Thursday, February 24, 2011

Winters in the City 1940-42

We moved from our home at 3513 Greenview Avenue in Chicago to the 180 Acre farm in Hebron, IL. in 1940. When time came to return to school our parents decided it utmost importance we be enrolled in Parochial School. We would  be spending the winter months in Chicago. Elayne would be a high school freshman. Daddy rented a place in an ethnic Italian Chicago neighborhood on Seminary Avenue. These were Indian Summer days as the school year began. I recall many of the families were sitting out on porches and speaking to each other in Italian. We left that neighborhood. I didn’t know why. Jimmy tells me there were bed bugs in the  quarters we had rented. So next we set up housekeeping in the area of Belmont and Clark, further south from the Greenview Avenue dwelling. Mother and Dad found  a small, cozy   coach house,  end of a short driveway behind the main house. The address was on Cambridge Avenue. I was happy there. I often jumped rope with neighbors on the sidewalk out front. One of my classmates, Moira Barretsmith lived a block away. Her father was an interior decorator. Their home had many mirrored walls.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Grammar School

I attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel 720 W. Belmont Avenue with Billy which was 1 1/2 to 2 blocks away. I was in the 8th grade. Jimmy attended public school kindergarten. Catholic Schools had no Kindergarten classrooms in the 1930s and 40s. Girls wore uniforms, white blouse and navy blue skirts which were very comfortable. My sister attended St. Scholastica High School at 810 W. Wellington, basically in the neighborhood. We lived very close to Lincoln Park Arboretum and Zoo, an easy walk. The neighborhood east of our school was rich to ritzy. Going west on Belmont were many businesses. 

I had a lovely nun, a Sister of Mercy, for my eighth  grade teacher.
I don't recall her name.

Dribbling ball in gym at OLOMC
OLOMC had its own gymnasium where we played basketball. At least once we had a visiting team. I recall traveling to St. Mary’s Des Plaines to play an away game. This was fun, interesting, exciting.

Monsignor Casey had a limo. One time he picked me up and I had my first limo ride sitting on the drop down seat in the rear. Could have been on the trip back from Des Plaines.

Of course, 8th Grade, I was noticing boys. What intrigued me was a classmate, Constance, whom the boys seemed to find attractive. She had boobs, I remember that now when I look back. She was cute, too.

The diocesan schools had an art contest with the theme being the war. My poster won some award. The scene I drew I titled-- On Land, In the Sea, and in the Air-- . 

We had Food Rationing

Some of our foods were already rationed in 1940-41. We needed food stamp books and also stamps for the gasoline we used to make the commute back and forth to Hebron. Conservation was very important.

This little home had a pantry. While mixing up a chocolate cake in the pantry  on its countertop, one evening after school, I spilled the measuring cup of sugar onto the floor. Mother was extremely put out.  Now our family had only what was left of our ration of sugar. 

We had taken our bunk beds, dad had built for us, with us for the winter months. They were easy to disassemble and reassemble. I recall for the first time in my life I had difficulty sleeping or would stay awake part of the night partly because all six of us were in a small space I am thinking. I believe there was a pull down, a Murphy bed in the wall of the living room.

After Christmas, on the 27th, the family, w/o dad, drove out to Hebron for the weekend as usual. Before going out to the farm mother stopped at the Hebron Post Office which she routinely did to pick up the week's mail. She found a telegram which had not been delivered as we wouldn’t be found home at our rural address. Mother was very disturbed but even more so when she opened it and read the message of her mother’s sudden death on the 27th, that would be this very day. Christmas holidays would have been advantageous for us in coping with the funeral arrangements. I am projecting. When dad came out on the train Friday evening we would pack up and leave for Milwaukee. The Wake was at Brett Funeral Home on Wisconsin Avenue and the Funeral Mass at Gesu and burial at Calvary Cemetery beside her husband and son John and other members of the Morris family. Afterwards we had ample time to be with our extended family in grandmother's home on Highland Avenue and to share memories with one another before returning to our schools after the holiday vacation. 

 December 1940          

 S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
 1  2  3  4  5  6  7
 8  9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31

We left Chicago for the farm once again that May in 1941 for the summer. We attended the Burgett one room school for  the school year’s end. Arrangements were made for me to return for my graduation with my 8th grade class at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Graduation weekend I stayed over one night with Moira and again with a wealthy classmate who lived in an elevator building near the lake. I do recall her face and light brown frizzy hair. I think her name is Lois. If only I could draw.

The following year, 1941/42 when I am 14 years old we returned once more to Chicago for the winter and spring seasons. Once again we would spend only weekends in Hebron at the farm.
Senn High School

Elayne and I enrolled in Senn High school. We walked the mile or so daily to and from a nice apartment the family was renting at Foster and Ashland. Dad assured the owners his children would be respectful of the property. We proved to be. 
Our Lady of Lourdes School and Convent

Jim was now in 1st grade at Our Lady of Lourdes, our old school, and Bill was in the 7th grade. I found this picture since mentioning the school in another blog. 

Each morning at Senn High School  pupils met in designated Freshman homerooms for announcements, etc. I recall there being an enrollment of 5000 boys and girls. The school was huge. My Freshman section had a tall, handsome, dark haired, young Jewish fellow for our class president. I fell for this guy for sure. We were back once again in the neighborhood where Elayne and I lived as newborns and toddlers. 
Savings Stamp Book

Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, my Freshman year. In homeroom we had the opportunity to purchase stamps for our savings books. They held $18.75 when filled. When the savings matured the amount would be $25.00. I could purchase 1 stamp, a page of stamps, a book of.

I had one class, General Science, never in our grade school curriculum, which I found stimulating. We had a project where we studied all about our resource, water, it’s importance, where it comes from, how its is made available to populations, etc. Finally, we had this activity where we were to present a project of our making having something to do with what was being studied. My daddy had time after work these winter months to enthusiastically help me with my project. His engineering skills were fired up. We made a pump from a broad glass tube, black rubber corks with wholes through the center and inserted glass tubing. It was just the greatest little pump in the whole wide world and to top it all off it actually pumped water. This was a show-off success. I proudly kept it for years. 

I took Freshman Home Economics, also, very basic and a lifelong usable project. I learned to make a proper white sauce, thin, medium and thick, to cook veggies in a minimum of water so not to dissolve out their valuable minerals, etc. And I also learned a lot about constructing clothes, making my first skirt.

I want to make stronger note of the free time we had for 8 school months. Time to relax, minimum chores, explore the neighborhood, the city. We would usually drive out to the farm on weekends weather obliging. Even then there wouldn’t be pressing, obligatory, responsible chores.  Us kids would be crowded in the back seat for the hour or so. I never did figure out what and where we got the game 'Here comes the clutch'. We'd say the line and giggle as we pounced on another's lap.

Our parish, too,  once again was Our Lady of Lourdes. We would have these teen dance parties on Fridays. I believe I mentioned earlier I met in small group with Fr. Runkle [he had a sister, Pat, in Elayne's class] at the Rectory. We would read together a piece from the New Testament, talk about it, and decide on some action we might take at school. I don't know if this were part of Fr. Daniel Lord's scheme [he was big among teens these years] or YCS. I do know that one day a few years later I came in on the train with my dad to attend a day at an annual youth rally at the Morrison Hotel. This would be Fr.Daniel Lord's doings. Charged up my faith for sure. I have a hunch it was precursor to the strong apostolic agendas which emerged out of Chicago's youth from this era.  
Was this the pre-Christmas period when  mother worked at Marshal Fields? I can come back to the blog entries and make changes. If I have other input I will surely do so. Help. Help.

Jim wrote- I have no way of knowing where we were during the Xmas of '41 that led me to the conclusion that Grandmother died then, [she died December 27, 1940 so that would be on Cambridge Ave.] other than I just remember coming into the apt. at Foster and Ashland (Mr. and Mrs. Hummel - "Tell me little one, Does you like the Kunntrry?") a day or so maybe after Christmas had passed, and opening gifts, one of which was a kind of Army truck with a mounted cannon that fired wooden red slugs. [What a nice memory, I hadn’t this] So, actually Auntie Maime [July 12, 1940] she died within several months of each other.  I don't see how it could have been determined but it was said that she died in her rocking chair presumably with a copy of Adeste Fidelis in her lap or some such, hence she must have been singing that most precious carol when she expired. [oh my gosh, Jim this memory is priceless]

By agreement with Sr. Eugenis, I was to come into the city on the 1st Sunday in June, 1942, to receive my 1st Holy Communion, by myself, with a chair and kneeler for me on the altar. Mother took me with Dad's train ticket in on the Sat. before, wherein we stayed overnite at my Dad's sister's apartment. [Our Aunt Veronica Bergin] who lived near Wrigley Field. As you guessed by now I could go on and on with what seems so necessary to tell-"


Dance Floor

Aragon Ballroom 1100 W. Lawrence Ave.
I remembered how at least 2 times we went to the Aragon Ballroom, more or less in our neighborhood. I suppose it is not that much more elegant than the theaters of this era. I recall lights above which I thought must have been  that large rotating  ball. From the picture I can see stars or lights in the ceiling. The description below explains how 2 young girls could have visited here alone. Trianon Ballroom was on the south side of Chicago. Aragon in our neighborhood.
 Much of this success lay, as it had at the Trianon, in management's ability to maintain high standards of conduct among patrons. Men were obligated to wear jackets and ties, women semi-formal evening wear. Smoking was prohibited on the second level. And tuxedoed floorwalkers prevented close dancing or jitterbugging. The Aragon's elegance and orderliness contrasted sharply with the more youthful and trendy atmosphere at the neighborhood's other major dance hall, the Arcadia Ballroom

Monday, February 14, 2011

FarmLifeBegins in 1940

The farm had tenants living in the house, Lester Erckfritz and his wife, Bertha, and red-haired toddler Ginger. His brother, Frank,  with wife Cora, daughters, Bertie and Eleanor later moved in, too. And next a cousin, Artie, also lived in the house. Dad had divided the house for we would be driving out from Chicago on weekends. Our weekend visits were much like camping out. 
Eleanor, Bertie, MK, Elayne

Little 7 yr. old Eleanor was a pest most of the time. She had

nothing to do but hang around us, follow us, and we didn't 

know how to shake her presence. Bertie, our age,  was a 

companion to talk with and share. Artie was our age, too.

We kept warm with a brown, metal, oil heater with black pipes through the ceiling. We used a hot plate to prepare our meals. There were no electric outlets along the walls. Cora loved to bake so we frequently bought yummy desserts from her. We ate lots of Irish stew cooked in a Wearever aluminum pot on the electric hot-plate. I cannot conceive how these 2 families could live in so small a space-- but they did. Times were hard for them. Never heard loud arguing. Again these were survival days for many folk. 
Dry Sink with Pump

The families had the house kitchen, without running water but did have a dry sink with a cistern pump on the right side of it. I think this pumped rain water. We had pails to collect any liquids waste including  dish water. We called these slop pails and when full we carried the heavy pail about the distance of a short block to the hog pen and dumped it into their food troughs. Oink, oink, oink, grunt, grunt, grunt. They loved this stuff. There was a board path to the outhouse which all of us shared. I think the men frequently relieved themselves around the place. Yuk! 
Windmill beside Milk House

There was a windmill pumping water for household and stock. We would throw a lever found at one of the legs to control the wind. Days of little wind the men had a small gas engine turned on to do the pumping. The windmill was close by the house and  the small  Milk House was beside it which contained the large cement tank holding the cold water pumped by the windmill to cool quickly the milk cans filled with milk from the morning or evening milkings and awaiting pickup by a milk truck transport to the Borden milk plant in town.

I cannot recall whether these men hand milked the cows in the barn. I am not remembering milking machines.  
Early picture of the house w/o Bridal Wreath Bushes
Corner of horse barn in right rear view
Our father purchased 2 huge, dapple gray Belgian horses. They were kept side by side in their stalls in this large, gray horse barn. There was a hay manger front of each where we were to keep their hay. We also had to feed them oats from a bag we’d hang over their noses. You may have heard grandfather say he didn’t want animals around unless they were useful. We did put this pair to work, literally workhorses.

Our team was grey. The harnesses are correct

They had large and heavy harnesses which had to be slung over their mighty bodies, and don large collars. Today I wouldn’t have a clue how to put them on. Elayne and I did harness them up. After harnessing we would lead them from the barn and hitch them up to this horse drawn cultivator to work the garden soil. Several times a hoof would step upon my foot so I became very leery how to lead one. Wow, this could hurt! I cannot recall their names. What sticks in my memory is their huge size, their dapple gray coloring, thick hairy manes and tails.  I wonder now if dad didn’t get rid of them because they were so large and posed a danger for his children.  Anyway, we would do our cultivating chore, return them to the horse barn, unharness them, give them an oats reward. Where was the water? I do not recall. There was a cow tank across the yard near the cow yard. Jim writes:

 "The horses names were Teddy & Betty, a mother & son combo, who really didn't get enough workout, and hence were quite unruly. Pat Seaman eventually took them as he had lots more work for them on a daily basis - just what they needed to calm them."
My father used the team a great deal. He had this horse drawn shovel or scoop to which he often hitched them. With their help he changed the entire landscape of that yard, from the house to the barn. He’d dig and scoop, dig and scoop, for months until he had a beautifully landscaped yard. In our high school years there were times after a heavy rain, as I slept with my head into the window by my bed I ‘d become aware of strange sounds, heavy breathing, munching, coughs, footsteps and I‘d awaken realizing some cattle had broken through fencing. I’d proudly rouse the household. This was a very sensuous thing for me. The soil dad worked had not yet compacted. I’d drive the cattle out of the yard and onto the road having to take my steps, up and down and knee deep in slushy muddy yard. Was no fun the next day when we had to mend fence, wire stretchers and all that.  Eventually, we tore down the horse barn. We planted trees all about the property. Years later Dad would plant evergreens which grew to a forest and were broken into lovely homesites when the property was sold in the 70s. 
I am wearing the skirt I made in Home Ec Class
The long row of Bridal Wreath, one of our first upgrading tasks, was so beautiful each Spring. They grew shoulder high. We purchased another big bunch of them to plant along an expanse on the south of the yard at right angle to the gravel road out front.  I stretched out a guideline and proceeded to dig my holes and plant the shrubs. When dad came home, recall he was a gentleman farmer and daily took the train to Chicago, he was indeed surprised. The small shrubs were in a straight line all right, but they were lined up probably in a 110 degree angle from the road. We had to remove each and every one and correct to a right angle.  I thought I’d been especially helpful. This was an early learn a lesson time. Elayne could have been out there with me. I don't think so. She was usually the ‘boss’. I think the energy came from my own idea to do it myself.
Mask, work gloves, and hair in kerchief

The house originally had a front porch attached. Could be it was sagging. Daddy didn’t like it and we tore it off. Next project was to remove the leaded paint from the house siding with wire brushes. We wore masks so not to inhale harmful lead. When the wood was wire brushed we next painted with linseed oil and finally with white house paint. Behind the rock foundation beneath where the porch had stood we filled in with gravelly soil and atop that with flagstone. These years many houses were painted white and frequently had green shutters. We never added shutters. The barn would be painted white.

After we moved to Hebron permanently dad had a chicken business to take care of. Dad would take a crate/s of candled eggs into his workplace. He would sell the fresh eggs to an appreciative city folk clientele. Must have been enough profit to be worthwhile. We had our own recipes which would differ depending on which birds were being fed, pullets, hens, roosters, chicks. We mixed our own mash in our cement mixer, ground oats, wheat, barley, meat scraps, egg shells, etc. They loved it with a little water added to make it chunky. I must get the quantity right for immediate use though. If too large a quantity of water the grains could mold and sometimes did. .

Often we were challenged to put the chicken heads to the block and chop off a head. Did you ever succeed, Elayne? I never, ever could. They were pets to me.

Mother had her Easy washing machine and her electric mangle it is true. I want to share how laborious Monday washdays were. I explained this house had a cellar. Out of it came each weeks washed clothing. 
Copper Wash Tub

We had a large copper boiler to fill with pails of water from the pump and then heat up. Mother would let us know when she needed to refill the boiler. This water would be transferred to her Easy, along with soap powders and we would then wash whites. We would move whites to the centrifugal basket to spin out the water back into the wash tub to be reused for coloreds. Now one could run faucet water into the centrifugal basket for the rinse but in our beginning there was no faucet. We needed more pails of water. Cold rinse. 
Umbrella lines by Chicken Coop

Once the whites were taken care of we would toss them into a lined bushel basket and carry it up the cement cellar steps, throw open the doors above our heads, out to the clothes line and hang to dry. We would use the same water to wash the coloreds and follow a similar procedure, next on to the darks, overalls, work socks, etc. We would be constantly working at the machine. One can surely understand one of the early projects dad engaged in was digging out more cellar to include a cement floored basement. Some days the clothes froze on the line. Some rainy days we fussed with the laundry all day long and then some. Hung out laundry rewarded us with the delightful fresh air aroma.

Eventually, we had a laundry space with wash tubs and faucets with running water and adjacent to this the underground garage area to park our car. That original cellar door was removed, gone.  Then we would enter and exit with the wash basket through the garage door opening. We used that Easy Machine for years. Dad grew weary of fixing things, maintenance. Mother never had an automatic washer and dryer. By the time these were in most every home we kids were raised and gone. They took their  laundry weekly to a laundromat in Richmond. 
Later Enter/Exit Basement Through Garage

The rear of the house probably didn’t look like this until 1945 and even later. Double garage basement door swings open on hinges . Overhead is a concrete floored rear porch which leads on the right to rear and side yard and on left leads to farm buildings. The kitchen door is shown. Window on right is the dining room window. Side of dining room beneath where the tree casts a shadow is where the old cellar door and cement stairway once was. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Family Anecdotes Chicago Years '36-'41

My Auntie Maime

I add this picture of our Auntie Maime Morris, my grandfather's sister. Here she is in her prime. She had been a life long teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Her hair was red, though not bright red, like Auntie Gladys Morris Dobeus. 

This comment below is from my all grown up little brother, Jim Bergin. It concerns her death as remembered by a 4 year old or 5  1/2 by my calculations.

Quite a "Looker" eh?
I can only remember being at her apartment (I guess it was) with the Collins
(from Chgo - the Morris cousins already resided in Milwaukee, so their
parents were able to come and go without their children)
cousins in the summer of 1940 I'm thinking, as my mother, her sisters 
brothers gathered to say their last good-byes while Auntie Maimie lay dying
of cancer I believe.  I had no idea she was so beautiful.  I was but 4+
years then and would have gone up to Milwaukee with my siblings from the
summer at the Hebron farm.
I was about to get this on its way, when it occurred to me that this was my
1st exposure to the concept of death.  We cousins were at times rather
crowded into the apt. confines while our parents were mourning and
comforting their very ill Aunt.  It was here as I recall that I learned such
sagacious verbalizations as "Want to fight??" Response: "Go join the Army!"
or, "Our Father who art in jail eating peanuts by the bale, Along came the
Holy Ghost, to see who in the Heck could eat the most!"  So there now, some
insight for you as to how one grows into such wise, loving, compassionate,
citizens of our world.  All of course quite innocent I should think for
confused, bored kids passing the time under such unusual circumstances.  By
way of disclaimer, I cite the above as the best of my recollections -
perhaps it's all in my dreams.
Our '36 Dodge no whitewalls, color grey

My own memory is of Elayne and I sitting out front of our Great Auntie’s  21st Street home in our car as she lay dying. Mother and Aunties were at her side. Mother came to the car and shared with us she was in excruciating pain. Was marijuana used or morphine or what else might have been administered to help her cope with pain? I do not recall that we were ever invited inside. Perhaps we chose this option. I believe I would need outside encouragement to be present at her deathbed.

Only one radio per household, of course

There were times our Uncle Michael [Mike] would ride the streetcar to visit us. His sister, our Great Auntie Maime now being deceased. She had been his caretaker for many years. He had suffered as a young man from polio. Now, in the 40’s Uncle Mike was living with the Collin's family, Chicago. He wasn't too welcome as far as we were concerned for he always hogged the radio to listen to Cubs and Socks games which times would eventually conflict with our kids show, Little Orphan Annie, Don Winslow. Tom Mix, Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy and Wheaties the Breakfast of Chanpions. Click here for a sample:

There were times our Uncle Michael [Mike] would ride the streetcar to visit us. His sister, our Great Auntie Maime now being deceased. She had been his caretaker for many years. He had suffered as a young man from polio. Now, in the 40’s Uncle Mike was living with the Collin's family, Chicago. He wasn't too welcome as far as we were concerned for he always hogged the radio to listen to Cubs and Socks games which times would eventually conflict with our kids show, Little Orphan Annie, Don Winslow. Tom Mix, Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy and Wheaties the Breakfast of Chanpions. Click here for a sample:

A favorite of mine was The Singing Lady

Irene Wicker, better known to her radio listening audiences of the 1930s and '40s as The Singing Lady, hosted a long-running kids show on network radio. Though not much is documented about her pioneering success, here a few lesser known tidbits about her and the show we'd thought you'd like to know:

1. The Kellogg Company sponsored "The Singing Lady," beginning in 1931. The show was billed as the nation's first radio network program for children.

2. In 1932, Kellogg hosted a promotion where listeners could send in cereal box tops for copies of The Singing Lady's Songbook. The contest was a runaway hit.

3. At the 1934 Chicago World's Fair, when famed crooner Mel Torme was about ten years old, he won the children's section of a singing contest which was judged by "The Singing Lady." Today, she is still credited with Torme's early success. When she began a new radio soap opera called "Song of the City," she remembered Torme and cast him in a singing and acting role, thus catapulting him to child stardom.

4. The show itself was always hosted by Wicker, who was known for her melodic and soothing voice. And while the show's title would lead the average listener to believe that songs were the program's predominant draw, Wicker actually devoted a large amount of airtime to storytelling.

5. Wicker adapted many classic and popular tales for her child audience--including the works of Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens, as well as myths and mysteries.

6. In 1935, Kellogg published When the Great Were Small, an educational book intended to inspire children to the pursue the greatness of the artists and musicians who were their predecessors....

7. For her devoted work in children's media, Irene Wicker was awarded a Peabody Award, a distinction for outstanding achievement in radio and television. in 1960.

Easy Spin Washer

With his new employment Daddy was providing nice things for mother.  So nice to have a few modern conveniences to assist women with housework. We bought an Easy Spin Washer. [In 1951 I had my own Easy, a first purchase after Bruce and I married.]
A Modern Mangle

We bought an electric Mangle for ironing our clothing and mother became quite proficient in its use even ironing dad's dress shirts. Along came Permanent Press and nylon and dacron cotton, fibers which wouldn't require ironing making it gradually almost obsolete.

Another convenience we bought was a Kenmore Cabinet Electric sewing machine.
Change in its use came about with imported clothing that was inexpensive, stylish, so that no longer was sewing one's own a big advantage over store purchases, unless one had designer talent. Now used mainly for mending and crafts such as quilting, etc.

There were times we visited old friends, the Blaineys in Glen Ellyn. The parents were friends from University years. We were longtime friends with their children. See this early snapshot. 
RuthMarie and  Lois Blaney
Friendships with classmates, and others were maintained. My parents would occasionally go out for the night or take a weekend for a Marquette Homecoming. One of these weekends when a few of us were dawdling about or playing in the backyard a guy from school hung a 1/3 full white paint pail on a branch of a deciduous bush growing beside the neighbors garage. Somehow the branch was twitched and the paint splat out on my head all over my hair. Our caregiver had some explaining to do.

I usually was involved in the preparations for the evening out for mother would need a new dress. I ‘d be there to help her make her decision. The Morris/Kirbys and especially grandmother was a shopper and a dresser. This wiped off on my mother. And my Aunt Florence, too, had a flare for clothes. Even when the family had little of this world’s goods Auntie Florence would sew so the girls could wear nice, stylish clothes. I enjoyed shopping with mother. She often bought her clothes at some small dress shop. She loved pretty hats. A number of times she would have a matching dress and hat made up special for her. Recall grandmother Morris, Kathryn Kirby Morris, had worked in millenary after arriving in Minnesota from her home in Bruff, Ireland. Or mother would have something old of her own remade so to be stylish. She did this with her black Persian Lamb fur. One time she had an overcoat of my dad’s remade as a winter coat for my sister. She even did this with our monks cloth drapery. 

Sears Catalog was frequently in use. Our parents would choose clothing items, order by phone and have them delivered. Christmas was quite different now. One year mother ordered many pieces of clothing from Penney’s, had them delivered and wrapped without our being aware. And then there was a time she was able to land a sales job at Marshall Field’s for the Christmas season. She used her earnings to restock our linen closet, sheets, towels, washcloths, tablecloths, the whole nine yards. These purchases would last us a long, long time thereafter. 
Grandmother and Granddad Morris Visit in Chicago

Our Grandparents visited us a few times. Grandad would just take off and drive down from Milwaukee.  The woman , rear, could be Auntie Maime. I remember the Aunties chiding him for driving. Was this a concern for his heart? They didn’t want any accident. Then he died of a heart attack September  30, 1938., less than 2 years after we left Milwaukee.  
We continued to visit Grandmother occasionally in her home on Highland, Milwaukee and other family members, too.  She often said after Granddad died that she would have conversations with her John in their bedroom. Which to me meant he would appear, though dead.

Map of Downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Downtown Milwaukee
Downtown Neighborhood showing all the familiar streets where grew to 8 years and visited often

This map available for your use

  I don’t know what year it was when the adjacent 12th and Highland corner  home was torn down and leased out to a filling station. And today won't do you any good at all to drive over to 12th and Highland. The corner no longer exists. It has been absorbed into an interstate Highway 43. One can follow where the old neighborhood was by locating Marquette, U. Wisconsin Avenue, 12th street, Highland, Juneau all in a mesh of freeways. It is a downtown neighborhood. Lake Michigan is on the right. 
Mary, Douglas, Baby Karen, Alice, and Barbara Morris
     My Morris cousins  lived  in the flat above Grandmother. Same home I lived in when I was in 1st Grade. They are all here now and a sweet childhood portrait. Mary, on left my favorite. Don't think she knew.
12 years old and my Surprise Birthday Party- October 1939
Shirley was growing up along with me
Mother and Elayne planned to have a special birthday party for me. They made artsy favors, planned a nice menu and invited my classmates from Our Lady of Lourdes, plus special neighbors. All this was done without my having one iota of awareness. Seems impossible their project could have been so well hidden. Wouldn’t a party be something very special for an 11 year old turning 12? 
To distract me I was told that mother and I would have a very special date when I returned from school in the afternoon on October 2nd. Plan was she and I would attend a Shirley Temple movie. They got that right. Shirley was growing up along with me. There was possibly nothing in this whole wide world I would have wanted on my birthday more than this.  

When I walked through the front door in excited anticipation I was greeted with a chorus of voices singing out “Happy Birthday” from the living room filled with friends. I was surprised all right and at the same time I was disappointed. Now this would require a true escape to Raggedy Ann and the smile stitched on her face. I needed to hide my feelings pronto. Did I? There would be no Shirley Temple film though it’s possible we saw it later that month. We set about enjoying the party, the food, the games, the decor. Then that time arrived to open birthday presents. The interesting comment I have about the gift openings is that at least every other package opened was a pair of nylons. Nylons had taken the country by storm. I could cast off the rayon stockings. I was becoming a woman. I share this piece of research I found: "Nylons," as they were soon called, eventually replaced silk stockings [rayon for girls my age or worse cotton]. Neither resembled the "panty hose" many women wear today. Covering only about two-thirds of a woman’s leg, from the feet to mid-thigh, stockings were fastened with garters and a belt. They were knitted on highly complex machines. Women could buy them in either "full-fashioned" form with seams at the back or "seamless." 
I was soon to discover those seams were just about impossible for a 12 year old to keep straight, especially one who skips and runs and dances everywhere she goes. Good thing we always changed into our play clothes after school.