Sunday, February 5, 2012

'59-Early 1960

Shortly afterward MaryAnn's visit Monsignor Cloos asked if I would teach 3rd Grade at St. John’s. Wow! Close by. Would this be a possibility? Tempting enough to try. I lasted 2 months. A neighbor close by, a grandmother,  and her twin teenage daughters, Rita and Anita, helped with child care- lovely folks. At the end of the month Cloos expected me to return most of my paycheck to the church. You have to be kidding! The community was beginning to think that the work the teachers did and their recompense was the business of the school nuns and not the monsignors business. This man truly believed he was totally in charge, at the head of things. He was a nice man. It is just one of the cultural ways men believed they were superior to females.  Msgr. Cloos hasn't a clue what family life is. I quit. Besides I was learning preparation for Grade teaching differed so from Secondary. I had been spending all together too much time learning and the class  was my guinea pig. I’ll save my education for the future. Or wasn’t I using my education each and every day? Perhaps with some guilt involved when Christmas came Cloos gave each of our children a present to open. This is where Robbie received his Geraffy which he loved until its long neck sagged and all the nap was rubbed from that neck. Robbie was a beautiful child. The twins fell in love with him and continued to come over afternoons to take the children to the nearby park behind the public school. Gave me some free time and a little spending money for them.

Something else opened my eyes that year. The nuns who taught in the school wore the old black habits peculiar to their order. The garb seemed to be the something that stood them apart from the rest of us women. Kept them in that place we saw them when small girls. Bruce, however, treated any of them like one of his big sisters. He would greet one with a big hug. Unheard of.  I’d never seen anyone in my family do so. He felt no mystique. Here is something I am gradually learning for myself. I had this idea in college. If every Catholic married a non-catholic the majority of people in the world would be Catholic. Quite a way to proselytize. And it's a fact that marrying a person outside one's faith was at very best discouraged. Like one couldn't be married inside the church; OK in the rectory or sacristy or like places. But in America in the 40s it was becoming next to impossible to have the couple stay in a Catholic ghetto neighborhood; even with church and schools and newspapers and books, all being Catholic. So marrying weakened hierarchy controls. The spouse came from another source. So the way I see it today Bruce was really a Methodist, Presbyterian Catholic. Truth is  he couldn't chuck his prior formation . I had been attracted to who he was. Well, why would teaming up outside be discouraged? I see it now. I would find permissions to look into what I previously thought I could not. Actually, I would be far richer . Well, my spouse likewise. Those in the Catholic Church's  holding the authority today want to pull all of us back inside a ghetto. Can't. I see now that no matter how loyal and consistent Bruce was/is to honoring his acquired persona the other parts were/are always present. There was much we would never learn as long as we were kept in our Catholic ghetto. We would continue to be treated like the little children we once were. So marrying outside one's faith was such a big deal. Or an Irisher marrying a Scot. Or a Presbyterian marrying a Catholic woman. We'd be getting, I can hear my folks say, 'smarter than what's good for you'. Wow! The year 2012 we realize we become adult Christians  when we continue to learn what life has to teach us throughout all of our lives. This is the structure we need to live as Christ lived.

I had begun a little newsletter, issued periodically, which means when I could pull one together, for our CFM family groups. This was a tedious job as pages needed a cut stencil to be mimeographed . Besides that, looking at the copies I have, our typewriter keys were not hitting so well and/or it needed new ribbon. I saved a Sept. ‘59  and 3 ‘60 issues. I don’t recall whether we were officially the lead couple. We knew more about CFM than the other couples. Weekly meetings were held alternately in our homes. We’d need to get the kids bathed and off to bed early when hosting. There was a particular  couple in our group, the Church’s, friendly and outgoing. We soon could see they were militantly anti-Communist and personally deeply invested. Their existence would re-enter our lives a few years into the future. I still have Fran’s recipe for Butterscotch Brownies. Bob and Florence Carlson, cousins,  joined our groups driving over from Warrenville except evenings they were hosting.

I found this entry in ST JOHN THE BAPTIST  CFM'ER   January 1960
Our Choice of CFM
Maybe it was Pre-Cana. Or perhaps we admired model CFMers in our family truly living in a worthwhile way. Whichever or whatever, shortly after our lovely honeymoon we took the plunge into the Christian Family Movement. On our own, we were impressed with the challenge of trying together to develop spiritually through the apostolate. The marriage vows taken we would either draw closer to each other or farther apart. Any new activity shared meant a new opportunity for our love to grow. But like the festive menu-- what to choose? We know of no established group like CFM-- so easy to join, so promising to follow. There is a straightforward friendly Christian spirit alive in all the Catholic couples we have met. We feel this alone is unusual-- unlike any other social situation. Perhaps as in the days of Peter and Paul, their apostolic zeal still flows through the veins of willing Christians.
Bob and Florence Carlson

JoanMary and Kevin with Robbie
Bonnie 1 and JoanMary
Michael, Patrick, Kevin, JoanMary, Baby Robbie
When putting Kevin to bed many evenings upstairs I would read from a book. He seemed to relish these quiet moments alone with me so that I was encouraged. Like I have my mother to myself for a little while. 

On one of these evenings, following after this read, I walked to the next bedroom and lay down on the double bed with baby Robbie. If only he would close his eyes. He just refused at bedtime to do so. If I lay beside him I could encourage his settling in. “Close your eyes”.  On this one particular night I felt an unusual experience. A thin veil of cloth or light or I know not what moved across the room. I felt a strangeness and at that very moment had this thought of my brother Bill, just momentarily and then it was gone. 12-08-59, the following morning when we awoke for breakfast the phone, which hung on the kitchen wall, rang. I answered. My father was saying that my brother Bill had died the night before, December 7, 1959. No. This can’t be. Bill has had enough to contend with. Not death. Wouldn’t be fair. These thoughts quickly passed through my mind. Dad shared the story of Bill returning home from a hard teacher’s day, including a school board meeting, and telling Mary he had a bad headache. [Complaints of headaches in my family were never a rare thing]. Mary wanted to go out this evening to do some Christmas shopping. Decisions were made for her to go ahead and Bill would take an aspirin and lie down on their bed for a while. Which he did. When Mary returned later in the evening Bill was dead.
Mary and Bill  July 25, 1959
JoanMary was just a toddler. Even so she was still very tuned in to her mommy. She tells me I reacted at the phone. She felt my shock. She claims I cried. I remember none of this. I include her comment editing my story in this year 2012: The morning you found out about your brother Bill's death on the phone, you continuously wept out loud. I remember you picked up Robb, went into another room and closed the door behind you. The message was clear that you needed to be alone. Immediately, I recalled the strange experience in the bedroom just about the hour Bill died. Couldn’t help but wonder. Funeral arrangements were made. At his Wake many folks came; a large crowd. Many were parents of his students or people from the district. They shared how well liked he was and often alluded to, ‘this wasn’t fair’. ‘He was in Heaven because he lived out his whole life in so  short a time.’ Elayne and I stood beside his casket. I recall Elayne stretching out her arm with her hand on his. She referred to his being the one in the family to die first and now she wouldn’t be so fearful of death. Like he opened a path for us. He was 30 years old. Mary was pregnant and expecting their baby in March. Their lives were shattered. He was buried following his funeral Mass at the St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Richmond, IL, mother and dad’s home parish.
I do not know the sequel of events which followed. Mary was a teacher so she would have income. Sheila was born to Bill and  Mary on March 14, 1960. Because of the excellent insurance policy they had taken when buying their home, the property was now free and clear. Yes, I did say free and clear. She wouldn’t have monthly house payments. What a blessing! 

Sheila was born March 14, 1960. My mother and father kept in very close contact with Mary and the children. Dad felt  it was very important for the children to have some close male influence. I think he was right on. Mary did a terrific job balancing work and family needs, maintaining their home. Mary and the children frequently visited mother and dad at Tullybracky  on her way to Harvard to visit her parents. My parents made space in their lives for frequent trips to Arlington Heights. Doing this fed into Elayne and my feelings of jealousy which we acknowledged only to one another. Bill got a grand share of attention all his growing up years and now even after death. On the other hand we did realize there is only so much time and energy parents have.

Timothy is my nephew born to Jim and Angie on February 3, 1960, in Evanston, IL.  I am supposedly his godmother though I have seldom, if ever responded as one would. I believe I was ‘by proxy’. Is this like not being in the the delivery room when the baby is birthed, no bonding? Tim was a lovely auburn haired child. Jim confirmed that I am his Godparent.

Hebron Visit- Kevin, Priscilla, Aunt Charlotte, Polly, Wayne, Sue, Patrick, MK, Robb, JoanMary, Michael
Auntie Gladys, Mother, Aunties Florence and Alice
Elayne, Karen, Alice, Mary, Angie, Florence, Rosemary
Alice Hubbie, Douglas, Bob, Tom, Jim
These photos above are ones Auntie Alice took at another Family Reunion at Tullybracky about this time. My brother Bill is not with us. Neither are Bruce and I. It seems the best fit in my story and I do want these pictures included. Rosemary is cousin Jack Collins spouse.

Jim had been in the army for a period of time. He and Angie were an Army couple and for a time lived in Sante Fe New Mexico. Angie did not appreciate such a distance from the Gould family. Soon they   returned to the Chicago area. I lack memory and information here. Their little family lived at Tullybracky for a time. I thought they  might remain. They set up housekeeping in the apartment my folks made in their home. My father liked this deal especially as it was a nostalgic memory of his childhood when his grandparents divided their farmhouse and shared living quarters. Jim taught school for a while. Another job he had was selling Encyclopedia Britannica. Eventually, they made the decision to move to Merna near Angie’s downstate family. Angie’s father had died years ago. Her mother lived alone in the big brick home. 

Mrs. Gould taught in  the schools. They decided to share that home.  There was property the other side of the rectory. Jim and Angie made plans to build a home on it. My Dad purchased a tiny travel trailer to provide for his and mother’s needs and spent many days visiting them in Merna, helping with the building project. There is  story here for Jim and Angie to share. Years later a tornado swept through and St. Patrick’s Church went down. What a great loss this was!
JoanMary, Michael, Kevin, Robbie, Patrick, Johnny Sullivan and Bonnie Fall 1960
Johnny Sullivan Looking Happier in this Lower  Photo  and JoanMary

We knew the window of time when we could live in this old home in Winfield was limited. The owner would sell whenever the right buyer came his way. Before this  could  happen I found an ad in a paper for a home in Orland Park. Never heard of this place. It was South of Nalco and a bit West, about a 20 minute drive. Wouldn’t it be nice to own a home of our own. Other MMC Alumnae were no longer renting their homes. We’ll just take a look. We  all rode down to do joust that. This was a small home set back on a rise with 3 Acres of property, one mile from the parochial school with St. Michael’s Church standing atop its little hill. Mr. and Mrs. Nail, the couple selling it were elderly.  We could live at this property forever. Together, and also with Stewarts' help by cosigning, we worked out a deal. The home sight was great. We had nice road frontage with a rear yard which extended far back to a subdivision of homes behind. There were a number of these large properties on acreage similar to ours lined up in a row on West Street. Beyond our neighbor to the South was a cemetery as the road turned west. We could have our ‘3 Acres and Independence’. We made plans to move in. There were only two bedrooms in this home, a master bedroom and another. The crib could be in the 2nd bedroom and our little girl. The boys would set up living quarters in the basement. Actually, it would be private for them. Problem with the home was Mr. Nail, when building his home, had somehow delayed in spreading the fresh concrete basement floor when the cement was delivered. The floor was very wavy-- extremely odd. There was a sump pump, not unusual in Chicago area, in the SW corner which we could use to pump out the water  from  the basement when it rained very hard. We left our Winfield home.

I have received Jim's story in his own words: “Angie and I had been engaged since Thanksgiving of Nov. 1958, and therefore had arranged to have our wedding prior to my reporting to Fort Bliss. Weddings weren’t allowed during Lent in those days, so our wedding was set as Easter Monday, March 30, 1959, several days before our departure to Fort Bliss. Upon receiving my degree from DePaul University, Chicago, IL I had been commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. branch of Air Defense Artillery [Missiles], formerly known as AAA [Anti-aircraft Artillery during World War II]. We set out a week later knowing that we had to get there allowing for time to find a home , get settled with some household goods and groceries from the Post PX [Post Exchange and Commissary], to accommodate us at least thru the next 4 months, the duration of the Air Defense Officers Basic Course.
It happens that Ft. Biggs and Biggs Air Force Base are both directly adjacent to the east side of El Paso Texas. Housing [Billeting] for students at Ft. Bliss was not available on the Post, so we immediately scoured the El Paso newspapers for rentals, which the locals were only too glad to provide as an additional source of income. Since rentals were in continual demand by military personnel flowing into the area, we felt fortunate to find a duplex high on the side of a mountain, NW side of the city, overlooking sprawling residential and commercial areas across the valley below, toward the Mexican border city of Juarez, just across the Rio Grande River. 
Angie found it somewhat strange to be such a distance from her closely knit Gould family, but adapted quite advantageously, by obtaining a ‘substitute’ teaching position, though in a noticeably different Mex-Tex environment. She drove me to the Post and then on to her assigned school, where I was able to hitch rides around the Post with a classmate from De Paul who was assigned with me. 
My days were usually spent in air-conditioned classrooms. The Nike Missile System was quite technically involved, and hence required 4 months of mostly in classroom study, culminating in an actual missile attack on a radio controlled aerial target, RCAT, some 50 miles N of El Paso, at McGregor Missile Range, adjacent to White Sands Proving Grounds, where the atom bomb became operational thus ending WWII with the Japanese. Our class was divided into 2 teams. Each was to prep, fuel, arm and fir a Nike Ajas Missile at an RCAT launched on the Range. We as team members were assigned to Acquire [Acquisition Radar], Track [Target Tracking Radar], Launch  [Missile Tracking radar] the Ajax Missile to shoot down the RCAT over the New Mexico desert. Luck and skill was to be ours that day, as my team succeeded, while the other team did not get a “Kill”. However there was no victory party back on the Post - a “Kill” was simply doing ones job. 
On 4Aug59 [to use military date format] after completion and graduation, Angie and I were resolved to shut down housekeeping, pack up, close out bank account, and so on, and drive through the Texas/New Mexico desert that night, to escape the hot sun. We arrived in OK as the sun rose next day, and with it the most sweltering heat/humidity we have ever experienced - no A/C in ’53 Ford. Without sleep we succumbed to the droggy, groggy conditions like 2 wilting morning glories. We managed to move onward to the OK MO border town of Joplin, MO and the Mickey Mantle Motel, where we more or less collapsed.  Next day we completed the trip to Merna, arriving at 6 or 7 PM for supper and night’s rest, before continuing on to the farm in Hebron, IL. I had chosen to take 10 days earned leave time, while we re-acclimated to the thought of the 2 year assignment at 45th Air Defense Artillery Brigade in Arlington Heights with the Chicago Gary Nike Air Defense. It was indeed great to be back in familiar places.

1 comment:

  1. The morning you found out about your brother Bill's death on the phone, you continuously wept out loud. I remember you picked up Robb, went into another room and closed the door behind you. The message was clear that you needed to be alone.


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