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Sunday, September 25, 2011

LAURA NEILLIE, MY CHRONICLE. MARCH 18, 1981 - POST 3




I was still working at Charity Hospital switchboard.  One day a young man came in to see the Superior at the Hospital.  When he’d finished his business, he came back to the switchboard and asked me “where the other girl was.”  I told him she’d gone home and wouldn’t be back to work until 7:00 o’clock the next morning.  I was still very shy and timid, but something must have loosened my tongue, ‘cause I accused him of wanting a date with the other girl.  He blushed and stammered, so I told him Catherine was too old for him, why didn’t he ask me for a date?  So, by golly, he did, and I was amazed and ashamed of my own boldness.  But he did show up the night he said he would, and took me to the old Hippodrome Theater downtown.  I even remember the movie, Joan Crawford, in “Are these Our Children?”  Afterwards, we went down to the old 9th St. Pier and sat watching the water and fighting mosquitoes.  He was smoking a pipe, but that didn’t faze the mosquitoes, they finally chased us home.  We had a number of dates after that first one, but didn’t have money for eating out, or movie treats, very often.  It wasn’t long, (about six months, I’d say) before we decided we were truly in love and made for each other.

His mother didn’t want us to marry, as I am Catholic and he was not.  My mother didn’t want us to marry as she designated him a “cripple.”  He does wear an artificial leg, but at no time in his life has he ever considered himself a cripple in any manner.  So we just took the bull by the horns and eloped to New Cumberland, West Virginia, where we were married before a “marryin’ parson”, the Reverand Howland.  We left quietly on Friday a.m.,  got our license from Mrs. Pearl Friday evening and she sent us walking down the street where she said there were several “marryin’ parsons.”  We picked one out and he married us.  When Frank asked him how much he owed, the parson told him, “As much as your little bride is worth.”  Frank told him I was worth a million but he only had $2.00.  The parson accepted that, and was probably darn glad to get it, as this was in the deep of the depression.  We stayed that night at the Green Lantern, (rent, $1.00), right there beside the railroad tracks.  We were on the second floor and the trains went right by the window.  Had the window been open (in February?), we could probably have touched the trains with our hands.  Saturday night we stayed at Appels’ Guest House, a beautiful room in their home. They gave us breakfast, and we started off for home.  We stopped at the Lincoln Restaurant in East Liverpool for supper.  Had soup to nuts, for $.75 apiece.  He actually served us a bowl of soup to start, then a full-course dinner, then a bowl of nuts and mints to top it off with.  What a meal. Try and find anything so good now, at that price?  When we got to Cleveland, Frank called his sister and asked if it was safe for us to come home.  She said yes, it was safe, but we could expect a cool reception.  “Cool” wasn’t the word for it, it was just downright “frigid.”  We stayed at Frank’s parents’ about two months.  Marion was young, still in school and Mother Neillie didn’t want us around holding hands in front of Marion.  So she gave us money for rent and we went out apartment-looking.  The only thing we could find that we could afford was a little 2 room box off Hough Ave. in Cleveland.  It was in the heart of prostitute territory and as a matter of fact, the house was a prostitute’s apartment house.  But, we didn’t know that at the time.

Our next move was to James Paige’s home where we had another 2 room apartment.  Mr. Paige was a wonderful old man and his housekeeper, Mrs. Weeks, mothered Frank and me.  Our first daughter, Kathleen was born there.  We moved across the hall to his 3 room apartment later, and our second daughter Pat was conceived there.  We needed larger quarters, expecting our second baby, so Frank found a small 2 story, 4 room house in Independence, Ohio.  No running water, a pump at the kitchen sink, and a privy out back.  In spite of the inconveniences, we were extremely happy there.  The landlord hadn’t wanted to rent to us, with a little one and another coming, but he finally relented and let us move in.  He fell in love with our Kathleen and would stop by our door in the morning on the way to his garden, down the street and ask if Kat-a-lin could go with him.   He’d plump her into his wheelbarrow and away they’d go until lunch time.  It was a morning ritual.  He and his son had a jewelry store in Cleveland and he told his son to bring him a little ring with a diamond chip in it.  Kathy wore the ring until her hand grew too large for it.  When our Pat was born, he got a ring for her too.  Our landlord died shortly after Pat was born.  We stayed on there in the little house and eventually our daughter Ellen was born, 1936.

My brother John was staying with us while his boat was laid up (he was a radio operator on the coal barges plying Lake Erie) and I had gone to the grocery store one day while the girls were down for their naps.  Ellen was about 6 months old at the time, napping in her buggy in the living room.  Kathleen and Pat were asleep in their beds upstairs.  While I was gone, a terrible electrical storm came up and lightening struck our house.  The landlord told Frank to get as much insurance as he possibly could, as he had paid insurance on the houses (he and his family owned nearly all the houses on the street) for years and had never collected anything back in the way of insurance.  Told him to repair the damage to the house and keep whatever money was left, for his labor.  With the $100.00 left, we hired a realtor to find us a piece of property we could afford.  Our constant dream and hope was to someday have a home of our own.  He finally found a place in Richfield that we bought with $75.00, one acre, bare as a baby’s bottom.

1 comment:

  1. What a marvellous story. I can just see that young couple in those humble surroundings..so happy with their babies.

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