Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

I Remember Her, Laughing at Life

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

I Remember Her, Laughing at Life

Article excerpt

MARY POLLY'S mother was a strong woman. Times were hard in Ulster 100 years ago, and when her husband suggested that he take their oldest son and go to America, she agreed to wait with the other children until the two men could afford to send them money for passage.

So she waited. Exactly how long she waited is lost in the mist of family history.

Eventually, though, the two men sent money for the second oldest son, and before long the money was raised to bring the entire family over.

Mary was the youngest. She was a child when she arrived in this country.

She was like her mother. That is, she grew up to be a strong woman. She was tiny and elf-like, but she was strong.

Good thing she was. She married a streetcar driver. He was a handsome, charming, totally irresponsible man - a rake, is what he was called - and one day he left for work and never came home. He left Mary with two young children. She worked in a candy store to support her kids.

The older of the children was a boy, and, sadly, he grew up to be much like his father. But the younger one was a girl, and she grew up to be like her mother.

Her name was Mildred, and she married the young man who delivered the groceries to the second-story flat where Mary and her children lived.

The young man's name was Art. He became an electrician, and then he went off to war. When he came home, he and Mildred had two children, my sister and me.

In those days, child-rearing was strictly a woman's job. Fathers were somewhat distant.

One of my earliest memories concerns my concept of my father. I had come home from Sunday school, my head filled with tales of Jesus and the Holy Ghost. My father, who seldom went to church, was in the bathroom shaving. He stood in front of the mirror, his face lathered.

"Daddy, who's more powerful, you or God?" I asked.

My father stopped, and looked down at me.

"Me or God?" he asked.

I nodded.

He seemed to consider the question for a minute.

"Ask your mother," he said.

She was much more approachable. She is the central figure in most of my early childhood memories. They are, sadly, very scattered memories. A fragment here, and a fragment there, but in almost all the fragments, there is my mother. …

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