My closest friends, for some strange reason, were all named Mary. At the Convent school, I had a “best friend”, Mary Buchwald. She played clarinet in the Convent orchestra. When I was offered an instrument, my choice was the clarinet, as Mary played. We were together in the orchestra and it suited me right down to the ground. After Mary B. left the Convent, another Mary came along. She was Mary Szabo, and she had the most beautiful long black hair, a braid across each shoulder, nearly to her waist. We nick-named her Ramona, after the Indian maid. She is still a good friend, though she and her husband Bob Ruppert, have moved to Wisconsin. We correspond only at Christmas but still consider ourselves “best friends.”
My third dearest and best friend Mary, I met after we moved here to Richfield. I was so forlorn and disheartened when we moved here, with an unfinished house, little kids, no friends and no way to get any place. Mary Horn made herself known to me, and in many little subtle ways, brought me into the community and introduced me to others, who also became our friends. Mary Horn and I used each other for “crying towels”—we were both having some troubles with our married daughters at that time; and we were confessors to each other, for venting our frustrations over our kids, a sharer of each other’s heartaches as well as each other’s joys and triumphs. My best and last “best friend” died of cancer of the pancreas, in June 1974, and I still miss her horribly, even today, many years later. I’ve had many other friends over the years, that I still keep in touch with, but these three Marys were my best and dearest friends.
Organizations and I didn’t get along very well. I’ve always been more or less a “do-it-yourself” type of person. Never card to mingle with groups. I did join the Friendship Quilt Club when our Bobby was about 3 years old. Hand in hand, we’d walk to wherever the quilting was to be held that day. He’d take a toy and play very quietly by himself while we ladies quilted (and gossiped), then after lunch he’d curl up in a corner someplace and nap. I became secretary of the Club and later, president for 2 years. Stayed in the Quilt Club until I went to work 2 days a week at the Mount Augustine Convent.
I enjoyed working there, with the nuns, ‘til I had to have foot surgery in 1972. Went back to work there again, maybe in 5-6 weeks, as a seamstress in the laundry, until they got another retired teacher-nun to help full-time. Since then, I have stayed at home, “doing my own thing,’ which constituted some quilting, but mostly now my new hobby, making crocheted afghans.
I have always voted, primary or national, since I was old enough. Mostly you could say I’ve voted Democrat, thought I’ve swung to the other ticket if the Republican was the better, in my opinion. Voted for Roosevelt in 1932 because he promised to bring the country out of the depression. He did that and put men to work on Public Works Projects to keep them off the relief rolls. Voted for Ike because he’d been a War General and thought he’d be able to keep us out of another war. He did, but we got into the Asian wars, (Korea, Laos and Vietnam) later. I didn’t vote for Nixon because I didn’t trust him an inch. His presidency proved him to be a vicious and sneaky individual. I did not vote for Carter, when Ford took over Nixon’s unfinished term, because there was too little known about him as a forceful man who could hold the reins of our country. His term has proved that he is still a peanut farmer at heart, who doesn’t know how to keep our country on an even keel. He is too wishy-washy and too undecided on the major issues that are tearing our beloved country apart.
My philosophy in life is to “Do the very best you can, while you trust in God to give you the gifts and talents that will permit you to do your best in whatever state in life you find yourself placed.” I yearned all my life to be a good wife to a good man, to be a good mother to our children. I have a wonderful husband who has been a good friend, lover and companion as well as husband and father. We raised our four children under hardships and near poverty, but we didn’t consider them as hardships, nor did we consider ourselves “poor.” We had little in the way of luxuries, but we had close ties to all our family members, brothers, sisters, in-laws, parents, and visited relatives and friends frequently. Our children have grown even closer to each other as they’ve grown up and married. And their children too are “friends” with each other. Even though there have been two divorcers in our immediate family, the love and the caring are still there.
The happiest days of our lives were while we were working and struggling against odds, to rear our children and somehow or other to have a home of our own. We did accomplish these things, much to our joy and peace of mind and heart.
I mentioned earlier in this chronicle that I am Catholic. Frank’s and my family were averse to our marrying, but we eloped anyhow. We raised our four children in the Catholic faith but one by one they deserted the Church they’d been brought up in. After 45 years of prayer, Frank finally gave me the great joy of becoming a Catholic. My heart overflowed with joy and gratitude to God when first Linda, then Diane, then Joey, then Beth, then Joyce, all married into the church. They all, except Diane, married Catholic spouses. Diane didn’t even tell us she was receiving instructions in the Faith until she was nearly ready to be received into the church. With all these grandchildren coming into the Church, my prayer and hope is that their parents will eventually return to the church of their youth.
There is no particular passage or verse in the Bible that is my favorite, but my favorite prayer is the Serenity Prayer, especially where it says “Give me the grace to know WHAT to do, and the strength to do it.”
The changes in technology since we were married are really amazing. Our first cars were purchased for $25.00 used. They were junk heaps, long past their prime, but Frank was mechanically inclined enough to keep them running well enough to get him to his job. Washing machine or dryer, we had neither ‘til long after our last child was born and someone gave us a used washer—and I was in seventh heaven. Our oldest daughter and her husband gave us an electric dryer for Christmas in 1970 and that was the BERRIES. While our kids were growing up, television became a household word, but we couldn’t get one. When Frank came home from the hospital after an appendix operation, we rented a TV while he recuperated. Since then we’ve had several small TV sets and in 1980 finally bought our first color TV 19” screen. The breakthroughs in medicine and space exploration are particularly thrilling. So many diseases are just unheard of and unknown today, thanks to research and dedicated doctors. Space is just something we watched cloud formations in. Who could believe man would “take one small step” (on the moon) for such magnitude of things they’d discovered, of vital significance to mankind.
And, UFO study is certainly turning up some mind boggling information about creatures from SOMEWHERE in outer space. They have to be more advanced and intelligent than our own earth planet occupants, to have such sophisticated vehicles to approach our Earth planet with. What worries me most of all is that our children (or their children) will have to suffer the holocaust of nuclear war. It will devastate the earth and make it completely uninhabitable for generations or longer.
I know that my prayers were answered in several instances. When I learned I had cancer, I prayed I’d be cured so I could continue to be a good wife and mother; so that my children wouldn’t be left motherless at their tender ages. I know my prayers were answered when my beloved husband, then our grandchildren came into my own Catholic Faith. Other prayers too, for “safe journeys,” “job possibilities,” “family reunions,” etc., have all been answered. Our grand children are following the example of their parents before them, and their grandparents took in striving to put a lot of loving and caring into their marriages so they will last. Frank and I have little less than a year to go, to celebrate our Golden Wedding Anniversary, and they have been very happy years. There have been differences of opinion, tears, sorrow, quarrels and sickness. But on the whole, I wouldn’t change one year of our marriage for all the travel and jet-setting, or palatial abodes or fabulous jobs or anything else that could possibly be offered. No matter what we had, or didn’t have, our home and our hearts were always filled with love for each other and for our children and their children.
Our kids and their kids meant everything in the world to us, and each other. There is nothing, but NOTHING in the world more important than a loving relationship beween parents and their children. Our children disappointed us at times, and I know we must have disappointed our children at times too, but the loving relationship still stands. I feel especially strong on this point because I was shuffled around so much in my childhood and never really know or had a “home” that I was very determined that my husband and my children would never be deprived of live and a family relationship as I was deprived.
Laura Emma Marie Lytle Neillie, This day of March 18, 1981, 8:20 p.m.