Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jan and Pop - Part II

As stated in the last post, Tim and I went and met with Fred and Marge to get another perspective on our grandparents. We were not disappointed. Jan could best be summed up as a homemaker and a homebody. She loved to cook, sew and manage her family. She was not interested in traveling and always wanted to be home by dark. Fred told us that he and Rosemary were frequently the excuse for why Jan needed to leave early. She always cited the need for them to go to bed as the basis for leaving and getting home before dark. Fred joked that she was still using that excuse when he and Rosemary were teenagers.

Everyone knows that Jan had a clear preference for little girls. Fred said that every Tuesday Jan would get on the East End street car, transfer to Rt. 68 on Delta Ave., and climb the steps from Mt. Lookout to their home on Kinmont. He was bored to tears because the day would generally be spent with Jan sewing clothes for Rosemary -- not exactly an exciting time for Fred. He felt even sorrier for his younger brother, Bob, who was seven years younger. He was too young to be included in the travels that he and Pop would undertake and not a girl -- thus missing out on the attentions of his grandmother.

When I told Fred about the difficulty Mary Elizabeth Wainright confronted raising three children in a pre-Social Security era, we all recognized the similarities between Mary Elizabeth's plight and Edith's plight three generations later. The difference was that Edith and her children could at least get Social Security. As Fred said, "I was a Social Security baby and now I'm on Social Security."

Even though they lived in a house that had been purchased outright, Social Security was not enough. Aunt Edith worked at the Mt. Lookout Five and Dime, later called Ben Franklin's. Fred said that Aunt Edith had a teapot she kept in a hutch and that anytime one of the uncles from either side of his family stopped by, $20 would mysteriously be found in that teapot. Aunt Edith never saw anyone put any money in, but would always find it there. Fred said that money in that teapot was food for them.

We shared other stories, like the time Tim walked with Pop down to the Fisher's, the small neighborhood grocery where for the first time he saw can goods priced at 13 1/2 cents in an effort to make you buy two of everything. Fred told of being sent down the street to the neighborhood saloon as a child to bring back a pale of beer for his Dad and Pop. He better have not spilled any on the way back. (It was a common practice to send kids to get beer on both sides of the river at that time. I've been told the same stories by the Hellmanns in Covington. It amazes me in light of the 21st Century laws that kids were frequently sent to pick up beer and cigarettes for their parents).

Pop was ready to go anywhere at anytime. Fred said he was good friends with the Rhodes, the funeral home directors in Mt. Lookout, and that they would ask him if he wanted to ride along if they got a call to pick up a body in Indiana or other locations. Pop was happy to go.

Fred told us of frequently being called in the middle of the night because Jan would get up to go to the bathroom and fall. Pop could not get her up alone and Fred was called upon to assist. As someone who has experienced the debilitating effects of arthritis and had knee and hip replacements, I cannot imagine the pain and suffering that both of them experienced just trying to get around.

Patty told me the story of the time that she and Tom placed Pop on the back of a motor cycle with a helmet on and took his picture. They did it just to aggravate Aunt Edith (Sis) with whom he was living. At the time, everyone knew that he was nearly blind with macular degeneration. Patty said she was visiting him at one time and she got all teary as she observed him holding that picture to the side and trying to get it within his limited field of vision.

She also said his favorite flavor of ice cream was butter pecan. It must be in the genes because it is my favorite flavor, too.

One final comment -- Fred was well-known for handing out silver dollars. My brother, Tom, is his Godson and frequent recipient. Tim was always jealous. On Fred's 70th birthday, celebrated at General Butler State Park in Kentucky, Fred gave everyone in attendance a silver dollar. Tim took his home and framed it. When we met with Fred and Marge and Tim brought up that story, Fred said he's now into two dollar bills. The picture in the previous post is of Tim holding his two dollar bill. Fred suggested Tim pass it on to his grandson, Will, and when Tim said he was keeping it, Fred gave him a second one to give to Will. It was great fun starting a new tradition.

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