When we … children in the 1940’s were “LUCKY” – – to have a “MAMA” – – that would take the time to read – – as in those days – – there was no “TV” to park your children.
WE had in our Living Room… a “Davenport” – – that is a sofa that would open up – – into a very large bed – – but during the day and no company that would spend a week or so with us – – we would sit in a row – – with MOM in the middle and she would start to read to us.
One special thing about my MOM – – was that she would change her voice to indicate a child speaking or whatever the story would require. Another thing when reading – – there was no word that she could not say – – and every story would come to LIFE in our minds – – as we could see exactly what the “author” of that book wanted us to see – – to really understand fully the story.
The one story that – I really remember more so than any other is of little “Hiawatha” – – – especially when MOM would be reading…
A much-anthologized excerpt begins: “On the shores of Gitche Gumee, / Of the shining Big Sea Water, / Stood Nokomis, the old woman, / Pointing with her finger westward, / O’er the water pointing westward, / To the purple clouds of sunset.”
and as this was coming to LIFE – these poems of “LONGFELLOW” – – just found a permanent place in my brain – – so that when I had my children and they were very young – – I also bought the same book… “HIAWATHA” – – and my MOTHER also read the same story – – just the way she read it to me – – and to this day – – I still have the book – – as worn out as it is – – it is a real treasure to me!
For those that want an idea of this great story of little “HIAWATHA” – – have it added for you … listen if you like?
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When we were this age… our parents would come and get us…and take the three different buses – – that were required to arrive at our HOME – for any HOLIDAY…and also… there were a few extra trips to our HOME…that we were able to do – – – since – – there were times …when my FATHER – – would just show up…at the Orphanage …and tell the NUNS to get his children ready – – as he was taking us HOME!
The above photo could be… 1947 or 1948… and I am taking this photo! That is my brother, Tommy on the left – then DADDY – – next is my brother, DENNY – – and then… that is my MOTHER – – and as you can see – – – it must be very COLD – – because…my MOM is freezing …as she is just trying to keep warm.
As I …was… one of those kids …that just knew how to get …by bus…wherever she needed to be… in the last two years of our living in the Orphanage – – my FATHER and MOTHER did not need to come to get us – – as we could take the buses ourselves…HOME! Even before that…there were a couple of times…when someone needed to see the “EYE DOCTOR” in the downtown Saint Louis area – – and I would take that child to the Eye Doctor.
In the last couple of years at the Orphanage – – my MOTHER needed someone to cut the grass at her HOME…and so on Saturday…after having done all my chores…I would receive the buss fare – – and off, I went HOME…to cut the grass and whatever other work…that my MOTHER would need to have done. So…on Sunday evening…I would take the same three buses …back to the Orphanage.
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Talking about “Easter Times” – reminds me that Easter was not only about Easter Baskets and Chocolate Bunnies and colored eggs – but that there is a reason for us to celebrate by going to Church. When I was born, my family lived across the street from the Perpetual Help Church and when my Mother was expecting my brother Denny – it was time for us – a growing family – to find a larger place, so we moved to the new location before Denny Jr. was born.
So, after several moves, we once more moved back to the North Saint Louis area – and we were again in the Perpetual Help Parish and of course at this time – I was old enough to go to school at P.H. – that’s what we called the school. When you go to a Catholic School – there are NUNS and you start to learn all about “Jesus” and also your part in participating as a good Catholic child should.
In those days – 1940s – you did a lot of walking – something that children and their parents do not do too much of today??? Of course – there was WWII going on and we in America were all doing our duty – that – being to give up on all of the “Luxuries” that we could have had – to the “WAR” effort. We wanted to be “WINNERS!” So, I was walking to and from School each and every day – and the walk was several blocks long.
It was very important – also for me to be in Church every Sunday – as the Nun that we had – would ask on Monday – when you were in School – “Did you go to Church and was your family with you?” Also – in those days – there were lots of extra functions that took place on the School Playgrounds – and if you did not get to Church for the Sunday Bulletin – “HOW would you ever know what was going on?” You did need the weekly bulletin for… The Bing-go’s – Friday night Fish Fries – Picnics – and all the important Church activities – Weddings – Births – Christenings – and Deaths.
Well, I guess that I must have felt like a big girl – as for this “EASTER SUNDAY” – I received a mustard color of yellow tweed suit – something extra special for the whole day to wear – but I had to wear it first to services on “EASTER” – and if you are old enough – you know that whenever you got new shoes, clothes and or anything special – you wore it first to Church. They didn’t tell me why – but now that I am older – I guess it would be nice to let the “True Giver” of all good gifts to see you – and so you could give HIM – a special thanks!
So, it is “Easter Sunday” and my family is as I am – getting ready for Church and then – off we go- I do not remember how many blocks that we would walk – but it was a very beautiful day! The Sun was out shining and we were enjoying the walk and as kids, skipping around as my parents walk and talked and finally there we were in Church – and since it was Easter Sunday – it could have taken a little longer than an hour?
“WOW!” What a difference an hour makes – when we started for home – all of a sudden a heavy “Spring Shower” hit – and we had no umbrellas! We were getting wet – and all of us in our Sunday Best – just getting soaked – faster and nice and wet – so my DAD said, “Head for the Drug Store- up on the next corner – we will take cover there!” The “Shower” didn’t last too long – but for my new little suit – it was shrinking? There was a silk or satin liner inside for the suit to hold its shape – but this suit was not suppose to get all wet – for cleaning – it should go the “Cleaners” – so that they could clean it – to keep its nice shape!
That was one “Easter” that I’ll never forget – as all that I ever had for years later was the little yellow purse – the suit – I never saw again and never ever wore a second time!
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One of the very first “Easter’s” that I remember being a part of – was back in the 1940’s. We had moved into the North Saint Louis area and lived very close to the Carter and Linton Avenue bus line- but if it were not available – instead of just waiting – we would walk on down the hill to Grand Avenue and take the Grand Avenue Trolley Car to Olive Street. When we got off the “Street-Car” – we were in the “MID-TOWN” area and there were all kinds of good shopping.
At that very location “Grand Avenue and Olive” – we left the Street-Car and went right into the biggest “Woolworth’s 5&10 Store” – only a few steps – at that corner – and so many sweet and enticing “Smells ” – you just knew that they had something good and you would want it! This was the place that my MOM was going to get all of the “EASTER” Surprises’ – for my two brothers and me. When we were traveling on the STREET-Car – my MOM was whispering in my ear what her plans were and that everything that she was getting – would need to be a big surprise for little Denny and Tommy – I would get to see when I would help her put it all together – but that I would have to act very surprised, too!
Since I was the eldest and always right there to help – I was LUCKY – that I would get to know how and why – before things happened. And – of course, I have always been able to act surprised – as I guess I was just so surprised just to be born – if you see my baby picture – you would say the same thing – “she looks very surprised to be born??”
While we were in the “Woolworth s’ 5&10”- My Mom took us throughout the store – just so I would know where she would be doing her shopping and so that I would not be in that area – when she was buying and having the “Easter” stuff wrapped. Everything that she was getting – baskets- candies- little yellow chicks – Chocolate bunnies and eggs – and lots of special items that she thought we would like – but all – must be a surprise to my brothers. So when she had everything wrapped and bagged – my Mother came to the place she told me to be with my brothers – and then, we left the store.
We caught the Grand Avenue Street-car and traveled back to Carter Avenue and we were in LUCK – to catch the Bus going up the hill. Once – home we played and when evening came had our dinner and my brothers went to bed – and then the “FUN” started for me! My Mother started with boiling water to “HARD COOK” eggs – then she had some small dishes with different colors of egg dyes – and when we had all the eggs ready – that would be the time for me to do the coloring. There was some kind of a clear color pencil that my MOM told me to write my brothers names on the eggs and draw some designs or lines around the eggs and put those aside till it was time for the coloring??
This is where I was really surprised – After I dipped the eggs in a dish of color – whatever I wrote on the egg began to appear – and since I had done this – my MOM said that all this was done by the “make believe” – “EASTER BUNNY” since it looked just like his writing We had so much “FUN” pretending to be the “EASTER BUNNY” – and so when this was all ready with the baskets and everything put in the surprise place – there was one more thing to do – to make it really look just right??
Since I usually got up before anyone in the family I tip- toed through the house and found my MOM – she was in the kitchen putting on the coffee for her and DAD. Mom took me to the front door and opened it just enough – so that a very nice “pre-tend” “BUNNY RABBIT” could come in and out with our baskets and everything as MOM had it all laid out – just as if the “Bunny” did it – “HIMSELF!”
So, I ran as fast as I could through the house to my brother’s bedroom and woke them up and had them get out of bed just as they were and come look – at the “Front Door” to see that our front door was left open – just so the “BUNNY” could bring all of this good stuff in – just for us! They just could hardly believe what they saw – each of us had a basket full of good stuff – plus all of the hard colored eggs that I made and they were so “HAPPY” – as we never had anything like this happen before. We all tried to figure out – “How did that ole “BUNNY” get into our house with all of this nice stuff – – just for us???”
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