Gleanings From A Lifetime – Part 3
Tue. 04 Jan 2011. 1:05 pm
My memories seem to be more of Dad then of Mother during those early years. Mother came from a family of ten, six boys and four girls, and while they were still in [the] Ubly area some of them did come to visit Mother and Dad, making the trip by train. Her sister Elsie, who is only a few years older than I, came at one time and stayed several weeks with us, even going to school while there. Her older sister, Minerva, also visited one summer and I recall visits by at least three of her brothers.
Dad’s family I knew almost nothing about until I was fairly grown up, a teenager at least. Dad’s family were Catholic and Mother’s Protestant and I guess their marriage caused quite a furor. According to Elsie my parents were married in the living room of the Steven’s home – but she was just a kid and does not remember much more than that about it. I don’t even know if the Dolan’s attended or if feelings were running too high. I have a crazy memory of being told Dad and Mother were taking a short train trip following the ceremony and after they were seated on the train some of their friends got on and dragged Dad off leaving Mother to wonder what to do next. It seems before the train got underway again Dad managed, or was helped, to back on another coach so they were able to continue their honeymoon together. You must remember all this was some eighty-years ago and, although times have changed, it is comforting to know some Deviltry went on in those days too.
Grandpa and Grandma Dolan both died when I was very young. In fact Dad’s oldest sister, Aunt Mary Durkin, and his youngest sister, Aunt Sadie Ryckman, were the only two of his family I ever really knew although I did meet others that were still living. In later years Aunt Mary (widow of John Durkin) stayed with us for weeks at a time. She was a dear person and we all loved her very much. Aunt Sadie and Uncle Lee were very good friends of the folks and after cars became commonplace we used to visit back and forth. They lived in Flint, Michigan.
Dad came from a big family too, ten or twelve, but many of them died and babies or youths, some from TB. By my time only three sisters and two brothers besides Dad survived.
If you think my typing is bad be glad you are spared my handwriting, it is much worse.
Now to get back to the Sylvania days. Mother was a much more reserved person than Dad. While everyone called Dad “Pat”, Mother was always called “Mrs. Dolan” by everyone except close friends. She was a good homemaker, a nice sewer making most of my closes, crocheted, tatted and did embroidery work. Mother loved poetry and I think could recite by the hour, she also enjoyed singing. I grew up with such songs as ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’, ‘After the Ball Was Over’, etc.
In poetry there was “Don’t cry little girl, don’t cry. They have broken your Dolly I know”. A beautiful poem I loved about some Southern boy who had a horse, Kentucky Belle (?) that he was trying to hide from ‘Morgan, Morgan and his terrible men’. It must have had a Civil War basis.
Another poem gives an idea of games that once were played by children.
I don’t want to play at your house.
I don’t like you any more
You’ll be sorry when you see me
Sliding down our cellar door
You can’t holler down our rain barrel
You can’t climb our apple tree
I don’t want to play at your house
If you won’t be good to me
Mother also took china painting lessons at one time and did have several small plates she had painted. I don’t know whatever became of them for I searched for something she had painted after she died but all I ever found was a little toothpick holder marked ‘Leatherman’. Mrs. Leatherman had been her teacher but I don’t know why Mother would keep her work, or was it just that that was where it had been baked?
I had been born cross-eyed and had ‘suppressed vision’ in one eye. From long before I went to school, Mother took me on her lap, blind-folded my good eye and had me look at pictures. Later I had to try to read with my bad eye. When this treatment was first started the tears would pour out of that eye but it gradually strengthened, although I never could do more than read BIG PRINT. I have always worn glasses as far as I can remember. We went to an eye specialist in Toledo, Ohio, a big gruff man that I was scared to death of. Also eye drops were always used for testing (they still are in my 77th year). These caused my eyes to blur and that, plus my fear, always made me sick to my stomach and I am still quite upset over an eye exam. A person who has good vision can’t imagine what it is like to have various lenses tried by the doctor and have him say as he turns the lens or tries another one, ‘Now can you see better this way, (turn) or this way?’ By the time you’ve been through that for a few minutes, you can’t see at all you are so befuddle.
Another torment was sleeping on rags to make curls of course. Mother wanted her little daughter to look as good as possible, so I had rag curls which were made by taking rag twice the length of the desired curl, wrapping the hair spirally around the rag, then when you got to the end of the hair you began going back up the hair, covering it with the rag. You slept on those corkscrews but it worked. In the morning you had curls.
[Note: I want to mention that most of the photographs and illustrations are from other sources and are provided to help illustrate Leone’s story. When possible I will use original family photographs – so if anyone has photos then please pass them on. Thanks]