  When there was a fire, the whistle would blow and when the fire was over, the whistle would blow again to tell people the fire was out.  When I came to Pulaski, I had only been here a very short time, and I was living across from the fire station.  The alarm went off and I listened.  It finally went off again, meaning it was a big fire.  I took it that the fire was out, but it was a big fire.  It was the night the school burned in Pulaski.  I think everybody in Pulaski was out to see the fire except me.  I slept through it.  That was a big thing here.  The kids had to go to all different places for classes.  I don’t think the classes shut down for any length of time at all.  They had them all going in different … I don’t know just where they were, but it must have been the churches and so forth.

When he did retire, I don’t know just what he did do.  He tried numerous jobs for the money.  We thought we could live on his retirement.  At that time he was police justice, but it just was not enough money.  He tried inspecting camps.  He would post signs along the lake and sign off on inspections.  I don’t know if people paid for that or not.  Anyway, it didn’t work out.

We decided the school could support a little candy store.  The place where the library is now was just an empty lot.  We marked it off and, I think, George Bonnie built the little building.  It had a concrete base and was just a big room for a semi-restaurant.  We had hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, candy and an ice cream fountain.  I made the syrups for the ice cream sundaes.  I remember making a Mexican syrup.  It was peanut butter and chocolate … oh boy was that good!  I made doughnuts and pies.  I don’t know how I did it.  Let’s see, Colleen and Jim where in school.  I took Marsha with me to this candy store and I would spend my noon hour there.  I sold the candy.  We had a big showcase for that and every day the kids cleaned out the candy.  We had to order every day from Oswego.  I can’t recall the place, but every day we got a new load of candy.  It sure was fresh!  I never cooked the hot dogs or hamburgers.  Dad attended to that.  We also had toasted cheese sandwiches.

The school had a fit.  They said we could not have that and that we were taking the business away from the cafeteria.  Of course we were.  The kids would much rather have a hamburger than a good nutritious lunch at the cafeteria.  So the school tried to put us out of business but dad went to court and after that, the kids needed permission slips from their parents to go to the candy store.  At one time, Rod Brown was one of our employees over there.  We kept that about, oh, two years.  But we really didn’t make much money on it because we had no backing for it.  By time we paid our bills, there wasn’t anything left over for us.

For the first week or so that they were there, dad belonged to the fire department.  When that fire whistle blew, oh he was delighted.  He shot out of that candy store.  He didn’t like being confined inside.  There was a fire up at Orwell Sanitarium, which is now Unity Acres.  We leased it then for a year to a couple and eventually sold it to them.  We kept the mortgage on it and they paid it monthly.  That was the end of the candy store.

I’d take Marsha with me, as I said, and I was expecting Mary.  I had to close the store up the day my water broke, I think.  I can’t remember now.  I was on my way to the hospital anyway.  I took Marsha home to dad and he was flat out because of his back.  His back had gone out, which it did quite often.  Dr. Mason gave him a shot of Codeine and enough Codeine to get him through the baby being born.  He was really in misery.  He was standing outside the hospital with his back up against the building, trying to relieve the back.  I guess we sold it shortly after Mary was born.  I do know we used to have a lady name Zoe.  She used to baby sit for me and clean the house.  She was a great help.

I remember, I used to go to Syracuse to see nanny at the time I was pregnant with Mary and I said “Guess who’s expecting a baby?” She said “Oh, who?”  I said “me” and she said “oh dear …”  She thought I’d already had enough.  She wasn’t enthusiastic about Mary being born into the family.  That’s probably why I named her Mary [laughing].

Then dad went to work, at what is now Fulton Boiler Works, but it was a paper mill at that time.  They made toilet paper, etc.  Carpe(sp?) came from Vermont and he was running the mill.  He brought quite a few people to Pulaski from Vermont and gave them work in the paper mill.  He also gave dad a job there.  That was hard work, but we made enough money to live on.  We never realized, when he got out of the troopers that jobs weren’t quite as plentiful as we thought they were.

I don’t know if the paper mill closed or change hands, but when he longer had a job there, he got on construction.  That was very fine.  The wages in construction were good.  We had the two little boys at home and with the money from the union he belonged to, it was a pretty good living.  We managed to get ahead enough so that we could have a camp down at Greenpoint and another one up in the woods in Boylston.  Life was good.

Dad bought some land on a quick claim from West in Boylston.  Someone had given him an old trailer that he and Uncle Jack dragged it up into the woods and made it into a hunting camp.  That was a big part of the boys’ outdoor experience.  All three learned how to hunt up there.  John didn’t like to hunt as much as he liked to fish.  Paul just liked to go along for the ride.  You played cards at night and dad would keep the camp and do the cooking.  I think you all had a little jar of money you kept up at the camp to use at cards.  Later on he got a bigger trailer and put that up on the land.

The first Christmas at the house in Pulaski was also Colleen’s first year in kindergarten and she came home with the chicken pox which she generously gave to Jim and Marcia, but we still had a nice Christmas.

Pig, abt. 1942

I remember a lot of things about that house.  It was on the hill on Port Street and we bought it from Herb Kinney who had lived there many years and raised a family.  We enjoyed the house and the land.  Uncle Edward and nanny used to come out every weekend or at least every other weekend.  That was a big deal because he would have the back of his car filled with groceries, gladiolas for me, bananas, chocolate milk … extras that the kids didn’t get.  We had a big garden, two pigs, chickens, a goat and rabbits.  So we raised a good deal of our food.  In the fall we butchered our pigs.  Dad would have someone butchery them for us and we’d cut ’em up, pickling the hams and the bacon. Sometimes the chickens, capons we raised, we’d put them down in pickling pork.  I don’t remember if we smoked it or had somebody else smoke it.  We probably smoked it.  It was delicious.  So we pretty much fed the family off the land.

Marsha dug in her heals too when it came time to go to kindergarten.  She would not go unless the little girl next door, Susi Munson, was in the same class she was in.  If they were separated, she was not going.  So, they put them in the same class and Marcia went on to graduate and graduate, onto a good life.

Colleen loved school, but she wanted to come home.  She wanted to do what I was doing not what they were doing in school.

Little Mary was the love of our life.  Everyone liked little Mary.  Marcia was kind of a prickly one, no one liked her … except dad and me [laughing].  She had a rough time growing up, I’m sure.  But Mary, she was everybody’s darling, especially Jim.  He championed for her a good many times.  He got her out of a lot of scrapes and why I don’t know.  She was the bane of his existence.  She lost his favorite jacket and broke his binoculars, but he forgave her.

Then John came along and was allergic to cow’s milk.  That’s when we got the goat and John was raised on goat’s milk.  I can still see that goat.  Dad would let her out and go to the corner of the lot and come running down to the barn with her head down and you’d swear she was going to but you right over the moon, but she’d get right to him and stop.  Jim was a part of that.  He would run as fast as the goat.  He was sure she was gonna but him.

I remember nanny bringing the goat over in her Buick.  [Chuckling] She brought her over in the back seat of the Buick.  She was pregnant and when she was ready to deliver.  I think every kid on Port Street was over to watch the occasion.  It was a good sex lesson for all them and she had twins.  You kids had a lot of fun, especially you girls, playing with the twin goats.  They would dress them up like dolls.  But then come Easter time … I think it was the Greek people that eat kid goats … Dad sold them both, which caused a furor in the family.  But I think you kids grew up understanding that animals couldn’t be mourned over.  They had to be eaten or sold to be eaten.

Everybody had to help with everything.  They had to mow the lawn, hoe in the garden and feed the chickens.  Dad milked the goat.  Nobody else had any part of that.  He built a pen for the pigs that was part cement so you could hose it off.  The pigs were as clean as the chickens.  It was a good life.  They had a good childhood growing up there.

The garden we had at our first house on Port Street was huge.  I remember one time each one of you kids chipped in $5 a piece, it think it was out of your allowance.  Anway, you each bought a fruit tree and we planted them.  And they died.  And you all lost your money.

We had an oil furnace in that house.  It was always warm.  We had radiators … steam heat I guess.  When we first moved there, in the Spring, May, I wanted hot water and I wanted it fast, so I turned off the radiators and shut up the heaters.  Well I blew up something or other.  And I didn’t get hot water either.

But you live and learn.  I guess dad was very tolerant of my mistakes.  Like the first house.  I almost burned that up before we even moved into it.  I turned the heat way up so it would be nice and warm and went away and left it.  I went back to the other house.  Well, even the woodwork was hot when he got there.

But when fall and winter fell in, we were snug and warm and had all types of food canned, pickled and frozen.  We still had our chickens which were still laying eggs. The babies grew up on raw egg yokes that I’d stir into their formula.  I’d save the egg whites and once I had twelve of them, I’d make an angel food cake for them.  I don’t know how you grew up so healthy.  That is considered bad and we had all that bacon and pork and stuff.  But, you all grew up quite healthy.

Colleen was always a great help to me in the house and with the babies.  She did lots of babysitting, not just for me, but for all of the neighborhood.  I was really proud of her.  She was a good girl.  I had no problems with her.  She was content if she was helping me and boy was that welcomed.  She used to clean that house and move everything out of that living room and dining … move it all out on the porch, and really give that house a cleaning.  I was willing to have her.  She washed dishes since, I don’t know, she had to be awfully little because she had to stand on a chair to wash the dishes.  That was fine.  She did a good job on them.  I remember one time when Uncle Edward gave me a set of cookie cutters and Colleen was so excited.  She said “Ooohhh thank you Uncle Edward.”  It was supposed to be my present.  She was delighted … cookie cutters.

2nd House on Port Street

Bill Wheeler, Port Street Residence, abt. 1958

Then the sign went up at Green’s house [60 / 4010 Port Street] and your father was set against buying it.  We finally had all the houses paid, but you kids all wanted that house so badly.  The driveway was all paved and you could roller skate in the driveway and ride your bikes with no problems there.  I don’t think the sign was up more than two days and we bought the house.

The house was in horrible shape.  I don’t think there was one wall that plaster wasn’t falling off of, the furnace was in horrible shape and had died, there was no hot water there, we had to buy a stove, the floors were a wreck … everything needed doing in that house.  Dad, who was no carpenter or plasterer, met the challenge and we got the house looking pretty good.  Especially after we sold the other house to Hank Nukem [sp?], which was the first time we made a profit on a house.  We had enough profit from that house to fix up the house we live in now on Port Street.

I said we weren’t moving in until all the works done.  Well, I didn’t recon with all these kids.  They moved me down there dresser by dresser, chair by chair.  They just moved my house out from under me and put it down here.  The last one to go was Marylee.  She had … chicken pox, maybe measles.  I don’t know, sick on something and she was on the davenport, the last one to go.  We got a little pickup truck.  Mary, the stove and the refrigerator went on the truck.  You do what you have to do and kids do what they have to do, I guess.

All the kids, except John, were thrilled with this house.  He did not like this house at all.  There was no hot water in it, so each day I would take John, who was apparently the only one left at home, to the other house to do the wash.  He complained to his father saying “mom takes me home and brings me back here and I don’t like it.”

Paul was born in this house.  He came along six years after John, so the family was all off to school when Paul was born.

Kay & Paul at Greenpoint

I enjoyed having the trailer at Greenpoint.  The only time we were invited to come up to the trailer in Boylston was when it needed cleaning.  Before hunting season, we were welcome to come up any time and clean it.  Otherwise we were not very welcomed guests.

We had always stayed at Greenpoint a week or two when they wouldn’t be busy down there.  Chris Sawyer [sp?] who ran the camp, would let us have a camp for free.  Probably one week at a time.  We all liked that.  You kids liked swimming down there and we had a boat … well not just then we didn’t have a boat.  The camps we would stay in were just barely camps.  It had been an old museum there at one time with mounted fish and things they, the Sawyers, would haul around in the winter time.  So they let us stay there for one week during the season when one of the camps wasn’t rented out.  That was after it had been made into camps, before it was a fish aquarium or whatever.  There were no toilets in them.  No place to wash up even.  I don’t even know if there was water in them or not.  You went to public toilets by the marina.  Dad would have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to go over and get washed up so he could go to work up north.  At that time, he was working on construction.  It wasn’t his happiest time, but he put up with it.

Marsha didn’t like it because there were spiders.  She would move the Davenport right in the middle of the living room to go to bed so she was sure no spiders were going to get her.  I think there were two bedrooms there.  We all managed to sleep there.  I can remember the kids yelling at me to “turn dad over.”  He’d be snoring up a storm.  But it was fun.

I was real proud of Marsha.  All you kids were good students, but Marsha played in a band and she was a cheerleader.  I was real proud of that.  I would occasionally go to a game to see her do her cheerleading.

Mary took dancing lessons … how did that happen?  Anyway she was all dressed for her recital.  I was proud of that but, she fell roller skating and broke her knee and her leg was in a cast so she obviously couldn’t do the ballet she had learned.  But we were all very proud of her just the same.  She was all dressed up in a long dress and I think she announced the dances.  They gave her some part to do at the recital.

And then there was John.  He would fight for Paul … if he wasn’t doing something to knock him out.  He really tended to Paul.  He took his part against the world.  I remember John used to go trapping before school.  He must have been old enough to have a trapping license.  Every so often there would be a recipe in the cookbook that I’d be interested in and John would have written “Gone to check the traps mom.”

Jim, it’s hard to think of any one special thing that you did, so there must have been a lot of them.  I wonder if you remember the time that you and Bobby Murtha had baby possums that you decided to raise.  We had them for quite a while, maybe a month or so anyway.  I forgot now what happened to them, but they didn’t make through life.

I remember Paul seeing Marsha in a dress for the first time.  It may have been the first time he’d ever seen her in a dress and he was real surprised to find that she was a girl.  I think he was quite mistaken about that.  Paul was also real good about keeping me informed of all things the girls were doing that they shouldn’t be doing.  Like Mary smoking and putting the ashtray in her dresser drawer.  Ooohh Lord, how she didn’t manage to burn the house down was a wonder.

There was a time when Paul locked Mary in her bedroom.  I was busy working and had a batch of customers there and I didn’t have time to be monkeying around unlocking doors.  I remember Mary Scanlan was there, a teacher who was claustrophobic and she was having a fit because I wasn’t getting Mary out of her bedroom and I think someone suggested a ladder.  Well Mary was scared of heights in the first place.  She would in no way climb down ladders.  She was probably perfectly happy to be locked in her room and away from the rest of us.  That’s when dad fixed the bedroom doors so they couldn’t be locked.  He really didn’t need to fix my door so it couldn’t be locked, but he did.  He fixed all the doors in the house so they couldn’t be locked.  Except the third floor and that you could lock from either side.

The winter that had the most snow that I ever saw, was the winter I mentioned when dad came home with the baby chicks on his head.  I think we have picture of coming out of the house to get right to the road.  We had several pictures where we had to tunnel through the snow to get from the road into the houses.  It was one week that no one went in or out of Pulaski.  The only roads that were plowed where right in the village and they ended right at our house on Port Street.  It was an exciting time for all of us.  It seems as though there was a baby born during that time.  Now I don’t remember any details about it, but it was in the paper.  Whether they got the woman to the doctor or the doctor to the woman, I can’t recall.  It was a big adventure to go to the grocery store.  You took the toboggan and kids.  There wasn’t much left to buy in the grocery store.  The store was pretty well cleaned out.

We just kind of expected snow and ice in those days.  It was the order of the day I guess.  I remember our neighbor Lenora[sp?] had moved down two houses from us and she made a snow fort in their back yard and the snow was deep.  The yard was fenced in, which was the basis of the fort.  She made walkways and shelves.  It that was very clever.  She was … she is, a very clever person.  She paints beautifully.  When she lived in the apartment over us and she painted a nude lady above the bath tub in the bathroom.  I thought that was pretty clever.  She didn’t like the wallpaper in the living room so she painted figures in different colors on it.  That was quite impressive also.

I mentioned before the time that nanny stayed with us and the electricity was off.  That was the time we had the hurricane in Pulaski.  It was also in Syracuse because Uncle Edward was glad that nanny was with us because they had no electricity there.  Well there was a huge tree in Munson’s yard.  It was so huge, there was no way you could span it with your arms.  It was a very large tree.  Their yard joined ours and you little kids where outside playing and you had just come into the house when that huge tree toppled and came down onto our house.  You kids had been right there, just minutes before that.  And it just came so slow. I stood in the window and watched that tree come right down.  It landed on the kitchen corner of our house and on the bedrooms upstairs and came right through.  George Green came with tarps and he and dad covered it because it was raining, of course.  They covered up in the attic , putting the tarps in the attic to keep the rain out of the house.  Marsha and Butterball were in the kitchen when it came down.  The noise terrified them.  I think nanny was in the living room.  It was quite a deal.  We had to put a new roof on the house.  The insurance money covered part of it, but of course we used the money for something else, maybe for John.  We said that when he grew up, he’d have to put a roof on our house for it, which, of course, never happened.  It was a very scary time for all of us.  Jim and Colleen could have easily been killed.  They were right in the path of that tree outdoors.  I think our house, and maybe one other, was damaged by the hurricane.

The day that we moved into the brick house on Port Street, the one we live in now, that night, for some reason, we all slept downstairs on mattresses.  During the night another tree came down on our house.  So we were kind of bad luck woolies when it came to trees and wind.  We must have been very tired that night because none of us heard the tree come down on the house.  It came down right along the front porch.  We woke up the next morning and there was a tree on the front porch.

One of the hard things about bringing up three left-handed boys was teaching them to tie their shoes.  I don’t remember with Jim, maybe dad taught him to tie his shoes.  With John it was easy.  Everything was backwards to him, therefore he learned quickly.  But then there was Paul.  I struggled and struggled to teach him to tie his shoes and there was no way.  We finally got boots for him.  Then they came out with the Velcro fastenings and that kinda solved the problem.  I wonder yet if he can tie a bow?  But it was interesting.  And to watch them hammer or saw, it was just painful.  When it came to tying ties, I gave up.  I didn’t know how to tie a tie anyway.  That was dad’s job.  By then they had the ties you just hooked on the kids.  That was a solution.

I remember when Mary’s Shannon was born.  She was in the hospital with Shannon for quite a spell.  Shannie was born too soon and had all sorts of problems with swallowing and … I forget what all the problems where.  Anyway, I had Heather for quite a while because even after Mary came home, she used to go back to the hospital to nurse Shannon … for a long time.  I’ll have to ask her how long it was before Shannie came home.  Anyway, I had Heather and at the same time I had Jimmy and Philip.  I don’t remember the occasion.  But anyway, all three of them are pretty close in age, but I think the boys were a little bit older than Heather.  She’d be in the play pen and they’d be playing around.  Occasionally, I’d let her out of the play pen.  It’s kind of rough to just be in a play pen all of the time.  And they’d say “Oooh nanny, don’t turn her loose!  Don’t turn her loose!”  She was their nemesis.  Oh boy, those two boys could not handle Heather.  I can remember sitting her up on top of the dishwasher when I turned it on and she would say “Grind up those dishes nanny.  Grind ’em up!”

I remember when the guys would go hunting.  Jimmy and Anita would come over and spend the weekend with me. We’d have fun the three of us.  I remember Anita making little jumper pants for Jimmy.  I think she was pretty clever.

We had lady, a dog I had before or shortly after I was married.  By time we were living on Port Street, she had become quite old.  But whenever I didn’t know where you kids where, I’d call Lady and that’s where you were.  She was always with you kids.  We had butterball, the cat, since we lived in Fayetteville.  Bill had gotten her for me.  She was a blue Maltese cat … very pretty with the little snub face.  We all loved her, but she had grown up knowing she was queen of the clan and in the morning, if I didn’t feed her right off, she’d let me know.  Naturally when I had the babies, the babies came before the cat.  One day she bit me in the ankle because I hadn’t fed her yet.  I threw her off the back porch and called Bill.  I said, you come get this cat.  I’m not going to have it any more.  Well Mrs. Abbott, who was the dentist’s wife felt so bad, she said don’t do away with the cat.  Bring her to me and I’ll keep her.  Well, I had forgiven her by then and let her back in.  She must have lived to a ripe old age.  I don’t remember her passing on.  I do remember that one of the teachers hit Lady with a car and we had to do away with her.


I went down to Jim and Anita’s, they came and picked me up which has been the rule of the day since I’ve lost so much sight in the left eye.  I’m hoping to get that sight back after the operation.

We went down and they picked me up and we had a most delicious dinner; roast beef and gravy and baked potatoes with sour cream and her famous cauliflower with cheese sauce that is just out of this world.

And I was just eating a dish of home baked beans that Rod sent over with the girls and I was remembering one time when my mom bought a pound of baked beans and they were in like, a cottage cheese box and the whole top of it was all sugar and before they ever got to the table I ate all the top off the beans and nobody said a word to me, because I was such a picky eater, I didn’t eat enough to say so and in fact they would pay me a nickel each time I drank my glass of milk.

The one thing I liked, Nanny would make stew and custard, baked custard, and that I thought was great, that I would eat.  Otherwise, it was a big waste of time to have to sit down at the table and eat.

I remember one time, when we lived in Homer, dad went to the canning factory and got both saddle bags full of shelled peas and brought them home for me to can.  Janie and Billy we staying with us at that particular time and Janie and I canned all those peas.  Oh my gosh!  There was a bushel of shelled peas and I don’t think Janie ever forgave me for that.  That was a mess and she was a big help.

Another time, much later, Janie was up to our house with the three little girls and it must have been just before Christmas time because I baked all these cookies.  I said to the little girls, “how would you like to frost the cookies?”  Well, they frosted cookies, but they never forgave me for putting them to work frosting cookies.  And I thought it would be a fun thing to do.  You kids always thought it was fun, but they didn’t.  I can see Janie now, sitting at the table with three little girls:  one on her lap, one on one side, and one on the other.  They never let go of their mother.  She was their security blanket.

While I was having either Marsha or Mary, my mother came to stay with us.  She and dad papered the kitchen while I was in the hospital.  It was 10 days at that time.  Dad was canning plums.  He either opened the canister too soon or he had reached a defective jar.  Anyway, the plums blew up all over the new wallpaper.  Those were little inconveniences.  We didn’t consider them big problems, just little inconveniences.

We didn’t grow corn.  We would buy it by the bushel in the fall and that required everybody to help.  That took a lot longer than anything else we canned.

Ice cream cones were a nickel and a dime and ice cream sandwiches were a nickel and candy bars were all a nickel.  It was a great treat.  And you didn’t buy ice cream and put it in your freezer because most people still had ice boxes.

We had an ice box where the ice would go on the top and a pan under it that caught the water from the ice and in the middle was where you kept your food.  But we had a refrigerator very shortly after that, which had some sort of round disc on the top, I don’t know what that was for, probably what made it run.  It had a tiny ice cube thing in it that wasn’t more than 6″ by 6″.  We thought that was great because you could keep something frozen in there.  At that time, you didn’t buy things like ice cream in quantities.  You got an ice cream cone or an ice cream sandwich, but you didn’t get a gallon of ice cream.

I think gas was $.35 a gallon and a postage stamp was $0.02.  Long distance telephone calls, I don’t remember, I guess I didn’t make very many.  In those days, there was never no such thing as Scotch Tape.  How did we ever live without Scotch Tape?  There was no such thing as a supermarket either, or a store that you went too to pick up the things you wanted.  You called the grocery store, gave them your list and they delivered it.  They put it on a bill and you paid the bill when you got your check.  If you did go to the grocery store yourself, you went with your list, stood at the counter and read off your list.  The man who owned the grocery store went and got all the items off the list and added up the bill.  You either put it on the tab, or if you were real real flush, you could pay for it yourself.  I can remember going to the grocery store for my mother when we lived in Minetto and the grocer, who naturally knew who I was, he never gave her any poor cuts of meat or anything that wasn’t top rate because he knew I’d be right back with it.

Dad and George Sutterton [sp?] had found a honey tree.  I don’t if it had blown down or they gave it a little push.  Anyway, he brought home a washtub full of honey and we separated it by breaking it up into pans and bringing it to a boil so all the wax came to the top.  Then we took the wax off and had the honey.  I never used sugar again for a long time, while we had the honey.  I used it for all of our cooking and sweetening things.  It made the best bread, oh boy.  He and George used to go frog hunting too.  We’d have frog legs.  I don’t know how you kids reacted to eating them, but they sure were delicious.  Your father, of course, would eat anything.  He indoctrinated us so we decided frog legs were really a delicacy … which they are.

Jim and Paul would go to Loomis’ farm and bring back, I don’t how many, gallons of milk at a time.  Then I would pasteurize the milk. We had a little pasteurizer that allowed you to do one gallon at a time.  And that milk was so rich there was always cream for whipping.  Before that, we would get milk from Douglaston Manor.  That always had a collar of cream on it.  You could whip the cream right off the collar of the milk.  In the winter time, it would freeze the top part of the bottles, about 2 inches high.  You could just cut it off and you kids would love to get a hunk of that.  I think God provided pretty well for us with groceries.  I don’t ever remember anybody going hungry.  But, I didn’t cook an awful lot and you kids didn’t bring home company without letting me know because I cooked just enough meat that there was one serving for everybody and two for dad.  And if they did bring home company, even if I knew about it, they had to share their dessert with the company because there was never enough for an extra person.  Gosh, you kids didn’t have it so great did you?  Not for entertaining.  When I think of Anita and how she can fit in four or five extra ones at any time, it’s amazing!

One time, there was a train wreck over in Mexico and dad went over and got, I don’t know how many, cases of Oxheart Peanut Butter.  So you kids grew up on Oxheart Peanut Butter.  That went a long way.  I got peanut butter the other day that has no sugar in it and you have to stir it up when you get it.  Mary said, oh my gosh that’s just like the Oxheart Peanut Butter.  I hadn’t remembered that it came with the oil all on top, but apparently it did.


Most of the things that happened to you all in your childhood are all written down in my diaries.  Readily available.  I don’t think I missed a day in a great many years.  At the time, those things seemed everyday and what was the sense of writing them down.  And yet now, when you go back and read them, things really change.  I even wrote down what we had to eat that day.  Then I stopped doing that because I noticed it was the same thing over and over again.  I guess I wasn’t too imaginative when it came to feeding my family.  But I had to write something down.  The weather, of course, always and all the important things that happened to you guys.

After nanny’s father died, they brought all the furniture from the place in White Plains.  It completely furnished two apartments.  Nanny had one of them and her sister Lucy had the other one.  So that’s where most of my antiques have come from, from nanny through mother and down to me.  The little drop leaf table was one and the little chair beside it was one of twelve.  The memory of that little chair was of Mary when she was a baby.  She stood up in the chair and tipped over and she broke her arm.  They had no money to get her arm set so she always had trouble with her arm.  It was a little bit crooked.  The table in the reception hall is another one that was nanny’s and Edward had it.  After Edward died, it came to me.

So many things as I look around.  My dining room furniture was first my mother’s.  I remember her buy it, probably the mid 30s.  Also the drum top table she bought at the same time.  She bought lamps for the buffet, which were quite erotic.  They were two naked ladies holding up a round glass dome and I was … helping … and broke one of them.  I don’t think she was ever able to replace it.  I don’t know whatever happened to the mate.  I was not an easy child to raise, I’m sure.  My ideas were not her ideas, which is often the way with mothers and daughters.  She was a very dress conscience lady and I didn’t care if I had any clothes on or not.  Clothes were the last thing in life’s priorities.

The table in the corner that had the TV on it was our water stand in the Minetto kitchen.  It came from Nanny’s family from White Plains.  I remember it standing in the corner of the kitchen.  We had running water of course, but this was the drinking water.  We used to have to walk to the corner of Crown Avenue with a pale, pump the water and bring it home.  I often met my dad as he was coming home from work at noon.  He would take the empty pale, pump the water and carry the pale of water home.  Mary refinished the stand for me quite a few years ago.  She did a real nice job on it.

So many memories … It was a good life.

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