Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Roy Ryan - Part I

My Grandfather, Roy Ryan

Roy Ryan holding me (Kathleen)
 I was able to write all about the Ryan family during April, except for Grandpa. It wasn't from a lack of materials -- conversely, I think it was from too much material. Where do you start writing about someone you loved so much?

Grandpa was born on April 10, 1900. He was the 7th of nine children of James Hugh and Mary Rose. It was the beginning of a new century -- full of promise for the Ryan family. He was my Godfather, following a sort of family tradition of making grandparents the Godparents of the first-borns. My Godmother was my grandmother, Norine Jones. I was the "first" grandchild, beating my cousin, Chuck McCafferty by 18 days.

Roy is a role model to me in so many ways. His father died of pneumonia when he was only 13 years old. In the days before any kind of Social Security, he was forced to drop out of school to help support his mother and two younger siblings. Last Saturday, I had the privilege of meeting my Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Charlie, Uncle Jim and Aunt Carol for breakfast. My husband Bill, cousin Evelyn and I got to hear some of the stories.

With little education, young Roy tried to make money in any way that he could. He had many odd jobs. Uncle Charlie recalled many stories that Grandpa had shared with him when they were working together on projects. Charlie said that there was a business in Elmwood Place where Grandpa was able to work with a variety of tools. Charlie said that Grandpa was a great "duplicator." He apparently could analyze how almost anything worked and make copies of it. This led to his eventual employment as a "machinist."

Aunt Evelyn recalled the difficult times of the Great Depression. Grandpa was unemployed. He supported his family by accepting any odd jobs he could get. At the time, many homes were heated with coal. She recalled that Grandpa could earn 25 cents for moving a TON of coal! Grandma put her sewing skills to work and was paid for clothing she made, including suits. (Interestingly, I remember asking my mother about how the family survived the Depression and she didn't feel like the family suffered. She made the comment that Great-Grandpa had a shoe store, and that shoes are a necessity regardless of the economy. She felt that they were in a much better position than many other families).

Aunt Evelyn said that due to Grandpa's ability to fix almost anything, they weren't the recipients of "new" toys. She said that he would see all kinds of toys thrown out in the trash and that he would bring them home and fix them up.

When first married, Grandma and Grandpa lived with her parents, as did Grandma's brother Val, and his wife, Clara. They lived in a big, beautiful home on Springfield Pike in Wyoming that was torn down and is the current site of the Wyoming Board of Education. The arrangement continued until Clara gave birth to Dolly and Virginia (Grandma) gave birth to my mother. Aunt Evelyn said that Roy wasn't really too excited about the prospect of moving out because his mother-in-law, Anna, was a fantastic cook.

The young family lived in Elmwood Place. The 1923 City Directory lists their address as 158 W. 73rd St. Roy's occupation is listed as a "machinist." About 1925, the family purchased the family home located at 415 Worthington in Wyoming. Aunt Evelyn said that they purchased the home for $7000 in 1925.

When I first started writing about Roy Ryan, I commented that I suffered from "too much" material. I put together a photoshow that includes some of my favorite photos of Grandpa. You can view it (and I hope you do) by clicking on this link.

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