Thursday, February 2, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

Dad , early 1940s, wearing the white flannel
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:

The next Summer of play school, Skip hired me to do work at his house. He bought a house and people said that wa a bad move because his boss who had to live in the Center's house and have employees next door and also connected with them. They also used the main house and he [ed: Skip] did not have the privacy that families had.

It was also nice. We built a wall and concrete walk. A lot of things. Doris [ed: Skip's wife] would have me stop for a break. I had lunch there, and dinner and went home.

While my repeat year was so so, when I went into the Junrion yrea, I noted that I had Wednesday and Thursday tow study periods on both dates. And one on the other days.

There was a rule in the school that if you were on the Honor Roll, you could check out of school and advise the study room teacher that you were on Honor Roll. On the days that yo had two study periods, one after the other the teacher had discretion and allow you to check ou for both periods. Mine were liberal and I got out right after lunch. It was a nice year for me. I had lots of free time to do my homework and be free for the Center at night.

I also visited my French teacher [ed: at the Donald McKay Jr. High School] and she greeted me with I heard you were on the Honor Roll. I showed the button that said Honor Roll. Even Miss Sullivan was thrilled.

My Senior year was the same. I maintained my Honor Roll status.

In the interim, Skip left theCenter. He had it out with the director. He had been promised by Max Nelson, the assistant position when Max was setting up the Center and he had Skip give up his job in New York and go with him to Boston. That [ed: position] never appeared. Also Max may have been jealous that one of his employees was living in his own home while he had to live with staff up the hill in East Boston.

Skip was out of work for months and he had to sell his house. He lost all his savings. The other thing was that he was what we called insurance poor. He carried over $10,000 worth which required a good monthly payment. He also had a second son.

Fortunately, he managed to get a position as Director to set up the Waltham Boys Club in 1937. And he promised me a job when I graduated in 1938. I don' t know to this day if it was a good move. At the time as graduation approached my teacher in accounting offered me a scholarship. His name was Sullivan. No relation to the Sullivan from my junior high school. I declined since Skip had promised me that I should go to his house in Waltham the day fter July 4th. Gave me directions and I was all set. He also said his wife would be at the farm [ed: Skip's parents] for vacation with the boys so we would have to sort of get our own meals.

Some time before graduation I was stopped by my French teacher, Clarke, who aske me questions about my ability on tests. He asked me if I wanted to get a 70% on a test could I do it? How about 90%? 100%? Each time I said yes. He walked away; he was disgusted. I thought that was great. But as time past I realized that he may have looked at my marks and he saw a red flag and wanted to make sure that I was working will all the cylinders. I wasn't. Ad he was deciding whether or not he coudl put me in for a scholarship. Boston English had a slew of scholarships given to it by its successful graduates etc.

I would not have taken it. My position would not have changed and it would become worse with having to purchase books etc. Money was still tight and my poor mother went to get me a pair of white flannel trousers. [ed: Story I heard from my mother. The graduating class had to wear white flannel trousers. Dad's mother went to work to earn the money to buy the material. His father was a tailor. For whatever reason, his father didn't want to make the pants, but his mother shamed her husband into it. ] I graduated but neither of my parents came. My mother would have if my father took her.

I was able to buy my school ring. I just made the price as Skip had asked Max Nelson to get me some work and that's how I was able to get the money. The only remembrance I would have. No photo book. That didn't bother me. I did not make any friends I would keep. My schoolmate were doing thing I could not do. Gout out to movies, dances, etc. it cost money.


  1. This is so fascinating. The opportunities your father gave up for friendships and loyalties. Too bad neither of his parents attended his graduation, though. I think flannel would have been quite warm for graduation, and I can't imagine being forced to buy or make something just to walk across a stage and pick up a diploma.

    1. He really gave the opportunities up because his family was having a tough time during the Depression. There wasn't much money coming in. To attend college, he would have had to commute into Boston, either by ferry or subway. (East Boston is an island now connected by tunnels to the mainland.) He was worried how he would get carfare as the distance was too far to walk. Not only car fare, but money for books. Skip's offering was a better opportunity. Dad would have some money to give to his mother. His dad had taken the Depression quite hard. Couldn't or wouldn't take a laborer's job which thanks to FDR, with the WPA (Works Progress Administration). Skip offering to let Dad live at his house meant one less mouth to feed and worry about for his mother. Dad was the oldest of 5. He would have been 18 or 19 at this time. Mario was 17. Olga 15, Emma 12 or 13, and Bobby 9

  2. Why would his parents not go to his graduation? That's so sad. :(

    1. Money. His school was in a different section of Boston. Too far to walk to. They couldn't afford the subway or ferry fare.

  3. CJ....your dad's quite handsome; is that mom he is pictured with ?

    I understand from hearing stories from my family about the depression era ~~~ about what your dad and everyone went through

    many went to work if they could; parents took two and three jobs if they were available; you saved and nothing was tossed out; it was re used again and again and again

    my grandparents actually had money in a can; banks weren't to be trusted; it might have only been loose coin but it was saved at home for "safety reasons"

    and your dad's comment about friends he would keep after graduation is many do ANY of uz keep ...really ~~~~ ♥♥♥☺☺☺

  4. Yup, Dad looked like a movie star from the golden age of movies. Yes, in that picture, he's with Ma. The picture is from the early 1940s either they were courting or engaged. The photo is taken from the rooftop of one of their homes, but I don't know which one.

    For my parents' generation, not only did they live through The Great Depression, but had to endure the rationing during WWII. They brought that mentality with them when they started their families. Ma shopped sales and bought in bulk long before it became popular. Stuff was fixed and used until it couldn't be fixed anymore.