Saturday, February 4, 2012

Late 1958-59 Winfield

Patrick James Stewart


Patrick is attending Kindergarten this Fall. This is his school picture. Patrick is 5.

We watched the construction of a building as it was being erected on the vacant lot adjacent to our rental property. This would be Bowie’s Hardware. Once the store opened from time to time we’d find 4 year old Kevin missing. He would make frequent trips to the hardware. The owner and operator, Mr. Bowie, seemed to encourage this little fellow’s visits.  Kevin would just freely drop over unannounced. Kevin seemed to like people and would want conversation and a closer relationship with them. Bruce built this very large sand box in the yard, near to the house for the kids. The sand was very deep and lush. They loved it. There were no fences anywhere on this property.

One afternoon, when the creek running through the adjacent property just to the south of us was swollen, Michael was found missing. Michael loved nature, the creek, the plants. I searched all about, could not find him. Water could truly frighten me. There was no fencing separating our property from the creek. Eventually, he did show up. I made him go to his room without any supper. Wasn’t this a discipline parents might use? The night seemed extra long for me. I felt he needed to learn and to set an example  [always Michael’s job] for the others. I felt sooooooo mean. I felt awful. Did the punishment fit the crime? Would not talking and sharing have sufficed? How about the first time just a teaching/learning experience. “I was so frightened-------” I don’t recall we had any solid rules about the creek. There were railroad tracks running through town less than 2 blocks away beyond the grocer. We had rules about that.
BaldwinAcrosonic Piano Gift From my Parents

Mother and Dad gave us a piano as a gift. Seems that small spinet mother had in the Chicago winter apartment, they had now given to Elayne. Because all in our Irish family must be treated equal dad found a very nice spinet piano for me and had it delivered to our home, a fine Baldwin Acrosonic. We set it in the front room. I took time out every so often to play sheet music. Seemed to be restful and reinvigorating. My mother did the same with her Grand. The pattern was  easy for me to imitate. Patrick reminds me that with our very own piano I decided to teach him some piano lessons. We gave Amy my piano in 1999. Since then she has taken lessons. Her sons Brendan and Caidan have also taken lessons. 

Around this time my cousin, Florence Collins married Bob Carlson and wonder of wonders they moved to an almost adjacent town of Warrenville living in a rural country home,  a Craftsman style. Florence loved the living in the country idea. I have a hunch the reality was something different. I saw her as I had seen my mother, a very displaced city gal. 

Bruce and I were active in our new parish, St. John the Baptist. We were able to pick up our work with CFM once more which we had been absent from for a year. We had a chaplain available and very willing to be involved. Fr. Liko was a Hungarian refugee who had undergone extreme hunger and outright poverty. He told us he even was reduced to eating rats. He was so well liked within the parish. His sermons were great [in the 60's we'd call them homilies]. He shared with the families that at Baptism Hungarian children were given a group of Saints names as these saints were said to be guides for  a child to help keep him/her on the path to Heaven. This is the root of the multiple names we gave babies born after Robbie. We had about 4 CFM groups in the parish. Back in these days it was customary to have a chaplain at meetings. Happens there was a Franciscan Seminary nearby in West Chicago, a village close by Winfield. These young Friars dearly loved to join with the young couples at our evening meetings. They needed to be home before the doors locked them out. Frequently they would overstay evenings and need to climb into their building through the windows. We cherished these young men and their participation.
Michael, Collie Puppy, Kevin, Robbie, Patrick, Joan, Bruce, MK-------------------------------------------------------
One of our Hebron visits we discovered Bruce cousin’s children had a Collie dog recently giving birth to a litter of puppies. We drove in their yard and asked if we might take one home. We chose our Bonnie. She came to live with  us   in our home. This was a first for me on how to house train a puppy. With persistence, support and  advice from friends I succeeded within a month. This was one more job for mother to do which I had no need of.  I love dogs. She was a joy and beautiful.

St. Patrick's Church Merna Illinois

1959 March 30 Jim and Angie married in Merna, IL.  We drove down south to Merna, adjacent to Bloomington in Peoria Diocese, with all the family, for the marriage celebration. I recall so little for we were consumed with tending our family. Just to be present was an undertaking. The Gould family was a Merna establishment, actually. Angie’s parents’ home was beside St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, a lovely 2 story red brick home, with the rectory on the other side of the Church. Just down the road at a right angle was the Church Cemetery where many from Angie’s mother’s and father’s families had been laid to rest. Also, the community sported a Post Office, a tavern. This was a farming community. Farmers raised wheat and soybean crops which was a more leisurely occupation than the dairies up north. Farming was seasonal rather than day in and day out caring for cattle. There were at least as many relations here as Bruce had in the Hebron vicinity; extended family living all about the countryside.

Robbie at Play on a Favorite Perch

As I described our house sported of great screened in back porch. We frequently ate meals out there. Little Robbie seemed to particularly like to crawl up onto the table and play. Perhaps it was its proximity to the out of doors, the openness to the larger world, the fresh air. The older children were often out in the yard.

Patrick and Robbie

Robbie Steps Off
Johnny Sullivan I Year Old

Joan and Robbie Visiting
My extended family had a very sad experience when Tom and MaryAnn Kerwin’s 2nd son, Joseph Gregory, just over 1 month old, died a crib death on March 17, 1959. Some time after MaryAnn and Tom visited us in Winfield. I shared my condolences with her as she shared her story with us. Perhaps it was not so for her but for me it was an intimate morning, like we’d never had the opportunity previously and would never again. We had so much more in common now being young mothers and our backgrounds so similar. I had a thought I shared with her. I guessed that if blood in the breasts could become milk perhaps at the Consecration of the Bread it could become flesh and blood. Well, at least I was trying to figure out in my own mind the meaning of the teaching ‘transubstantiation’, trying to make sense out of our childhood teaching. Yet I was not considering the big difference one being  a natural process and the other unnatural.  We talked of family and went on to talk about  how we might use our education. 

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