Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where the glue didn’t stick

Dad’s mother was one of ten children, nine surviving.  Mary Cecelia Maley (or Melia) was married to James Lindsay Hogue in 1887.  The ten children were Mary Emma (Mamie, dad’s mother), Elizabeth Cecelia (Aunt Bessie), Eveline Cecelia (Aunt Eva), Agnes Genevieve (Aunt Gen), Sarah (who died at eight months of age), James Lindsey, Margaret Helena (Aunt Helen), John William, Albert Martin and Clarence Soloman (Taps or Tip).  These are the grandparents who lived on Bisson Avenue and took in the Lytle family when they came from Coalmont to Akron in 1914, after Aunt Ruth was born but before Aunt Helen Rita.  This is dad’s grandmother, whose head touched the top of the door frame.

These were my dad’s aunts and uncles.  But some aunts and uncles were born in the same time frame as my dad and his siblings, and were children together.  Mary and James Hogue were married in Deerpark, Maryland and the first six children were born there.  Mary Emma HogueogH, or Mamie, Dad’s mother, was the oldest, born in 1889.  By 1901 the Hogues lived in Akron, where the last four children were born.  Mamie married George Marion Lytle from Coalmont, Pennsylvania in 1906, when she was 18.  Dad was born in Coalmont in 1907.  So, Dad’s Uncle Taps was his age, his Uncle Al was two years older, Uncle John four years older, and so on.  On Bisson Avenue they were simply Taps, Al and a couple of Johns.  Dad was Robin, to make the distinction.

I had plenty of second cousins living not so far from me.  But in a separate universe.  Many of them had red hair, from carrot to auburn.  How I envied them the red hair, like dad envying Taps the shoes.  I passed them often on the way to school, me walking down to Jennings and they up to St. Martha’s.  Sometimes they said Hello back.

Some of these aunts of my father lived less than two miles from us, and a circle less than five miles in diameter could have encompassed the lot. Some came to our house when my Grandma Lytle died.  I can remember one visit to Aunt Gen, one to Aunt Helen.  In my entire life!   Both visits were to see my Aunt Ruth, who was also visiting there.  My father probably would not have gone on his own; I’m sure mom drug him.

My dad was bitter about parts of his childhood.  I believe he took responsibility for himself from the day he was born and always strove for the best possible outcome.  His anger was toward those who made imperious decisions about small children. And the Catholic Church, which he held as responsible for so many hungry, homeless children as their parents.  The church did not put a roof over your head or food on the table; do not sin, be good to your mother and pray for the priest did not translate to a bed or a meal.  I know he did not factor in the despair of eighteen people in his grandmother’s house, his mother needing to move every time the rent was due.  I do not know how he felt about going for a picnic and not coming back from the Children’s Home.  But I do know how he felt about Uncle Bill’s lack of education, Aunt Laura being put in vocational education, Aunt Ruth in college (at the Convent) but eventually taking orders.  His cousin Pat put in the guardianship of a distant family acquaintance in Texas, after the death of her own parents when she was quite young.  He always saw what happened to the other children as unequal and unfair, engineered by his grandmother, his mother, his aunts, the church. 

Mother, the family glue, was no more successful than my dad at getting Uncle Bill back, and they certainly were not allowed to assume guardianship of Pat, who is only a couple years older than I.  The great Catholic machine moved on; no one would meet my parents half way.  In a small aside, contact was kept with Pat who made a good life in Texas, when she was old enough to leave her guardian.  A story similar to Aunt Laura’s!  But, her wonderful husband doesn’t have a wooden leg, and her children do have red hair, just like she did.  And, she has not been Catholic since the age of 18.

So, mom wasn’t able to spread the family glue to the Akron contingent, excepting Pat and Aunt Eva.  Like Uncle Bill, Aunt Eva was under educated; I doubt her education went past third grade.  She was married to (as opposed to “she married”) a Charles Minor; she refused to live with him.  Aunt Eva took in laundry, did domestic work.  She watched after Pat before Pat went to Texas.  Eventually she lived with Aunt Helen Rita, then with Aunt Helen Rita’s daughter, Margie.  She visited often with us.  Jan tells of Aunt Eva taking her down to Scott’s Five and Dime in downtown Akron, in a taxi.  When Aunt Eva was done shopping she asked the store manager to call another taxi, and Jan and Aunt Eva sat on the bench and waited.

But, my aunts said they made their lives good and happy.  You don’t have what you don’t have; get on with what you do.  Aunt Ruth was a nurse for many years, and later taught nursing.  Aunt Laura and Aunt Helen Rita raised loving families, Uncle Bill came home, Pat loves living south of the Red river.  And I’m writing down as much as I remember, because my daughter did not know her grandpa was called Robin.  Before he was called Jack.

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