Thursday, January 12, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

Uncle Mario, age 12 or 13?
To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

Stepping back, my brothes and sisters got along well. And each had their own friends.

My brother, Mario, was a problem at school and at home when we were in grammar school. My father gave up that he would be a scholar. And there were complaints from school, etc. And our community was still old-fashioned as we, the born in America children, we were all for America, while elders maintained their views which were  European. And an attitude that Americans were stupid. They criticized our system. And then there was the group that adopted American ways. They became citizens but somehow held fast to European customs.

My father could not accept Mario's attitude and his concern was that he would eventually cause a lot of big trouble. So he evidently got Uncle Vincent [ed: a lawyer] to use some power with the people in charge of our government and had Mario put in a state school for children that eventually could become criminal minded. And Mario was sent to one. I forgot what it was called. Father was criticized because Mario didn't do anything bad. At that time, in fact even the employees at the so called school asked what he was doing there. He hadn't committed crimes or came close to that. Mother was heart broken and never forgave my father for doing that. At the time, I was still too young to know what it was all about. Mama went to see Mario and took me to Holyoke [ed: Massachusetts] by train. Mario wanted to come home and wanted to know when. She told him soon. Just be a good boy and he would be home. He stayed there about 4 months.  School was not for him. And he got to be an errand boy and helper for the oil man. And later got a job with him. And when he was old enough went into the building trade. Drove trucks, and moved furniture furntiture, pianos, lumber.

He had a heart of gold and his bark as it was said was worse this his bite.

[ed: Part of what I was told about Uncle Mario. My mother told me Mario had been sent to the Lyman School for Boys in Westboro, Massachusetts. Coming from the city, it would have seemed like Dad and his mother were traveling clear across the state. Westboro is in the middle of the state and to a Bostonian right at the end of the earth. Students at the school, according to Wikipedia , were subject to harsh discipline. When I was a kid, we would pass by the school on the way to a shopping expedition at Spag's in Worcester. My mother would threaten if we were not good, we would be sent to the school. Like going to school with the nuns was a cake walk :-D

Boys also learned a trade ( masonry, caprentry, plumbing, etc.) at the school. I'll have to check with my cousin to see if he knows the name of the school where is father was sent.

What Dad didn't mention was Uncle Mario was a skilled bricklayer. He was a big man. Looked like a refrigerator with a head and had hands the size of hams. I heard stories of the mass quantities of brick he could carry in a hod. Uncle Mario put in brick steps with wrought iron railings at my parents house. The brick work lasted nearly the entire 58 years my parents lived in their home with only a few minor repairs to the brick. He also installed an iron pipe clothesline set in concrete for my mother.  That thing with stood hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms and was still solid the day I sold the house. Uncle must have learned masonry at the school.

I speculate what Dad said he was too young to understand about Uncle's situation. This was during the middle of the Depression. Dad's father was not working or bringing in very little income. My grandmother had worked at a candy factory, before or after she was married is not clear. One thing about my family, the elders rarely talked about what happened while growing up and never talked about other relatives in the area or back in Italy. And we kids were not interested in family history to ask the questions.

Anyway, my grandparents had 5 children. The two oldest, Dad and Uncle Mario, were growing, teenage boys. Not much income, barely able to make ends meet, little food. Dad went to live for a time with his mentor, Skip, and Uncle Mario was sent to the reform school.]

12 comments:

  1. Poor Uncle Mario. It's bad enough when children are bad, but to get sent away because he was "different." I feel this was very discriminatory, and hope in the end that Uncle Mario found his voice in his masonry work.

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    1. I have no doubt. Uncle was big, loud, and tough, but he was also a gentle giant. He was extremely generous to us kids. Of course, you had to endure a bone crushing handshake in which he palmed a dollar bill.

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  2. Poor Uncle Mario is right! How awful for your own father to send you away. In defense of his father, maybe he felt he'd at least get regular meals at the 'school'.

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    1. And Uncle was a wild, mischievous Kid (so was Dad). Grandpa was afraid he was on the path to becoming a criminal. He thought he was doing the best thing. I think this was also a bit of tough love. Get him away from the bad influences. He'd learn a trade, have food and clothing and be scared straight.

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  3. First of all, I am loving these journal entries since I found your blog. Your poor uncle. And if I was your grandmother I wouldn't have forgiven my husband either, but I think he was trying to do his best. And then you mentioned Spag's. Oh my, now those memories came flooding back. I hated that place as a kid because it was always so crowded and it felt like I was going to be trampled. But when I got older I thought it was fun. Especially out in the back part where the aisles were a little wider. But I did not like the garden shed outside because my father would take forever (or so it seemed) in there. Thanks for the memories. (I don't think Spags is there any more, is it? I think they got bought out and closed or something. Hugs-Erika

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    1. I agree, Erika. I think he was just trying to do what he thought would be best.

      Ah, Spag's. I loved going there even though it was crowded. My folks would drop me off in the toy dept. and I would stay there until they came back hours later to get me. Spag passed away in the mid-1990s. His daughters took over the business for a time, but it was never the same. They sold the business to Building 19. That was there for awhile, but that went out of business too. The building is still there but abandoned.

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    1. It was. Desperate times. Desperate measures

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  5. CJ....I enjoy stopping by each week and reading your father's journal; in many ways it is indeed a small world, or the "times" were similar for all of our ancestors.

    My grandfather was sent to live with priests in a rectory up north; he was trouble according to his school teachers; and from what my grandfather told me; I guess he and his brother did cause a bit of mischief ...back in the day ....

    I myself can relate to the nuns at school; I laughed at your dad's comment about the "cake walk " ~~~~ L ♥♥♥

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Laura. The comment about the cake walk was mine :-D Whenever we passed the Lyman School, Ma would say if you're not good, you'll be sent there. Like being with the nuns wasn't punishment enough. Hugs to all the =^.^=

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  6. I just read your question on my black bean dye. I thought I would try an alum mordant next time, but since this fabric will NEVER be washed again, I think it will be fine. I may get a better (darker) color using a mordant, but I was happy with what I got this time. I also thought I would use rubber bands instead of knots next time, too. Hindsight is always 20/20.

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