Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Grandma could not date when she was 21

What I know of my maternal grandmother's childhood I have had to glean from genealogical research. She was born in Brooklyn, New York. By 1909 her family had moved to Chester, West Virginia. From the few stories I managed to get about my maternal grandmother’s childhood I know that she took piano lessons and learned things like embroidery. She never learned to cook. It seemed so strange with a woman born in 1889. Her family spoke German at home and they carried Roman Catholic missals to Mass on Sunday that were in German and Latin.

When she was about 18, she and her sister Genevieve had pictures taken that almost looked like what were called “glamour shots” a few years ago. There is also a strip of pictures of her in various attitudes and manners of dress. Her family had moved from Brooklyn to Chester, West Virginia and I wonder if there was a shortage of marriage-aged men. She was (in 1919) 30 by then and her parents may have been a little desperate.  Fortunately her parents did send her to a secretarial school, so she did have skills with which to obtain a job. She still lived at home with her parents of course.

In Chester, WV there was an amusement park called Rock Springs Park.  I never got a chance to visit there even though the park was still open when I was a child. When my grandmother was 21, the Park had dances and my grandmother lived close enough to be able to hear the music. She was not permitted to attend them. With her parents being so strict I wondered how she ever did get married.

I asked my Aunt Katharyn (daughter of Katharyn) if she knew. It turns out that my grandfather did not marry for quite some time too. His father passed away when Joseph was 21. He remained with his mother and sisters to help support them. His mother passed away in 1922 and his youngest sister Beatrice had married in 1923. Catherine and Eva were both employed so they decided it was time to get their brother married.  They were friends with Katharyn and decided to fix their friend and their brother up together. It apparently worked since Katharyn and Joseph married in 1924 when Katharyn was 35 and Joseph was 32. My mother was born in 1925. Joseph Jr. followed in 1929 and my Aunt Katharyn was born in 1933. My mother and Uncle Joe have both passed. Katharyn is healthy and very active. She and her husband Bill square dance and ballroom dance. (Love ya, Aunt Kay!)

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