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One must begin at the beginning.
My beginning was at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, July 12, 1899 at 116 Walnut Street, Chicago, Illinois, Cook County. My mother, Elva Adelia Murdock Izard was delighted to have a little girl after having two sons before me; Charles Forrest, whom we called Forrest or Brother, age 17, and Henry Carley, whom we called Carley, age 6. Mother claimed that my arrival was the best birthday present she ever had, her birthday being July 13th.
We lived a few houses away from Grandfather Henry Bowen Murdock, who lived at 100 Walnut. Our home at 116 Walnut was a very comfortable modest home. There were ten steps to the front porch. The front door was a double door. The right one was always locked. When entering the house, the left door was the one used. The entry hall was a good size room. The floor, the clothestree, and stairway were all of matching oak.
To the left through an archway was the front room, then called the parlor. The back parlor was connected to make one large room. I remember two upright pianos in the room. Mother and Aunt Edith each owned their pianos, tuned to match. My childhood was filled with music. Mother and Aunt Edith, who lived with us, and three other sisters were all graduates of the Chicago Academy of Music. Mother and her sister Flora gave many recitals, known as the Murdock Sisters.
Off the back parlor was a bedroom for Mother and me. My Aunt Edith and my brother Carley had bedrooms upstairs. In back of the back parlor was the dining room. Off this room was a small hall to the right. Off this was a large room for the bathroom. I remember the metal tub; it looked like tin with a wooden rim around the top edge.
In the kitchen, Mother had a gas stove and gas was used for light, too. We had a wood and coal furnace for heat. I lived in this home until I was eight years old.
When Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was president of the United States in 1902, the teddy bear was created. I was given one when I was about five years old. I loved this toy more than my dolls. Teddy was about 12 inches tall with a sweet, loveable face. Loving him so much, I crushed him so my Mother opened the length of the body and stuffed it with newspaper and from then on the stitches were quite visable, but he was still very precious to me. My two brothers, knowing my love for Teddy would twist the legs and arms to tease me. I was sure it hurt Teddy and would cry and hold him tight. Fun for my brothers. I kept Teddy until the year 1960. At this time Dad and I were moving to Florida and many things were given away or sold and I very foolishly discarded Teddy, never realizing my children also had a soft spot for him.
The Thanksgiving when I was six years old, Mother, Aunt Edith, Carley and I were invited to the home of Catherine (Teen) and Berthea Murdock, a cousin of Mothers. After a very pleasant day we returned home. My Aunt and Carley stopped at the local drug store and Mother and I went on ahead. When Mother opened the front door, both doors were opened which was a surprise as the right one was always locked. Looking up the stairs, she could see the gas light on. She knew right away that something was wrong because we left in daylight. She was nervous about going further into the house but we did. With my box of "goodies" (cakes, cookies, and candies from Thanksgiving that Teen had packed), I went right to the library table in the back parlor.
Mother went to our bedroom and pushing on the door, she realized something behind the door was keeping it from opening all the way. Looking further into the room she could see that all the clothes in the bureau drawers had been thrown on the bed. She knew that the safe thing to do was to get out of the house. I was busy with my box of "goodies" when Mother spoke in a loud voice, "Edith, I forgot to stop at the drug store to get my medicine so we must go right now before the store closes." She was afraid we wouldn't get out of the house without harm.
We did, however, and went to a neighbor's house to call the police. When they arrived and we went back into the house, to find that all of my brother's clothes were gone. Carley was still in short pants so the thieves were either young boys about 12 years of age or had a boy that could wear the clothes. The thief also took Mother's flat silver except for six teaspoons that were in the kitchen sink from breakfast. My Aunt Edith was happy to see that her valuable violin was still on top of her piano and I was happy to see my toy bank still on the window sill in the back parlor. I suppose other things were taken but I can't remember.
Around our front yard was a low wooden fence painted green. At the joints the cracks were large enough for a large firecracker. My brother Forrest Henry kept the children in the neighborhood amused shooting off firecrackers on the 4th of July.
Another amusement for my friends all of us around six years old at the time, a boy in the neighborhood put a wooden box on four wheels and gave us rides up and down the street. The fare was five straight pins; his mother was a dressmaker.
While Carley and I were living with my mother in Chicago, I attended Emerson School and my brother Forrest was going to Harvard University, graduating in 1908. As far as I can remember, my Father never lived with us, so I don't remember him at all.
[Note: Mother told me one time about when she was very young, perhaps six or seven, she remembers sitting on a man's lap and she thinks that perhaps it was her father, but she isn't sure. I asked her why she never asked her mother about her father, and she told me that she always felt that since her mother never talked about him, it must be very painful for her. She just didn't want to put her mother through more. When I asked her why she never asked her brothers, she said that they never talked about their father, and she doesn't even know why. "ET"]
At home, on hot evenings we would sit on the front porch steps, but I found sitting on a horse blanket was so prickly and uncomfortable. The swell aroma of pies being baked by Case and Martin Pie Factory filled the air.
When Charles Forrest graduated from Harvard in 1908, my mother, brother Henry Carley, and I moved to Boston. We left Chicago for Boston by way of St. Louis. My Aunt Edith was to Live with my Aunt Gertie and Uncle John in St. Louis now that my mother was moving to Boston. Aunt Edith had lived with us for years; it meant a great change in her life.
Taking the train for Boston, I was eight and Carley was fourteen. To amuse ourselves on the long train ride, we played al game of making pictures out of clouds.
Arriving in Boston at the Back Bay Station, we had to stay there all night because we had to find a place to live. The next day we found rooms with a Jewish family in Roxbury. The one thing I remember was the business the man of the house was in. He made soft drinks in his basement. Once in a while, I was given a bottle of Sasparilla as I sat on the basement stairs to watch him work. We soon found a better place to live.
During the summer of 1909, my brother Carley and I were invited to spend the summer with friends on Swans Island, Maine. It was a real experience to have traveled on this large ship from Boston to Bangor, from Bangor on a small boat to the island. There were a number of young people there with their families for the summer. The main task was to pick wild blueberries everyday. This got to be boring. One day while picking I saw a pack of wild strawberries. In my haste to reach them, I fell and hit my right knee on a rock. It caused a nasty gash and really hurt. No one around paid much attention to me as I sat on the steps crying, but my wonderful pal, a big collie dog sat beside me and snuggled close to comfort me.
After Forrest's graduation, he was given a position with the newspaper "The Boston Transcript" as an editor and with the magazine "The Youth's Campanion".
The following summer,
we were asked to be caretakers of Reverend Cummings' home in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. This was a real experience to live in a beautiful big home.
I found all kinds of games and puzzles in the window boxes and there was
a player piano with such fine music on the many rolls. With that at my
disposal, I could play the best of music. Another music treat was a music
box, the first creation for a Victrola. The sound came from metal cylinders
that had tiny prongs that lifted up.
The front yard was enclosed by pine trees which protected a tennis court.
When fall arrived it was hard to leave this lovely home and return to the flat in Roxbury at 2440 Washington Street. This flat was on the level of the elevated train, quite near our building. I showed my love of numbers by recording each train number and writing them in the spaces of a Green Stamp book.
That coming fall, I went to a public school in Roxbury. One day my teacher asked me to carry some books to another room. The teacher of that room asked me a question. I must have given the wrong answer because she called me a liar. When I told my mother about it, she said I was not to go back to that school and enrolled me in a private school. During this time we moved to Cambridge and my niece Gertrude was born in 1913. To finish my schooling in this private school in Roxbury, I traveled by streetcar. From this school I graduated.
With High School ahead of me, my mother and brother Forrest thought that Watertown High seemed the best one. So we moved to Watertown in 1914. My four years in Watertown High were wonderful happy years. I was active in so many things. Two events stand out in my mind. My gym teacher, Miss Andrews, selected me to lead the grand entrance march which included the entire student body in the annual gymnastic exhibition. The next thing of interest to me was my lead in the Junior play.
On my sixteenth birthday, my mother, my brother Henry Carley, and I went into the city of Boston to celebrate. Carley had graduated from Roxbury Latin High School and was now employed by the National City Bank of Boston. With a little money in his pocket, he wanted to buy me something. I needed a pair kid gloves, so that was to be my gift. The clerk had me make a fist and measured my hand. Carley, not knowing this procedure, only heard the clerk say, "this tray is sevens". Carley, thinking that was the price, nearly fainted. We soon relieved his distress by telling him that 'sevens' was the size of the gloves.
By the time I was a Senior, I realized that money was a real problem for Mother and me. We lived in rented rooms. Both my brothers were married by this time, Forrest in New York, and Carley on Staten Island. I was soon to graduate and I knew I was expected to share the expense of living for Mother and me. One day after school, I went to see the principal to tell him it was necessary for me to find a job after graduation. To my great surprise, in a few days I was called to his office. He said, "Miss Izard, I have been informed of a job with the Barrette Company. If you take this job and make good, you may leave school now and come back to graduate with your class."
I'm writing all this because fate had a hand in this; because of this job, I was soon to meet the boy who was destined to be my husband.
It was 1918 and our country was still at war. The girls in my office, 25 of us, decided to run a private dance and invite 25 service men stationed at Tufts College, Mass. After work, my friend Pinga and I were on our way home when I told her I didn't think I would go to the dance. She said, "You must go because there is a girl for every soldier." When we got to the bungalow where the dance was held, the boys were all seated long one side of the hall. We were told to ask a boy to dance and keep them all dancing. For some reason I passed by many of them and stopped almost at the end of the line and asked this young man to dance. We got along so beautifully that we stayed together the whole evening. This was on October 28th and little did we realize that seventeen years later, our sixth child would be born on the same date. On November 11, the war was over. Our friendship continued on for the next four years while Aime went to college and in 1922, we were married.
My husband, Aime Henri Doucette, was born in Laconia New Hampshire, on August 28, 1899. His mother, Albena Dufresne, and his father, Edward Doucette, were French Canadians.
When Aime was still a young boy, the family moved to Hyde Park, Massachusetts. He had two older brothers, Leonard and Justin, and a younger sister, Edith. Aime attended a parochial school for the elementary grades and Hyde Park High, graduating in 1918. He excelled in Art even then.
After being discharged from the Army, he worked awhile and then started his art education for the next four years at Pratt Art School.
[Note: I have the commencement program and it is called Massachusetts Normal Art School."ET"]
While in his senior year, a position opened for an assistant art teacher in Edinboro Normal School. It was customary for his Alma Mater to send their outstanding students into this type of position while in their senior year. So Aime left for Edinboro with the understanding to return to Pratt Institute to graduate with his class and receive his diploma.
While he was in Edinboro, he arrived there in January of 1922, my mother and I moved to Larchmont, New York to be with my brother Forrest. Now that Aime and I were to be married, Mother would now be living with my brother and his family.
On Aime's trip back to Boston to graduate, he stopped in New York and we were married on June 10, 1922, my brother Forrest's 40th birthday. We were married in Father Brady's home because at that time non-Catholics could not be married in the church. After the wedding, we returned to my brother's home for the Wedding breakfast. Those present were my mother, Forrest and his wife, Gladys, and their daughter Gertrude, my brother Carley and his wife, Hazel.
After breakfast, we left to board a ship that ran from New York to Boston. My mother and Carley saw us off.
Arriving in Boston, the next day, Sunday, we went to Hyde Park where Aime's mother held a reception for our Boston friends. On the following Wednesday, Aime graduated from Pratt. In a few days, Aime and l left Boston by train to begin our life together in Edinboro.
When we arrived in Erie, Pennsylvania, the old railroad station was anything but an impressive welcome. Then to top that experience, we had to ride on a trolley car to Edinboro. This was a trip I'll never forget. How the trolley ever stayed on the tracks is a mystery with the swaying and tossing. I guess I must have had a troubled look on my face because Aime said, "Don't worry, we won't be here very long. This is just a stepping stone in our future." He was quite mistaken because we were in Edinboro 38 years.
My first home was a summer cottage on Edinboro Lake called "The Don". Aime's mother came to visit us there. When it was time for her to return to Boston, it so happened that my Aunt Edith, living in St. Louis, was injured in an auto accident. We received word that my mother was leaving New York via Buffalo to go to St. Louis. A student named Burt Morgan drove Aime's mother, Aime, and me to Buffalo where we met my mother. After a short visit to Niagara Falls, we put Aime's mother on the train for Boston and my mother on a train for St. Louis This was the summer of 1922.
We moved from the cottage when winter approached. We moved several times that year. Our first move was to a house next to the creek on West Normal Street. It was poorly built and had just a wood burning stove for heat. So often during the night we would rush to put water on the glowing wall in back of it. We were here for our first Thanksgiving. Waldo and Catherine Bates were our guests. One morning we woke up to find the bathroom sink frozen and lying on the floor.
As winter became more severe, we had to move and rented rooms with the Manross family. We stayed there just one week - the sulphur gas from the furnace forced us out. We found rooms with Mr. Frank Pulling. This house was located where the Edinboro Fire Station is now. While we lived there, Aime had an appendix operation at Hamot Hospital in Erie.
That spring of 1923, we finally found a house on Meadville Street. When we moved to this house, the main road through town was a dirt road, the trolley car tracks on the sides of the road and in our first years in this house, the tracks were just beyond the sidewalk. Before the road was paved there were very few walks to cross the street. Little did we realize that way in the future, two of our daughters, not yet born, would live in this same house.
My mother came to visit us there but her health was failing and Dr. Ghering advised us to have her return to Boston and her own doctor. When we learned that she had to have surgery, I went to Boston to be with her. I lived with Aime's folks while there. When the doctor decided Mother could travel, my brother Forrest and I went with Mother by train to New York to be in Larchmont where she would be happier than in the hospital.
We brought a trained nurse with us from Boston but Mother insisted that I was to take care of her. She was failing fast so we did everything she wanted. She died March 15, 1924 after two weeks in Larchmont. So my two brothers and I traveled by train with Mother's body to Chicago. When the train stopped in Erie, Aime joined us. She is buried in Forest Home Cemetary where her father and mother, brothers and sisters are buried.
I felt so lost after my mother died, I wanted a child to fill my life. My prayers were answered. At 6:30 Monday morning on February 2nd, 1925, my son Forrest Henry was born. He was named after my two brothers. The name meant a lot to me. We learned some time later that he was the fifth person whose names were Forrest Henry in that small town of Edinboro, Pennsylvania.
The roads to Cambridge Springs, where the Catholic Church was, were so bad that Father Blake came to our home for Forrest's Christening. Mildred Forness, the college librarian, and Lawrence Blaney, a student at Edinboro and a very good friend, were his God Parents.
It had been a long time since a baby had joined the faculty family so his birth caused a lot of happy plans. Miss Florence Kunkle, the Dean of Women, planned a "diaper tea". All the women faculty and wives of faculty were invited to come to my house. Each one was to bring a needle and thread to hem by hand diapers. I had bought a bolt of material which was cut in diaper lengths and handed out to each lady. I must add here that Forrest's diapers were hemmed by hand. When my second son was born, his diapers were hemmed by machine, and when our third boy was born, his diapers were not hemmed at all.
The party was a delight in every way. For the dessert, Florence cut a long loaf of bread lengthwise to make a three layer block. Filled between these long slices were delicious spreads. The whole loaf was then covered with cream cheese which she then decorated the top of each slice with one long and two short gold colored safety pins. Such a clever idea!
Aime made me a beautiful wardrobe and tiny hangers for all the clothes I was making and receiving, the lovely blankets, and so forth. It was a beautiful sight. He also made the crib which was used for all seven of our children.
Forrest Henry entered this world on a Monday at 6:30 a.m. after taking eighteen hours to make his appearance. It was worth it all, for now I had a fine, healthy, beautiful son. So far in my life I had not had any experience with babies, so it was all new and wonderful. When it came time for me to give him his first bath, I had my neighbor with me to make sure I did it right. When I hesitated to begin, she said to me, "Pick him up, he won't break."
With Christmas coming along, Mr. Emery of the Music Department began to plan a Christmas Pageant. Now that he had a new faculty baby, he asked us to play the role of Mary and Child.
One evening in 1925, Edinboro experienced a slight earthquake. Baby Forrest was asleep in his crib. In his room I had a rocking chair. When the quake came, the rocker happened to be at an angle so the quake started it to rock. This frightened me. I rushed upstairs afraid something had happened to Forrest. I found him still sound asleep and by then, everything was back to normal.
When Forrest was about eight months old, I had an appendix attack and had to have an operation immediately. What to do with the baby because I was nursing him? First, Dr. Ghering thought the baby should go to the hospital with me but Mrs. Ghering said "No"; that she would take care of Forrest and be sure that he was properly weaned. Dr. and Mrs. Ghering were always wonderful friends.
Soon after I returned home, we found a larger home, the Howe house on West Normal Street. Forrest had his first birthday party there. Dr. Ghering was on hand but Mrs. Ghering was soon to have a child, Harold, who was born soon after and the boy she prayed for. Having two girls, she wanted a boy, especially after taking care of Forrest.
While we were living there, Dr. Crawford, the president of Edinboro Normal School called on us to inform us that Edinboro was to be Edinboro State Teachers College and that all the faculty must have a Masters Degree. That meant that Aime had to take the year off and go back to college. His position would be waiting for him when he returned. I was pregnant for my second child so the best thing for me was to go to Boston with him.
Leaving Edinboro for Boston, we drove by car as far as Albany, New York with Eleanor and Asa Skelton. There we took a train for New York and were met by my brother Forrest and stayed in Larchmont, New York; a few days before leaving for Boston by ship.
Ronald Frederick was born on Tuesday, January 11, 1927 at 3:05 in the afternoon, at Jamaica Plain Hospital, Boston. We named him Ronald after a very good friend and Frederick after my father. Aime graduated in June and we four took the train to Erie. On our way to the diner car on the train, Aime carried Forrest and I had baby Ronald in my arms. As we passed through the passenger car, a lady passenger stopped me and asked to hold the baby while we ate.
We had to find a place to live when we returned to Edinboro U. During those few days, we stayed with a friend, Mrs. Mae Klingensmith. From then on the children called her "Aunty K". We found and moved into the Miller House on East Normal Street. Many events happened while we lived there - some good, some bad.
Among my fondest memories of 1927 were the afternoons while feeding baby Ronnie. I would hold him and rock him while Forrest, age two, would sit on the floor at my feet and point out the letters and numbers he was learning from his picture books. A wonderful feeling of togetherness with my two sons.
It so happened that on a day such as this, on June 23, 1927, Carley called from New York to tell me that our father had died. My mother and father had separated when I was a very small child and I never knew my father. As I grew older, I always had in my mind that someday I would know this man. But time ran out before I accomplished this. With two babies, it was impossible for me to go to Muskegon, Michigan for the funeral. I sent red roses and my brothers, who were there, placed one of the roses in my father's hand before the coffin was closed. Years later, in 1954, Aime and I visited his grave.
While living in this house, Aime and I were very active in church work. Having no church in Edinboro, we traveled to St. Anthonys in Cambridge Springs. We had so many friends there. I decided to have a dinner and an evening of cards every March 17th. Father Blake looked forward to this gathering and was always the life of the party. One of those parties stands out in particular. I served creamed chicken on biscuit. Poor Father's plate got too close to the edge of the table and over it went, chicken and gravy all over him. Everyone was so quiet, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. When I came into the room and saw him standing there with the food dripping from him, I started to laugh; then everyone did when Father said, "Glory be to God!", his favorite remark. I got a newspaper for him to stand on and proceded to clean his suit.
I remember taking red roses for the Virgin's statue one Christmas Eve and slipped on the icy steps going into the church, hit my nose on the door, causing it to bleed. When Father saw me, he said, "Glory be to God, girl, you can love the church but you don't have to kiss the door!"
This was the year I joined the Catholic faith. I remember sitting in the dining room, working on a patchwork quilt, while I studied my Catechism. God must have had a great influence because the faith and love for the Church brought me through many trials and heartaches.
Edward was born while we lived here at 5:00, Wednesday afternoon, on May 21, 1929. We named him Edward Izard. Edward for his grandfather Edward Doucette and Izard, my maiden name. His big brown eyes would melt your heart. As he grew older, I dressed him in brown because it was so becoming on him. When he grew older, he told me that when he bought his own clothes, they would not be brown.
The congregation of St. Anthony Church was like a big family. They were such a congenial group. We all enjoyed being together. Father Blake was always a part of us. Essie and George Smith, Nellie and Floyd Gray, Sally and Edward Kruska were our particular friends. When Father Blake was transferred to Clearfield, Virginia, he soon died of a broken heart.
The Christmas season had arrived. I had a plaque of the Virgin and Baby. Dad nailed an upright board on the back of a tall table. Over all this I draped a black cloth and hung the plaque from the upright board. I had two metal candle stick holders to place in front of the plaque. I placed the table in front of the large window so it could be seen at night from the street.
During the evening, the candles had burned down, so I replaced them. Little did I realize the metal holders were hot. Not too long after, I smelled smoke, rushed into the room, and found the black drape in flames. After pulling the table away from the drapes in the window, I rushed to the kitchen for water. In my rush and nervousness, by the time I reached the fire, I had very little water in the dish pan. So I just took the pan and beat out the fire. Dad was not there to help me as he was teaching an evening class.
I remember one afternoon while I war preparing for one of these parties for the Church members, I happened to see Mrs. Wheatley coming down the street. With so many things yet to do, I made the remark, "I do hope she doesn't stop here today!" Forrest was then a very small boy, but he overheard me. He answered the door for Mrs. Wheatley and I heard him say, "Mother was hoping you wouldn't stop, she had so much to do." Mrs. Wheatley understood perfectly, came in and laughingly said that she would come again another time.
While living in this house, we acquired a huge dog the children called Nickademous. He found a slaughter house some where in town and every day we would have to clear the front yard of bones. How he ever dragged some of these huge ones home, I"ll never know. The children would harness him to their wagon for rides.
We also had a surprise visit from my Aunts Edith and Gertrude from Chicago. They were so impressed by all the various vegetables we grew in our garden. Dad had also built a sand box for our boys and the neighbor's children, Dale and Jean Webster.
[I just realized, Mother started using the name Dad just after the part about the birth of Edward."ET"]
When Edward was a few months old, I decided to take my driver's test. I had him in a carrier in the back seat of the car. Mrs. John Doeing drove with me to Erie. After the test (which I passed incidentally), I was really upset with the officer because not once did he look at my beautiful baby. This was in 1929.
Now it was 1931 and I was expecting my fourth child. Already having three boys; two, four, and six, Grandma Doucette came from Boston to help me. Uncle Justin drove her to Edinboro.
On May 30th, a terrible thunderstorm hit Edinboro. The lightning struck our home and damaged the radio. Before the storm broke, I had gone over to our neighbor for some green onions. I waited there for the storm to subside and when the family couldn't find me, they thought something had happened to me. The lightning had struck the Doeing house and barn, too.
A roomer had just stepped out of the bathtub when their house was struck, moving the bathtub several inches. Water started to run out of the tub, flooding the bathroom and starting through the floor to the kitchen below. The bather was fortunate to be out of the bath, the lightning would have killed her. Then we saw Mr. Doeing coming from the barn dripping with milk. He had been milking the cow when the lightning struck the barn.
Dr. Ghering, knowing that my baby was due, told the nurse to be ready for me because of the experience with the storm and sure enough, Aimee Elva was born at 12:00 Noon the next day, Sunday, May 31st. It was wonderful to have a little girl to go with my three boys. While in the clinic, Grandma Doucette was called home to Boston. From the hospital, I called Abby Wetsall to take over the care of the family. From then on she worked for me for years.
Boys will be boys and on one particular Saturday, Ronnie was hit on the head with a golf club and had to have stitches. Edward, riding his little wagon, ran off the steps and put his teeth through his lower lip. Dr. Ghering put a clip in this but Edward worked it out with his tongue. What a day that was! Dr. Ghering tried to cheer me up by asking me if it was safe to close the clinic that night.
I had to have Abby to care for the family while I was isolated along with Forrest during his sickness with Scarlet fever, just after he was burned so badly. When Forrest was burned, Dad was working out of town. I called him by phone and then called Dr. Ghering. Laying Forrest on the front-room couch, the first thing I did was cut off his jeans. One leg was burned badly and I felt so helpless. The doctor soon arrived and we managed to undress Forrest and get him into bed. He was probably seven years old. Finding out the story later, it seems that he and his little friends went fishing. Coming back to the field in back of our house, they built a fire. Not being too successful with this, Forrest took it upon himself to get some kerosene to help the fire along. In doing this, he had spilled some kerosene on his pant leg. When he came close to the fire, his pant leg caught ablaze.
The treatment for this burn was very painful because the burn on the back of the knee caused the tendons to pull the leg in such a way that the heel was drawn up to his buttocks. This had to be pulled down little by little each day. Dad, seeing what was needed, made a contraption of two boards about eight inches square with a bolt at each corner. After we had worked to get the leg down enough to put a board under his knee, we placed the other board on top of his knee and bolted them together. The bolts were tightened until the skin on the back of his knee gave. This was torture but it had to be done.
To hold him down, the doctor had me lie across his body. When my neighbor, Mrs. Doeing, saw the doctor coming, she took that time to use the vacuum cleaner so she couldn't hear Forrest's screams. Every day, we tightened the bolts until the skin gave again.
After several days passed, Forrest broke out with a rash. Dr. Ghering said when he saw Forrest, "I've never said this before, but the boy has Scarlet Fever, thank God. If this fever was from the burn, I couldn't save him."
Father McManaman was
at the house when Forrest went out doors for the first time. We all walked
to the center of town for an ice cream, Forrest in a wheelchair. When Forrest
was well enough to stand on his feet, we found that the burn had
caused the leg to be shorter than the other leg. When Father McManaman
came to the house and realized the situation, he said, "I know what I"ll
get him!" He bought roller skates for him and Forrest, such a brave
little fellow, realized he had to get that leg down. So he was so faithful
skating every day, until his leg would bleed. I would clean the leg and
a new dressing and the next day he would be out there skating again. I am happy to say that he won his battle and the leg is straight but badly scarred. Later in life he joined the Navy and was delighted to be told he could. His leg was healthy and the scar was a good identification mark. He rose in rank and retired as a Captain.
Now it is 1933 and my fifth child was due at anytime. Dad belonged to a bridge club and to be on the safe side, the men met at our home to be on hand if I needed help. The men were Chalmer Swift, Harry Cooper and Alan Rye. The men had fun deciding which child they would baby-sit for. Winnie Perry, who lived with us full time, left the house but made arrangements with me in case I needed her - to light the front porch light and she would return home.
The baby decided to be born, so when Dad and I left for the clinic, the men stayed until Winnie returned. Robert Leonard was born at 2:05 a.m. on Friday, May 5, 1933. Robert was a name Dad and I liked and Leonard was after Dad's brother.
While in the clinic, Dad asked me if I would consider moving into the "haunted house". I thought this idea quite impossible because there were squatters living there. The owner of the house was delighted to have us take over the place. The house was in such a terrible dirty condition, Dad actually hosed the place down. Grandpa Doucette was living with us at this time so he helped Dad renovate the place. Grandpa was scrapping the dirt from the dining room floor and after moving layers of dirt, he discovered a quarter round around the base board. The whole house was in similar condition.
Dad wouldn't let me near the house until he had completely cleaned the place and fumigated it. Each room had to be papered and painted. Winnie and I went up one day to wash the windows before moving in. I had baby Robert with us bedded down on blankets on the floor. Now the house was beautiful again. The boys have a great recollection of riding on the truck carrying the furniture to the house on the hill on moving day. The old house is the show place of Edinboro, built in 1840, it has quite a history in its own right.
The yard was another problem. A huge pile of ashes and clinkers with a bed spring topping it, had to be removed. This was a job for the boys to get this mess to the town dump. The lawn was nothing but huge lumps of grass and dirt. A young high school girl was living with us then named Olga Schpola. With her help, we gradually got the yard under control.
The next project was to demolish the old barn. Dad thought it unsafe with three active boys that might venture into. When the barn was taken away, there were many huge boulders left that the barn rested on. These were far too large to carry away, so deep holes were dug beside each one and when the hole was deep enough, the boulder was pushed in and covered up. The last boulder was far too big and heavy to be pushed by hand so Eddie Zessinger drove up with a machine and pushed this one out of sight.
The house was soon given the name "House on the Hill". In the winter, the driveway became the gathering sporting place for the young people with their sleds. Starting at the head of the driveway, across the Water Street (there were very few cars in those days) and down West Normal Street to the bridge; a perfect long ride with someone always guarding the street crossing. It was quite safe. With all this activity, the driveway became so slippery that our car found it impossible to climb it.
The house had been neglected for so many years that when Dad decided to paint it, the wood soaked up the paint like a sponge. The roof, too, had to be replaced so the cupola was taken down, much to the distress of Park Skelton. He had fond memories of this cupola, because when the house was empty years before, he and his girl friend climbed up to it and there he proposed marriage.
The land we bought with the house was seventeen acres. On the land between our house and the Croziers, Dad had planted a garden. The Golden Bantum corn was always such a treat. One year Dad planted potatoes and when dug, he had the boys make a mound of them in the side yard. We were to have potatoes for the whole year. Winter came and the snow covered the mountain of potatoes. The boys thought of it as a slide for sleds and used ski poles to climb it, making holes for air and weather to rot the whole thing. Dad's reaction was a sorrowful one.
The next step to improve
the property was the path leading up to the house. It was not attractive.
Dad bought railroad ties and placed them about eight feet apart. He then
filled the spaces between with gravel.
Notes that mother had written down but had not put into any chronological order.
The North wind doth
blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor Robin do then, poor thing?
He' ll sit in the barn to keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing, poor thing."
In later years, the
boys helped to clean after the evening meal. I would wash the dishes, Forrest
would dry them, Ronald would clear the table, and Edward would put the
dishes away. We would enjoy this task and made it fun by singing
all the songs popular at that time.