Tom Brokaw wrote a book a few years ago called The Greatest Generation. I have not read it yet but I would love to…I need to put that on my to do list! I suspect I will see my parents in that book….or rather…folks like my parents. In reading Mona’s blog today….http://wsprsweetlyofcottages.blogspot.com/ I was reminded of the struggle it must have been for my parents to bring myself and my three siblings up. My mother was the youngest of 10 children and as far as I know, the only one to go on to college. She became a Registered Nurse. My father was the youngest of 3 and went to business college. My grandfather, Solomon, my fathers, dad, died, when my father was 10 years old. Solomon worked for the Canadian National Railroad as a baggage man…. or so I am told. He rode into Portland, Maine, one day and by chance met my Grandmother Eva, who was waitressing at a cafe there….the rest is history I guess. I never met my grandfather but always heard great things about him.
Sometime, after my father got home from WW11, where he was stationed in Foggia, Italy, for a while, he landed a temporary job at Maine Central Railroad in Portland. The woman he was replacing, had gone out for a mastectomy and would be returning. Well, that temporary job turned into a 38 year job and he retired from the railroad with a pretty good pension. Growing up, I was the typical selfish, self-centered teen….it was all about me! I did not notice how hard they worked to give myself and my three brothers what we needed. My father worked 40 hours a week at the railroad from 8 to 5….never fail…and my mother worked at a nursing home as a charge nurse doing the same. My dad was a musician and he had a band. My mom sang in the band. On many weekends they had gigs on Friday and sometimes Saturday nights. There were local dance halls….Blackstone’s Hall….there were resorts…..Maple Trees and Severance Lodge…and weddings and bah mitzvahs….Sunday Jazz at a restaurant called Muddy Rudder and they were even on the radio. Once a week, for a while, they were on a talk show radio….WGAN in Portland. I was about 13 or 14 and able to babyset my brother who was four years younger. We stayed home and sat on the floor next to the radio and taped the whole session for my mom and dad. My father taped everything! People would call into the radio station and request songs. My dad would play them and together, my mom and he would sing them. Songs like Five Foot Two and Bill Bailey and The Saints Go Marching In. My mother sounded like Sophie Tucker. It was really a lot of fun to hear them live on the radio back at home. The radio host, Craig Worthington (I think that was his name!) would give a shout out to my brother and I….we felt very special. When my folks were not doing all of that, my dad was giving guitar lessons in the living room of our house. Occasionally he taught banjo too but not so much. My mother helped folks in town that were ill and could not get out. She would bring her little black doctors bag with her and give them shots or change a dressing or two. She would get 5.00 for that. My father got 5.00 a lesson too for a while. Between the two of them, they managed to pay off the mortgage on the house they built for all of us several years early. They saved enough money for each of us to go to college if we preferred. Each of us kids had our own life insurance. When we turned 18, we could take over the payments, or get a lump sum that my dad would see to. I took the lump sum (stupid teenager) and moved to San Diego, California for 3 years! I am so grateful for those two loving people being in my life…I cannot tell you. It makes me tear up. They did a great job and I will always be grateful for the hard work and love they brought to my family. They sacrificed a lot and they gave us a lot….a love for music and a love for life. I miss them. :(