Monday, April 25, 2011


Jim: " believe it was in the Fall of '48 when dad resigned from American Printing Ink Company [by then it had been bought out by Sun Chemical]. He didn't return to the Chicago commute until the Horse Meat Scandal of early '52 as I recall." When he returned he was employed by the University of IL in their food testing laboratory downtown Chicago. He frequently brought tested meat samples home for us, knowing of their high quality,  to be used rather than waste.

September, 1948, I must return to Mount Mary a week before the other students to attend classes in Student Leadership and to help guide Freshman Registration. I would be chairman of Sodality Spirituality Committee. Actually  I had so little to do. Mainly be present at the sodality meetings. One responsibility was to pin a daily inspirational message to the bulletin board along the corridor wall in the college  basement.
Chapel 2nd floor, Notre Dame Hall
We had our own chapel which I hadn't mentioned previously. I had attended morning Mass the past 3 years most every day. Someone would pass through the residence hall each morning, open our door if I was on the early list ,and give out with a wake up call. Attendance was not obligatory, however. We wore a small white veil on our heads.We would wear our caps and gowns in chapel when attending Sunday Mass. Through the years past graduates frequently arranged to have their weddings in the college chapel. This was the year we had a television set up in the Student Lounge in Notre Dame Hall, only TV in the 2 buildings. Some days  we would have a String Quartet perform in the lounge through the noon hour for music appreciation. Mother would send a dollar in her letters occasionally. We had a book store/gift shop. She experienced some frustration when I would spend the money on a gift to take home to her. Purchasing and then giving a gift pleased me so much.

More now about Bob Durocher from Marquette Univ.I continued to meet Bob at the mixers this new semester and we became college friends, for sure. By my Senior year and the days following I had totally dismissed Bruce from my life. No anger, he was just history. Bob Durocher worked some jobs to pay his way in school and make spending money which he didn't hesitate to spend on me. One job was very greasy working at an auto station. I would frequently ride into town on the bus, meet him at his place of work as he was leaving. He'd need to go home and clean up. He lived in a home with other Marquette guys with a house mother and father- chosen by the University. Turned out to be such a friendly household. We would all sit around and visit together. I visited there most every weekend for a long time. One of Bob's housemates, Danny Donovan, gave me my first ride in an airplane, a 2 seater, open cockpit. It was great. He pointed out stuff on the ground beneath us. Danny was a blond hunk of a guy. I think he knew it. He had a beautiful, genuine blond, steady girlfriend, eventually engaged. Gorgeous couple. One job Bob had was playing his huge bass in gigs. He was quite musical. I shared with mother and dad  that Bob had been adopted by his aunt and uncle. They didn’t like that story at all. When we had our Spring retreat I had a meeting with the retreat master to discuss  my parent's attitude. Since he was Catholic, a university student, we cared for each other the priest took our side rather than parental side. My parents were outraged. I believe this is about the first time they came to realize the Catholic Educators total philosophy might not coincide with their parental and family philosophy. The relationship with Bob was the greatest for he would call me every single evening that entire school year. We had only one phone for the whole 4th floor. The phone would ring, somebody answer, and then shout down the hall ‘MaryKay’. I felt so popular now. In addition we would walk in from the bus line together weekend nights and hang around the ’grill’ in our residence basement , dance to the tunes someone had playing on the jukebox until curfew time. He must leave the premises at 11 PM and I would go upstairs to my room. Got lots of popular exposure in the Grill, too. Especially, I remember  ‘Harbor Lights’. Dedicated here to his memory.

The Lyrics:
Bob Durocher- thanks for great days
I saw those harbor lights
They only told me we were parting
The same old harbor lights that once brought you to me
I watched the harbor lights
How could I help if tears were starting
Goodbye to tender nights beside the silv'ry sea
 I long to hold you near and kiss you just once more
But you were on the ship and I was on the shore
 Now I know lonely nights
For all the while my heart is whisp'ring
Some other harbor lights will steal your love from me
 I long to hold you near and kiss you just once more
But you were on the ship and I was on the shore
 Now I know lonely nights
For all the while my heart is whisp'ring

Some other harbor lights will steal your love from me

When Easter approached Bob's mother invited me to their home in Iron Mountain MI. To accept would be a big, big break away from our closely knit family. Truly a rebellious move, a no no. I accepted the invitation, abandoning my family. Durocher’s were French decent.
Ford Motor's Company Home

They lived 2 story home, identicals, all in a row built by Ford Motor Company for their employees, a Ford factory town in Iron Mountain, MI. I had never seen homes so narrow and yet tall. Living room and kitchen downstairs, bedrooms upstairs. Simple. Well maintained. His mother and father were delightful [aunt and uncle actually by blood].
Introduction to pasty

Bob showed me all about town and introduced me to yummy pasties. He purchased an engagement ring around this time, a lovely diamond. I was disconcerted. My parents were outraged. I couldn’t cope with their judgmental attitude even after they had met Bob. I simply couldn’t keep it. I could not oppose them. He was so hurt. He told me there are other places and other people not so friendly as Mount Mary and home-- things I have a need to learn. I have been told before how naive I am. He's dealing with 'Daddy's little girl' not a college woman and he knows it. 

Bruce's sister Elsie's baby  daughter, Ardis died in March '48 from chicken pox. 

Annually Home Ec Club hosted a party for little boys at the orphanage in the Home Economics practice apartment
1st on left is me. [Milwaukee Journal clipping]
Practice Teachers Group-- I am she standing in the bus

I will be grateful forever for the college education I received here at Mount Mary. This was a Liberal Arts College which was always its emphasis. I often thought I would have had superior training in Home Economics at the University of Illinois. Most likely so.  Living as I did here was  a blessed opportunity. No doubt about it. One summer mother and I checked out Mundelein College in Chicago with a tentative plan to transfer. Finding a place to stay just seemed too monumental a task at that time and I settled my mind to remain where I was. My professors were admirable women. I prized my Catholic Literature class which Sr. Joseph taught, she directed her students to The Thomas More Book Club which proved to be ongoing education throughout my life for adult female or male to keep on stretching the mind, heart and soul, quality books by well educated authors. Sr. Caritas was our Education professor with a heart as large as she was tall. These women, as others,  pointed me in an upward and forward direction. All about continuing to grow, to change, to become the woman I was created to be. I took that essence along with me upon graduation into the whole of my life to build and to shape myself always striving to be  me even when at odds with others. Maturing came slowly. My grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my parents, my brothers and sister each left an indelible mark for good. And so it was. I graduate. 

My graduation announcement

 1949 graduate Mary Kathryn Bergin B.S

I wrote about my friend: "Bob is going south to Texas when the summer semester at Marquette ends in about fifteen days."

Before graduation I had a job for the 49-50 school year. I would be a permanent substitute teacher my first year out in the Milwaukee Public School System. But before the school year commenced I had summer months to fill while living at home. I grew up a bit in that summer of 1949. I made a decision. I would tear down the horse barn. This building was just standing there. Though not a problem, we knew eventually it would be coming down. Now that is quite a responsibility.  I had learned other skills through the high school years as well, which would include the ‘how to plant bushes in a straight row’ story. I felt up to this. I don’t recall where I began. 
Serious tools for barn wrecking

I marched down the hill with hammer and crow bar beginning to remove one board, then 2, then 3 and so on. It was 2 story so I recall figuring it would be smart to begin above and work the way down. So this is what we kids did that summer. I initiated the job so Elayne didn’t need to push me. [Well now, she'd have graduated and be working in Chicago, wouldn't she? She was working in the offices of a large insurance Company, Kemper] We just did it. The building came down to the ground with all the lumber to be stacked and nails to be removed.
old square nails in barn boards

"August 20, 1949"Jim went to the Free Show. Elayne Bill and I just stayed home this evening. We worked on the barn all today. I think we will have it down before long. Jim seems to think we haven't been at it a month yet,well almost, though."
"The carpeting is down except on the stairway. It's nice stuff. Looks so cozy and warm." To jog your memory, do you remember that green, sculpted, wool carpet in the living room,  piano room, open stairway room, front door room, basement door room? Picture this in your head.
August 22, 1949 "The horse barn is down. We pulled nails all day long from the good 2 by 4s, 6s, 8s. Now I can see way off into the distance. The hills just seem to roll on and on and they really do."
Handful of discarded square head nails

Young brother Jim's notes: I also so fondly remember our summer of '50 [my envelope has the postmarks Aug, 1949] when together we literally deconstructed that big horse barn board by board, plank by plank, which we cleared of all nails  spikes, subsequently saving us and the environment the costs of new material to build the corn crib Dad designed, AND, an addition to the cow barn which included 2 large granary bins overhead a drive in parking space for the barn cleaner-manure spreader-tractor, all of which he designed with the use of all those old horse barn timbers - everything but the old wood shingles and siding which had certainly served out their lifetime. We were, to put it directly: "One Hell of a Team!" I'm so proud of those days and our unique achievements!  I can't help thinking it would all make a Best-Seller were it all a documented narrative. I just have such regrets that we ever let it go from the family too, after all our contributions to its success." 

Jim adds: "I know Dad was so resolved that we should each reap a fair share of its value, and hence the Incorporation scheme; but that need not have precluded our retaining it for us and our progeny ." 

Our Dad was dead set to find a way to have their parental inheritance pass down to his progeny without a hassle. I wrote previously about my father's disappointment in his alcoholic father not tending productively to what he had inherited. I also wrote of a mutually respectful relationship between him and my mother's father, John Morris. When mother's Aunt Mary died and mother's parents, John and Kathryn Morris, we kids witnessed the Morris family split in two factions. My grandfather would have 'turned over in his grave' had he known. There was a lot of anger and resentment in the air for quite some time. This was experience our parents lived with. Dad seriously struggled to create a plan to avoid this wrangling when their turn came to pass on. Thus he leaned toward incorporating the farm. The process of family incorporation was new to him and he studied hard to unravel all the legal intricacies. I believe he succeeded in his effort. I have a loose leaf notebook filled with his letters to us, his dear ones, as he struggled to keep us aboard and to keep us informed, I have a hunch the fact that we siblings scattered so brought him eventually to see the land in a different light. Jim left and went to Merna with Angie's family. I returned to Illinois from California  but in 12 years I left again for good.  Turns out our family cohesion and venture  was really about investing money and labor, keeping the family constructively busy and an education in the value of God's Creation. Farm's earnings would be cash for each of us to invest in our own piece of America the beautiful with the strong directive, 'it must grow and multiply'. It was their lifetime to do  what seemed best. Takes time and know-how more than remained in their lifetime. And so it goes. Writing the story, sharing experiences and by example perhaps future generations will grow forward, onward, upward with knowledge of history, family, country, world, universe. We are after all, building the kingdom. Dad and mother spent their lifetime building. This is my dad's legacy. Pray we have the wisdom as they to build, not to destroy our piece of the universe.

This is the year the new St. Joseph’s is constructed in Richmond, IL.

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