Life Demands to Be Lived

This young man and myself, who were later to become husband and wife, were properly introduced by our two mutual friends. He didn't like me from the beginning, nor did I care for his arrogant and what I felt was his uppish manner. But we were constantly thrown into each other's company because his boy friend and my girl friend were seriously in love. Although I didn't really care for him, my pride was hurt, and I just could not tolerate his acting as if 1 was not even in the crowd. So unbeknown to anyone, I decided he would pay attention to me and after I accomplished this, then I would see. So I proceeded to change my attitude toward him, and what do you know? This is all he was waiting for, because underneath that arrogant attitude was a shy young man afraid of a young lady's snub. When I finally got him to smile, he was actually good looking and a lot of fun to be with, and from then on we didn't need to be thrown together by our two friends, Later on they were our bridesmaid and best man.

We were married at Saint Mary's Church on February 2, 1935. My husband was earning 55.00 a week (remember, this was in the depression years). My folks tried to talk us out of it, and his folks tried to reason with us. But we had all of the right answers.

So we set out to prove to the world that it could be done, and prove it we did. However it took a lot of figuring on paper and more figuring to figure out why it was or was not coming out right. We lived in a little four-room house and the rent was just as small, but we were happy.

Then by summertime we realized that by Christmas we would be parents. Along with that knowledge came a better job with twice as much money.

The first months of our marriage when we had to be so careful not to overspend provided a great training period for us, because now we felt that if we continued to budget our money in the same manner we would have enough saved to pay all of my delivery expenses by the time our addition arrived. In those days there was no such thing as hospital insurance and indeed very few mothers went to the hospital to deliver a baby. In my mother's family it was customary for a young mother to go to be with her mother at a time like this and thus receive even better care than the strangers would give her at a hospital, which my mother was anxious for us to do. So a few weeks before Christmas we graciously accepted her invitation and Gene and I had my old room.

When it was time for my baby to arrive, and the doctor and nurse were with me, my mother and father, along with my husband, at the advice of the doctor, went into the kitchen to wait. I heard the door close behind them.

As soon as my baby was born I knew that things were not right, because this young male child was not crying. I anxiously said, " Don't let my baby die." I was hoping one of them would tell me he was going to be fine, but they did not. Instead they said, " We will do all we can for your baby." At this time he did start to cry a little, with much urging from the doctor. My family then came into the room, and though my gaze was foggy from the chloroform I could see the faces of the three people I loved most in this world. My mother's face was drawn and there were white lines around her mouth, so much so that I vowed to myself never again would I come home to have a baby, and I never did.

My father began jokingly to tell me how my mother covered her ears with her hands to shut out the noise, and that my husband had walked out on the back porch for the same reason.

Then everyone's attention was turned to the baby, when the doctor said, " I know you people are Catholic and I would advise you to call a priest right away and have this baby Baptized." So within a short time Father Heringhaus, who had performed our wedding ceremony, came and baptized our new son. We named him Eugene John, intending to call him Johnnie. While Father was there, he gave me his blessing, and said that he hoped everything would be fine for us.
The doctor left many instructions for my mother concerning the baby and she followed them to the letter, attending to the baby every three hours around the clock.

On the third day at 5:00 0' clock in the morning I heard my mother make her way upstairs and knock on my husband's door. Then when I heard a long conversation in low tones, I knew that it must be the baby. My mother soon came into my room with a serious face, and said, " Mary," in such a tender way. I looked into her eyes and said, " Mom, I know you and everyone did everything they could. Don't you worry, I will be fine." At that time they did not embalm babies, instead, they buried them the same day.

So this young father and grandfather set about the business of buying a cemetery lot and a very small casket. The words "Our Darling”, were embroidered in the lid.

In the afternoon when it was time for the short service in church, Gene's family came and a few friends. A neighbor lady came to stay with me because at that time a mother stayed in bed for ten days.

The baby was laid out in the little white baptismal gown that I had made by hand. When they took our only child out of the house I thought my heart would break.

My oldest brother and his wife came over that evening and he said, "Sis, just keep a stiff upper lip." He tried to comfort me as best he could, little knowing that through his own married life he and his wife would have to go through this very same thing, not once, but six times.

But life still goes on, hard as it seems. The following October brought us another son. This time there was such a lusty cry I could hardly believe my ears, and lo! and behold! a bouncing eight and a half pounds as against his little dead brother' s three and a half pounds.

Through all of these months of waiting, we were afraid to hope and we talked very little about what we would name this child. But now, it had to be the finest. We did not want a name for this child that anyone else in the family had, so came the day of Baptism and we still could not decide. So we each put three names in a bowl and let the Godmother pick one out.

His name was to be Gregory Allen, one of the names my husband thought to be just right. Since I was still in bed at this time, Gene wrote out all of the slips of paper, and do you know that after thirty-four years I still think he put the same name on all of those slips of paper.

This baby blossomed and grew more beautiful by the day.

We were both so proud, and our families were happy for us.

Gene acquired still a better job and we began buying our own home, next door to my folks. In fact, we bought it from my father, because he said he was tired of bothering with renters. Actually, I think he wanted us close by.

Let me relate an incident here that I now smile upon, but at the time it certainly was no laughing matter.

My adoring husband and I had had a quarrel. Thinking that I would fix him, I picked up my baby and said I was going to leave and live with my parents, and he could do whatever he pleased. I went into the back door of my father' s house and my father, wise as he was, knew that I was very upset. I told him what had happened and what I planned to do.
Well, did I ever get a rude awakening! The lecture I heard I could hardly believe.

Was this the father who had heard the doctor say to him and my mother four times " It' s a boy " and finally the doctor did say " It' s a girl " and that was me?

Was this the same father standing there telling me that I was married to this man by my own choice, and young at that?
He reminded me he had tried to talk me out of this marriage, not because he didn't like Gene, but because he thought I was too young. My father was thirty-two when he married my mother at twenty-two, so I think he planned on my trying for an old maid status.

I went with the baby back into my kitchen next door, and after putting him in the highchair I began to prepare supper.
My understanding husband came up behind me and said, "You do still love me, don't you?" I was still hurt after two rebuffs in one day, and said, "It's just that I feel my responsibility more than most people." My husband grinned and said, " I like it that way." I don't believe I ever thanked my father for this stinging but very wise piece of advice, but I surely should have.

In May of 1938 we were blessed with a baby girl. This time my husband was called upon to help with the delivery.

After it was over, he promptly announced that now we had our family; this was the last one. The wise old doctor smiled and mentioned something about hearing that many times before in his practice. At the time, the song "Rosalie" was very popular, but mostly we named her that after her two grandmothers.

She weighed in at six pounds. Many a time when her Daddy held her on his lap he hummed this beautiful tune to her.

When Rose was about six months old and Greg was two years old, we decided to remodel the kitchen. We found a beautiful linoleum for the floor, got new cupboards and a new refrigerator and stove.

But this one particular week I must have bought an abundance of groceries because I had no place to put the crackers and bread, so I hit upon the idea of storing them in the oven. Later that afternoon I thought a fresh cake to finish off our supper would be just great, so I turned the new electric oven on to pre-heat. Not until I saw smoke rolling out did I remember the crackers and bread.

All I could think of was my new stove, so with two pancake turners I quickly pulled this burning mess out of the oven and on to the floor. However as soon as it hit I remembered my new linoleum. It was burnt to the floor just the size of that awful cracker box.

Knowing all of the sacrifices we both had made to get these things, I knew how badly Gene would feel when he saw it. So when it was time for his arrival, I met him at the door and said, " Gene, if you opened the oven of our new stove and saw fire in there, what would you do? "

He, not realizing that this was a trick, said, " Why I' d pull it out."

Then I quickly replied, " That is what I did, and look what happened."

When Dave was born on a sunshiny April day, the two older children were next door at my folks' home. After the doctor left my mother brought my two little ones into my room to show them the new baby. Rose leaned over the little baby bed, and in her two-year-old voice said to this new baby brother, " Do you want to go to Grandma' s house too?"

Marilyn was born on a Sunday evening in late September when the leaves were just beginning to fall, and our oldest son was in the first grade. This baby girl was so beautiful that the families on both sides just could not wait until the next day to come and see her. Maybe this was because her father did the telephoning, and when he thought she was the most beautiful baby he had ever seen, he must have made an impression. Now we had two boys and two girls.

When this little blonde daughter was two years old, we decided to sell our bungalow-type home, because we felt with still another baby on the way we needed something bigger.

After the legal matters were taken care of, my father (bless his heart) came to me and said, " My own father gave me this piece of land to build on, with the understanding that I would live next to him until he passed away. I wish now that I would have made that one of the conditions when I sold it to you and Gene." I could have cried.

(End of Chapter 11)

I Love You, Mom