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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Parental Units

Today she would be 110 years old. My sister and I thought she looked so beautiful in this picture. She loved soft feminine clothes and she had such style sense. One of the things we learned from her was to wear what was flattering to us in style and color and not try to wear the latest fashions if they weren't. So I never owned a real mini skirt and still don't wear certain shades of green, yellow or purple. It is so funny that she looks like a painted lady here because she never wore make-up but she always had her nails perfectly polished. When I look at my hands I see hers--they were one of her best features and I inherited them. I keep mine polished, too. She took such pride in her home and had a weekly routine that varied very little until she went to work in Maiden Lane--don't you love that name?-- in the financial district. She worked for Sanborn Insurance company and, even though she brought some home to show us, I was too young to understand that they mapped buildings in towns and showed the insurance coverage on each one. Little colored pieces of paper were cut by hand and glued like mosaics on the maps. I've wished so often that she were still alive so I could tell her I've seen some of them in museums and understand them now. I wonder if she did some of the work on these historic exhibits. Later on, when talking with a few ladies in the incredibly elegant ladies washrooms that existed in old NYC buildings, she heard about a new job--key punch operator! The precursor to computers, long cards were punched by operators typing on big machines. These cards were then read when needed by other machines much like music rolls were read by player pianos. The cards took up much less room than files and held a lot more information in their smaller spaces. Being a new technology the operators who were the first earned so much more money than other clerical workers. It was a job she loved and she worked all over the city. When we moved upstate she again became a stay at home Mom. When they both retired they traveled until she became ill with colon cancer--her surgery was performed in Georgia --and then she came home to die. A light went out in all our lives--she was funny, warm and loving. She could be cold and cut you dead at times but she loved me and supported me in all I did. I don't think I've ever grieved for anyone or anything the way I've grieved for her.

On January 17, he would have been 108 years old! Here he is such a young man, only about 19, his whole life ahead of him. He married, had two children, a boy and a girl, and survived the depression in New York City. The marriage didn't survive but he started his lifelong career as a Unionized electrician, having been trained in the Navy. He worked primarily on elevator installation for Otis Elevator Co and Westinghouse Electric. He was foreman most of the time and helped install the first radio tower on the Empire State Bldg and the Electric People Mover at the 1939 World's Fair. He met my mother and had two more children, me and my younger sister. They were both in their 40's. I was born in Washington, DC at home and he took my placenta in a mayonnaise jar and dropped it into one of the footings that were being poured at the Pentagon. Someone someday will find that and wonder how it got there, whose it was and when it was put there. LOL

He was an outdoors man, who loved hunting and fishing. He enjoyed gardening when we moved upstate--especially Beefsteak tomatoes--I got so I couldn't look at tomatoes for awhile. He loved to read, National Rifleman and The NYS Conservationist stand out. He taught me to read before I ever went to school by having me sound out the names, Latin and English, of the plants and animals in the Conservationist. Before I could get my driver's license I had to learn how a car worked--the carburetor, the engine, the fan belt, the distributor cap, etc,etc,etc--almost to the point where I didn't want the darn license! He was the smartest man I ever knew and I relied on him for advice and guidance. I miss him all the time.

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